Posted on Feb 9, 2018
CSM First Sergeant
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I am stepping into a new rank and duty position as a BN CSM. Aside from the tradition roles of maintaining the colors, and maintaining morale and welfare, what other duties and responsibilities should I expect or ask for to assist my Commander and the entire Battalion? Any and all advice, anecdotes and stories welcomed.
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COL Dana Hampton
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As a former battalion commander, my CSM was my strongest advisor and advocate for the enlisted Soldiers. He was also an objective set of eyes for me on leadership development issues with my company grade officer's.

When ever discipline issues were elevated to my level, he was also a close advisor for any action.

In short, the CSM must be a trusted, professional and confidential confidant to the BN CDR on everything from training to morale. The success of a CSM depends on trust between themselves and the CDR. That trust is sacrosanct. If it's ever broken, the command team is in trouble and morale will plummet across all subordinate units.

The relationship between my CSM and myself was one where we could have candid open discussion on any topic (agree, disagree or agree to disagree), but when we opened the door, we had a united voice. My command stretched into a 3rd year, I believe, largely because of the success we shared as a command team. As I rolled out of command to the general's staff, my CSM was immediately snapped up for a Bridge CSM position by one of my peers. He was a highly sought after CSM.

Best of luck in your new assignment. The Wreath and Star on those chevrons is an accomplishment that means you are one of the top performers the Army has to offer. Your wisdom, experience and counsel carry huge weight! Be judicious and thoughtful in your advice to your commander. Develop a sense to know when to interject and when to be that inner voice behind your commander. Do that, and you'll have a great tour with many good things to follow!
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CSM First Sergeant
CSM (Join to see)
3 y
Sir. Thank you greatly for your insight and advice. I appreciate it greatly and absolutely agree that trust is foremost and paramount.
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LTC Michael Keenan
LTC Michael Keenan
3 y
In support of Colonel Hampton, I totally support the need for absolute candor between the commander and the sergeant major. I told (essentially ordered) my SGMs that their most important duty was to prevent me from doing something incredibly inept or stupid. Our "behind closed doors" discussions were always frank, sometimes heated and opinionated, and very useful. As with Colonel Hampton and his SGM, when the discussions ended, we had our united voice. Neither my SGMs nor I desired to micromanage the subordinate leaders, but rather to give them a chance to grow and succeed.
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SMA Ray Chandler
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I think the first thing you should do is ask your commander what they want you to do. There should be no white space between you and your commander. You can have your disagreements but when you leave the office its all in line with your commanders priorities and focus areas. Once you figure that out, its time to reassess your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your weaknesses (we all have them) and determine what you need to do to improve. Never forget you are no longer a 1SG, let them do their jobs and you figure out how to enable their success. Its not about friendly competition anymore its about how to make that BN the best. COL Hampton makes great points and all of them are spot on. There are no more promotions only positions of greater responsibility. So be that trusted agent and give honest advice. Don't sugar coat anything. Don't be in a hurry to check the block and move on or up. The NCO Creed is a beautiful and all encompassing document. Read it and live it. Congratulations Sergeants Major now get out there and make it happen!
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CSM First Sergeant
CSM (Join to see)
3 y
SMA. First thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post. My sole desire is to be the best CSM I can be for the Battalion. I will endeavor to serve the Soldiers, NCO’s and Officers to the utmost. I am honored by the selection for the position and am looking forward to all the challenges and experiences that come with it.
I greatly appreciate your wisdom and advice SMA and will definitely be doing all that you’ve said here.
Thanks for you advice and support.
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CSM Richard StCyr
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The CSM duties are purposely vague in doctrinal text. Your duties will be pretty varied and you will learn to anticipate what and where the Commander needs assistance. I dug through my old NCOERs and here are the recurring tasks that showed up in part III of the old style NCOER under duties, special emphasis and appointed duties;
- Safety program (not the BS PT belt crap)
-RE-UP, EO, EEO and Soldier and NCO counseling programs
-Construction QA/ QC and standards
-Weight control
-Family care plans and deployment packets
-The PT program
-TAC SOP, Garrison SOP
-Unit ceremonies, functions and recognition
-Command Inspections
-Maintenance
-Staff coordination
I don't know what a typical duty day looks like for a civil affairs unit as I was a Combat Heavy Construction guy, and worked in support of Artillery and Infantry folks mostly. But I stayed out of the office most of the time roaming throughout the area checking on PT, training, staff actions, maintenance and construction projects. I changed my open door policy to - when you see me, talk to me if it pertained to how to be a better Soldier, advance technically or if the troops had a recommendation to do things better, complaints about leaders or any negative discussions I asked the troops to schedule an appointment and did closed door. It's amazing what you can find out under a truck or grader with a grease gun, a -10 manual and a PVT.
I spoke to the Commander before and after PT, at Lunch and before leaving for the day and we did the Vulcan mind meld. I spoke to as many of the 1SGs as I could and found out where and what they could use my help on.
My admin goal was to move everything from my in box to my out box before I left for home. Admin stuff for the BC was reviewed and comments written on a sticky note or an Exsum with a recommendation or points to consider for them.
Congratulations on being selected and appointed to CSM. It's a great and challenging position with the opportunity to help and serve a ton of people.
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SGM Chief Executive Officer (Ceo)
SGM (Join to see)
3 y
CSM Richard StCyr - First, to be honest, I didn't see the [see more] link on your post, so didn't see the entire last half of your post. There you incorporated the whole concept I call "Leadership By Walking Around." Meeting and talking with soldiers where they don't expect you to - in the motor pool under a truck, meeting them in the field when you're both tired and dirty and sweaty, running with them during PT, and such. Leaving 1SGs to do what they do best, and more. So I'm sorry for missing that when I made my comments. When I said "higher order" I was trying to imply that your 1SG (and staff NCOs) had the lead in accomplishing those programs and activities, while the CSM would be ensuring they were being done to standards through mentoring, guiding, and observing the 1SGs and NCOs doing them. I'm sure that's what you were saying, but missing the second half of your comment, it wasn't clear. So mea culpa.

I spent my last two years as a BN CSM in one of the few Battalions in the Army that was only authorized a Staff SGM in the position (an MI TDA BN). We had four companies with four 1SGs and 42 detachments at nearly every Army installation in CONUS. The BN CDR and I were on the road at least a couple of weeks every month visiting our soldiers in the detachments or at semiannual company training weeks. The entire two years I was a CSM (Designee) just waiting on a battalion CSM position to open up during an MI downsizing period. The ironic thing was I spent quite a bit of time working on converting our TDA BN to a TO&E BN and converting my position to a CSM position, which happened about a year after I retired.

I retired when offered a job at the National Security Agency, where I'd had a military assignment a few years before. I'd earned a good reputation there during Desert Shield/Storm as the Deputy NSA Rep to USCENTCOM during the war as a MSG. I knew GEN Schwarzkopf from our time working together in Alaska and we'd stayed in touch over the years, I spoke passable Arabic, and I'd traveled through the region in a previous assignment and knew most of the senior Arab Intel leaders well. So the NSA Director asked me to deploy with CENTCOM and it all worked out pretty well. Years later, some of the senior leaders there asked me if I was interested in a fairly senior position there, and that's when I decided to retire. I earned my doctorate in Organizational Leadership while at NSA, mostly because I didn't see the same kind of structured, developed, impassioned leadership at NSA I saw in the Army, and I wanted to study the reasons why that might be.
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CSM Richard StCyr
CSM Richard StCyr
3 y
SGM (Join to see) - Roger, we lost out Terrain and Intel analyst slots under the draw down and realignment, low density but a very valuable asset.
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CW4 Craig Urban
CW4 Craig Urban
2 y
Leave the warrants alone if you are in a battalion that has warrants. They outrank you. You will lose the fight. I had a SGM tell me you went warrant because you could not make E7. I had max ncoers. Pro pay score of 156
AA degree. I told him to go supervise police call.
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CSM Richard StCyr
CSM Richard StCyr
2 y
CW4 Craig Urban - In the legacy Combat Heavy units we had both construction and maintenance warrants. Coopt the warrants and leverage their experience and contacts and all goes well.
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