Posted on Sep 10, 2016
James Adair
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Posted in these groups: Army-usa-or-09b.svg CSM
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CSM Michael Sweeney
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In my nearly 30 years, I saw many variations of what a CSM actually did. In the early 70's I saw some who did spend most of their time in the mess hall drinking coffee and spending the day waiting to go to the club. That is not sour grapes since I was a cook, I saw him. Then I saw the hard but fair mean ass SOB like CSM Plumbly as played by Sam Elliott in We Were Soldiers. I was looking for a line item duty description when I attended the Sergeants Major Academy, but there really wasn't one. Yes, senior enlisted advisor to the commander of all matters pertaining to enlisted members of the unit. Also individual training, so that the commanders can focus on collective training. Keeping and teaching Army and unit history, customs and traditions. No CSM has authority on their own, which was greatly misunderstood in my day. Their respective commander must make it clear to the command, especially to the officers, what authority their CSM has within the unit. Then the CSM has got to respect those officers and not act superior, regardless of the stories of CSMs chewing LT and CPT assess. My opinion, but Command Sergeants Major are Sergeants Major OF the Command, not Sergeants Major IN Command. In Combat, the CSM travels the length and width of the commands footprint checking on soldiers, making sure they have what they need to do their jobs and getting what they need to stay physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Nothing in writing, all natural leadership built in over years.
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MAJ Future Plans And Programs Officer, G 43
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CSM, the last half of your post is spot on and one of the best explanations and person I’ve heard from a CSM in some time. Thanks for sharing.
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CSM Patrol Sergeant
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CSM, as MAJ Weber said, you nailed it with the last part but that is really how Sergeants Major obtain or power. He is a sharp officer. I suspect those you saw drinking coffee in the DFAC all day had little power or influence. Those that get out and observe what is happening are in positions to be the eyes and ears of the Commander. That is the kind of knowledge that bring the power to influence the Command, not just the Commander. Those actions show the Command the CSM is more than a ceremonial figure head.
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SSG Squad Leader
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Edited 4 y ago
Advises the commanding officer on all matters pertaining to enlisted personnel.

Also walks around like a ninja correcting unsuspecting privates.
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PV2 Security Officer
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I heard of a story where a 2LT tried to correct a CSM. I don't think the LT won.
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SSG Squad Leader
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Haha rank structure is a funny thing. I watched my old CSM pretty much rip a CPT a new hole in his fourth point of contact.
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MSG Louis Alexander
MSG Louis Alexander
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Now that's funny
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CSM Patrol Sergeant
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CPT Jim Schwebach I hope not Sir unless they are really screwing up. That’s how one ends up with a BN CDR that has no respect for NCOs. LTs and SSGs are the ones who close with and destroy our nation’s enemies, not CSMs.
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LTC Jason Mackay
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Walk on the grass. You'll find out.

In all seriousness, they advise the commander on all soldier issues and NCO development. In training the commander and CSM work together to train the unit spanning individual to collective levels. The CSM is referred to as the conscience of the command and is the bearer of standards.

In practical terms, they are assigning NCOs to units and positions in conjunction with the 1SGs at Company Level. They supervise the soldier promotion board process. They manage talent. The CSM protects the unit colors. The CSM screens personnel actions and provides advice along with the XO and DCO (at BDE level). The CSM will advise the staff where it is appropriate.

There is magic in the sauce which is not scientific. The biggest piece is variable, it is based on the Commander/CSM individual relationship. My CSM was an extension of my command. I delegated numerous things to her. We talked about most of my key decisions and how they would be implemented before I rolled them out. Sometimes, she was uniquely suited to the function/mission at hand and rolled with it, with my full endorsement. Other times it was me.
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CSM John Benkert
CSM John Benkert
2 mo
Excellent explanation Col and I agree with you 100%. As to how a CSM should be used you are spot on. As you pointed out the variables are the real magic sauce that a Commander and a CSM can use to the great benefit of a unit. It blends the needs of the Commander and the skill sets of the CSM to make the unit the best it can be, especially when the Commander gives the CSM the authority to carry out his/her mission.
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