Today, I want to talk about some of the common Army First Sergeant duties and responsibilities.
The First Sergeant is the senior enlisted person in an Army company.
They typically have 14 to 25 years of military experience and their job is to work closely with the Company Commander to ensure the unit is trained, proficient, disciplined, and motivated.
In any Army company, the First Sergeant’s duties are endless.
Let me start by telling you that the First Sergeant is the backbone of most companies.
Look at any successful Army unit, and there’s a high likelihood that there is a motivated, dedicated and exceptional First Sergeant at the helm.
Sure, having a good Company Commander helps, but the First Sergeant’s job is even more important.
In a typical Army company, the First Sergeant’s primary duties and responsibilities include individual training, discipline, Soldier issues, NCO development and morale.
To keep things simple, the Company Commander typically focuses on “future operations” whereas the First Sergeant focuses on “current operations.”
That being said, here is my list of some of the most common First Sergeant duties and responsibilities.
1. Individual Training: The First Sergeant is responsible for individual training within their unit.
The First Sergeant is responsible to ensure their Soldiers are proficient in their MOS and with their Warrior Tasks.
In essence, their top duty is to ensure their troops are prepared for combat.
Their Soldiers must be able to shoot, move, communicate and do their technical job.
The First Sergeant works closely with their Platoon Sergeants and Squad Leaders to ensure the Soldiers receive the training they need to be successful in their jobs.
This includes promotions, awards, reports, etc.
They don’t necessarily do the paperwork themselves, but they oversee and supervise the process.
They also do the attendance roster.
3. Enlisted Promotions: The First Sergeant oversees all enlisted promotions in their unit.
They recommend potential promotions (up to E-4) to the Company Commander.
And they ensure their NCOs know about promotion opportunities in the unit and outside of the unit.
They get input from their subordinate NCOs about who is ready for promotion and who isn’t.
They also teach their subordinates what they need to do if they want to get promoted.
4. NCODP: The First Sergeant oversees the unit’s NCODP program.
They are always looking for creative ways to teach and develop their subordinate NCOs.
They brainstorm ideas for NCODP, teach classes and oversee the classes.
5. Counseling: The First Sergeant invests lots of their personal time counseling and mentoring the Platoon Sergeants and other NCOs in the unit.
They also spearhead the unit’s counseling program to make sure all Soldiers receive the counseling they need and deserve.
6. Re-enlistments & Retention: One of the significant First Sergeant duties is re-enlistments and retention.
The First Sergeant tracks enlistments and knows when their Soldiers need to reenlist or leave the military.
They are very involved with helping his Soldiers make the best decision for their own career.
The First Sergeant also creates an environment where Soldiers WANT to re-enlist and continue their military service.
7. Schools: The First Sergeant knows which Soldiers need schools and they help their Soldiers get enrolled.
They ensure their Soldiers are MOS qualified and also help them get additional schools for career advancement.
8. Soldier Discipline: The First Sergeant is the tip of the spear when it comes to Soldier discipline.
They work with the Platoon Sergeants to handle 99% of the Soldier issues, so they don’t need to get the Company Commander involved.
If the issue is serious, they make recommendations to the Company Commander for UCMJ or punitive punishment.
9. Health & Welfare: The First Sergeant monitors the health and welfare of their troops.
They know about their Soldiers’ family life, their personal problems and their living conditions.
They do whatever he can to help their troops.
10. Senior Enlisted Adviser: The First Sergeant is a Soldier Advocate and he is also the Senior Enlisted Adviser to the Company Commander.
This means that the 1SG keeps the Company Commander informed about all Soldier issues and they “keep the Company Commander grounded” from making dumb decisions that negatively affect the Soldiers.
This is the First Sergeant’s second most important job, other than preparing their troops for combat.
As you can probably tell, the First Sergeant has an incredibly tough job with lots of responsibilities.
These ten things listed above are only a small portion of the potential First Sergeant duties.
The duties might vary a little bit based upon the type of unit, the size of the unit, and the competence of the Company Commander.
If you are a Company Commander it is in your best interest to develop a good relationship with your 1SG.
You don’t need to kiss their butt or worship them, but you do want to do what you can to build a solid, professional relationship based upon mutual respect and trust.
It’s also important to realize that everyone is different.
This means that every Company Commander and 1SG will have a different relationship.
Based upon the Company Commander’s priorities, the CO and 1SG might have different priorities and duties than I listed above.
For instance, when I was a Company Commander, my top three priorities were mission planning, collective training and leader development.
My 1SG’s Top 3 duties were individual training, Soldier care and discipline.
Since we knew each other’s duties and priorities, we stayed in our lane and were much more effective.
When an issue arose, we knew whose job it was to fix it.
That made life much easier for both of us.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- Leadership Advice for Army First Sergeants
- Army First Sergeant Career Advice and Success Tips
- Five Things I Learned from My Army First Sergeant
- The NCO Journey to First Sergeant
- The Top 5 Lessons I Learned as a First Sergeant
The History of the First Sergeant
In the 1780’s, the rank of 1st Sergeant became a reality in the U.S. Army, but it did not carry the same responsibilities and esteem that it now does.
It was in the mid 1800’s when the First Sergeant became a separate pay grade and the diamond was added below the chevrons.
The pay grade for the Army First Sergeant is the same as Master Sergeant, but in reality, the First Sergeant carries more power.
To become a First Sergeant, a soldier must be a Master Sergeant.
Mistakes to Avoid as an Army First Sergeant
The rank of Army First Sergeant is prestigious and as such, there are certain paths you should follow.
As the senior enlisted leader in an Army unit, here are some mistakes Army First Sergeants need to avoid:
- Don’t buddy up with your soldiers. It is in your best interest to not go out drinking and partying with your soldiers and to not favor any over others.
- Don’t assume… Ask! If you are unsure what your Company Commander wants, ask.
- Neglecting your personal knowledge. Just because you are First Sergeant doesn’t mean to let go of reading and learning.
- Being dishonest. There is never a good reason to lie, so don’t!
- Not holding yourself responsible. You will make mistakes, so own them.
- Not passing the PT. This is unforgivable. You may not have the best score, but pass it.
- Not defending the boss. If you hear your soldiers badmouthing your boss, it is your job to reprimand them.
Tips for Company Commanders When Working With Their 1SG
Your secret to success working with your First Sergeant is to sit down with them and do the following:
1) Establish Unit Goals: As the Company Commander, you set the vision for your organization.
Your First Sergeant needs to know your vision so they can help you get there.
And if you are ideas are unattainable or unrealistic, your First Sergeant will bring you back to reality.
No matter what, the two of you must work together towards a common goal.
2) Determine Each Other’s Primary Areas of Responsibility: You must have your own clearly identified areas of responsibility.
If you don’t establish areas of responsibility, you will constantly step on each other’s toes and be combat ineffective.
You don’t want to micromanage each other or constantly argue with each other.
Figure out who will do what and stay in your lane.
This will eliminate 95% of potential problems.
3) Identify Each Other Strengths and Weaknesses: You won’t hear this one very much in the FMs or in any textbook.
One of your secrets to success is to determine each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Use your strengths to your advantage.
If your First Sergeant is a dynamic writer, have him oversee the awards program.
On the other hand, if they are horrible at it, delegate it to someone else.
Adjust your responsibilities based upon your strengths, not just what the FM says you should do.
Every command team is different.
4) Build a Strong Relationship: Personally, I think the First Sergeant and Company Commander should become close friends.
They don’t need to be on a first name basis, but you need to have a strong relationship based upon trust, loyalty and mutual respect.
Therefore, you need to spend time together.
Get together with your families from time-to-time.
By forming a strong bond, you will improve your effectiveness as a team.
I always looked at my First Sergeant as a peer, not a subordinate.
That helped me a lot.
What others are saying about Army First Sergeants
One of the best places to learn about the position of First Sergeant is to learn from former and current First Sergeants.
Here is some great information online that you should read:
In conclusion, First Sergeants are the back-bone of every Army company.
A good First Sergeant will make an average Company Commander good and a good Company Commander great.
Make sure that you work together with your First Sergeant to help your company succeed.
What are your thoughts?
What do you think are the biggest and most important Army First Sergeant duties and responsibilities?
Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
I look forward to hearing from you.