Army Sergeants Major Academy: 5 Things You Will Learn

I am an Officer, so, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE bear with me on this article.  Today, we will be exploring the Sergeant Majors Academy and 5 Things You Learn at the Sergeant Majors Academy.  I have often heard Soldiers kid that all a SGM learns when they make SGM is how to mess with Soldiers about dumb things like uniform violations, ask how many beads are on your dog-tag chain, etc.  However, having a pretty good relationship with our BN SGM (who was actually my 1SG previously) I know that there is more to it than that.  Here is the run down I got from my SGM…

1. Unified Land Operations.  That’s right, SGM gets a deep, extensive training in unified land operations.  With today’s force involving so many different participants (i.e. attached engineer assets, Naval attachments, EOD, etc.) it pays to have a seasoned NCO at the battalion level who knows how to bring all these leaders together and “play nice” and effectively.  From my SGM’s perspective, “this was probably the best part of the course for me… I learned a lot, that you can’t read, from other SGMs and NCOs.”

2. Decision Making Skills.  The intense, fast paced curriculum forces 1SG and MSGs in the course to make quick, decisive decisions.  Practical exercises allow the internal decision making process to become almost second nature, with emphasis on the most effective outcome.  “The pace and depth of the course kept me on my toes… It helped sharpen my ability to make quick decisions.”

3. Teamwork. Just as the battalion staff is an organization that requires vast teamwork for success, the SGM Academy Course helps reinforce this idea.  The collective group of all students engrossed in the coursework requires each 1SG or MSG to work together…otherwise, they all fail.  Almost every military school has this type of structure, to some extent, but the SGM Academy really brings this point home with its students.

4. Oral and Written Communication Skills. To reinforce the decision making aspect of the course, the SGM Academy really hones the communication skills of these seasoned NCOs by requiring them to communicate their reasoning and decisions orally and in writing.

5. The Army Standard! That’s right! We all know the difference between an NCO from 1SG to SGM.  They are wound up tight and ready to snap at any deficiency with respect to the Army Standard!  After all, honesty, integrity, professional values and standards are highly stressed at the SGM Academy… “The course really made me realize the importance of enforcing the standard whenever and wherever.  As a 1SG I understood and sometimes thought it was a bit overkill, but now…the buck stops with me!”

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  5. Army OCS Platoon Trainer & T.A.C. Officer: My Experience

FINAL THOUGHTS: SMC is 10 months long, a total of 1,420 instructional hours, and is also offered as a nonresident course culmination in two weeks of resident instruction at the Academy. SMC prepares MSG, 1SG and SGMs to elevate from a tactical level of thinking to an operational and  strategic perspective thus preparing them for leadership positions in organizations executing unified land operations.

If you’ve ever attended the Sergeant Major’s Academy, I would love to hear from you.  Leave a comment to share your story.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Army Sergeants Major Academy: 5 Things You Will Learn”

  1. I attended the USASMA SMC Class #56 (base group R-12) in 2005 to 2006. I found the instruction to be good but not terribly taxing academically. The relationships I built at the academy proved invaluable in my career after the academy.

  2. Candace Ginestar

    Justin, I agree with your opinion about SGMs earning something from their time at the academy, just like we would from the War College. I think this experience should be something every senior leader strives for.

  3. Faith A. Coleman

    Amen to the labor put into making sure that they can communicate effectively, especially in writing. That’s a real downfall for a lot of people, truly horrific. The consequences could be great for not communicating in a way that leaves absolutely no room for ambiguity and distortion. That skill should be taught more intensively throughout our kids public education, popular or not. Makes me think of mistakes made by pharmacists because doctors didn’t write clearly.

  4. One thing I must say, is that I would be frustrated as an NCO because being a graduate of SGM Academy doesn’t earn you anything besides just that. On the Officer side of the house, your War college and other courses will get you a Master’s Level degree… SGM Academy should at least be worth a Bachelor’s Degree!!!

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