FORT BENNING, GEORGIA — The 98th Training Division (IET) welcomed Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Kaim as the new division command sergeant major and bid farewell to Command Sgt. Maj. Ian Coyle at a Change of Responsibility Ceremony on May 16.
Brig. Gen. Tony Wright, the Commanding General who presided over the ceremony, said it was great to have a Command Sergeant Major who could implement his vision, which was increasing the number of drill sergeants.
“Command Sgt. Coyle accepted that. Made that his own. And this year, we are currently on track to produce a record 131 drill sergeants,” which is on top of the 350 already produced over Coyle’s three years in the Division.
“He’s done an amazing job. So you can say that he not only captured that vision, but he executed it, and he leaves the 98th Training Division on much stronger ground,” said Wright.
Coyle attributes the success of producing more drill sergeants to the Commanding General himself. When I first came to the Division, there were so many priorities, but when Brig. Gen. Wight came, he nailed it down to three priorities: drill sergeant production, medical readiness and evaluations, explained Coyle in his farewell speech.
The outgoing command sergeant major said he was not the only one working on creating more drill sergeants in the Division. In fact, he said was just a member of a great team.
“All the credit goes to you, the headquarters staff, the Soldiers and civilians who work every day. Thank you so much,” said Coyle.
Coyle’s legacy will be more than numbers though, said Wright.
“He was the most empathetic and compassionate command sergeant major that I’ve worked for.”
Wright explained that command sergeants major typically have a reputation from being “keep-off-my-grass” kind of leaders. But Coyle was more of a “I-will-walk-across-the-grass-to-meet-a-soldier’s-needs” kind of leader.
Replacing that kind of leader is a difficult process, especially when there are so many qualified candidates, but Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Kaim rose to the occasion, said Wright.
“He clearly established himself as the next command sergeant major, the next senior enlisted advisor for the 98th Division.”
As Kaim took the podium for his welcome speech, he said he was humbled to serve the Soldiers of the 98th Training Division, an organization filled with so many talented people. Serving at the Division Headquarters on Fort Benning, Georgia will also be extra special since he completed Basic Combat Training here many years ago.
And like most Soldiers, Kaim said he remembers his Fort Benning drill sergeants, and all the trouble he caused them. But somehow, those drill sergeants, like his parents, saw something in him and didn’t give up on him. Instead, they pushed him to be his best, and now in a full-circle kind of moment, here he is, years later, becoming a Division command sergeant major at the same place he began his career.
“They gave me a chance to be a leader, and hopefully that is the leader that I am today,” said Kaim to the audience. “They didn’t give up on me and made me realize that you are really part of something bigger. It’s not about ‘Todd.’ It’s about being a part of something and the Soldiers you serve.”
And that is the same message the new division command sergeant major said he wanted the Soldiers across the Division to strive for.
“Your legacy lives on in the Soldiers you train, teach and mentor every single day. And that happens through your words, actions and deeds. They do matter. So I ask Soldiers to take that into account when you perform your duties.”