From the 104th Command Sergeant Major


As the 108th Training Command begins FY17 with a great deal of uncertainty implementing Reformation, the 104th Division is leaning forward to minimize the impact of significant changes to its structure and mission.  This entails analyzing and strategizing how to best deal with both current and impending challenges and issues pertaining to personnel and training readiness, structure, command, and other relevant issues.  In early November we implemented the first step in this plan by holding two workshops to prepare, train, and collaborate with key personnel across the Division.

CSM Ross Bagwell of 2nd BN, 317th REGT stated the following regarding the Summit. “I hear more complaints about metrics, but I hear none about taking care of Soldiers.”

The G1/G3 workshop brought together Training and Personnel professionals from each brigade and battalion with the intent of standardizing procedures throughout the division.  Subject matter experts from each area provided training and led group discussions on topics such as Reformation, CUSR, RPACs, and various other personnel and training related topics.  The event also provided ample opportunity for networking and team building.  We were extremely pleased with the RPAC portion of the workshop, we have increased our knowledge with using the RPAC and building better relationships with them and our command teams. The workshop received positive reviews during the AARs and has already shown its value through a reduction in errors and processing times.

Simultaneously, we held a Command Sergeants Major Summit with the Brigade and Battalion CSMs to address the same issues from a leader’s standpoint and allow the CSMs an opportunity for open discussion and cross-talk to help each other with the current and impending challenges.  I spoke on several keys to success for maintaining and improving Soldier and mission readiness, with the biggest piece of my message revolving around First Line Leaders. We constantly say that we want first line leaders involved, but as I travel and visit units, I find that there is little or no involvement of first line leaders. I see more full time staff doing all the work.  In my opinion, this is a single point of failure and we are not giving the First Line Leader training or letting them be a leader.  If we do not involve First Line Leaders, we will never be able to take care of Soldiers.  Maintaining and improving readiness does not mean chasing metrics; if we take care of the Soldiers, the metrics will take care of themselves. Taking care of Soldiers requires more than full time staff, it takes a lot of resources, and this is why we need all first line leaders involved with Soldier Readiness.

As noncommissioned officers, we should not be coming up with excuses, we should be executing our mission and duty, which is taking care of Soldiers.  I want to remind you of the third paragraph, first two sentences of the NCO creed – “Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their mission, they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect, as well as that of my Soldiers.” First Line Leaders must be given the proper tools to be successful. When I came through the Army ranks I had 3×5 cards that I kept in my pocket and I had a Leader’s Book.  Now we have Army systems to assist us with taking care of Soldiers; a Leader’s Book online, systems letting us know who needs an evaluation, missing height and weight, needing APFT, family care plan and many more issues which we call metrics.  I hear more complaints about metrics, but I hear none about taking care of Soldiers.

When we talk about metrics, we are just quoting numbers.  If you peal back the onion, we are really talking about Soldiers.  Behind every number there is a Soldier and behind every Soldier there is a family.  If we do not take care of the Soldier, we are failing more than one number, we are failing a whole family. 

As leaders, we must continue to mentor, coach and teach our First Line Leaders to be successfully as they go down this leadership role.

I would like to quote CSM Paul Mattingly II of 4th BN (SROTC) 413th REGT from the 104th CSM Summit:

“1st line leadership is imperative in today’s Army. By joining together at the summit, it gives us the opportunity to understand what works and what doesn’t. How to solve relative problems within our BN’s. Most if not all BN’s have the same or similar issues we all face. By joining together, it allows us to put our years of experiences together and come up with a solution.”


“The recent summit was critical for me for meeting my fellow CSMs and meeting my new brigade CSM and division CSM. It really helped to gain the universal perspective applied by Command Sgt. Maj. Trotter with his intent for going forward with using the systems and “ditching the spreadsheets”. We are basically modernizing our thought processes and ensuring full usage of the systems we have at hand. The summit was also critical in gaining the full knowledge and understanding of the EES, EKS, and CSMM systems for us, as CSMs, to bring back to our units and to apply through our subordinate First Sergeants.”

Going forward, the goal is for the units of the 104th to implement what we learned during the workshop and the CSM Summit and teach others within our units.  I reminded the CSMs that, as leaders, we must continue to mentor, coach, and teach our First Line Leaders to be successful in their leadership role.

My key takeaways:

  1. If we do not involve First Line Leaders, we will never be able to take care of Soldiers. 
  2. Taking care of Soldiers requires more than full time staff, it take a lot of resources.  This is why we need every first line leader involved with Soldier Readiness.
  3. We have to increase our knowledge with using the RPAC and build better relationships with them and our command teams.

All of these require engagement of Leaders and an understanding of how the United States Army structure and systems work, to include the proper use of Unit Administrators and RPACs.  At the 104th Division we are resolved to continue the trend of leadership involvement and system integration. When we successfully implement these, we will maximize our time and efforts to focus on the Soldier which will resolve the issues seen echelons above us called metrics.  It all boils down to taking care of Soldiers issues and being great leaders.

“If we take care of the Soldiers, the metrics will take care of themselves.”


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