Non-Commissioned Officers: ‘The Backbone of the Army’


During the recent farewell of the 104th Division Command Sergeant Major, CSM Peter Trotter and I had time to reflect on the question, “What does it mean to be a non-commissioned officer?”  The 104th is composed of more than 1,200 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) who are technically and tactically proficient leaders.  They function day in and day out as the backbone of our Division and our Army.  Functioning as the backbone means, carrying out various important functions such as: trainers, teachers, role models, guardian of standards, professionals, and the list continues.  NCO’s bear the trust and respect of their Soldiers.  They are professionals and lead by example in every endeavor.  And our NCO’s ensure, “mission first and people always.”

This summer, while visiting Cadet Sumer Training (CST), I had the honor and privilege to meet several of our NCO’s who greatly exhibited what it means to be a true professional.  These leaders cared for and led the Timberwolves in what is arguably the most challenging and best executed CST mission to date.  And, leading and training cadets while simultaneously leading your own Soldiers is no easy feat.  This is due in part to the size and complexity of the one of the Army’s most complex training events where as many as 10,000 Cadets from all over the United States and its territories gather to attend, train, and be evaluated.  At CST, our NCO’s from across America bring their specialized skills and expertise to train Cadets and manage the operation, as well as teach, coach, and mentor young men and women working toward entering military service.  The leadership development that our NCO’s bring is in valuable in training tomorrow’s leaders today.  And our NCO’s performed admirably receiving numerous accolades from senior leaders across the Army.  This was no mistake.  Rather, it is due in large part by the Timberwolves senior NCO, CSM Peter Trotter.

The NCO Creed starts out with the phrase, “No one is more professional than I” and CSM Trotter was just that.  He left an enduring positive legacy by living by the NCO Creed and driving these same attributes into peers and subordinates.  He constantly displayed true professionalism as a Soldier and as a leader in the United States Army.  He strived to be the very best he can be and continually carried out his duties with mission focus while leading and mentoring along the way.  CSM Trotter cared for the Soldiers of the 104th Division and went to great lengths to ensure that they were looked after, cared for, and trained and ready to accomplish their mission.  In short, he was our quarterback, the power and intellect behind our organization, the epitome of professionalism and a leader of leaders.  And fitting to his selfless service and professional nature, CSM Trotter chose to conduct his change of responsibility ceremony with CSM William Phipps at CST, “in order to be with his Soldiers while they execute their mission.”

Today, we are honored to welcome our newest member to the Timberwolf family, CSM Phipps. He too is a leader of leaders and will undoubtedly continue with and build upon the great legacy left by CSM Trotter.  I have great confidence that our Division is in great hand.  We will continue to accomplish amazing things for our Army in the area of training and leadership under the watchful eye of CSM Phipps.  I view CSM Phipps as a faithful, high achieving leader, who exemplifies excellence in every endeavor.  He is a trusted chieftain and a forward thinker that will guide our formation to new heights while achieving tremendous results along the way.  He brings the right combination of charisma, enthusiasm and self-assurance and will certainly make an enduring impact in molding the future leaders of the Army.  In short, this NCO is the foundation of our team and the backbone of the Army.  “Nightfighters!”

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NCO Creed

No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army”. I am proud of the Corps of noncommissioned officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.

Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my Soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my Soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my Soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my Soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers, and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!


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