Branch Week brings career management to forefront

Sgt. Maj. Mark Belda, sergeant major from the Office of Chief of Infantry, conducts an Infantry Branch Overview Brief during Branch Week at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy here Dec. 4. Photo by David Crozier, USASMA Command Communications.

Sgt. Maj. Mark Belda, sergeant major from the Office of Chief of Infantry, conducts an Infantry Branch Overview Brief during Branch Week at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy here Dec. 4. Photo by David Crozier, USASMA Command Communications.

By David Crozier, USASMA Command Communications:

(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 14, 2017)

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy here hosted 29 senior enlisted leaders representing their career management fields for Branch Week, Dec. 4 through 8.

Leaders asked regimental and Center of Excellence sergeants major to come to the academy to brief the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 68, as well as USASMA staff and faculty, on the advancements and future developments of their career fields, career paths and broadening opportunities within their CMF.

“Today is a big day for us,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of USASMA. “We talk about the importance of knowing our CMFs, know what our right and left are doing. (These sergeants major) are here to brief us on what their CMFs do, what they are for and the way ahead.”

Sellers impressed upon the students the importance to listen to every brief and when they had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their CMF sergeant major, to ask the tough questions.

Sgt. Maj. Felice Murrell, operations sergeant major for the Sergeants Major Course, said bringing in the sergeants major to conduct a capabilities brief for their CMF was a first for USASMA. She said prior to this event the students would obtain materials from their CMF and brief their fellow students in the class. The regimental or COE sergeants major would then come in from time to time to meet with the students after academic hours were complete.

“This is the very first time USASMA has actually conducted a Branch Week, and additionally, the first time the actual (branches briefed and) had the opportunity to break off into informal briefing sessions,” Murrell said. “This was two-fold. They were able to give the capabilities brief and be able to go right into an informal brief with their Soldiers.”

Murrell said she received rave reviews from both the CMF sergeants major and the students.

“The sergeants major said they were honored to take part in this and it was an opportunity to welcome the students into the sergeant major rank,” she said. “The students were ecstatic. Some of them had never met their regimental or COE sergeant major and it gave them an opportunity for one-on-one dialogue.”

She added Branch Week provided the students a total overview of each CMF and a deep dive into what was going on within their CMF.

“Branch Week has been an amazing experience I believe for Class 68,” Master Sgt. Natasha Santiago (CMF 68-Medical), Class 68 class president said. “So many of the regimental sergeants major came through this week and actually briefed the statistics and capabilities for their respective branches and I know personally I learned so much about my classmates and what they do and what they bring to the fight.”

Fellow classmate, Master Sgt. James Brown (CMF 68-Medical), said Branch Week really opened his eyes.

“Since going through the joint (Department of Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational), and force management (Department of Force Management) portion of the Sergeants Major Course, everything at the strategic level the regimental briefers have been talking about I totally understand it,” he said. “My vision stayed at an organization level, at the battalion/brigade level. I struggled at seeing the big picture. The way our line of efforts work you get trapped into this tunnel … We didn’t get to see the broad picture.”

During Branch Week, each CMF sergeants major was asked to brief the entire Class 68 on their branch history, career management chart and credentialing opportunities, career progression trends for command sergeants major and sergeants major, and future developments for the CMF. At the end of each day’s briefing the students were grouped by their CMF and met separately with their sergeants major to allow for questions and answers and a more direct brief.

“Being at the academy I was definitely eyes open for seeing things in a much bigger perspective,” Santiago said. “With Branch Week I see things through a much larger scale. I think we are being prepared to see things in that multi-domain picture and this helps.”

Brown said Branch Week will help him to inform his Soldiers at his next duty station about the why.

“One thing I will do better of is the explanation piece. I feel that when you are given the mission you are just told here is the mission, task and standard, just get after it,” Brown said. “But with an explanation it helps to understand more and actually helps broaden your horizon as well. So, I will do better with the explanation piece when it is feasible to do so.”