Archive for the ‘Profession of Arms’ Category

The Baldwin Files – Talent Management – Part 1 of 3

Saturday, July 6th, 2019

Let us talk about talent management. The Army’s Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis (OEMA) defines talent as “…the unique intersection of skills, knowledge and behaviors in every person. Talent represents far more than the training, education and experiences provided by the Army. The fullness of each person’s life experience…and a myriad number of other factors [that] better suit them to some development or employment opportunities than others.” OEMA goes on to say that talent management is the: “…systematic planning for the right number and type of people to meet the Army’s needs at all levels and at all times so that the majority of them are employed optimally. Talent management begins with entry-level employees and aligns their talents against the demand for them during their entire careers, to include positions at the very top of the Army.” More simply, I would say developing a system that enables and ensures people are being, “employed optimally” is the key to effective talent management – both from the individual’s and the Army’s perspective. That certainly articulates a worthy vision, but we are not quite there yet.

“Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back.”

– Heraclitus

I am not claiming to be that one warrior, but I always aspired to be that guy. I did have a long, colorful, and very unusual, career in the U.S. Army. During the course of 36 years, I learned a few things about the workings of the existing Personnel Management system. For the last few years, as many of you know, that term “talent management” has come into vogue. Sadly, based on what I have seen and experienced – and despite optimistic talk – the institutional Army remains largely locked in manning mechanisms and procedures that have not changed much since WWII. Even the transition from a draft back to an all-volunteer force only changed how people come in the door. Once in, officers and NCOs are still locked in rigid career tracks that require specific “branch qualifying” duty position blocks to be checked within certain narrow time in service windows in order to be promoted. The system actively resists individuals even briefly daring to step off the prescribed path and timeline; and – in the worst case – the result of such a transgression is damaging if not career ending delay or denial of a promotion. That is not effective talent management and never will be.

I am going to be using my own career to illustrate how “the system” worked – or failed to work – for me. I thought about discussing this subject in more generic terms rather than making it about myself. Not that I am ashamed of any of the events that I am going to describe; rather, because my career was so anomalous, I worried that many of the specifics would not be applicable or of value to any readers in service today. Still, I concluded it was best to write about what I personally saw and know. Besides, I wanted to get this personal history recorded eventually; so, I convinced myself that others would find some utility in my experiences. We will see. I admit I am the hero in this story. That does not mean that there are also stereotypical villains in this tale. Many of the characters I will introduce actually helped get the system to work for me. Others may have tried to block my preferences, but most thought they were doing what the system demanded and acted in good faith – even if not in my favor. But, yes, a couple of these people were dicks and I took a certain satisfaction in besting them and the system when I could.

I have written twice before about my experiences in Germany, 1975-78. The “rehabilitative” transfer to the Divisional Pathfinder Detachment made a huge difference in my professional life. There I found a handpicked group of troopers who were all sharp and combat focused. We had the esprit that comes from having a specialized mission and I loved it. I left that team after 2+ years as a Sergeant (E-5) seriously thinking in terms of making the Army a career. Indeed, shortly after PCSing to Fort Lewis, Washington (with less than 5 months left on my original enlistment), I reenlisted for another 3 years. Up to that point, I was still blissfully ignorant about how the Army personnel management system worked.  I just got on with my professional and personal life. With 12 months on station at Fort Lewis I received orders to PCS to Hawaii. Just a couple of weeks earlier, my girlfriend of almost a year, who was a Supply Specialist in an Aviation unit, had gotten orders for Korea. Faced with almost immediate separation, we did the only thing we could think to do. We got married.

To this day, I have no idea if starting a marriage as a long distance relationship before skype, email, or cell phones were invented would have worked. Fortunately, we never had to find out. I went to my PAC before the ink had dried on the marriage license to codify our union with the Army. We were thinking that after a year in Korea, the Army would allow my new wife to join me in Hawaii. We did not think we had any other choices. After all, orders were orders – or so we neophytes thought. I told the SFC PAC NCOIC our plan as I was filling out the paperwork. He looked at me as if I had a you-know-what growing out of my forehead and said, “Wait here.” A couple of minutes later he came back and hustled me into the Battalion Commander’s office.  I told my story to the BC and he told me to sit down. His comment to me was, “we can do better than that.” It turns out before taking command he had just completed an assignment at Infantry Branch in the HQ we now call PERSCOM, in Alexandria, Virginia. He did not call some General or even another Lieutenant Colonel. He did not seek anyone’s approval or concurrence. Instead, he called one of the “little old ladies in tennis shoes” that actually run the Army’s personnel management system. He told her the problem and gave her mine and my wife’s names and social security numbers. In no time, she had arranged to rescind both our sets of orders, stabilize us at Lewis for an additional 6 months, and cut new orders so that we would both PCS together to Hawaii. The phone call took about 30 minutes.   

I strongly suspect that call saved my nascent marriage if not my career. That was 1979. All I know is that on November 30th of this year I will be celebrating my 40th Anniversary with that same woman. From that experience, I learned that the system is made up of people, orders can be changed or amended, and policies can be waived or even disregarded on a case-by-case basis. There are always options. Skip ahead 5 years and I am a promotable Staff Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division just accepted into Officer Candidate School (OCS). Even that did not happen without a minor complication. When my OCS Class date came down I was not at Fort Bragg, but was TDY at Infantry ANCOC at Fort Benning. In fact, I had to voluntarily withdraw in writing from that course because it overlapped the start of my OCS Class. ANCOC became the only school I ever started that I did not complete. The cadre at ANCOC actually asked me to finish the course and take the next OCS Class. I could not. At the time, the Army would not commission anyone with more than 10 years of service. If I took even the next class, my graduation / commissioning date would be 2 months too late. Therefore, I had no choice but to rush back to Bragg, out-process, and PCS back to Fort Benning just 2 weeks later.

I do not regret any of that, but the fact that I waited to literally the last minute to seek a commission would have a significant ripple effect throughout the rest of my career. As most SSD readers already know, the Army gets almost all of its officers through West Point, ROTC, or OCS. The first two are generally 4-year programs and the cadets in those schools earn a degree while simultaneously meeting the prerequisites for a commission. OCS is the smallest program, and at the time, was 14 weeks long (today 12 weeks). What many people do not realize – I did not before I got there – is historically, 75% of OCS Candidates are what are called “College Options.” That is, people who already have college degrees that enlist specifically to go to OCS. They complete Basic and then go straight on to an OCS training company. Less than a dozen people in my class of ~150 had more than 4 years of service. Those of us without a degree were required to attend “Degree Completion” sometime after commissioning. That administrative requirement would also have an unanticipated impact on my career 4 years later.

I graduated OCS and was commissioned in Infantry on 22 February 1985. My wife was assigned to an Aviation unit at Bragg and had remained there while I was in school. My intent was to go directly back to the 82nd. In this case, I had a better than average chance to get what I wanted since I was already Jumpmaster qualified and Senior Rated. However, after OCS I still had some more schooling to complete. First up was the Basic Infantry Course and that was almost 6 months. Normally, after the Basic Course, most – but not all – Infantry Lieutenants would go to Airborne and Ranger School. I had already checked that first block so all I had to do was Ranger School. By the time I was half way through the Basic Course, I had tentative orders assigning me to the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne, in hand. It was all coming together. However, there was another factor looming over the Schoolhouse that potentially was going to upset my plans.

The Army had just stood up the 7th Infantry Division (Light), at Fort Ord, California. It was the Army Chief of Staff’s highest priority. Almost all of my peers that summer were already on orders to go there. Likewise, they had priority to Ranger School and that meant that I would be waiting at least a couple of months after the Basic Course before I could even get into the school. To make matters worse, the rumor was that filling the 7th was considered so important that orders for anywhere else were soon going to be rescinded. I was not going to take that chance. So, the day before graduation from the Basic Course, I called up the S1 for 3rd Brigade and asked him if I could come on up and return back to Ranger School later on a Division slot? He put me on hold and asked the Brigade XO if that would be ok. The XO agreed. I suspected – and later confirmed – that the 82nd was struggling with no longer being the highest priority fill for the Army. That summer, the 82nd and 101st had serious shortfalls in company grade infantry officers because they were all being diverted to Ord. I had the answer I wanted. I waved my orders around, signed out of the schoolhouse within 48 hours, and drove faster than the law allowed north and home to Fort Bragg.

That is why I ended up going to Ranger School about 18 months later. Including that 2-month sabbatical, I spent just over three years at 2nd Battalion, 505th PIR. During that time, I was a Rifle Platoon Leader, Mortar Platoon Leader, Tow Platoon Leader, Company XO, and finally the Battalion S3 Air. In other words, I had checked all the infantry lieutenant career blocks that I needed to. However, the Army personnel management system had negatively affected my wife’s career during this period. About a year after I got back she received orders to Germany for 3 years. That was not going to work, so she refused those orders and left the service after 8 years. I also had to start looking forward to the next phase of my career. I would have to go back to Benning for 6 months at the Infantry Advanced Course (now Captain’s Career Course). In addition, because I still had to do Degree Completion, I would be spending 18 more months going to a civilian college nearby in Columbus, Georgia. Infantry Branch also had a Heavy / Light policy, so since I had been on the light side initially, I could expect a mechanized infantry assignment next. I was not enthusiastic about the likelihood of that.

Something else happened in 1987 that helped me make a fateful decision about my future. Special Forces (SF) became a separate Branch. I had been serving with SF qualified officers and NCOs for my entire career. The majority of SF had come from the infantry ranks for decades. In fact, my last Battalion Commander and XO in 2/505 were both SF qualified. I had thought about SF before and had intentions to go over as a Captain after Rifle Company command. That had been the common practice for several years since SF Warrants had replaced Lieutenants on ODAs after 1983. SF had been a school, a skill identifier, and just a temporary assignment for Officers and NCOs of other Branches prior to that timeframe. Now, Lieutenants like me had only a single window to submit a packet to be considered for accession to SF. 1987 was my year group’s one and only window. With the full encouragement and support of my BC and XO, I submitted my packet with high hopes of being selected. Several months passed before I received a response from SF Branch. They had rejected me.

When I initially outlined this subject, I quickly realized that it naturally divided into three blocks of time. My infantry career up to 1988, my SF time from then to 2001, and finally the period from 2001-11, a.k.a. my GWOT years. As I began to write, it dawned on me that my relationship with the Army’s Personnel Management System changed significantly during each block of time. In Part 1, that you have just read, I worked with and within the system. Sure, occasionally I had to nudge the system with the help of others. Still, I was generally moving in the direction that the Army and Infantry Branch wanted me to take so there was very little friction. In Part 2, as you will see, I eventually found myself at odds with what SF Branch wanted to do with me. Therefore, at times, I had to aggressively work in opposition to the system and there was a great deal of friction. In Part 3, I was obliged to operate almost exclusively outside the system and, therefore, avoided friction almost entirely.

The “take aways” from this first article is that the Army has essentially an industrial age, conveyor belt, assembly line, MANNING system vice a flexible management system. And, from what I have seen, the other Services are not appreciably better. The system has a great deal of difficulty dealing with individuals as individuals as is required for genuine talent management. Indeed, the system is easily flummoxed by anyone who is different in any way. In 1979, dual-service couples were unusual, but the problems my wife and I encountered decades ago still apparently persist, unabated, for similar couples today. Almost inevitably, one of the two must eventually sacrifice their career to keep the marriage intact – or dissolve the marriage. It is not effective talent management if we habitually advantage one soldier’s career at the direct expense of another. Moreover, some aspects of the system are counterintuitive and counterproductive to any semblance of talent management. Time in service rules for example. One might assume that more enlisted experience would be considered a valuable asset for an officer and not a liability. That would be incorrect. As I pointed out earlier, it is rare that people are commissioned with more than 4 years of enlisted service. The system does not deal well with “rare.” Spoiler alert, I was initially rejected by SF Branch because of my abnormal amount of time in service.

Nevertheless, I am not writing this because I am disgruntled. Clearly, the system was good to me and I acknowledge that up front. But, that system is not going to be good enough as we move deeper into the ever-higher tech 21st Century. We need more and more talent in a postindustrial age, not just mass numbers of warm bodies. The Services have to find that talent and retain those people once we have them. It will have to be a radical departure from what we have previously experienced. However, I will sound one cautionary note. Military service cannot ever become entirely about self-actualization of the individual. Duty, honor, and selfless service – not to mention teamwork and unit cohesion – are always going to matter and must NOT ever be sacrificed in the name of individuality. The needs of the Service must be addressed and balanced as well as the needs of the individual. There will always be a number of less desirable and even thankless jobs that need to get done. That burden simply has to be perceived to be shared equitably under any system.

The attached picture shows soldiers climbing the ruins of the Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriya, Iraq. It is a good metaphor of our current system. It provides a solid, if crumbling, path to the top, i.e. professional success – as long as you do not deviate from that prescribed path. Moreover, the path is wide enough that – at least in some cases – a few can move faster under their own power toward the top without disadvantaging others. Most people can accept that as long as the opportunity is perceived to be fairly administered and truly talent based. However, no one appreciates looking to the left or right and seeing that an escalator has been put in place for a privileged few. We have probably all seen this individual. His boss thinks he walks on water and wants to fast track him; his peers know him as a Spotlight Ranger and do not trust him as far as they can throw him, and his subordinates consider him an unmitigated piece of crap. An effective talent management system would have to have some methodology to collect and reconcile those disparate evaluations of everyone’s performance to differentiate true talent from the posers. Finally, if anyone has more recent experiences, or has knowledge of new(er) changes to the system – that have made it better or worse – I would love to hear it.

De Oppresso Liber!

LTC Terry Baldwin, US Army (Ret) served on active duty from 1975-2011 in various Infantry and Special Forces assignments. SSD is blessed to have him as both reader and contributor.

Patrolling Is Better When You’re…

Tuesday, June 25th, 2019

According to 75th Ranger Regiment Recruiting, patrolling is better when you’re…

1. Wearing a Patagonia uniform

2. Carrying a Mystery Ranch pack

3. Wearing an Ops-Core helmet

4. Communicating via Peltor

5. Shooting thru a Daniel Defense upper

6. Seeing thru Oakley SI eye pro

7. Walking in Nonstandard boots

8. Wearing Outdoor Research gloves

9. Wearing a Crye Precision plate carrier

Wanna join? If you’re in the Army, send your SRB to from your .mil email.

Not in the Army? Go tell your local Active Duty Army Recruiter that you want to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

US Army Combined Arms Center Releases First Doctrine Audiobook

Saturday, June 22nd, 2019

(Fort Leavenworth, Kan.) The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center (CAC), in a collaborative effort led by the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate (CADD) and supported by the Army Training Support Center (ATSC) – Mobile Learning Division (MLD) and Enterprise Multimedia Center (EMC), released its first doctrine audiobook as part of a pilot program today. The first publication produced as an audiobook is Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, a manual that marked the shift in the Army’s focus towards large-scale combat operations when published in October 2017.

Audiobooks are not new to the publishing industry; however, this marks the first time the Army has ventured into this medium as a way of delivering Army doctrine.

“Doctrine audiobooks give Soldiers another way to receive information and learn by letting them increase their professional knowledge while doing other things, like working out or commuting,” said Col. Rich Creed, director, CADD. “We are pleased by the flexibility the audio format provides to the majority of people in the Army, who don’t usually carry doctrinal manuals around with them every day.”

Army doctrine audiobooks are produced from published and authenticated doctrine, but abridged for the audio format. Like print publications, online presentation of audiobooks follows a standardized format that includes the publication’s introduction, each of the chapters, and the appendices. Army doctrine audiobooks use industry standard .mp3 files that can be accessed by users across multiple platforms, including laptops, e-Readers, tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

The Combined Arms Center is currently working on audiobook versions of FM 2-0, Intelligence, and ADPs 3-90, Offense and Defense, and 7-0, Training, that will be available later this summer. The viability and use of the audiobook format, as well as future production of additional doctrinal publications, will be evaluated as part of this pilot program.

Audiobooks join the CADD lineup of digital interactive publications available to Soldiers via the U.S. Army Central Army Registry. To access the FM 3-0 audiobook, visit

By Ted Crisco and Maj. Christopher Parker, Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate

Army Announces Expert Soldier Badge

Friday, June 14th, 2019

In conjunction with the U.S. Army’s 244th Birthday, the Army announced a new proficiency badge today, called the Expert Soldier Badge.

The ESB is designed to improve lethality, recognize excellence in Solder combat skills and increase individual, unit and overall Army readiness. The ESB is the equivalent of the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Field Medical Badge but for all other military occupational specialties in the Army. Commanders will soon be able to use the badge to recognize Soldiers who attain excellence in physical fitness and marksmanship and a high standard of expertise in land navigation and performing warfighting tasks.

“The ESB will be an important component of increasing Soldier lethality and overall readiness to help achieve the vision for the Army of 2028,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey. “The EIB and EFMB have supported the Infantry and medical fields with distinction, ensuring their Soldiers maintain critical skills, while recognizing the very best among them. The ESB will achieve the same for the rest of the Army.”

The Army will implement the ESB in early fiscal year 2020, with the standards and regulation to be finalized by September 2019. Earning the badge will test a Soldier’s proficiency in physical fitness, marksmanship, land navigation and other critical skills, and demonstrates a mastery of the art of soldiering.

The ESB training and testing will be extremely challenging, mission-focused, and conducted under realistic conditions. Those in the Infantry, Special Forces, and Medical career management fields are not eligible for the ESB.

“Like the EIB and EFMB, the ESB test will be a superb venue for individual training in units and the badge will recognize a Soldier’s mastery,” said Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. “And it will be just as tough to earn as the EIB and EFMB because the Soldier will have to demonstrate fitness, weapons proficiency, navigation and warrior task skill at the expert level.”

Standards for the ESB are still being refined but they will not be adjusted for age, gender or any other criteria. The test will share about 80 percent of the same warrior tasks as the EIB and EFMB, and is designed so it can be administered alongside and together with them. Brigade commanders will decide if and when to schedule the test so it best fits their training schedules.

Under the ESB test process, Soldiers will demonstrate mastery of individual skills through different evaluations over a five-day period. The standards for the ESB place candidates under varying degrees of stress that test their physical and mental abilities as they execute critical tasks to an established set of standards.

To qualify to take the ESB test, Soldiers must pass the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), qualify as “Expert” on the M4/M16 rifle and be recommended by their chain of command.

The test itself consists of another ACFT, day and night land navigation, individual testing stations, and culminates with a 12-mile foot march. ESB test stations include warrior tasks laid out in the ESB regulation and may also include five additional tasks selected by the brigade commander from the unit’s mission essential task list. Example tasks include:

? React to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Attack

? Construct Individual Fighting Positions

? Search an Individual in a Tactical Environment

? Employ Progressive Levels of Individual Force

? Mark CBRN-Contaminated Areas

“We worked tirelessly on the ESB to ensure we got it right,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Edward W. Mitchell, Center for Initial Military Training Command. “We wanted to provide commanders the opportunity to recognize their top Soldiers who have met the highest standard of performance in physical fitness, warfighting tasks and readiness.”

Each ESB task will be evaluated on a “go” or “no-go” basis. Pass rates during the ESB pilot testing were similar to that of the EIB and EFMB.

“The ESB is all about increasing the readiness of our Army. It will provide commanders outside the Infantry, Special Forces and medical communities the opportunity to recognize Soldiers who best demonstrate excellence in their fields,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy A. Guden, TRADOC Command Sergeant Major.

“This is not a badge to award so that the entire Army now has an ‘expert’ badge to wear. As it is now, not every Infantryman or Special Forces Soldier earns the EIB and not every medic earns the EFMB. Keeping with the same mindset, this is a badge to award to those who truly deserve recognition as an expert in their career field; for those who have achieved a high level of competence and excellence in their profession.”

By U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Public Affairs

So You Want to be an SFAB Advisor? Here’s How…

Friday, June 14th, 2019

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Soldiers who believe they have what it takes to join one of the six Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) must first pass the 3-day Security Force Assistance Command Assessment and Selection Course that’s designed to ensure they meet the standards of a SFAB Advisor.

Assessment and Selection Course candidates undergo a process designed to test their mental, physical and teamwork skills to ensure they possess the attributes that the SFAB teams are looking for in an Advisor.

Some of these attributes include discipline, sound judgment, moral conduct, and the ability to remain calm and collected while seizing the initiative during mission uncertainty.

“What we are looking for is someone who is physically fit, works well in a team, who is intelligent, and comfortable making decisions while operating with a certain level of ambiguity,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert George, SFAC Assessment and Selection Sergeant Major.

The assessment process is something new candidates are curious about once they decide to join the SFABs.

“I heard about the SFABs while I was deployed in Afghanistan and when I came back some senior NCOs I worked with had joined and let us know more about them,” said Sgt. Skyler Lewis, SFAC Assessment Candidate and Signal Support Systems Specialist from 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “I looked more into it and then decided that, yes, this is for me.”

The assessment process starts with in-processing on day zero and then moves onto day one. Day one starts the non-stop process that lasts through day two. It begins with the candidates conducting an APFT, team events, a leader reaction course, a warrior skills test, MOS proficiency and ethical dilemma tests, peer evaluations, a subject matter expert interview, and culminates with a challenging foot march.

“They briefed us on what it was going to be like when we got here and it was a little different than I thought it would be and a lot harder – but it was worth it – I thought it was a good process and I had to stay focused and push hard through some of the events,” said Lewis.

The final portion of the assessment process is the selection board on day three, after which, the candidates find out how they did and if they were selected. If selected, they receive information about the reporting process and continue their SFAB Advisor training there.

The opportunity to continue to training, mentoring and advising others is one of the reasons Fort Benning Drill Sergeant Joshua Tobin felt he needed to go through the assessment course and become a SFAB Advisor.

“I have been training and mentoring Soldiers for the past 12 years and really getting more into it with the new privates at Fort Benning for the last 33 months. I feel that this opportunity is the same, but bigger, you are still training, mentoring, and advising, but this time it’s with our partners,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Tobin, SFAC Assessment Candidate with 2nd Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment, 194th Armored Brigade.

The assessment and selection process is still relatively new and constantly adapts to the current needs of the SFABs and will continue to change and facilitate any of their future needs.

“How we assess the Soldiers has changed since I got here almost a year ago. We have changed and added events that better identify the attributes that make a good Military Advisor,” said George. “We will continue to change things to better identify candidates who will make the best military Advisors.”

The SFAB Recruiting and Retention Team continues to look for Soldiers who are interested in becoming SFAB Advisors in one of the five active-duty and one Army National Guard SFABs. For more information and details about joining, visit the SFAB Recruiting and Retention Team website at or contact them at one of the following: Officers (910) 570-5159 and Enlisted (910) 570-9975/5131 or email them at

By SFC Mark Albright, Security Force Assistance Command

CSM Michael Grinston to Serve as 16th Sergeant Major of the Army

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper and Army Chief of Staff GEN Mark A. Milley, announced that CSM Michael Grinston has been selected as the next Sergeant Major of the Army. He currently serves as Command Sergeant Major, US Army Forces Command.

Command Sergeant Major Michael A. Grinston hails from Jasper, Alabama. A career artilleryman, he joined the Army in October 1987 as a Cannon Crewmember and has served at every leadership level from Cannon Crewmember to I Corps Command Sergeant Major.

He has been assigned to 1-84 FA at Fort Lewis, WA, 2-320th FA at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, two tours at Ledward Barracks in Schweinfurt, Germany with 5-41 FA and 1-7th FA, 1-39th FA at Fort Bragg, NC, E/1- 22 FA Fort Sill, OK, D/319th FA, 1-508 IN and 2-503 IN at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy. His service as a command sergeant major includes assignments as a Battalion CSM with 2-15 FA at Fort Drum, NY, Observer Controller CSM at Hohenfels, Germany, Brigade CSM 170th IBCT in Baumholder, Germany, Brigade CSM 4/101 at Fort Campbell, KY, 1st Infantry Division CSM at Fort Riley, KS, and I Corps at JBLM, WA.

CSM Grinston’s deployments include Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Kosovo. He has deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom twice each, and recently returned from the Army’s first deployment of a division headquarters in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Iraq from October 2014 to June 2015.

His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and 5 Bronze Stars (with 2 ‘V’ devices). He has earned the Ranger tab, Master Parachutist badge, Air Assault badge, Drill Sergeant identification badge, and the Combat Action Badge. He has attended every level of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System and is a graduate of Ranger, Airborne, and Air Assault Schools. He is also a graduate of Drill Sergeant School and the Equal Opportunity Course.

CSM Grinston possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland University College.

Largest Promotion Ceremony in Army Special Operations History for Psychological Operations Soldiers

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service) — More than 200 Psychological Operations noncommissioned officers proudly stood before their Families, friends and leaders during a promotion ceremony larger than any other in Army Special Operations history, May 31, 2019. About 100 additional promotees will pin, but were unable to attend the Fort Bragg ceremony because they are currently deployed or in training.

PSYOP Soldiers complete extensive training and education in human dynamics, influence theory, psychology, sociology, language, culture, and politics. PSYOP NCOs are expected to operate successfully in austere environments, executing national strategic and theater-level policies and decisions with limited supervision. They are expected to interact with U.S. ambassadors, senior country team members, and host nation ministerial-level officials on a daily basis. The importance and sensitivity of their missions warranted a grade plate change for the PSYOP Regiment’s enlisted ranks to ensure the NCOs’ ranks corresponded with the level of responsibility they assume while downrange.

Army and ARSOF leaders at multiple echelons worked for more than a year to achieve the grade plate change that would later create additional positions for the newly promoted staff sergeants and sergeants first class. The current organizational structure did not allow for additional NCOs of these ranks, resulting in a stagnation at the junior NCO levels. However, the dedication of these leaders resulted in the change of 336 sergeant positions to staff sergeant, and 114 staff sergeant positions to sergeant first class.

The grade plate change made it possible for these NCOs to finally pin after years of waiting – more than a decade in some cases. However, each promotee had already met every requirement for promotion; they had completed the appropriate level of professional military education and met the time in grade and service requirements, sometimes multiple times over. Instead of reclassifying to a different military occupational specialty or leaving the Army altogether, they were committed to their craft, to their teammates, and to the ARSOF Family.

Newly-promoted Staff Sgt. Gabrielle Phillip is one such NCO. Phillip has been a PSYOP Soldier since entering the Army in 2009 and was a sergeant for almost eight years. She said job satisfaction and quality leadership are what kept her in the career field for so long without the guarantee of upward advancement.

“I love PSYOP,” she said. “I love the job, I love what we do. I’ve had the pleasure of working with leaders who’ve always pushed me so even though I might have had the rank of sergeant, I never felt like one. I always felt like I could grow. I always felt like I could do new things, try new things and just accept responsibility. I love PSYOP so that’s what kept me around.”

While most promotees were pinned by Family members or friends, Phillip was among the few selected to be pinned by Maj. Gen. John Deedrick, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) commanding general. During the ceremony, Deedrick emphasized the fact that these NCOs have patiently waited for this well-deserved day to come while remaining dedicated members of the PSYOP Regiment.

“I think it moves the bar on what selfless service, what patriotism, and what fidelity really mean,” Deedrick said. “And I want to thank you all personally for your steadfastness, for your commitment to this nation and to this regiment as you have shouldered that burden and gone on and conducted your mission in an incredible way.”

He added, “They’ve put in the work, they’ve put in the time. They have the experience, they have the education and they are ready to operate at the next level. I couldn’t be happier for all of you standing on this field.”

By SFC Kissta DiGregorio

Tonight Is The Night Of Nights

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

This is the “Tonight is the night of nights” speech which was read aloud to the 506th PIR, 101st AB at the departure airfields on the eve of D-Day, 5th June 1944. Written by Col Robert Sink. Thank God for men like this.


Soldiers of the regiment: June 5, 1944 – D-DAY

Today, and as you read this, you are en route to that great adventure for which you have trained for over two years.

Tonight is the night of nights.

Tomorrow throughout the whole of our homeland and the Allied world the bells will ring out the tidings that you have arrived, and the invasion for liberation has begun.

The hopes and prayers of your dear ones accompany you, the confidence of your high commanders goes with you. The fears of the Germans are about to become a reality.

Let us strike hard. When the going is tough, let us go harder. Imbued with faith in the rightness of our cause, and the power of our might, let us annihilate the enemy where found.

May God be with each of you fine soldiers. By your actions let us justify His faith in us.

Colonel Robert Sink Regimental Commander, 506th P.I.R, 101st Airborne Division