The first sergeant has a military pay grade of E8 and holds more responsibility than his or her equivalent master sergeant. The first sergeant is the 10th highest rank in the Army. They are the company’s NCO in charge. As you know, the Army is run by the NCO company commander. However, the first sergeant sees that the mission is accomplished safely and in accordance with all Army traditions and standards.
The First Sergeant Creed
I am a first sergeant. My job is people—everyone is my business. I dedicate my time and energy to their needs, their health, morale, and welfare. I grow in strength by strengthening my people. My job is done in faith. My people build faith. My job is people—everyone is my business.
A true first sergeant will begin his or her march at the front then march at the rear to make sure no one has fallen behind. He will take care of each troop’s needs. The unit knows the first sergeant watches over them and always makes his voice known in a time of need.
First Sergeant Duties
First sergeant duties are endless. He or she is usually the first one in the office and the last one to leave. Almost all the unit duties and operations begin with the first sergeant. They hold formations, instruct platoon sergeants, and advise the commander of all unit capabilities. They must keep the entire unit motivated and ready at a moment’s notice. The first sergeant is the backbone of the unit just as the NCO is the backbone of the Army. Yes, the company commander is in charge overall. However, the true test of success in any Army unit is a good 1st sergeant at the helm. He or she will make or break a unit. If they fail, the entire unit fails. One of the most important duties a first sergeant has is individual training and discipline and the development of the NCOs. The first sergeant must be able to convey tasks and duties to platoon sergeants. His or her job can sometimes be an administrative nightmare. They will recommend promotions and disciplines to the commander.
The 1st sergeant overseas the unit’s NCODP (non-commissioned officer development program). The first sergeant must look for and develop ways to educate and train the subordinate NCOs. He or she must counsel and mentor platoon sergeants about passing on guidance, knowledge, and experience.
Retention and Re-Enlistments
One of the other primary tasks of a first sergeant is to retain and track unit re-enlistments and prevent good soldiers from leaving the Army. They have to become very involved in each soldier’s career path. The first sergeant will help prepare soldiers and their units for schools and specialized training.
Sometimes the first sergeant must discipline a soldier on the spot. This is hard for both parties for some reason. You have to look at it this way: each soldier in a unit is a direct reflection of the unit itself. If you show me a squared away, PT excelling, weapons expert, I’m going to bet that all came from the high standards set by a great first sergeant. The 1st sergeant is responsible for the overall health and welfare of each soldier in his or her unit. They do whatever they can to help their troops.
Senior Enlisted Advisor
The first sergeant keeps the company commander informed of all the soldiers’ issues. He or she also keeps the company commander from making dumb decisions that will negatively affect the unit and its soldiers. The 1st sergeant must keep the unit prepared and ready to complete the company’s mission.
To the Company Commanders
Your duties may differ from a 1st sergeant, but you share some the of the same responsibilities. Both of you must have a good working relationship. They don’t need to kiss your butt, and you don’t need to kiss theirs. You simply need to build a solid, professional relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The worst thing you can do is go over a 1st sergeant or constantly look over their shoulder and second guess them. If you want to succeed, pass on knowledge and experience and voice your opinion when asked. Otherwise, stay out of the way.