The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy welcomed another iteration of students August 28 for their exclusive Sergeants Major Course and broke two records in doing so. The first record broken was for the size of the class -- 713, the largest class in the history of the Academy. The second record broken was the number of international students, 59, again the largest in the history of the Academy. Those international students represent 46 partner nations, including three who sent representatives for the first time -- Iraq, Norway and Senegal.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of USASMA, welcomed the group before introducing the guest speaker for the event, Command Sgt. Maj. David Turnbull, command sergeant major of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

"Today marks a tremendous day in our history of the Sergeants Major Academy as we welcome the largest class to the Sergeants Major Course -- Class 68," Sellers said. "You have tipped the scales of our physical capacity, but we wouldn't have it any other way. We are as eager to have you here as you are to be here."

Sellers said he understood the students were probably wondering what challenges they would be facing and provided them some insight.

"So here's what I can tell you," he said. "The faculty is going to challenge you on your critical thinking skills, your thought processes, your writing skills and your humility."

Sellers continued telling the students they would be taken out of their comfort zone of their MOS and be asked to be a part of a larger picture, and would gain new perspectives and knowledge from our sister services and our international partners.

"We have the largest class of international students ever with 59 student representing 46 partner nations," he said. "Many of them brought their families which will further enhance the cross-cultural exchange in and out of the classroom."

He concluded his remarks by cautioning the class to "treat each other with dignity and respect" and to "communicate, collaborate and coordinate" with their fellow students and they will find success at the academy.

Turnbull began his remarks by noting he never imagined as student of Class 52 that he would be "headlining" the class opening someday.

"It's an overwhelming thought," he said before turning his attention to the international students. "A special thanks to the international students for being here. You bring a side, a culture and perspective that (we) can't get by reading books."

Turnbull said the class needed their thoughts, their different ways of looking at solutions and problem sets.

"We need you here to help us think in a different light," Turnbull said. "We hope you have a great year."

This is not the academy I came to, he noted. The leadership, faculty and staff are the envy of colleges and universities across the country.

"We started the fellowship a few years ago and now you have great facilitators who not only have a degree, but they have experience, knowledge and a reputation of being great leaders," he said. "They will give you insights that I probably did not get."

Turnbull pressed the students to be open-minded, be open to change, and to change with it or become irrelevant. He concluded his remarks focusing on a benefit of attending the academy.

"The realm power that you are going to get out of this class is the person sitting next to you -- the sergeant major on your left and right," he said. "That is your power. When you leave here, that is the person you are going to call for help. They are going to be invaluable to you. … It makes a world of difference when you are taking care of Soldiers."

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy drives change for enlisted Soldier development and is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education -- Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025. You can learn more about USASMA by visiting

Hi-resolution photos of this event are available for download on our Flickr page at