FORT SILL, Oklahoma (July 30, 2020) -- Command Sgt. Maj. Erik Macher became the 28th commandant of the Fires Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officer Academy July 22, during an assumption of commandant ceremony at Snow Hall’s Kerwin Auditorium. He was most recently at the Directorate of Training Development and Doctrine here.“It’s always a privilege and honor to serve,” said Macher. “It’s about what I can offer the team and how I can serve the organization best.”1st Sgt. Brian Clark had filled in as acting commandant for the past eight months. He will return to his position as the chief of the Senior Leaders Course at the NCOA.The role of the NCOA commandant requires the seasoned thinking of a commanding officer, as well as the deeply grounded expertise of a command sergeant major,  said program narrator Kenneth Emerson, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security operations specialist for ceremonies.“The Noncommissioned Officer Academy’s commandant represents a benchmark of excellence and the command sergeants major who are selected to fill this role are considered the epitome of noncommissioned officers and leaders,” Emerson said.The academy’s staff trains Fires NCOs in the Basic Leader, Advanced Leader, and Senior Leader courses.Speaker“The academy is the foundation for professional education for the men and women here before you,” said Col. Phil Brooks, Field Artillery School commandant and chief of FA, who officiated the ceremony. “The skills they learn here are what sets our NCOs apart from any other army. It’s truly what makes them great.”Brooks highlighted the academy staff’s accomplishments under Clark’s leadership.“The NCOA graduated 2,401 NCOs in 2019, and graduated 1,122, so far, in 2020,” the colonel said.There are 230 NCOs in class today learning under COVID guidelines, Brooks said.“First sergeant (Clark), you were exactly where you needed to be at a time when your leadership was needed,” Brooks said. “You stepped up to the plate finding innovative ways to continue the mission while protecting our forces.  That’s been the cornerstone of your success.“...Your impact on our force will be felt for years to come. The Army is a people business and you have found ways to push past polished mediocracy ... by setting high standards and engaging all levels of your organization daily. We can’t thank you enough,” said Brooks.Brooks welcomed the Macher family. He said the command sergeant major brings a wealth of knowledge and experiences both operational and institutional from assignments ranging from Iraq to Bosnia to Korea to Fort Sill.He charged Macher to instill the NCO Creed’s “No one is more professional than I” ethic into NCOs who attend the academy. “We all look forward to watching you succeed,” Brooks said.Macher expressed gratitude toward Clark, the first sergeants, small group leaders, and civilian staff of the NCOA. They have successfully operated the last few months providing first-class professional military education during the pandemic, he said.“You have definitely underscored Fires Fifty (axiom) No. 32: High standards, positive outlook, and excellence are contagious,” said Macher.Clark said he gained much from leading the academy, and he will use those experiences in his future assignments.“I’m sad that it’s over, I was just getting started, but none the less I am glad to see Command Sgt. Maj. Macher take the reins,” he said. “I will stay humble and vigilant as always.”