Mateship, an egalitarian concept, is characterized by ingenuity, honesty, humor, courage, and compassion” (Gretener, 2020, para. 4). Mateship is what binds Australia and the United States together, beginning over 100 years ago when they first fought together in World War One. The countries have stood together in every conflict and war since the Battle of Hamel at the Western Front on 4 July 1918 (Australian War Memorial, n.d.). Therefore, it makes sense, if we fight together, we must educate and train together.
Beginning in 1975, Australia sent the first international Soldier, Warrant Officer Class Two (Master Sergeant equivalent) Robert J. May to the Sergeants Major Academy, Class Six. Since that time, Australia and the United States have continued a bilateral military relationship involving both Soldiers as students and instructors at each of the two country’s Non-Commissioned Officers Academies. The primary focus of the relationship is maintaining camaraderie and establishing a global network of senior Soldiers for future professional interactions. In 1996, Warrant Officer Class One (Sergeant Major equivalent) Marion Bowen was the first international female Soldier to attend the Sergeants Major Course, Class 47 and next year Australia will be represented by the fourth Australian female Soldier, Warrant Officer Class One Kirstin Tanner, as the 29th Australian student. From 1976 to 2022, the Sergeants Major Academy has graduated 28 senior Australian Soldiers and provided 22 Australian’s as instructors over 32 Classes. All of these Soldiers have returned to Australia and were appointed at high-level nominative positions, such as, five Regimental Sergeants Major (RSM) of the Forces Command (FORSCOM), four RSMs of Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), one RSM of Joint Operations Command, and two RSMs of the Army (RSM-A).
In 1994, Warrant Officer Class One Stephen Ward graduated the non-residents course. Warrant Officer Ward became the Eighth RSM-A. He served as the RSM-A from February 2008 to October 2011. In June 2001, Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks graduated Class 52 as a student and remained to instruct for Class 53. Warrant Officer Spinks became the 10th RSM-A and served in the prominent position from July 2015 to July 2018 (Army, n.d.). Currently, the Australian Army has three Senior Soldiers of the seven Tier Charlie RSM positions (TRADOC, FORSCOM equivalent) that have graduated from the Sergeants Major Academy, thus displaying the significant role the Academy plays in developing Australian Army senior Soldiers for future appointments.
In more recent years, the Australian Army reviewed the criteria requirements of the Soldiers that are sent to the Academy, as testament to the caliber of training received. Australian Soldiers attending the Academy are senior Soldiers with a minimum of two RSM (CSM equivalent) appointments. Each Soldier remains to instruct United States military personnel and international Soldiers following their academic year.
Over the past 46 years, our mateship has been steadfast in training and educating one another’s senior service women and men. Congratulations, Sergeants Major Academy, on 50 years of Soldier education, training, and professional development. Australian Soldiers look forward to an exciting future based on our shared values that have been resolute over the last 104 years.
Note: This article is a part of the NCOLCoE's 50th Anniversary celebration. The NCOLCoE's mission is to provide professional military education that develops holistically fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of large-scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment.
Author: Warrant Officer Class One Andrew Killen. WO1 Killen is an Australian Soldier with 32 years of service. He is a graduate of the Sergeants Major Academy and has been an Instructor for Classes 70, 71, and 72 within the Department of Professional Studies.
Army. (n.d) Regimental Sergeant Major – Army. Retrieved January, 2022 from https://www.army.gov.au/our-people/our-leaders/regimental-sergeant-major-army
Australian War Memorial. (n.d.) Hamel: The textbook victory – 4 July 2018. https://www.awm.gov.au/visit/exhibitions/1918/battles/hamel
Gretener, J. (2020). Lessons in mateship as Australia lurches from one crisis to another. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/27/australia/australia-mateship-anzac-intl-hnk/index.html