Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph McFarlane Jr. said he’s just “an old tanker that’s been blessed” as he took over as commandant of Fort Hood’s Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Friday afternoon.
“I’ve been blessed throughout my career by being led by great leaders and I’ve led great soldiers,” said McFarlane, who joins the school after serving as the top NCO for 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
Now 23 years after attending this same academy as a student, McFarlane will take all his experience and use it to train the future leaders of the Army.
“(Back then) it was in old World War II barracks where the Copeland Center is located now,” he recalled. “I just remember ... having to buff the floors every day.”
McFarlane accepted the colors and the responsibility of training the Army’s future NCOs during a ceremony on Sadowski Field. Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Graham relinquished the position.
“To serve as commandant is a very important duty,” said III Corps and Fort Hood Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder, who oversaw the ceremony.
The job is essentially a command position. The commandant leads the academy’s 74 soldiers and cadre and 3,600 soldier-students annually, and is also responsible for the school’s $80 million of property.
Graham, who will move on to serve with U.S. Army Operational Test Command, joked that when he took on the role last year, he felt like a new second lieutenant.
“The best part of the job ... was the mission bestowed upon (the academy) by the Army — training future NCOs and leaders,” he said. “Exciting things are about to happen here and I look forward to watching them from the sidelines.”
McFarlane will be implementing changes to the academy as directed by the Army through Soldier 2020 and the U.S. Army Learning Concept for 2015. These initiatives strive to use the experience of the past decade at war to better train, educate and develop leaders. McFarlane has spent more than 65 months downrange.
“I’m excited as the Army is trying to get back its education of its NCOs. We’re drawing down in Afghanistan and we’ve really got to see about … developing young NCOs to be agile, adapted and resilient,” he said.
“We have an inherent responsibility to pass on a portion of the Army to the next young generation to protect the whole country,” McFarlane said. “If we don’t do that, we’re not doing what we need to do to the fullest ability. That same concept was given to me by my leaders.”