Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer took the service’s top enlisted job two months ago. While he’s still trying to figure out how best to serve as the enlisted voice in the room during big meetings with the Army secretary, Congress and other key stakeholders, he’s already started to roll out a single-word message to the troops that he hopes will be his legacy — “discipline.”
Though it’s a term that can quickly get ambiguous and sometimes catch eye rolls from the rank and file, he’s been seasoning his remarks with it as he’s kicked off his world tour to introduce himself to the force, with stops in Alaska, California, Texas, Poland and Romania.
Weimer is zeroing in on having a buttoned-up Army ready for inspection and war. The rallying cry for his tenure will be “Brilliance at the Basics,” an idea that he’s still figuring out how to fully articulate but boils down to emphasizing the basic expectations for the job, like weapons competency and fitness. And he wants those standards to live in every soldier’s pocket in an app that will include the regulations he hopes to reinforce.
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“You’re going to see us focus on standards and discipline,” Weimer said in an interview with Military.com. “There should be no ambiguity on what the standard is, and there should be no ambiguity on what it means to have the personal courage to enforce the standards. And right now, we have a little bit of ambiguity; we’ve got people nervous to enforce the standards.”
A key to what Weimer wants for the Army is the development of a so-called “Blue Book.” The concept isn’t new. Some organizations, including military service academies, have them — pamphlets that soldiers are sometimes expected to carry on their person outlining basic rules and expectations, tactics, job-specific resources and history specific to their formation.
Weimer wants to broadly standardize that — have every soldier have a Blue Book, but as an app on their phone. The app, which Weimer hopes can launch in October 2024, will have regulations and policies updated, a centralized location that he hopes will combat confusion over which is the latest version of a set of rules.
He’s quick to say an app isn’t going to solve what he sees as discipline issues in the force, but still views it as a potential tool.
“We build a lot of things that don’t get used,” Weimer said at a Wednesday event where he announced plans for the app. “But I’m pretty sure when you build something that literally removes the ambiguity of what the current status standard is, and what right looks like, it’ll get used.”
This isn’t meant to just be an app for the Army Publishing Directorate, which houses all of the service’s policies and doctrine, typically referred to as Army Pubs. He wants the app to be a central location for creeds, Army history and commonly used publications, though the app idea is largely in its infancy.
Weimer has a new challenge as he moves from a career spent almost entirely in Special Forces, a chunk of that in the secretive Delta Force. Those organizations are far removed from what the typical junior troops experience in the conventional force, and Weimer has been busy trying to get his bearings with Army policy, though no one questions his combat bona fides.
For now, he’s focused on making sure noncommissioned officers are not afraid to correct soldiers, whether for uniform infractions in parking lots or within units for not conducting physical training as frequently as they should.
“There’s a fear to enforce the standards,” Weimer said. “It comes from the fact soldiers inside units see different versions of right. It’s inconsistent across the board.”
— Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on X @StevenBeynon.
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