Sergeant Major of the Army shoulder marks are authorized for wear on sweaters (black Cardigan and pullover), coats (black all-weather and windbreaker), and shirts (long- and short-sleeved service and Maternity shirts). Should marks are offered in Large and Small sizes, and personnel allowed to select whichever size fits their garments the best; the Large (4.25”) is an inch longer and has a more pronounced taper toward the narrower end.

While the office of Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) is held by a NonCommissioned Officer, its unique nature means it is afforded a degree of respect and honor that surpasses even that given to Command Sergeant Majors, or CSMs. That in and of itself is not surprising: Junior commissioned officers, though technically outranking all NCOs, typically voluntarily defer to CSMs in recognition of their many years of service and experience. But according to Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-60, the Sergeant Major of the Army is afforded the protocol status of a three-star general at official and social Army functions, with the caveat “he or she should be ranked behind the last four-star general officer or civilian equivalent.”

In fact, the Sergeant Major of the Army (SMA) has officially held four-star protocol status for almost the entire time the office has been in existence. This was a tradition that first began when General William Westmoreland decreed that the second-ever Sergeant Major of the Army, George W. Dunaway, would receive four-star protocol status. To say this caused some eyebrows to be raised among General officers who held two- or three-star rank would be an understatement. But Dunaway’s insistence on setting a high bar of professional standards for the NCO cadre went a long way in soothing any ruffle feathers caused by his elevation in status.

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