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History of the NCO Creed

The Creed has existed in different versions for a number of years. Long into their careers, sergeants remember reciting the NCO Creed during their induction into the NCO Corps. Nearly every NCO’s office or home has a copy hanging on a wall. Some have intricate etchings in metal on a wooden plaque, or printed in fine calligraphy. But a quick glance at any copy of the NCO Creed and you will see no author’s name at the bottom. The origin of the NCO Creed is a story of its own.

In 1973, the Army (and the noncommissioned officer corps) was in turmoil. Of the post-Vietnam developments in American military policy, the most influential in shaping the Army was the advent of the Modern Volunteer Army. With the inception of the Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course, many young sergeants were not the skilled trainers of the past and were only trained to perform a specific job; squad leaders in Vietnam. The noncommissioned officer system was under development and the army was rewriting its Field Manual 22-100, Leadership, to set a road map for leaders to follow.

Of those working on the challenges at hand, one of the only NCO-pure instructional departments at the U.S Army Infantry School (USAIS) at Fort Benning, Georgia, GA was the NCO Subcommittee of the Command and Leadership Committee in the Leadership Department. Besides training soldiers at the Noncommissioned Officers Academy, these NCOs also developed instructional material and worked as part of the team developing model leadership programs of instruction.

During one brainstorming session, SFC Earle Brigham recalls writing three letters on a plain white sheet of paper… N-C-O. From those three letters they began to build the NCO Creed. The idea behind developing a creed was to give noncommissioned officers a “yardstick by which to measure themselves.”

When it was ultimately approved, the NCO Creed was printed on the inside cover of the special texts issued to students attending the NCO courses at Fort Benning, beginning in 1974. Though the NCO Creed was submitted higher for approval and distribution Army-wide, it was not formalized by an official army publication until 11 years later.

Though it has been rewritten in different ways, the NCO Creed still begins its paragraphs with those three letters: N-C-O. It continues to guide and reinforce the values of each new generation of noncommissioned officers.

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