Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) is an appointment held by Warrant Officers Class 1 (WO1) in the British Army, the British Royal Marines and in the armies of many Commonwealth nations, including Australia and New Zealand; and by Chief Warrant Officers (CWO) in the Canadian Forces. Only one WO1/CWO holds the appointment of RSM in a regiment or battalion, making him the senior warrant officer; in a unit with more than one WO1, the RSM is considered to be "first amongst equals". The RSM is primarily responsible for maintaining standards and discipline and acts as a father figure to his subordinates.
Like most Commonwealth forces, the RSM in the Australian Army is the senior warrant officer of the regiment or battalion, normally a Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1).
In addition, the senior warrant officer in the Australian Army holds the unique rank of Warrant Officer (introduced in 1991 and senior to WO1) and the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army (RSM-A). This appointment, based on the United States Army's practice of appointing a Sergeant Major of the Army, has existed since January 1983, and was originally held by a WO1. It is the equivalent of the Royal Australian Navy's Warrant Officer of the Navy (WO-N) and the Royal Australian Air Force's Warrant Officer of the Air Force (WOFF-AF).
In the Canadian Forces, the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major is normally held by an army Chief Warrant Officer (CWO). Due to the combined nature of the Canadian Forces, however, it is not impossible for an air force Chief Warrant Officer or a naval Chief Petty Officer 1st Class (CPO1) to rise to that post, especially in units with a high number of support trades personnel; examples might include a Logistics Branch CPO1 being appointed RSM of a service battalion, or an air force Communications and Electronics Branch CWO appointed to the position in a Communication Regiment.
As well, it is possible that a Master Warrant Officer may be appointed to an RSM position, in an acting or even official capacity, due to shortages of available CWOs, or in anticipation of a promotion, etc.
Regimental Sergeants Major in the Canadian Forces are sometimes informally referred to in third person by their appointment, for example "RSM Bloggins" while their commanding officers universally hold the privilege of addressing them as "RSM" (and the practice of doing so by subordinates may be governed by regimental tradition). In no case is an RSM supposed to be addressed simply as "Sergeant Major".
The practice of subordinates addressing the RSM as "Sir" or "Ma'am" applies only to Regimental Sergeants Major who are army or air force CWOs; naval CPO1s are universally addressed as "Chief", regardless of any appointments held.
The equivalent position in a higher formation, such as a brigade-group or Land Force Area, is sometimes termed "Regimental Sergeant Major" (for example, the Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group), but this practice is not universal (for example, the Brigade Sergeant Major of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group).
Like most Commonwealth forces, the RSM in the Singapore Armed Forces is usually the most senior warrant officer in the unit. Depending on the size of the unit, RSMs can be Second (2WO), First (1WO), Master (MWO), or Senior (SWO) Warrant Officers.
Exceptions to this are:
- in the presence of another warrant officer of comparative seniority holding a commissioned officer's appointment (often in the field of logistics); however even under these circumstances, the RSM is treated as the Senior Warrant Officer of the unit while the other warrant officers are recognised as officers.
- in NS (reserve equivalent) battalions which often have NS junior sergeants fast-tracked for promotion holding the RSM appointment.
During exercises and operations, the role of the RSM is to organize the battalion for movement, and to assist the unit S1 (Manpower Officer) in manpower administration.
In camp, he is the master of drill, parades and ceremonies. He supervises the Company Sergeants Major and Platoon Sergeants in the instruction of drill, and is in charge of the organization of formal parades. On the parade square, the RSM, with his pace stick, is "king". He has authority over all soldiers and even has the power to order punishment for subalterns (junior commissioned officers such as captains and lieutenants). In fact, the RSM may conduct "subalterns' parades" - private sessions for junior officers to perfect their foot and sword drills away from the critical eyes of the other ranks.
Senior officers may address him simply as "RSM", while, as a warrant officer, he is addressed "Sir" by those junior in rank. As a senior NCO, he is often addressed "Encik" ("mister" in Malay) as well by officers and relatively senior NCO ranks (this is an informal right which is not to be assumed by enlisted personnel).
In the British Army, the RSM is always addressed as "Sir" or "Ma'am" by his or her subordinates. Officers can address him or her as "Sergeant Major" (Foot Guards regiments), "Mr/Mrs/Miss (surname)" or as "RSM". Like most WO1s, an RSM wears a Sam Browne instead of a sash, which is worn by WO2s.
In the Household Cavalry, the appointment is Regimental Corporal Major (RCM).
The billet, as opposed to rank, of Regimental Sergeant Major exists in the United States Marine Corps, as the senior enlisted adviser to the Regimental Commander.
- ↑ Koh B. P., Lee G. B., Shoulder to shoulder: our national service journal, Ministry of Defence (Singapore), 2002, 32. ISBN 981-04-6931-4
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