Editor’s Note: This article was published first published in The Fayetteville Observer. It has been updated with additional information from the ceremony.
FORT BRAGG — The U.S. Army Special Operations Command has its first female command sergeant major, while the outgoing top enlisted soldier will be the next sergeant major of the Army.
With more than 30,000 soldiers and civilians, USASOC is the higher command for the 1st Special Forces Command, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Army Special Operations Aviation Command and 75th Ranger Regiment
During a ceremony Monday at Fort Bragg, Command Sgt. Maj. JoAnn Naumann assumed responsibility from Command Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Weimer.
Naumann most recently served as the senior enlisted leader for Special Operations Command-Korea.
She enlisted in the Army in February 1996 as a voice language analyst. She completed the Arabic Basic Course at the Defense Language Institute and Advanced Individual Training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas.
Naumann’s assignments include serving as the Joint Special Operations Command’s senior enlisted advisor, command sergeant major for the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion and command sergeant major for the Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade. She has completed 14 deployments throughout CENTCOM and AFRICOM.
In an Army interview last year, Naumann said she’s been with special operations since 2002.
“When I came into the SOF (special operations forces) community in 2002, there were very few women,” Naumann said.
Ahead of Monday’s ceremony, Naumann told The Fayetteville Observer that being in special operation forces is more about capability.
“We have all different military occupation specialties in our formation,” she said. “We have genders and races and everything. Everyone is represented in our formation, and it’s about putting everybody on the same playing field and then selecting the best athlete.”
Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, USASOS’s commander who oversaw Monday’s ceremony, said he’s known Naumann for decades and described her as a trailblazer.
During Naumann’s most recent assignment, Braga said, she worked with Korean forces that don’t “really have females,” in its special operation forces.
Naumann, Braga said, showed the Korean forces that she would jump with them, go to the range with them and was a value.
“Talk about changing cultures and adding to strategy and international partnerships through sheer perseverance and commitment and leading by example,” he said.
Prior to the ceremony, Naumann said the best advice she received was when she was a staff sergeant and a sergeant major told her she’s done her job when her soldiers don’t need her anymore
“It is about developing our people ... It’s not about me here today, but it’s about who’s going to be here behind me and who’s going to be here in 10 years and growing those future leaders,” she said.
Naumann said she’s honored to lead the Army’s special operation forces “at an inflection point,” when the Army is “challenged by new adversaries and rapidly advancing technology.”
She thanked Weimer for his guidance.
New Sergeant Major of the Army
Weimer is leaving his position as command sergeant major of USASOC to become the 17th sergeant major of the Army in August, a position currently held by Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston.
Ahead of the ceremony, Weimer told The Fayetteville Observer that he didn’t start his Army career thinking he’d become the senior enlisted leader of USASOC or the Army.
He said mentors have taught him to focus on being he where is in that moment in time.
“We have a tendency to always be thinking about the next step or the next thing, and it absolutely can be distracting, especially in our line of work,” Weimer said.
Braga said Weimer will be the first Special Forces noncommissioned officer to hold the Army’s top enlisted spot.
Braga recognized Weimer’s wife and daughters for their support and described Weimer as having “courage, candor and commitment,” along with “vulnerability and humility.”
Weimer, Braga said, is similar to the explorer Ulysess in the poems “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” and also written about by the poet Alfred Tennyson.
Ulysess, Braga said, “lived life to the fullest,” and did not look “for wealth, position in life or fame after death.”
Weimer came to work to make it better, from advocating for child development centers and new barracks on post to “talent management.”
“He left his mark,” Braga said.
Weimer challenged the soldiers to never settle or compromise and to refuse to be comfortable.
According to his official biography, Weimer joined the Army in 1993 and completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1994. He completed the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course and earned his Green Beret in 1996.
Weimer previously served as the senior enlisted leader at the U.S. Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, from August 2020, until assuming his current role with USASOC in August 2021.
He’s also had previous assignments as command sergeant major for the Special Operations Joint Task Force Afghanistan, the 7th Special Forces Group and numerous tours in the U.S. Central and U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.