Command Sergeant Major Michael Balch (ret)
SACEUR and CSM Balch at Retirement Ceremony
During the nearly 36 years I have served, I've been given tremendous opportunities to contribute and be value added in the mission of defending our nation and everything in between. This long road traveled of leading and caring for people in military organizations has been an affair of the heart.
I've loved being a Soldier and being with the "troops”. When I leave our military service there is much my family and I will take with us. I joined as a young wet behind the ears kid from Syracuse, New York and will depart a middle-aged man. This opportunity to serve our force at every level to include the Strategic level in both United States Southern Command and the NATO Alliance's Allied Command Operations at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe gave us a chance to be a part of history in the making. Our SACEUR, Admiral Stavridis in a Virtual Dialog with key leaders said, "We now have over 150,000 NATO troops in operations on three continents; tackling the Taliban in Afghanistan, countering piracy in the Gulf of Aden and further afield, and now in support of UNSCR 1970 and 1973 in Libya. NATO, as an Alliance is busy and carrying out important work across the globe. This is by far the busiest time in SHAPE's 60-year history from the perspective of actual operations.”
Every day in uniform is a new chance to further develop as a person and leader. An armed forces providing security must always be a continual life-long learning organization. After all, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coasties are our nation's sons and daughters – we owe them the best leadership we can give. The citizens of our nations are counting on us, as professionals, to lead with precision and look out for the well-being of our people. I've learned so much from so many and tried to share my knowledge with others. Leading is learned and passed from generation to generation. We stand on the shoulders of those giants that came before us. They gave us an opportunity to see more than we ever expected. I've learned from some of the best and hopefully passed along a little.
When I get a chance to reflect and look back, I know, I will cherish -- "the people” -- the most -- those I had an opportunity to serve with, side by side as a uniform wearer in defense of our nations and the good order of the world. They have made a difference by their wonderful service. I am thankful for the talented people that make up our armed forces.
Marilou and I are headed to the "magic city” of Miami, Florida where we look forward to an opportunity to work as public servants for our nation again in some capacity. We also look forward to enjoying more time with our family and friends. Mi casa es su casa… please come visit… our doors are always open for friends. Thanks for all you do and will continue to do in the profession of arms from all the nations.
As my old boss and friend LTG (Ret) Bob Flowers, US Army would often say, "You can take the Soldier out of the Army but you can never take the Army out of the Soldier”. I leave with a Warrior Ethos and a Sapper Spirit that I will carry to my grave. God Bless all of you!