United States Army Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Michael M. Balch became the Senior Enlisted Leader at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on 27 August, replacing U.S. Army CSM Michael Bartelle. He is the third Senior NCO to serve in the position.
Balch, who served as U.S. Southern Command's CSM since December 2004, was selected by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis, to serve as the Senior Non-commissioned Officer at SHAPE, the headquarters for Allied Command Operations (ACO) – one of NATO's two strategic military commands – whose mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of NATO member nations in its area of responsibility.
"I am humbled by the opportunity to serve my nation and make contributions to the NATO Alliance," Balch said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with NATO Senior NCOs and to further develop the outstanding work of CSM Bartelle. I replace a great CSM in Mike Bartelle and I seek to fill those shoes to the best of my ability."
Over the past three and a half decades, Balch has served in a variety of Army assignments, at the tactical, operational, and strategic level.
Among operational assignments, he served in every leadership position from Squad leader to CSM. Balch's CSM positions over the past 12 years include deploying with the 91st Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division to Bosnia-Herzegovina with Stabilization Force-5 in 1999; the Engineer Brigade, 1st Infantry Division stationed in Bamberg, Germany, deploying and overseeing the building of Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overseeing military construction in Afghanistan and Iraq; deploying as the CSM for the Gulf Region Division of the Corps of Engineers to Iraq in 2004; and numerous trips to Afghanistan from 2002 to 2004 to help oversee the execution of $12.9 (USD)billion worth of reconstruction effort.
During Balch's almost five year tour in U.S. Southern Command he expanded the assistance to build partnership capacity of the NCO Corps throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America with a particular focus on the Colombian and Ecuadorian military Senior NCOs. The expansion included making the education opportunities both joint and international. Balch also played a large role seeing to the well-being of all the people within the command.
In addition to his military experience, Balch lived in Bamberg, Germany from 1999 to 2002. "Both Marilou and I loved our last tour in Europe and are very excited to return," he said.