Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese
Commandant of U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy
June 10, 2014 – 23 June 2017
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis E. Defreese, a native of Indiana, entered the Army on July 24, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois. He completed Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Benning, Georgia and began his career at Fort Knox, Kentucky as a rifleman and assistant gunner with 4th Battalion, 54th Infantry Regiment. From there his 32-year career took him to numerous places and assignments including five combat tours in support of Operations Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Defreese has held every leadership position from team leader to command sergeant major and has attended all levels of enlisted professional military education graduating from the Sergeants Major Academy as a member of Class 53. Defreese has also served as a recruiter in Chicago and as a drill sergeant at Fort Knox.
Besides being an accomplished enlisted leader at every level mentoring and training Soldiers, it was his final assignment as the third enlisted commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy where Defreese made his most significant contributions to enlisted education.
In his first 90 days as commandant, Defreese met with Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, then Chief of Staff of the Army, to present the USASMA Fellowship Program for select command sergeants major and sergeants major. The concept entailed partnering with the Pennsylvania State University to provide for 20 selectees a year to earn a Master in Adult Education and Life-Long Learning followed by a 24- to 36-month commitment as instructors for the Sergeants Major Course. Odierno immediately approved the concept which subsequently led to the accreditation of the Sergeants Major Course and the Sergeants Major Academy becoming a branch campus of the Command and General Staff College, able to confer a bachelor’s degree in Leadership and Workforce Development to those Soldiers who choose the degree path. The first degrees will be conferred with Class 69.
In early 2015, the Army called for the establishment of the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System, the creation of the Master Leader Course, and the renaming of the Warrior Leader Course to the Basic Leader Course. Defreese led the charge in transitioning to the new system developing an expeditious fielding of the new Master Leader Course (MLC) - eliminating the "missing rung" in the ladder for senior enlisted education
Army leadership also directed Common Core standardization for the Advance and Senior Leader Courses. Here again, Defreese ignited the fuse for USASMA’s training development team to get out front of this tasking laying the groundwork for implementation of Common Core in those programs of instruction.
His quick successes in these missions resulted in USASMA being designated as the lead for standing up the NCO Academy Mission Command directorate - a move designed to ensure standardization of all NCOPDS programs of instruction and preclude local deviations from set policy and procedures. Defreese streamlined the development and implementation of this new mission and was successful with designating the director position for the NCOA Mission Command as a second-serving brigade-level command sergeant major ensuring a very mature and seasoned sergeant major would be selected by the Army's centralized Command Slating List selection panel.
His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster); Bronze Star Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster); Purple Heart; Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster); Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster); Army Achievement Medal (1st Oak Leaf Cluster); Good Conduct Medal (9th Award); Combat Infantryman Badge w/star; Parachutist Badge; Air Assault Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; Drill Sergeant Identification Badge; and Gold Army Recruiter Badge. He is a member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Association, the Order of St. Maurice (Centurion) and the Order of St. Barbara.