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The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

Can a Master Sergeant be Counseled by the unit First Sergeant?

Army Counseling Software - Include over 250 Army Counseling Examples

This response is provide based on the information you provided. You should not use this content as the sole source in making your decision. Seek guidance from your chain of command, JAG, IG., or other appropriate agency.  Do your own research. Then make an informed decision.

Absolutely as the authority to counsel is vested in the position and not the rank of the individual.  The First Sergeant exercises authority over all enlisted member of the unit including other E-8’s.

With that said it can be an uncomfortable situation for 1 or both of these individuals.  As a Detachment First Sergeant (SFC/E-7), I had the authority to counsel my Master Sergeants.  In one specific situation I was supposed to counsel a Master Sergeant for inappropriate and unprofessional behavior.  While I had no issue counseling the MSG, I also understood that from a professional and dignity and respect perspective it made more sense for the Commander to conduct the counseling. 

I wrote the counseling and then discussed the counseling session with the Commander and they in turned counseled the MSG.  I had the opportunity to remain in the office while the counseling was being conducted and chose to do so only to be a witness for the commander as this was a sensitive issue. 

Just because you have the ability to exercise specific authority does not always mean you should do it.  There are times when it is appropriate to defer to a Commander as it is the right thing to do from a professional perspective and may save the individual being counseled from being embarrassed.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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Army Counseling Software - Include over 250 Army Counseling Examples

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