Command Sgt. Maj. JoAnn Naumann assumes responsibility for her new role as senior enlisted leader of U.S. Army Special Operations Command during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., on May 1, 2023. (U.S. Army)

First female soldier becomes top enlisted leader at Army Special Operations Command

The command oversees the Army’s various special operations forces. As sergeant major, Naumann will advise the unit’s commander and be responsible for addressing issues that arise among soldiers.

Before assuming the role, the New Jersey native had already earned the distinction of being the first woman promoted to a command team position in special operations history.

Naumann most recently served as the senior enlisted adviser for U.S. Special Operations Command-Korea.

After joining the Army as an Arabic linguist in 1996, she began working with special operations forces over two decades ago and completed 14 deployments throughout U.S. Central and Africa commands.

Her assignments have included stints as senior enlisted adviser for Joint Special Operations Command, command sergeant major for the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion and command sergeant major for the Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade.

She’s been awarded a Legion of Merit, two Bronze Stars and three Army Commendation Medals.

Naumann took over from Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Weimer at Monday’s ceremony. A Green Beret throughout his career, Weimer is set to become the next sergeant major of the Army, replacing Michael Grinston, who is scheduled to retire Aug. 3.

Army Special Operations Command oversees some 30,000 soldiers and civilians, including those assigned to 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), Army Special Operations Aviation Command (Airborne), the 75th Ranger Regiment, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

“When I came into the (special operations forces) community in 2002, there were very few women,” Naumann said in an Army interview released last year, adding that it was challenging at times because some people weren’t sure how to react.

Her advice to those looking to follow in her footsteps: “Make somebody else tell you no; don’t tell yourself no.”


Phillip Walter Wellman, Stars and Stripes