In a historic first, Command Sgt. Maj. JoAnn Naumann has become the first woman to serve as the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Army Special Operation Command (USASOC).

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve the men and women of [Army Special Operations Forces],” Naumann said during Monday’s change of responsibility ceremony, according to a command news release. “It is my honor to be a part of this team. I’m excited to be back at Fort Bragg. I know well how much you invest in people because you’ve done that for me.”

USASOC is the Army component of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM),  overseeing the training, educating, and equipping of Rangers, Special Forces, and other elite units that are often assigned counterterrorism missions.

Consisting of roughly 26,000 people, USASOC provides about 70% of the special operators serving in the U.S Central Command theater of operations and is the largest service component of SOCOM, according to USASOC’s website.

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“USASOC combines a vast range of warfighting skills, from raiding and airfield seizures, to human-terrain mapping and cultural analysts,” the website says.

Naumann comes to USASOC after serving as the senior enlisted leader for Special Operations Command-Korea, according to the command’s news release. She became a voice language analyst after joining the Army in 1996 and her previous assignments include serving as the Joint Special Operations Command J-2 senior enlisted adviser and command sergeant major for the Joint Special Operations Command Intelligence Brigade.

Her military awards include two Bronze Star Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Superior Service Medal, three Meritorious Service Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, the Order of Saint Michael, and the Knowlton Award, according to USASOC.

Army photo
Command Sgt. Maj. JoAnn Naumann became the first woman to serve as U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s senior enlisted leader on May 1, 2023. (U.S. Army photo.)

On Monday, Naumann replaced USASOC’s former Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Weimer, who was selected in December to become the next Sergeant Major of the Army. Weimer will take on that new role when current Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston retires in August.

Weimer told Naumann at Monday’s change of responsibility ceremony that he was excited that she was chosen to be USASOC’s next senior enlisted leader.

“I have the utmost confidence in your ability to continue the high standard of leadership required to shepherd this amazing formation with its current missions but also evolving it for 2030 and beyond,” Weimer said at the change of responsibility ceremony.

Naumann takes the reins as senior enlisted leader for USASOC as the U.S. military’s entire special operations community is still fighting the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Africa while also looking at how special operators would engage in a war against China or Russia.

Defense officials often cite China, which has the largest navy in the world, as the top national security threat to the United States. Military leaders have warned that China could try to invade Taiwan by 2027, if not sooner, potentially leading to a war with the United States.

“Our nation and the world are at an inflection point,” Naumann said. “We’re challenged by new adversaries and rapidly advancing technologies, yet ARSOF is absolutely leading the way, and that is because we have the best people. To the men and women of ARSOF, you are the most talented professional, and dedicated people I know.”

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