Sergeant Major Gary Smith is the command senior enlisted leader of Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Africa. He serves as the principal advisor to the CJTF-HOA commander on all issues affecting the health, morale, welfare and professional development for more than 1,800 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines joint service personnel in 14 countries on the continent of Africa. Additionally, Smith provides assessments and recommendations to the commander, deputy commander, chief of staff and directors on key leader engagements, traveling contact teams and proposed projects affecting African partners. He is the installation’s senior enlisted liaison between CJTF-HOA and enlisted personnel from 24 tenant units, ensuring installation policies and procedures are known and understood.
Sergeant Major Smith was born in Walterboro, S.C. in 1972. He attended Walterboro High School and upon graduation in 1990, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. After recruit training at Parris Island, S.C., he was meritoriously promoted to private first class and transferred to Twentynine Palms, Calif., where he attended the Field Radio Operator Course and was assigned the MOS 2531. He then received orders to 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C., and was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Communications Company Radio Platoon. During this tour of duty he was deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In March 1993, Sergeant Major Smith was ordered to Okinawa, Japan. Assigned to 3rd Marine Division, he served with the 12th Marine Regiment, Communications Radio Platoon as a section leader. Upon completion of a one-year tour, Smith was transferred to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing where he served with Marine Wing Support Squadron-273, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. Assigned to the Communications Platoon, he served as the radio section leader and was promoted to sergeant in October 1994.
In July 1995, Sergeant Major Smith requested and received orders to Drill Instructor School, MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina. Upon graduation from Drill Instructor School, he was assigned to 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. During this successful tour of duty, he served as a drill instructor, senior drill instructor, and series gunnery sergeant with Golf Company. In 1997 he was selected to the rank of staff sergeant. After his successful tour of duty on the drill field, Sergeant Major Smith was transferred in November 1998 and reported to The Basic School, Quantico, Va. as the communications chief. During this tour he was promoted to gunnery sergeant and was subsequently assigned to Officer Candidate School Permanent Personnel where he served as sergeant instructor, platoon sergeant, company gunnery sergeant, and general military subjects chief.
In June 2002, Sergeant Major Smith received orders to 1st Marine Air Wing and was assigned to Headquarters & Service Company, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18 where he served as company first sergeant. During this tour of duty he served as a communications watch officer with Central Identification Lab for its 81st mission to Laos recovering U.S. service members’ remains. In December 2003, he was selected to first sergeant and was transferred to 7th Communications Battalion, III MEF Headquarters Group, serving as service company first sergeant. In March 2005, he posted as the Alpha Company first sergeant.
In January 2006 Sergeant Major Smith transferred to 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group and posted as the Headquarters & Service Company first sergeant and then in October attended the Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, R.I. He was the recipient of the distinguished honor graduate award.
In July 2007, Sergeant Major Smith transferred to 1st Battalion 10th Marines 2nd Marine Division and posted as the Charlie Battery first sergeant. October 2007 Smith was selected to the current rank of sergeant major, and in July 2008 transferred to Marine Attack Squadron 542, Marine Air Group 14, 2nd Marine Air Wing and posted as the Squadron Sergeant Major, followed by his selection as the director of the Quantico Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy in May 2010.
In January 2012 Sergeant Major Smith attended the Keystone Command Senior Enlisted Leaders Course at the National Defense University before his selection to his current position as Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa Command Senior Enlisted Leader July 2012.
Sergeant Major Smith’s personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 3 gold stars, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 3 gold stars, and the Combat Action Ribbon.