Talk:Regimental sergeant major

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Why should this be merged with Sergeant Major? It's a British and Commonwealth appointment as opposed to an American rank. -- Necrothesp 12:20, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

The target article is not just about the US rank. Instead of having a very short article here, that's never likely to get very much larger, and an even shorter section of the Sergeant Major article dealing with the British (etc) ranks, combining the two would seem pretty sensible. Alai 21:00, 8 October 2005 (UTC)
There are many variations on the rank/appointment of Sergeant Major. Probably two dozen or more from Britain alone (see Warrant Officer for a non-exhaustive list). A fair few already have articles on Wikipedia. If they were all added to the Sergeant Major article it would end up being pretty long and complex. It would also be very UK-centric, which we usually try to avoid. -- Necrothesp 22:40, 8 October 2005 (UTC)
That seems a little dubious; there's not so many as to "unbalance" the article, not that's it's really a matter of balance: if there's more to say about the UK ranks, then more should be said. And furthermore, I'm not even suggesting merger of every mention of S-M ranks: just ones that are essentially "orphaned" in very short articles at present. Alai 04:13, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
That's the key phrase - "at the moment". No reason they won't be expanded later on. You say the article is "never likely to get very much larger". Why do you say that? I suspect it could get much longer. You can never say that about any article. I'm always perplexed by people who seem to think that because an article is short at the moment it will never get any longer. -- Necrothesp 13:09, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
If, once merged, it gets (greatly) expanded, then naturally it can be split back out. At present, the separation of the articles is serving no real purpose. Just how much is there to say on RSMs, that rises to the level of notability for a general audience? It's hardly just "short at the moment": it's had nearly three years to grow to this highly moderate length, so there's some evidencial basis for my probabilistic statement. Alai 03:38, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, I continue not to agree with you. I don't see the problem with having separate articles, however short they may be at present. -- Necrothesp 15:02, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Would you be any happier to merge to Warrant Officer, or are you going to argue (or at least, assert) in favour of long-term stand-alone stubs, regardless? (Not that it was even tagged as a stub until recently.) Alai 18:06, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

No, it's even less appropriately merged with Warrant Officer. And I see absolutely nothing wrong with stubs. What's the problem with them? What harm do they do? Why do you dislike them so much? I think we should be told! Personally, I think it's far more useful to have a specific article, even if it's a stub, than a long rambling general article. -- Necrothesp 22:24, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Your previous justification was that it had scads of scope for expansion (and wasn't I silly for assuming that it didn't), and now you're in essence saying, it's fine as it is? Can you at least make up your mind if you're defending this on the basis of being an article of adequate size on such a narrow topic that this is a reasonable treatment of it; or, of being a significant topic, in need of expansion?
Stubs are pretty much by definition unsatisfactory: that's the whole point of tagging them as such. Very narrow topics are similarly not ideal, partly as they create lots of little navigational dead ends for a modest amount of information that might as will have been included in some natural larger context, and would be more meaningful and readable in that context. (If it's any comfort, I've had the opposite argument with people who think that the 32K upper "limit" is far too low, and the reader ought to be subjected to 70K screeds without relief of clicking between sub-articles.) Alai 22:50, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying it could be expanded, it probably will be expanded in time (I may even do it myself, given the inclination, which I don't currently have), but it's fine as it is for the moment. Unlike you, apparently, I really don't have a problem with stubs. They don't bother me. I'd rather have them than rambling generic articles that would be better off as separate articles (like this one). Simple. It's a difference of opinion. You don't like stubs; I'm perfectly happy with them. -- Necrothesp 00:14, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm not grasping the distinction you're making between arguing "it's fine" and "not having a problem with", then. There seems to be a pretty widespread recognition that very short articles or minor topics are not an optimal organisation of material -- why else the whole concept of tagging things as stubs, and the popularity of "merge and redirect" as an AfD verdict? (And strictly hypothetically, what do you suppose would happen were this to be so-listed, for some reason?) And rather than telling me how "bothered" I seem to be with stubs in general (which seems, to say the least, to be beyond the scope of this discussion page) can we concentrate on what the best way to present this info here is? Alai 02:58, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

To quote from Wikipedia:Stub, "The community believes that stubs are far from worthless. They are, rather, the first step articles take on their course to becoming complete." That doesn't sound to me as though "There seems to be a pretty widespread recognition that very short articles or minor topics are not an optimal organisation of material" at all. The point of marking articles as stubs is not to see what can be deleted/merged, but to alert people that these are articles that it would be nice to have expanded. I think you're arguing your own point of view, not any sort of consensus. And, as I would have thought is fairly obvious, my opinion on the best way to present this information is the way it's already presented! And, strictly hypothetically, if it were listed on AfD I suspect it would be kept as is, since it's a perfectly valid topic for an article. -- Necrothesp 10:05, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
If you've actually read that page in order to quote quite so selectively from it, I needn't bother with the numerous quotes backing up "sub-optimal". I'm not arguing for it to be deleted, and I've never represented stub-tagging as being a means of doing that. AfD-tagging would be the means of doing that, methinks. I'm arguing for it to be merged, and, well, that's why I merge-tagged it (and stub-tagged it to hedge my bets, lest there be some confusion as to the sequence of events here). My point is that this is a very short article that's clearly in no hurry to expand, it's a subsidiary topic with a larger article that covers some of the same ground, and which could easily absorb the same material. That's far from arguing that it's "worthless", or that it's incapable of being expanded.
I'm mystified what you think my "point of view" here is. I've stub-tagged or stub-sorted about I-hate-to-think-how-many articles, and the number that I've argued to be merged (or indeed deleted) is pretty darn small. Doesn't it seem possible I'm arguing from what seems to me to be organisational logic in this case, rather than some sort of crypto-deletionist agenda? Alai 04:16, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

As Necrothesp says, Sergeant Major should not be merged with Regimental Sergeant Major, as they are two separate things. A Sergeant Major in the USMC is a rank, whilst a Regimental Sergeant Major in the Commonwealth and British Forces is a WO1 who holds the appointment of RSM. Furthermore, RSMs are never called 'Sergeant Major', so I think it would be entirely inappropriate to list them as such on Wikipedia. I think the explanation of the distinctions between the two under the UK heading for Sergeant Major is enough to clarify this fact, and that Regimental Sergeant Major should be left alone amongst. Also, why does it matter if the RSM article is short? Shouldn't an article's length be determined by the amount of information that exists on the topic, as opposed to its relative size? Opiniastrous 09:25, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, O., you've saved me a trip to WP:3O, if that's the link I'm looking for; we seemed to be going slightly around in circles for some time, there. I'm not for a moment suggesting that a US Army or USMC S-M is the "same thing" as an RSM: simply that the article Sergeant Major has a scope that explicitly includes both these usages (and others). That in the modern British Army it, and the other S-M titles, are appointments, are more senior, and have different associated customs to the US ranks, etc, doesn't in the least alter that they have a common origin, both historically and etymologically; and that someone looking for information on "British Sergeant Majors" is very likely actually looking for either this page, and/or that for CSM, and we're hardly facilitating them finding it in any efficient manner, or optimising the readability of the material as a whole.
The article's length shouldn't be determined by its size? Your point eludes me somewhat. :) My argument is essentially just this: very short articles that show little signs of growth (and three years is "little sign", no?) are in effect hazards to navigation. If one clicks on half a dozen different links from Warrant Officer (not even counting the red ones), one will actually not have learned all that much. There are any number of minor, closely related topics that are being spread out over a large number of stubs. Is there any reorganisation or consolidation of these that's not going to get poo-poo'd in "fine as they are" terms? Alai 23:19, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
Clearly my point needs a bit more explanation. What I'm saying is that some things (such as RSM) can be written about with less words than say, Sergeant Major. However, just because RSM is small in comparison to SM doesn't mean that it is any less complete, or any less deserving of its own article - after all, it is something entirely different. I understand your point - an excessive number of minor and closely related articles can make it difficult to find good information in one central location. However, I believe that a small article shouldn't be merged with another just because it is small (as I thought you were saying). After all, if some topics that have important distinguishing factors are merged, then those factors may become blurred or the combined article may become cluttered. Opiniastrous 16:26, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
I see what you mean, that it's an "inherently smaller topic". I agree, that's not a reason as such for it not being an article: not all topics have to be "equally sized", nor all pages. I do think there are desirable bounds, though, if somewhat inexact ones. I don't think though that it is something "entirely different" from sergeant major (in the general sense), though. And historically, one could argue that RSM is much closer to the original s-m than are the US versions. There's enough here now that I think it's only increasingly borderline mergeable into either that article or the warrant officer one (and there's partly the difficulty that it in different respects would need to be part-merged into both). I still think it is somewhat 'bitty', though, and consolidation in a broader context of either "British WO1 appointments", or of "British usages of the term 'sergeant major'" would be preferable. Alai 00:13, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Would anyone like to tell an RSM who reads this that it should not be a seperate article?

Though in the meantime, move?[edit]

Come to that, why's this at Rsm, rather than RSM? There seem to be more links to the redirect, and surely capitalised is more correct, it being a title of an appointment, rather than a description. As there only seems to be the two of us "here", and the redirect is history-free, then if by any wild mischance we agree on this, we can do this non-admin-assisted. Alai 03:03, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

It used to be capitalised. Somebody renamed it because they didn't like capitalisation. It's never been moved back. Fine by me if it is. -- Necrothesp 09:52, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Done. Alai 04:16, 22 October 2005 (UTC)


This rank is exclusively Australian, right? Or it's a new one on me if the UK and other C/w countries have it, not that that would be a major shock... The addition could be clearer on this point, at any rate. Alai 23:25, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

As far as I know, it's only Australian. It's certainly not used in Britain. -- Necrothesp 22:38, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, was pretty sure that was the case. To digress shamelessly, it's a very strange-sounding title. Regimental S-M, of the Army? I might even go so far as to say the US Army's equivalent is more logical... I suppose they've ended up with it as "Sergeant Major of the Army" might be thought to not be clearly step up from RSM, whereas "Army Sergeant Major" doesn't sound quite right, either. (Aren't they all?) But then, redesigning the .au army's rank structure's a little above my pay grade. Alai 03:01, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I think you must be right. Having looked around a bit more, it seems RSM-A is only in the Australian Army, and it's a new as well - the first RSM-A was appointed in Jan 1983. I've made a separate section for RSM-A in Regimental Sergeant Major to reflect this unique appointment. I think it also gives the article some more substance Opiniastrous 13:57, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

The rank is 'Warrant Officer' (WO). The appointment is RSM-A - see the article 'The Three Warrants' at [User: LONDON 11.11.05]

My bad on "rank", I'd have guessed on the existing pattern it was technically an appointment had I stopped and thought about it. Alai 05:17, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

Many Commonwealth Armies have followed the US example in appointing senior enlisted advisers e.g.New Zealand, Canada and Singapore all now have equivalents to the RSM-A. The British Army appears to be the exception LONDON 13:10, 24 December 2005

Commonwealth-US Splits[edit]

There are differences such as these that crop up on almost every rank page. Regimental Sergeant Major is a billet in the United States Marine Corps as well, but it would never be held by a Warrant Officer. It is an enlisted billet. I think that a good idea for the Wiki Military Project would be to come up with a standard way of organizing these articles. If this article were titled "Commonwealth Regimental Sergeant Major" the dispute would be ended. Another article on US Marine Corp Regemental Sergeants Major could be created if it is felt that there is enough information there or a redirect to Sergeant Major could be placed. The subtle differences that we are trying to make between the organization of the different militaries will be missed by non-military personnel using Wikipedia for research and that is for whom these article should be written.--Counsel 18:51, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

There's the confusion that comes from the US way of doing things. Speaking as a Canadian (I can't speak to the rest of the Commonwealth), Warrant Officers, Master Warrant Officers, and Chief Warrant Officers are not classified as a seperate category of soldier. They are senior NCOs. As, well, I must stress that the various sergeant major positions are assignments, not a rank.

Sorry to be pedantic, but WOs, MWOs, and CWOs are not senior NCOs, or NCOs at all. Only Sergeants and Petty Officers 2nd Class are Senior NCOs. WOs, MWOs, and CWOs (along with Petty Officers 1st Class and all Chief Petty Officers) are classed collectively as Warrant Officers. True, they are not separated into a separate group between E-grade enlisteds and O-grade officers, but they ain't NCOs. Perhaps you mean the term "NCM" (non-commissioned member) which is what the CF calls "enlisted" (US) or "other ranks" (UK).
And as a friendly reminder, don't forget to sign your posts with four tildes (~~~~). SigPig |SEND - OVER 06:00, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

How to address an RSM[edit]

The RSM is never addressed as "Sergeant Major" (except in the Coldstream Guards[1]). Hmmm. This is what the link actually says: The Regimental Sergeant Major is always referred to as Sergeant Major and never as RSM [strong emphasis added]. "Referred to" is not the same as "addressed". This is an example of the innate conservatism of Guards regiments: before WWI, no infantry regiment had Company Sergeant Majors, so the battalion's senior NCO was simply the Sergeant Major; the Coldstream (and other Guards regiments?) maintain that tradition. I suspect any Guardsman foolish enough to address his RSM as "Sergeant Major" rather than "Mr ..., sir" would live to regret it. — Franey 21:04, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Actualy, I believe he might not live so long. :)
The edit was mine: I misread what the link said. Not being familiar with Coldstream Guards, it did not immediately ring a bell that I was misreading it; after all, the Household Cavalry call their sergeants "corporal" -- try that with a three-stripey in any other outfit! I stopped trying to understand military traditions when I saw sailors pulling an officer around on a trailer-mounted rowboat in a drill hall. So, g'head, change it back, if you get to it before I do. SigPig 21:17, 6 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, they call them "Corporal of Horse" - only Lance-Corporals of Horse (who are actually equivalent to Corporals in other regiments) and Lance-Corporals are addressed as "Corporal". Staff Corporals (Staff Sergeants) are addressed as "Corporal-Major". The British Army aims to confuse ;) -- Necrothesp 16:37, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I think this is a familiar pattern in many armed forces (and indeed, otherwise): customs are contradictory and confusing; people failing to adhere to the customs will be firmly disapprobriated; have a nice day. :) Alai 18:14, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

So, just thinking aloud here... How does the LtCol of the Coldstream Guards address his (R)SM, then? Alai 15:28, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Sarn't Major!--LONDON 08:17, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

I was under the impression that only the CO of a regiment could address the RSM as "RSM", it is Mr/Mrs/Miss X for other officers and Sir/Ma'am for subordinates.Jellyfish dave (talk) 19:15, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

Merge tag[edit]

Why don't we move this article to RSM(UK) and remove the merge tag? If someone is really concerned that people would get lost looking for the articles, a disambiguation page on Sergeants Major could be created.--Counsel 04:31, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

It is unnecessary to move it to RSM (UK), since the UK/Commonwealth (more than just UK) meaning is the common meaning. Which is why I've moved it back. There is now a Sergeant Major (disambiguation) page. -- Necrothesp 13:00, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
looks good.--Counsel 15:51, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Necrothesp, you said, "As for adding "UK" after the RSM and CSM pages, the same applies - the UK/Commonwealth terms are by far the most common definitions of these terms and should be the default." I think that the link at the top of the article to the disambig is fine and should work, but I do not agree that the commonwealth def of RSM is by far the most common. The US Marine Corps uses the term as well. The US Marine Corps is 174,000 strong while the entire British Army is around 100,000. This leaves out the various US Army Regiments. Perhaps total numbers are not the best measure for use of the word, and perhaps when the numbers of commonwealth countries are factored in there would be a different result. What the actual numbers are is not the point. I do think that the military pages seem to face a regular problem with editors assuming that their personal military experience reflects the wider world. I am sure that the meaning of RSM as reflected on the page is by far the most common meaning in the UK, but I am unconvinced that it is by far the most common meaninig that Wikipedia readers will be looking for. That said, I think we have spent far too much time on this when all the merge tags and moves are considered. The disambig as Necorthesp has established should work just fine. Lets all just try to keep an open mind to the possibility that our experience is not universal and no one group has ownership of any wikipedia article.--Counsel 16:11, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm aware that individual experiences do not necessarily reflect the wider world and I would agree with you that many military pages do have a problem with this (usually with too great an emphasis on American, British and/or Canadian usage), but as you say, in this case most Commonwealth countries also use the term. That brings the total of troops in armies that use RSMs to well over the 174,000 in the USMC. This surely does reflect the wider world. Also remember that historically the British Army was much, much larger and Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia of history as well as the present day. I really do believe that most people in the English-speaking world who associate anything with the term Regimental Sergeant Major would associate it with the British model; this is not just because I'm British myself - I've read things written by Americans which suggest that even many of them associate the term with the British Army. I honestly don't think many people unconnected with the USMC would associate the term with the USMC at all.
The point is also that there is only one article entitled Regimental Sergeant Major (this one), which includes a single line on the USMC RSM, so it hardly seems necessary to designate this article with an inaccurate (since it's not just used in the UK) geographical term unless there are going to be many individual articles about RSMs in different countries springing up, which does seem rather unlikely. -- Necrothesp 17:16, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Thank goodness US forces do not have Company Sergeants Major!! :)--Counsel 17:21, 11 May 2006 (UTC)


Note that in the British Armed Forces the plural is "sergeant majors" and not "sergeants major". That would assume that a sergeant major is a sergeant and "major" is simply a modifier. However, in Britain this is not the case. The sergeant major is a warrant officer, not a senior sergeant, and the rank or appointment is entirely separate from that of sergeant. For an illustration of official British usage see the very bottom of this page of the London Gazette. And it isn't a new usage either: see this page from 1881. The earliest usage of "sergeant majors" in The Times is in 1822. The last of the (very occasional) usages of "sergeants major", except when referring to American NCOs, is in 1938. I'm not sure of the practice in the rest of the Commonwealth, although it was certainly identical to the British practice up to and during World War II. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:59, 8 November 2012 (UTC)