An excellent thumbnail sketch of the development of the NCO corps of the US Army.
It has often been said that generals win wars. There is a lot of truth in this statement; however, the Non-Commissioned Officer wins the battles that ultimately claim victory for the general. The Non-Commissioned Officer trains the Soldier and stands next to them in combat. It has been like that since the Revolutionary War. As time has progress, though, the role of the Non-Commissioned Officer has changed. This change can be tracked to many different events, but such is the case with any significant adjustment in the Army. The reality of the turning point, the realization of the need to change directions, came during the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War brought a dynamic change to the Non-Commissioned Officer corps which led to Non-Commissioned Officers taking on an active role as leaders in combat.
Update: I can’t believe I posted on the history of the NCO corps without linking Ernest Fisher’s excellent history Guardians of the Republic.