CSM Groninger becomes the 11th Command Sergeant Major for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Published Feb. 15, 2012

Command Sergeant Major Karl J. Groninger has been selected as the next Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. CSM Groninger is currently serving with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mississippi Valley Division, 579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M), located in Vicksburg. Groninger will become the 11th Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and will replace CSM Micheal L. Buxbaum who has held the position since April 2008.

A tentative date of May 29, 2012, has been scheduled for a change of responsibility ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"Vicky and I look forward to serving the civilians, contractors, Soldiers and their families that collectively make the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers such a GREAT organization,” said Groninger. “CSM Buxbaum has excelled while serving as the USACE CSM and throughout his distinguished career. I will do my very best to live up to the high standard of professional excellence he has set while serving as the 10th Command Sergeant Major for USACE."

He currently serves as the FEST-M commander’s personal adviser on all enlisted and civilian related matters, particularly in the areas affecting training and quality of life. Since his arrival at the 579th Engineer Detachment in June 2011, Groninger and the rest of the FEST-M team have been concentrating on re-building the team following their return from Afghanistan in April 2011. They have been busy trying to fill personnel vacancies as well as addressing both technical and tactical training. The unit recently completed combat life saver training and spent a few days at Camp Shelby training on map reading, land navigation, radio operations, High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle driving and setting up a tactical operations center. Six members of the team, including Groninger, also deployed to Guyana, to conduct a base camp assessment for U.S. Southern Command last September.

Groninger was born in Newark, N.J. and raised in Toms River, N.J. He enlisted into the Army in August 1982 and attended One Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Upon completion of OSUT, he was awarded the Military Occupational Skill of combat engineer. In 1984, he attended the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center and was reclassified as a diver. Groninger was promoted to Sergeant Major on May 1, 2002, and then appointed to Command Sergeant Major on Jan. 9, 2003.

His previous assignments include Sergeant Major for the Directorate of Public Works, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Hood, Texas; Command Sergeant Major for the 92nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart, Ga.; and the Command Sergeant Major for U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Leonard Wood. Most recently he was the Command Sergeant Major for Joint Task Force – Bravo, Soto Cano, Honduras.

Groninger’s awards and decorations include the Legion Of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (1 oak leaf cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3 oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (6 oak leaf clusters), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (2 oak leaf clusters), National Defense Service Medal (1 bronze service star), Iraqi Campaign Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal (3 bronze service stars), Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) and Kuwaiti Liberation Medal (Kuwait), among others. Groninger is also a recipient of the Army Engineer Association’s Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal.

His military education includes the Primary Leadership Development Course, Air Assault Course, Jungle Operations Training Center, Basic and Advanced Underwater Construction Courses, Basic and Advanced Non-commissioned Officer Courses, Instructor Training Course, Sapper Leader Course, Strategic Deployment Planning Course, Master Diver Certification Course, Offshore Petroleum Discharge System OIC Course and  Single Anchor Leg Mooring Technician Course, First Sergeant Course, Risk Analysis Course, Contracting Officer Representative Course, Sergeants Major Academy and the Garrison Command Sergeants Major Course. He received his bachelor’s degree from Excelsior College.

Groninger is married to the former Vicky L. Swenson and has two children: Jillian and Timothy.

The Command Sergeants Major (CSM) Program was established in July 1967 under the direction of the Army Chief of Staff. The goal of the program was to create a small body of selected sergeants major for ready assignment to all major commands of the Army. 

Two former MVD commanders, Lieutenant General Arthur E. Williams and Lieutenant General Robert B. Flowers, went on to become the Corps’ commanding general, the senior officer in the Corps of Engineers.  Now the division is proud to say that the most senior Non-commissioned Officer in the Corps also came from the Mississippi Valley Division. The division is responsible for water resources engineering solutions in a 370,000-square-mile area, extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and encompassing portions of 12 states.  Work is carried out by district offices located in St. Paul, Minn.; Rock Island, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and New Orleans, La.

About the 579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M)

The 579th Engineer Detachment (FEST-M) is a 36-member (civilian/military hybrid) team capable of rapidly deploying to provide sustained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contract construction and engineering execution capabilities in support of Department of Defense and other federal agencies during war, military contingencies and disaster relief operations. Find out more about the FEST-M at www.mvd.usace.army.mil/579festm.

Bob Anderson

Release no. 12-005