Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Steven Payton is a native of Grenada, Mississippi. He enlisted into the U.S. Army on 27 August 1986 and rendered over 33 years of faithful service to the Nation. He graduated from the Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training Courses at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as a 13 Foxtrot Fire Support Specialist. Steven graduated from the United States Army Sergeant’s Major Course in June of 2006 and was promoted to Sergeant Major shortly after that. During his service in the U.S. Army, he was privileged to serve in numerous commands, staff, and leadership positions throughout the world and across the U.S. Those assignments, include the Republic of Korea, the Republic of Panama, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Fort Bragg, Ft. Polk, and the Pentagon. As a Command Sergeant Major and Sergeant Major, he served as the Joint Fires and Effects Sergeant Major, 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Afghanistan (2006-2007). He then served as Command Sergeant Major for 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery, in Fort Bragg, N.C. and Iraq (2007-2010). He went on to serve as the Command Sergeant Major of 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. (2010-2011), and later as the 82d Airborne Division-Rear (Task Force All American) CSM (2011-2012). He then served as Command Sergeant Major for Headquarters, U.S. Army Japan, Tokyo and Okinawa, Japan (2012-2014), followed by his role as Operations Sergeant Major, for Headquarters Department of the Army, G3/5/7 Operations and Plans at the Pentagon (2014-2016). He is honored to have served his final Operational Command Sergeant Major Billet as the Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Commander for United Nations Command/ The Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command/ United States Forces Korea (General Vincent K. Brooks), Seoul South Korea (2016-2018). In his final duty assignment as a Soldier, Steve was selected by the Chief of Staff U.S. Army, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, to serve as the first Senior Enlisted Army Fellow/Advisor at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Steven Payton retired from service in March 2020 and has since worked as a consultant with TopSarge Business solutions providing relevant expertise and insight to the Army research Institute on Army challenges and opportunities. Steve also worked for TechMasters Inc. as an independent consultant to the Army’s G-3/5/7 Force Management Directorate and currently works as Technical Professional Leader and Contract Advisor for the Joint Counter small Unmanned Aircraft Directorate (JCO).  Steve completed all levels of the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System to include the United States Army Sergeants Major Course, the Battle Staff Non-Commissioned Officers Course, the Joint Firepower Controllers Course, the 82nd Airborne Division Jumpmaster Course, the Army Force Management and Planners Course, Army Senior Leaders Legal Orientation Course and is a graduate of the National Defense University’s Keystone Course and the Army War College Senior Leader Symposium. Steve holds a Master of Art degree in Executive Leadership from Liberty University and a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College.

Steve’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, 3 x Legions of Merit, 3 x Bronze Star Medals, 3 x  Meritorious Service Medals, 3 x Army Commendation Medals, 7 x Army Achievement Medals, 11 x Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal (w/1 Bronze Service Star), the Southwest Asia Service Medal w/Bronze Service Star, the Iraq Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star (2d Award), the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Open Arrowhead Device, the Kuwait Liberation Medal-Saudi Arabia, the Kuwait Liberation Medal-Kuwait, the Combat Action Badge, and the Master Parachutist Badge with Bronze Star (combat jump into Operation Just Cause, Panama).