Category Archives: Director of Training

Sergeants Major Academy holds graduation for Master Leader Course pilot class

The students Master Leader Course pilot class number 1 pose for a graduation picture on the academy grounds before attending their graduation ceremony. The 32 students were individually selected from across the regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component and represent professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields, completed the 108-hour course of instruction over 15-days starting on October 19 and culminating with the graduation ceremony on November 2.
The students Master Leader Course pilot class number 1 pose for a graduation picture on the academy grounds before attending their graduation ceremony. The 32 students were individually selected from across the regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component and represent professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields, completed the 108-hour course of instruction over 15-days starting on October 19 and culminating with the graduation ceremony on November 2.

For every educational or training course the Army teaches there has to be a first class. On November 2, the 32 students of the first Master Leader Course 15-day pilot class completed the 108 hours of rigorous coursework and received their diplomas during ceremonies held at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, addressed the graduating students and asked them if the course was challenging, to which he received a rousing “Hooah”. He followed that with, “Was it too challenging?” to which he got only a couple of Hooahs.

“We wanted this to be challenging, right to that line,” Defreese said. “We never want anyone to fail. That is not the goal. The goal is to learn something. … The goal is to help you learn how to critically think and solve problems.”

Defreese explained that literally one year ago sergeant major of the Army Dan Dailey called the academy and said the chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, wanted an E-8 level course; he wanted it quickly; how long will it take?

 Master Sgt. Shawn A. Blanke of the Utah Army National Guard, receives his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, during ceremonies November 2 in the Cooper Lecture Center. Blanke, after going through instructor training course at USASMA, will facilitate the second Master Leader Course pilot class which will be held at Camp Williams, Utah in January.
Master Sgt. Shawn A. Blanke of the Utah Army National Guard, receives his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, during ceremonies November 2 in the Cooper Lecture Center. Blanke, after going through instructor training course at USASMA, will facilitate the second Master Leader Course pilot class which will be held at Camp Williams, Utah in January.

“So the answer is, about one year, that’s how long it takes and the nonresident version of this may take until next summer to get it done because that takes even longer to do,” he said. Defreese lauded the students for being the first, putting up with the long academic days and for providing their comments and feedback.

“The feedback we get from you is absolutely vital to the second pilot we are going to run in Utah,” Defreese said. “From there we will do a little bit more refinement and do the final pilot at the reserve center at Fort Knox and then sometime in Fiscal Year 17 it will be a totally vetted (intermediate operating capability). So you are an integral part of that and it should be something that you are proud of.”

Charles Guyette, the director of the Directorate of Training, lauded the efforts of the training developers and staff who put the course together.

“When the chief of staff and the Army leaders say, “Hey go out and make this thing happen”, and I turn to you guys and you put all this effort to it and it comes to fruition today after these 15 grueling days of academia that we had to put these Soldiers through, the outcome is fully credited to you,” he said.

Asked what he thought about the creation of the Master Leaders Course, graduate 1st Sgt. Thomas Hughes of the Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division, said that he thought it was the right move.

“I personally haven’t been to an NCO professional development course since 2007. That’s eight years,” he said. “So I think there is tremendous value-added to have a Master Leader Course that kind of bridges the gap between the Senior Leader Course and the Sergeants Major Course.”

Sgt. Maj. Brian O’Leary, a Sergeants Major Course Class 65 graduate and an instructor for the Master Leader Course, facilitates a class on Special Conditioning Programs under the Personnel Readiness block of instruction. O’Leary was one of six individuals selected to teach the initial pilot class that will be the basis for the next two pilot class and ultimately the Army’s Master Leader Course.
Sgt. Maj. Brian O’Leary, a Sergeants Major Course Class 65 graduate and an instructor for the Master Leader Course, facilitates a class on Special Conditioning Programs under the Personnel Readiness block of instruction. O’Leary was one of six individuals selected to teach the initial pilot class that will be the basis for the next two pilot class and ultimately the Army’s Master Leader Course.

Hughes noted the course’s rigor and tight schedule, but also believed that if he had attended the course earlier in his career he would have been a more successful senior NCO.

“I believe this course really sets up a senior sergeant first class promotable, or master sergeant who is going to go onto a staff, to assist more than anything,” Hughes said. “We briefly covered a lot of the stuff a first sergeant would do, but as a first sergeant you still need to understand what (occurs) on a staff so you know how your company will be required to support whatever decisive action that you will be engaging in.”

Fellow graduate Master Sgt. John Itzin, the senior operations NCO at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and who will be one of the instructors for the third pilot class, said the course is a little more oriented towards staff functions than first sergeant duties and he believes it is on target.

“Being able to integrate ourselves onto a staff and be more valuable to the commander and other staff officers is something NCOs really need to be cognizant of. The ability to be able to be brought back in and have a more meaningful role I believe is very important,” he said. “As a promotable sergeant first class being able to back off from that tactical outlook of task management and to step back (from) and get the big picture is something that is brought into this course. I think that is very valuable because that is one area that I struggled with when I was that promotable sergeant first class going into my first staff position.”

The 108 hours of instruction is broken down into three modules – Foundation, Leadership and Army Profession, and Army and Joint Operation, Sgt. Maj. William Gentry, the Curriculum Development and Education Division sergeant major said.

“It provides the Army with senior noncommissioned officers who are self-aware and NCOs of character, confidence, and presence with the skills necessary to shape the joint operational environment, overcome the friction created by uncertainty and operate in an ambiguous environment,” he said. “So I believe this course is geared for the sergeants first class and the newly promoted master sergeants to enable them to perform the duties of a senior staff NCO or operations master sergeant in the S3. The course will give them the confidence to go into that staff role, with the education and institutional knowledge to be a productive member of a senior staff.”

The first pilot class was taught using two different instructional strategies – one using essays assessments, the other using a research project that enhances the collaboration between the students. Gentry said based on the educational outcomes from those two strategies will determine the way ahead for the next two pilot classes.

Master Sgt. Forte L. Cunningham, facilitates a practical exercise during the 15-day Master leader Course pilot class. The Master leaders Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.
Master Sgt. Forte L. Cunningham, facilitates a practical exercise during the 15-day Master leader Course pilot class. The Master leaders Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.

“The desired outcome is an operational leader that has the talent, ability and confidence in himself or herself to be a creative and critical thinker, to not just worry about beans and bullets, but to actually be able to think on line with that company commander or that field grade officer on the staff,” Gentry said. “Right now I give this course two thumbs up. Because it is only going to get better from here. When the students tell me they wish they had known this stuff three or four years ago and they are excited about what they know now, we are hitting the mark.”

The Master Leader Course consists of topics such as Army and Joint Doctrine; Interagency Capabilities and Considerations; Plans, Orders and Annexes; Decisive Action; Military Justice Rules and Procedures; Command Inspection program; Servant leadership; Personnel Readiness; Military Decision Making Process; Public Speaking; Military Briefings and Writing.

The MLC has been specifically designed to prepare sergeants first class for the increased leadership and management responsibilities required of all senior NCOs. The course is the fourth of five NCO Professional Development Courses beginning with the Basic Leader Course and culminating with the Sergeants Major Course. The makeup of the first pilot class consisted of 32 individually selected regular Army, National Guard and Reserve component professional NCOs from a wide range of career management fields.

Commandants Pre-Command Course graduates final pilot class

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy welcomes the students to the final pilot class of the Commandants Pre-command Course October 17 in the Shugart Conference room at the Academy. The course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy welcomes the students to the final pilot class of the Commandants Pre-command Course October 17 in the Shugart Conference room at the Academy. The course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas, handed out certificates of graduation October 23, to the 13 students who made up the final pilot class of the Commandants Pre-Command Course.

Before handing out the certificates to the seven commandants, three deputy commandants and one incoming Sergeants Major Course director, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, USASMA’s 21st commandant, made a few remarks about the course and its ultimate goal.

“Hopefully you got something out of this. Our goal for this (course) is for it to be a dynamic, and by dynamic I mean we will change it based on input and the needs of our commandants and deputy commandants out in the force. We also want it to be relevant to the position that you are in,” Defreese said. “We don’t train to do this kind of a job so my hope is that we have given you some tools and if not you need to tell us.”

Defreese urged the graduates to inclusive in their role as commandant.

“Never forget to input compassion and understanding when you are dealing with your students. By the time it gets to you for a drop (or other administrative issue), that you are looking at both sides,” Defreese said. “You are not just the staff and faculty commandant; you are the commandant for the students and the staff and faculty. (Remember) the reason you are the commandant is because you are looking at both sides and you are the person who says, ‘I believe this is the right way to go.’”

On the job for only 60 days as the commandant of the NCO Academy at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Command Sgt. Maj. John McDwyer said attending the course was very beneficial.

“When I first got (to Fort Shafter) I was inundated with a lot of stuff and not really understanding anything. Coming here to this course with everything they have provided has given me a basis for really what my job is and what I should be looking for,” he said. “More importantly than the things they taught in the course was the ability to talk to the other commandants who have been in position for a while. They give context to everything and allow me to balance a little bit more on what should be done and methods to do it.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Alma Zeladaparedes, who will soon take over as commandant of the NCO Academy at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, said she came to the course with no knowledge of what a commandant is.

Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey, command sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Command, spent two hours on the morning of October 22, with the students of the Commandants Pre-command course discussing the different roles of the commandant as well as several TRADOC initiatives. The course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO.
Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Dailey, command sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Command, spent two hours on the morning of October 22, with the students of the Commandants Pre-command course discussing the different roles of the commandant as well as several TRADOC initiatives. The course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO.

“I came here empty. You know you have your rucksack and it is empty. Here from day one I collected so many things that I can say that now I am in full battle rattle, fully equipped, with what I need to do to be successful,” Zeladaparedes said. “Being around this network of sergeants major and mentors who have been successful, to know that network is amazing; to know that I can come here empty handed and leave with this amount of knowledge because what they know, I know because all I have to do is reach out to them. That’s amazing.”

While the course was developed to better prepare command sergeants major to take on the role of commandant, seats were also made available to deputy commandants to help them understand the complexities of commanding an academy. Attending the course was humbling for Sgt. Maj. Robyn Collier, deputy commandant of the NCO Academy at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and who has been in the position for about a year.

“I was honored to be invited to this class and see what other commandants and other deputies are doing,” she said. “I would have liked to attend something like this prior to taking on my duty as deputy. I fell that this is definitely beneficial in preparing you and giving you some insight on what goes on. What the mission command is all about. It is a really good course. They thought of a lot of things that are very important to being a commandant.”

Sgt. Maj. Jude Landry, course manager for USASMA, said he believed the course was on track to be very valuable and does not believe there will be many changes going into the future.

“Most of the changes I see that will take place are just continuing to keep up with Army transformation. Regulations are constantly changing, so we need to stay on top of that,” he said. “There were couple of instances where things changed in October, regulatory guidance change, and we didn’t have time to get it into the current course, the mentors and the (subject matter experts) were able to articulate those changes in the classroom. So we were able to put out the most up-to-date information we could possibly do.”

Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Dominguez, course facilitator for the final pilot class called the class “phenomenal.”

“I think it is a phenomenal course, something that we cannot let die out,” he said. “We need to continue to push it because as a command sergeant major at a brigade level your roles and responsibilities are different than a commandant in a command position. This course gave the students the tools they need to know as a commandant.”

Command Sgt. Maj. John McDwyer, commandant of the NCO Academy at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, accepts his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese October 23. The Commandants Pre-Command Course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO. The first class consisted of 12 students who are either currently serving as a commandant or deputy commandant, or are preparing to take over those duties.
Command Sgt. Maj. John McDwyer, commandant of the NCO Academy at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, accepts his certificate of graduation from Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese October 23. The Commandants Pre-Command Course is a first of its kind developed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com¬mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO. The first class consisted of 12 students who are either currently serving as a commandant or deputy commandant, or are preparing to take over those duties.

The biggest takeaway for most of the students, besides learning what their right and left limits are as an enlisted commander/commandant, was the importance of networking.

“How big relationships are with your installation, between all of the commandants where you have can help each other out so that you are not reinventing the wheel and there is somebody out there if you have a question,” said McDwyer. “You are not alone. Sometimes as a commandant you feel like you are alone because of all of your responsibilities, but there is a support network there to get you the right answers to make sure you are not messing up.”

The Commandants Pre-command Course is a challenging week-long 50-hour course of instruction designed to prepare commandants and deputy commandants assigned in positions throughout the Army’s noncommissioned officer educational institution. It is designed to bring command sergeants major into those unique positions where they are actually executing com­mand-type leadership – a relationship that is not traditionally associated with being an NCO. It consists of instruction in 15 different topic areas: The Authorities of an Enlisted Comman­dant, Joint Ethics, Lines of Com­mand/Support, Training Management, Inventory Management/Property Accountability, Budget Manage­ment, Academy Manning, Course Administrative Requirements, Instructor Development program, Civilian Personnel Manage­ment System, Student records, Learning Theories and Styles, Law for Leaders, Registrar, and Accreditation. The initial proof of principle was conducted in September of 2013.

USASMA continues SSD update

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy announced recently that the entire suite of Structured Self-Development levels, or SSD, is going through a maintenance phase in order to bring a better NCO professional development product to the field.

Similar to the new interface that was developed for the Advanced Leaders Course Common Core, the new Graphics User Interface for the suite of Structured Self-Development Courses will now bring a more user-friendly experience.
Similar to the new interface that was developed for the Advanced Leaders Course Common Core, the new Graphics User Interface for the suite of Structured Self-Development Courses will now bring a more user-friendly experience.

“We never stop when it comes to ensuring we provide the force with the best possible NCOES experience and that includes all of our distance learning courses as well,” Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant said. “Earlier this year we improved the user experience of those enrolled in the Advanced Leaders Course-Common Core, and now we have set our focus on doing the same for structured self-development.”
Currently the entire SSD suite is going through an update.
“All SSD I and SSD V lessons are in a maintenance phase in order to update course materials with current references and a new user-friendly graphics user interface,” Sgt. Maj. Andy Tafua, director of Structured Self-Development said. “It will have a new look and feel, something we believe those enrolled will appreciate.”
Tafua said that SSD III and SSD IV have already incorporated the new GUI and will be introduced to the force after the first of the year.
“SSD III will have seven new lessons added to the course and SSD IV will have 25 new lessons,” he said adding that SSD V went through a limited user test in September and that they are currently addressing all identified deficiencies and hope to have the course ready for release by the end of 2014.
The new GUI updates replaces the older Flash-based interface which was slow and buggy, said Jason Henderson of the Academy’s Interactive Multimedia Instruction section which developed the new interface.
“The new interface is fast, stable and only uses Flash when absolutely required,” he said. “New navigation reduces mouse travel and allows for a more user-friendly experience.”
Some of the improvements with the new interface include: Student progress is displayed using a progress bar and page numbers; references are linked and take Soldiers to the exact page where content is located; and lessons now have a full-featured audio control which allows Soldiers to pause, play, or scrub to the exact point in the audio clip they desire.
“The new GUI has been tested on Mac OS 10.7, and Windows 8, 7, Vista, and XP; Internet Explorer 11, 10, 9, 8; Firefox 25-17; Safari 6, 5; Chrome 29-23; Opera 12,” Henderson said noting that the Army Learning Management System may limit the browsers and operating systems accessing their system. “There are many other new features that enhance the learning experience and Soldiers will reap the benefits by having a much better learning experience.”

 

Note: MILPER MESSAGE 13-343, STRUCTURED SELF DEVELOPMENT (SSD) SEMI-CENTRALIZED PROMOTIONS, ISSUED: [25 NOV 13]. This message applies to Active Army and the USAR and AGR. Effective 1 Jan 14 completion of SSD-1 is a promotion eligibility requirement for consideration to the rank of SGT. On or about 2 Dec 13, SSD-1 will no longer qualify Soldiers for earning 16 promotion points for course completion and will be removed from the eMILPO correspondence course table. Commanders must ensure SPCs and CPLs complete SSD-1 before recommending them for promotion board appearance or command list integration (CLI) to SGT effective with the promotion board cycle for 1 Jan 14. On or about 1 Jan 14, all promotable SPC and CPL who have not completed SSD-1 will be automatically removed from the SGT  recommended list (as ineligible). https://www.milsuite.mil/book/docs/DOC-125732 The number to the SSD Help Desk is 1-800-275-2872 opt. 5

New USASMA Course sets stage for successful commandant accession

USASMA commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, addresses the students of the first Pre-Command Commandants Course held at the Academy Sept. 16-20. The course was deemed a success and will undergo some modifications before being rolled out officially sometime next year.
USASMA commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, addresses the students of the first Pre-Command Commandants Course held at the Academy Sept. 16-20. The course was deemed a success and will undergo some modifications before being rolled out officially sometime next year.

As NCOs make their way through the ranks, taking on increased duties and responsibilities, they are provided with the fundamental tools they need through the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Education System. Beginning with the Warrior Leaders Course and ending with the Sergeants Major Course, those duties and responsibilities, as well as the authorities, of the NCO are brought to light and imparted on those who are placed in charge of leading, training, counseling and mentoring Soldiers placed under their care. While their responsibilities are many, one thing is for certain, they have no real command authority.

The same cannot be said though for those who are placed into the position of being the commandant of an NCO Academy. These individuals not only have all of the responsibilities of being an NCO, they also carry the implied authorities of a commander, something they were not schooled in—that is until now.

On September 16 the USASMA kicked off a proof of principle Pre-Command Commandants Course designed to test the skills and knowledge of eight command sergeants major who currently hold the position of commandant in one of the Army’s 33 noncommissioned officer academies.

“As NCOs grow up in the Army they are given a lot of leadership opportunities and the opportunity to serve in a lot of different capacities – first sergeant, platoon sergeant, drill sergeant, and so on. But in every one of those roles with the exception of the squad leader, they are really not in the chain of command where they are the ones making all of the command-level decisions,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant. “However, as a commandant it is the first position, and probably the only duty position, in the Army where we ask a command sergeant major that has not been developed to do that kind of job to exercise their duties much like a commander. They have to manage a budget, they have to look at infractions of misconduct and what action they’re going to take with their recommendations; it carries a lot more power. So what we are trying to do is equip them with the tools and help them understand a lot of the limitations and expectations the position has.”

The course came about from issues that were happening within the Army in respects to NCO Academies, Malloy said. There had been some instances of misconduct that many believed were due to a lack of knowledge as to the duties, responsibilities and command authority of a commandant. Malloy himself noted his own lack of knowledge in assuming the duties as commandant of the Sergeants Major Academy and the issues he faced.

“I realized how tough the job was and there was really nothing out there that prepares us to take this job. We used to do commandants conferences where I would bring all the commandants in, but at the end of the day those were okay but we really didn’t get a lot out of them,” he said. “So last year we made the decision that commandants were not properly prepared to go into that leadership role and we needed to fix that.”

Command Sgt. Maj. William Bruns, commandant of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCO Academy and one of three mentors selected to help develop the course, leads a discussion on Command Authority.
Command Sgt. Maj. William Bruns, commandant of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCO Academy and one of three mentors selected to help develop the course, leads a discussion on Command Authority.

USASMA did an analysis of the training needs for commandants and realized there was a large gap in what command sergeants major were being taught at the pre-command course and what their duties and responsibilities would entail as a commandant, Malloy said. From there the staff in the Directorate of Training began the process of filling in that gap with a new course that would augment the pre-command course and give new commandants the tools they need to make sound command decisions.

“One of our main objectives here is to arm the [command sergeants major] with the tools that are necessary to be a successful enlisted commandant,” said Sgt. Maj. Jerry Bailey, USASMA’s Training, Development and Education sergeant major. “We took a list of tasks based on information provided by three mentors (sergeants major currently in commandant positions) we brought in and Command Sgt. Maj. Malloy. We took those tasks and we built lessons to get after what things an enlisted commandant can and cannot do.  We want to educate them on their duties, responsibilities and command authority so as they go back out and do their commandant duties they have the tools that are necessary to be successful.”

Bailey said the course is designed on a learner-centric model using practical exercises that require group work and research to obtain the answers they need. Each group also shares their findings with the entire class in order to facilitate discussion.

The 40-hour, 5-day course covers 15 different topic areas: The Authorities of an Enlisted Commandant, Joint Ethics, Lines of Command/Support, Training Management, Inventory Management/Property Accountability, Budget Management, Academy Manning, Course Administrative Requirements, Instructor Development program, Civilian Personnel Management System, Student records, Learning Theories and Styles, Law for Leaders, Registrar, and Accreditation.

Command Sgt. Maj. Cornelius Mack, commandant of the Alaska NCO Academy participates in a discussion during a presentation. Mack was one of eight commandants who took part in the proof of principle for the new Pre-Command Commandants Course.
Command Sgt. Maj. Cornelius Mack, commandant of the Alaska NCO Academy participates in a discussion during a presentation. Mack was one of eight commandants who took part in the proof of principle for the new Pre-Command Commandants Course.

“It would normally take us about a year to get this course going,” Bailey said. “We did this in about two months with a lot of folks who spent a lot of dedicated time to actually get it done.  We stayed in contact with the three mentors throughout the two-month process talking to them once a week and we provided them with what we thought the product should look like, and they provided us the feedback. So the mentors played a big part in making sure this was ready to go.”

To further enhance the course curricula, USASMA enlisted the help of its legal assistant, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Burke, who helped to mold and shape the instruction on the authorities of an enlisted commandant and joint ethics.

“One of the big things that the commandant touched on in his introduction to the class is the authorities of a commandant. After a year and a half here Command Sgt. Maj. Malloy and I have come through a lot of instances where regulations don’t clearly define and don’t mention a commandant. It only defines a commander or nothing,” Burke said. “So we introduce them to what delegations of authority, what memorandums of agreement, those types of things are going to be required of a commandant to be able to function at their installation. So we want the students to have a take away of this is what I am going to need to get established so that when these things come up they are not behind the curve.”

In the joint ethics piece, Burke was able to bring realism to the course through the assistance of Fort Bliss military lawyers who were on standby to answer any questions the students might have when working through various scenarios.

“Joint ethics violations are the primary cause for release of command and release of commandants. So during the course we conduct about an hour overview of joint ethics and then each day [the students] have an ethics-based, real-world scenario that is based off of actual cases which they will decipher what is the problem, how can they fix it, and how can they prevent it in the future,” Burke said. “We also have a paralegal in each working group to work them through that discussion and they also have an attorney available to them by phone to get actual advice.  So this mirrors as close as possible a real-world situation of how they should go through those ethical issues.”

Taking part in the proof of principle, Command Sgt. Maj. Cornelius Mack, commandant of the Alaska NCO Academy who has only been on the job for nine months, said the course was far more than he expected and wished he could have taken it prior to being selected to serve as a commandant.

“Understanding the authorities is the biggest thing that I am taking away from here. What the authority of a commandant really is. Understanding how to establish [memorandums of agreement and understanding] to ensure that you are covered,” he said. “You have a commander’s role in an O-6 (Colonel’s) billet, but you don’t have command authority. So understanding what that authority is and how to establish memorandums of agreement and understanding to give you the authority you need to function, not for power sake, but just for the natural ability to run the academy is huge.”

Mack also noted the joint ethics portion of the course as extremely valuable.

“Sharing the knowledge with commandants so they can understand what it is they can and cannot do, and things that can and cannot get them in trouble. As sergeants major we have experienced some of these things over the years but once you are put in this position of commandant or commander, it is your FRG, it’s your fundraiser, it’s your this team or that team. Having that understanding and privy to that knowledge is the second thing that was overwhelming,” Mack said. “This course is more than beneficial. If a new commandant only got the book they put together for pre-reading it would have been so much better, it would have put me so much farther ahead of the game. So yes, this course is extremely beneficial to a new commandant.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Porrett, commandant of the NCO Academy in Hawaii and an 18-month veteran of the position, had similar sentiments about the new course.

“This is definitely a shared experience between new and some seasoned commandants looking at some of the trip wires and pitfalls out there that nothing has really prepared us for.  We may have been in the Army 25 plus years, but this is the first time that we are the sole person responsible for an organization. So the shared experience within the room is important, something that you cannot get online through video tele-conferencing,” Porrett said. “We have got to have the shared experience and within this group we have commandants with less than a month’s experience to some of us with 18 months and even though I have been in the seat for a while, there are still things that I am taking back to better my academy.”

Porrett was particularly thankful for the opportunity to hear from Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command and who addressed the class via VTC on Day 3 of the course.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant, poses for a group photo with the first class of the Pre-Command Commandants Course on Day 1 of the new course. The 40-hour, 5-day course was designed to help new commandants better understand the unique duties and responsibilities inherent in their jobs.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant, poses for a group photo with the first class of the Pre-Command Commandants Course on Day 1 of the new course. The 40-hour, 5-day course was designed to help new commandants better understand the unique duties and responsibilities inherent in their jobs.

“The thing that we got was a one-on-one with a senior leader who understands our position, understands what our pitfalls are, and he was able to relay his expectations and the down to earth of this is what you need to be doing,” Porrett said. “He talked about things we should not be doing and rarely does that ever happen. It was good for us [to have the opportunity].”

With the proof or principle complete, Malloy and his staff will now go back to the table and look at the course surveys, conduct an after action review and make needed adjustments to ensure the course is ready for launch.

“We gained a lot from this. The proof of principle and proof of concept, it proved we are definitely in the right ballpark and it will work. We are just missing a few subjects and some of the scenarios and exercises they did were a little too challenging, so we are going to add a little more education before they do the scenario and the final exam proved to be very challenging, so we are taking a look at whether or not we met all the objectives,” Malloy said. “With a little more refinement and a little more time we will be ready to execute the course probably in February. We are also going to bring in all the advance leader course and senior leader course new commandants as well. “

Malloy said that USASMA hopes to be able to conduct three to four iterations of the course per year, depending on demand and class load and estimates the class size will be between 20-30 students. Some of the course can be given in a large group seminar setting while exercises and scenarios need to be done more in a small group setting.

“The course met my expectations and in some ways it exceeded it for what we are trying to achieve with the commandants. It really challenged them and caused them to have to think critically and then we really got after some of the intellectual-level of thinking and discussion on a lot of critical topics that they are going to be challenged with as a commandant as they take over these new duties,” Malloy said. “The course itself by design, we knew it would be challenging and the feedback we received it was a great deal more challenging then we had anticipated. Not only the examination, the scenarios that we gave proved to be very challenging as well. I think the course definitely better prepares them. Most of these commandants have been in position between a year and two months and every one of them said that if they would have had this course prior to the first day they had to sit in the seat as commandant, they would have been far better prepared to execute their duties.”

USASMA welcomes Class 64

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With memories of Class 63 still fresh, the staff and faculty of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy had very little down time to rest up before welcoming in a new batch of senior noncommissioned officers and their families.

The initial onslaught of arrivals to the academy began even before Class 63 graduated. Several students arrived early to be sponsors and mentors to the 38 Class 64 international students who were taking part in the international pre-course, a 10-week course designed to help prepare them for the rigors of the Sergeants Major Course. Mike Huffman, director of the International Military Student Office, said this year’s pre-course was more robust than in years past.

“This was the longest amount of time the international students have had to prepare for the sergeants major course. We did a lot of preparation teaching the American Psychological Association –APA – style of documentation for their essays,” he said. “The students were given in-depth blocks of instruction on exactly how the instructors will be grading their research papers. So they will be able to write them with some confidence.”

Huffman also alluded to the newest and possibly biggest challenge that not only the international students, but all students, will face this year – closed book testing.

“This is the first year of closed book testing, so that is going to be a challenge for the Sergeants Major Course,” he said.

 

In-processing_DBC6128

While the international students were navigating the pre-course, their sponsors, when not helping their international partners, were kept busy helping the cadre prepare for the arrival of the rest of Class 64. On August 7, USASMA welcomed the remaining infusion of students. Coming in from all around the Army, more than 300 Soldiers descended upon the Academy to begin Day 1 of in-processing, marking the beginning of their 10-month long educational experience.

“We are doing four briefs along with the Post Relocation Fair which will happen later on today at the Centennial Club on Fort Bliss,” said 1st Sgt. Zachary Smith, first sergeant of the Sergeants Major Course. “Then tomorrow the students will conduct in-processing with Finance and then complete their Fort Bliss and academy in-processing on Thursday and Friday.”

On Day 1 the students received their group room assignments along with what department they would be in and where they were actually starting the course. On the last day of in-processing, the students and their families were treated to a BBQ-style icebreaker complete with hot dogs, chips and sodas, a DJ and jumping balloons for the children to let loose some energy.

“Today we are bringing the students and their families here for this icebreaker to set the tone for a great year,” Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Coleman, director of the Sergeants Major Course said.  “We want to let them know that their families are welcome and it is a time to not only get engaged into school, but it is a time for the families to come together and enjoy this year with them. “

Coleman said the picnic-style icebreaker came about naturally because it is summer, still warm, and the weather accommodates it, but more so because a lot of these students have come off deployments and missions and haven’t had these opportunities to bring their families together for an event like this.

 

The welcoming continuesice7

The next two weeks saw the students attending mandatory briefings and training, as well as unpacking household goods and getting their children ready for the new school year. With so much going on during the day, the Academy set aside a couple of evenings to properly welcome the spouses and give them some much needed information and support.

The first evening was dedicated to the international spouses and was hosted by the IMSO in true Texas fashion.

Mike Huffman, IMSO director, welcomed the students and their family members, but not before each learned the Texas way of greeting one another. The group was informed that everything in Texas is bigger, including the welcome and all were mentored in saying, “Yee Haw” and “Howdy Partner.”

Huffman, with the assistance of Command Sgt. Maj. Wesley Weygandt, deputy commandant and Mrs. Deborah Malloy, spouse of USASMA commandant Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, introduced the international spouses to key members of the academy staff and were encouraged to participate in the English as a Second Language course, the spouse leadership development course and to explore the El Paso community.

The next evening get together focused on all of the spouses of Class 64 and was hosted by Weygandt, Coleman and Mrs. Malloy. The spouses were shown a breakdown of the school year and how their Soldier would be affected, as well as given a calendar of important events and holidays. The spouses were also provided a full briefing on the ULTIMA family readiness group and the Spouse Leadership Development Course. During each of the presentations the cadre opened it up to questions and concerns from the spouses.

With all of the orientations complete, it was time to start the academic year with some pomp and circumstance.

USASMA inducts three into Hall of Honor_DBC6689

The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy recognized the singular and cumulative achievements of three former sergeants major that have made significant contributions to the Academy and the Noncommissioned Officer Education System in a ceremony held Aug. 23 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant hosted the ceremony and spoke about each of the inductees — Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Colimon, former TRADOC deputy chief of staff for Education; Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Danny R. Hubbard, former Academy director of Doctrine and Training and former TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major; and Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Wells former TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major and HQDA G3/5/7 sergeant major.

“This year we have the great honor of inducting three great Americans into the history books as members of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Hall of Honor. They join the likes of great leaders such as Gen. [Ralph] Haines who is known as the father of our sergeants major academy and the establishment of our noncommissioned officer education system for his vision professionalized our NCO corps,” Malloy said. “Also amongst the ranks includes our first command sergeant major for the Academy, Sgt. Maj. of the Army William Bainbridge, as well as a former chief of staff of the Army, Gen, Gordon Sullivan one of the most passionate leaders to serve our NCO corps.”

Malloy said that each of this year’s inductees shared a theme in that each was instrumental in the development of the Warrior Leaders Course, the creation of Structured Self-Development, the use of distance learning as well as video teletraining to further the education of noncommissioned officers.

While Colimon and Hubbard could not be at the ceremony, both recorded video acceptance speeches thanking the Academy for the recognition. Present to accept his plaque and take part in the ceremony, Wells gave a gracious acceptance speech.

“Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that I would be standing here being inducted into something like this in front of my peers. So I share with you that it is an honor to be here,” Wells said. “When I talk about the NCO corps and education it was all about the corps. It was never about me and it can never be about you. It has to be about those in which you are going to lead. The legacy that you will leave behind is supposed to be an honor to the true corps.”

SMA welcomes Class 64, challenges them to excel

With the pomp completed, it was now time for the circumstance — the opening ceremonies for Class 64.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy began its 64th iteration of the Sergeants Major Course August 23 welcoming in the 526 students who comprise the class during opening ceremonies in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. On hand to mark the event was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the 14th sergeant major of the Army, who was the guest speaker.

“It is quite an honor to be here and I want to offer you my congratulations to everyone who is in this auditorium. It has taken you a great deal of work and service and sacrifice to be here and I would like you to reflect on that; on who helped you along the way to be in the position that you are today – sitting in a seat amongst 526 or so of your peers – and to understand that there were a whole lot of others, I believe it was about 78 percent or so, that were not selected to be in one of these seats,” Chandler said. “That means something about you and your commitment, your character, your competence, your professionalism and your support to your nation, whether you are part of the United States armed forces or one of our partner nations that is here today. Congratulations it really means something.”

Chandler challenged the students to seize the opportunity and to understand that the Army of tomorrow is in their hands.

“We are at a crossroads right now and what I would like everyone to understand is that we are in the process of reducing the size of the Army and there are so many unknowns out there we are not sure where the bottom is going to be. What I would ask you to do is while you are here, is understand that you are here to be the leader of the future and that your leap from organizational leadership to strategic level leadership is one that is going to be predicated on your commitment to what this course provides,” he said. “You are going to have to lead the army into the future. You are going to have to decide what type of army you want, because it is going to be on your shoulders.”

Chandler also challenged Class 64 to be the kind of leader that keeps the trust and ensures it is about the NCO Corps and the future of the corps.

“You represent every other NCO in the Army. Remember who you are and why you are here and understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity … to learn something and carry our Army into the future,” Chandler said. “Take a few minutes and reflect on the privilege of being here and be a part of a team and learn together and you will come out on the other side a much better well-rounded individual, sergeant major. We need you in the future. We need you to continue to move the NCO corps’ reputation and attitude of let’s get it done, let’s solve the problem, into the future.”

USASMA inducts three into Hall of Honor

_DBC6689The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy recognized the singular and cumulative achievements of three former sergeants majors who have made significant contributions to the Academy and the Noncommissioned Officer Education System in a ceremony held Aug. 23 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASMA commandant hosted the ceremony and spoke about each of the inductees — Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Colimon, former TRADOC deputy chief of staff for Education; Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Danny R. Hubbard, former Academy director of Training and Doctrine and former TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major; and Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeffery Wells former TRADOC G3/5/7sergeant major and HQDA G3/5/7 sergeant major.

Hall of Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeff Colimon
Hall of Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeff Colimon

“This year we have the great honor of inducting three great Americans into the history books as members of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy Hall of Honor. They join the likes of great leaders such as Gen. [Ralph] Haines who is known as the father of our sergeants major academy and the establishment of our noncommissioned officer education system for his vision professionalized our NCO corps,” Malloy said. “Also amongst the ranks includes our first command sergeant major for the Academy, Sgt. Maj. of the Army William Bainbridge, as well as a former chief of staff of the Army, Gen, Gordon Sullivan one of the most passionate leaders to serve our NCO corps.”

Malloy said that each of this year’s inductees shared a theme in that each was instrumental in the development of the Warrior Leaders Course, the creation of Structured Self Development, the use of distance learning as well as video teletraining to further the education of noncommissioned officers.

Hall of Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Dan Hubbard
Hall of Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Dan Hubbard

“Sergeant major Wells recently served as the Army G3 sergeant major and prior to that he was the TRADOC G3/5/7 sergeant major.  His vision of transforming the NCOES to the one Army school system has provided us the opportunity to leverage assets across our entire Army to better train our NCOs under one program of instruction and none standard regardless of the component or the NCO academy to which they attended,”Malloy said. “Sergeant major Colimon, our second inductee is yet another great leader with the drive and the vision to transform our NCO Corps and Army well into the 21st century. He believes that every Soldier from the time they enter our Army until they return back to civilian life, should have the opportunity to earn a degree from a college or university of their choice. His vision convinced universities they could leverage a Soldier’s experience and training into their degree programs in order to produce a better educated college graduate.

“Sergeant major Hubbard’s career was nothing less than impressive. Always graduating at the top every class and every course in which he attended, as well as being selected as the United States Army drill sergeant of the year. He championed the use of video teletraining concept which is still in use today by our battle staff course enabling the academy to deliver the course to 24 stations around the globe live from this academy. It is my honor that we induct three great leaders into the USASMA Hall of Honor.”

Following Malloy’s remarks, each inductee’s full bio was read aloud before their plaques were revealed for all to see. Because of budget constraints Colimon and Hubbard were unable to attend in person, but both videotaped acceptance speeches that were played to the crowd.

Hall off Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeff Wells
Hall off Honor inductee Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Jeff Wells

“I am deeply honored to stand before you today as a recipient of this illustrious award,” Colimon said. “I would like to express my appreciation not only for this award, but for the opportunity to shape the professional development of Soldiers. I recognize that it is a privilege to support the NCO corps and its pursuit of lifelong learning.” “It is truly a humbling experience and an honor to be inducted into the hall of honor and to join the distinguished list of folks who have been selected and placed into the hall before,” said Hubbard. This is not something I was expecting and it truly is humbling. … I think that NCO education and the development of NCOs in general is very important to the future success of the Army.”

“Nowhere in my wildest dreams did I ever dream that I would be standing here being inducted into something like this in front of my peers. So I share with you that it is an honor to be here,” Wells said. “When I talk about the NCO corps and education it was all about the corps. It was never about me and it can never be about you. It has to be about those in which you are going to lead. The legacy that you will leave behind is supposed to be an honor to the true corps.”

Following the remarks by Wells, the official party moved out to the Hall of Honor where Wells was assisted by former commandant, Lt. Col (Ret) John Kirby; former deputy commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) Rick Rosen; current deputy commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Wesley Weygandt; commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy; and the 14th Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, in the unveiling of the wall plaques amongst the 23 others who were inducted in prior years.

Class 64 begins instructional year

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held the opeining ceremonies for Class 64 of the Sergeants Major Course August 23 in the Academy's Cooper Lecture Center. On hand to be the guest speaker was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the 14th sergeant major of the Army. Class 64 consists of 526 students from the active Army, Army National Guard and Reserve, the U.S. Air Force, The U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps and 39 international students from 22 partner nations.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy held the opeining ceremonies for Class 64 of the Sergeants Major Course August 23 in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. On hand to be the guest speaker was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the 14th sergeant major of the Army. Class 64 consists of 526 students from the active Army, Army National Guard and Reserve, the U.S. Air Force, The U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Marine Corps and 39 international students from 22 partner nations.

By David Crozier, USASMA Command Communications

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy began its 64th iteration of the Sergeants Major Course August 23 welcoming in the 526 students who comprise the class during opening ceremonies in the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. On hand to mark the event was Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, the 14th sergeant major of the Army, who was the guest speaker.

After recognizing the students who make up Class 64, — 419 Active Component, 10 Army National Guard, 47 Army Reserve, two U.S. Air Force, three U.S. Coast Guard, six U.S. Marine Corps and 39 International students from 28 partner countries — Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, USASAMA’s commandant, gave a brief welcome.

“Congratulations on your selection and attendance to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy,” he said. “Over the next 9 ½ months, as you complete your education and your training, embrace the opportunity in which you have and leverage the time you have been given to develop yourself.”

Malloy then introduced Chandler to the Class who not only gave remarks, but opened it up to a 30-minute question and answer session.

“I want to offer my congratulations to everyone who is in this auditorium. It has taken you a great deal of work, service and sacrifice to be here and I would like you to reflect on that,” he said. “Reflect on who helped you along the way to be in the position that you are today — sitting in a seat amongst 526 or so of your peers —and to understand that there were a whole lot of others, about 78 percent or so, that were not selected to be in one of these seats.”

Chandler challenged the students to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy El Paso and the community, heal emotionally and physically, reconnect with their families and to focus on learning as much as they can because the Army of the future is in their hands.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy commandant, addresses the crowd during the 2013 Hall of Honor Induction Ceremony. The Academy formally recognized the accomplishments and contributions of Sgt. Maj. (ret) Jeffery Colimon, Sgt. Maj. (ret) Danny Hubbard and Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Wells in improving the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. The inductees join the 36 other fellow honorees.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy commandant, addresses the crowd during the 2013 Hall of Honor Induction Ceremony. The Academy formally recognized the accomplishments and contributions of Sgt. Maj. (ret) Jeffery Colimon, Sgt. Maj. (ret) Danny Hubbard and Sgt. Maj. Jeffery Wells in improving the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. The inductees join the 36 other fellow honorees.

“We are at a crossroads right now and what I would like everyone to understand is that we are in the process of reducing the size of the Army and there are so many unknowns out there we are not sure where the bottom is going to be,” Chandler said. “What I would ask you to do is while you are here, understand that you are here to be the leader of the future and that your leap from organizational leadership to strategic level leadership is one that is going to be predicated on your commitment to what this course provides. You are going to have the Army in your hands and you are going to have to decide what type of Army you want, because it is going to be on your shoulders.”

Chandler also challenged Class 64 to be the kind of leader that keeps the trust and ensures it is about the NCO Corps and the future of the corps.

“You represent every other NCO in the Army. Remember who you are and why you are here and understand that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity … to learn something and carry our Army into the future,” Chandler said. “Take a few minutes and reflect on the privilege of being here and be a part of a team and learn together and you will come out on the other side a much better well-rounded individual, sergeant major. We need you in the future. We need you to continue to move the NCO corps reputation and attitude of let’s get it done, let’s solve the problem, into the future.”

The Army’s culminating enlisted Professional Military Education (PME) institution is the Sergeants Major Course. This course provides tools to develop critical reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making skills. Soldiers are provided an education that teaches them to enhance their character, self-expression, and strengthen teamwork abilities. The course assists in the development of logical, practical and original reasoning abilities necessary for problem solving. Students analyze problems based on available information, arrive at logical solutions and decisions with reasonable speed, communicate reasoning and decisions orally and in writing, and supervise to ensure proper execution. Intellectual honesty, integrity, and professional values and standards are highly stressed. The SMC contains a total of 1,484.7 instructional hours, and is also offered as a nonresident course which culminates with two weeks of resident instruction at the academy.

The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Acadmey held its opening ceremonies for Class 64 of the Sergeants Major Course Aug. 23 at the Academy's Cooper Lecture Center. The guest speaker for the event was the 14th Sergeant Major of the Army, Sergeant Major of the Army Rayomnd F. Chandler III. During the ceremony the Academy recognized the members of the sister services attending the course as well as the international students. Above, the 39 International students from 28 partner nations are recognized.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Acadmey held its opening ceremonies for Class 64 of the Sergeants Major Course Aug. 23 at the Academy’s Cooper Lecture Center. The guest speaker for the event was the 14th Sergeant Major of the Army, Sergeant Major of the Army Rayomnd F. Chandler III. During the ceremony the Academy recognized the members of the sister services attending the course as well as the international students. Above, the 39 International students from 28 partner nations are recognized.

Structured Self-Development and Advanced Leaders Course – Common Core

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The Army’s vision in 2001, was to move to a learning environment enhanced by distance learning meant to bridge the operational and institutional domains of Army learning for enlisted Soldiers. By 2007, the U. S. Army Sergeants Major Academy began development of structured self-development and on Oct. 1, 2010, Structured Self-Development Level I was offered to the force, thus setting conditions for continuous growth and life-long learning throughout a Soldier’s career. SSD began as, and remains a program with individual and leader responsibilities.

In 2004, the Army directed the transformation of the Primary Leadership Development, Basic NCO, Advanced NCO and the Sergeants Major courses. What evolved from this was the Warrior Leader, Advanced Leader, and Senior Leader courses and a completely redesigned Sergeants Major Course. The BNCOC Phase I distance learning program was transformed into Advanced Leader Course- Common Core delivered via blackboard starting on Oct. 1, 2009. Soldiers must complete both the common core and MOS specific phases in order to successfully graduate the ALC.

Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Bailey, director of Structured Self-Development at the Sergeants Major Academy, speaks with the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers about Structured Self Development Sept. 13 during his visit to Camp Humphreys, Korea.
Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Bailey, director of Structured Self-Development at the Sergeants Major Academy, speaks with the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers about Structured Self Development Sept. 13 during his visit to Camp Humphreys, Korea.

Once launched, the force experienced difficulties in executing SSD and ALC-CC, some caused by technology, others caused by a lack of unit oversight to complete the courses. Structured Self- Development was never intended to be a completely self-developmental tool, but requires leader oversight which provides purpose, direction and motivation in getting Soldiers to meet the prerequisites for every level of NCOES. Likewise, leaders must have oversight and account for Soldier enrollment, progression, and completion of ALC-CC.

As the concept of SSD evolved so did its connectivity to NCOES. Army policy established each level of SSD as a prerequisite for attendance to the next NCOES course. Automatic enrollment into SSD Level I was implemented on Oct. 1, 2010, with an adjusted prerequisite date of April 1, 2013. The implementation date for SSD Level III for NCOs who graduated ALC occurred on May 19, 2011 with a prerequisite date of June 1, 2013. The implementation date for SSD Level IV, for NCOs who graduated SLC, occurred on May 19, 2011 with a prerequisite date of June 1, 2013. The implementation date for SSD Level V, for NCOs who graduated the Sergeants Major Course, is yet to be determined with a prerequisite date also yet to be determined. Each of the SSD courses contain upwards of 80 hours of study and Soldiers have three years to complete each of the four courses. Based on established prerequisites dates, Soldiers will now be denied enrollment to WLC if they have not successfully completed SSD I.

As of June 1, Soldiers will be denied enrollment to SLC and the SMC and the Sergeants Major Nonresident Course if they have not successfully completed SSD Level III and IV respectively. Having their ERB annotated with a “G” code showing successful completion and/or presenting an unaltered completion certificate will show proof of meeting the prerequisite. It is also incumbent upon component Army Training Reservation and Resource System managers to ensure Soldiers meet all prerequisites before making reservations to attend NCOES. Too often, USASMA is seeing Soldiers showing up to NCO academies without successfully completing the appropriate level of SSD, yet a training seat reservation was made by their ATRRS managers. This problem occurs when managers override the system to make the reservation. We are working with TRADOC to close this back door problem.

How SSD and ALC-CC work

In the Fall of 2012, USASMA developed a new graphic user interface and a series of templates to deliver a new interactive multimedia instructional design which resulted in immediate improvements in ease of access and functionality, and updated course content to be relevant to the issues facing today’s Soldiers. The first and most telling impact was a reduction of help desk trouble tickets from more than 8,000 a month to well under 500 with most due to operator inexperience. USASMA is currently engaged in transforming SSD Level III and IV to the same GUI delivery system as ALC-CC and working to transform SSD Level I and V by FY14. When fully developed, these courses provide USASMA with the means for rapid adaptability to changes in doctrine, processes, policies, procedures, and to ensure content is current, relevant, easily accessible, mobile compliant, and operationally user friendly – something that is being experienced now by Soldiers enrolled in ALC-CC. The courseware is built using ATSC’s business rules and best practices as well as private sector Web best practices.

 Where are we now?

A screen shot of an ALC-CC module utilizing the new graphics user interface.
A screen shot of an ALC-CC module utilizing the new graphics user interface.

The features of ALC-CC will also be the features developed for SSD. Below are the improvements we made to ALC-CC:

• Response times are 4x faster due to optimized communication with the Web server.

• The new GUI is compatible with today’s Web browsers and platforms including: iPhones, smartphones, IOS Android and Windows.

• The source files provide the means to rapidly develop and maintain content in real time.

• All lessons include page numbers and progress bars to queue students to where they are in the lesson, and bookmarking is built-in for every page in the browser.

• The new GUI also provides an expandable closed caption box which allows students to read the lesson at their own pace if they desire to mute the narration.

• A lesson menu is provided so that students can travel back and forth to the section they desire

• Three learner preferences are addressed: auditory (through narration), visual (text and images), and tactile (through mouse interaction-clicks, hovers and drags)

• Doctrine 2015 reference material was updated and is accessible on each page and in the help menu. Students have the ability to check the exact page being referenced with one click

• There are Checks-on-Learning in every lesson with practical exercises built into the lesson courseware

• Fifty-seven critical tasks are taught.

 Where we are going

The initial 2001 vision to implement SSD as a distance learning delivery method still holds true today. Structured Self-Development links to NCO professional development by ensuring the self-development domain is well defined, meaningful, and integrated into the leader development process. Distance learning is the way of the future and more emphasis is being placed on it as a viable tool for self-development. The content of SSD I, III, IV and V was developed to link to operational needs and institutional training and education. The USASMA conducted extensive gap analysis, looking at each level of SSD to ensure it is linked progressively, sequentially and with relevance to the next level of NCOES. In conjunction with TRADOC’s ATSC and the Army G6, USASMA is working to improve the capabilities of ALMS functionality and accessibility of SSD. ATSC made significant progress in eliminating frustration associated with maneuvering through SSD courses. In addition, ATSC added additional help desk personnel to provide rapid response to trouble tickets. It is USASMA’s goal to eliminate frustrations experienced with ALMS with the delivery of the newly designed SSD to IMI by second quarter of FY14.

USASMA is also working towards virtual and gaming content, developing more challenging examinations which assess each Soldier’s skills in becoming a critical-thinking, problem-solving adaptive leader where the emphasis on learning falls on the Soldier.

How do you get enrolled?

Photo by Sgt. Mark A. Cloutier, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Sgt. Dariusz Krzywonos works on an SSD course to increase his knowledge base at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Photo by Sgt. Mark A. Cloutier, 5th Mobile Public Affairs
Sgt. Dariusz Krzywonos works on an SSD course to increase his knowledge base at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Human Resources Command has appointed an individual to assist with all SSD enrollment and disenrollment issues and has also established a mailbox at usarmy.knox.hrc.mbx.epmd-ncoes-ssd@mail.mil for requests. For Army Reserve Soldiers, the USARC is the resource manager for enrollment. Army National Guard Soldiers are managed by their State’s quota managers. Once a Soldier has been identified as not being automatically enrolled, the schools or training NCOs send an e-mail and roster of all those who need to be enrolled to HRC who will ensure Soldiers are enrolled. Automatic enrollment into SSD is accomplished by HRC based on:• Completion of AIT or OSUT, Soldiers are enrolled into SSD I.• Enrollment into ALC-CC is automatic. Human Resources Command Schools Branch is the proponent for enrollment.

• Upon completion of all phases of ALC, Soldiers are enrolled into SSD III.

• Upon completion of SLC, Soldiers are automatically enrolled into SSD IV.

• NCOs are automatically enrolled into SSD V upon graduation from the SMC.

Once a Soldier has completed WLC and their completion certificate or graduate code is inputted into EDAS or eMILPO, HRC builds an Army Order of Merit list. The OML is refined every 30 days against flag codes, reduction codes, deployments, PCS, categories by grade, and each NCO is prioritized for attendance. Human Resources Command sends the class roster to the ATRRS to reserve each NCO’s training seat. Once the reservation is made, ATRRS generates a message through AKO or enterprise e-mail to the NCO with the class attendance date. The NCO opens up the message, which gives instructions to pre-register for his/her designated class. In some situations HRC will contact the individual who may be sitting on OML directly through AKO or enterprise e-mail with instructions to pre-register in order to fill potential vacant seats.

Note: Soldiers can also enroll through the Army Career Tracker at https://actnow.army.mil.

 Additional requirements

IAW AR 614-200, dated Feb. 26, 2009/Rapid Army Revision, dated Sept. 3, 2009, Para 3-12. Subject: Warrior Attributes Inventory (WAI) assessment, each NCO is required to enroll into the WAI assessment to evaluate each NCO’s individual capabilities and potential for future assignments in the Institutional Army. Completion of the WAI assessment is mandatory for all active Army NCOs upon promotion to the rank of sergeant. Any active Army sergeant with a date of rank of Dec. 31, 2007 and earlier are not required to complete the WAI assessment. Reserve component NCOs (SGT through SFC) must upon entry into an Active Guard or Reserve Program take the WAI. The RC NCOs (SGT through SFC) accessed into an AGR program prior to April 1, 2008 are not required to take the WAI assessment. Active Army sergeants with a date of rank of Jan. 1, 2008 and later and RC NCOs (SGT through SFC) assessed into an AGR program on April 1, 2008 and later must complete the WAI assessment as a requirement for ALC graduation. Active Army Soldiers will be notified of the requirement to take the WAI assessment through the ATRRS within one month of their promotion effective date. The RC NCOs will be manually enrolled into the WAI assessment in ATRRS by their respective component and will take the assessment as part of accessions in-processing.

Military’s top NCO visits USASMA

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Sergeants Major Course Class 63 students May 29 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. His address to the students outlined how he helps the chairman implement his vision and priorities as well as the importance of transition assistance for departing service members.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the Sergeants Major Course Class 63 students May 29 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. His address to the students outlined how he helps the chairman implement his vision and priorities as well as the importance of transition assistance for departing service members.

 

 

By David Crozier, Command Communications

The military’s top enlisted leader spent the morning May 29 talking NCO and transition issues with the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 63 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, started his presentation to the class by introducing Dr. Susan S. Kelly, Ph.D. the principal director, Transition to Veterans Program Office, whom he said had very important news for the students to hear about transition assistance.

“It is very important for us to get our transition programs right. Part of our job as NCOs is to prepare our [troops] to transition and ensure they reenter society as a productive member,” he said. “Doctor Kelly has been a lead in overhauling our Army Career and Alumni Programs.”

The Department of Defense has developed a curricula for transitioning service members and encompasses responsibilities that include leadership ensuring certain career readiness standards are met, Kelly said. The curricula are also standardized ensuring every service member receives the same transition assistance training.

“This is an entirely new curriculum for transitioning service members that they must complete,” she said. “They just don’t sit through classes either. There is a concrete deliverable that each service member will have to show at the end of the [training] and it is the commander’s responsibility to verify that every service member meets new career readiness standards.”

Dr. Kelly said the standards are basic, but critical to ensuring the military is doing its best to prepare transitioning service members. Some of the requirements include, having a job application or job offer letter; filling out a college application or having an acceptance letter; attending a VA benefits briefing; completing self assessment tools; understanding financial requirements and so forth. Once all of the standards have been met, or a referral for assistance has been made, the leader can sign the new form, DD form 2958, verifying the service member is prepared to transition out.

“Senior NCOs are going to play a pivotal role in this,” she said. “The service members are going to need leadership, guidance and a nudge to get the ball rolling and that nudge is going to come from you.”

Following Dr. Kelly’s presentation, Battaglia addressed the class about his role as the SEAC and how he helps the Chairman implement his four priorities – Achieve our national objectives in current conflicts, Develop Joint Force 2020, Keeping faith with our military family and Renewing our commitment to the Profession of Arms – all with an overarching theme of “Total Commitment to the Total Force.”

Battaglia explained that total force means from the young military child and spouse, to the service member and the service member who is now retired and is 80 years old and has been a lifelong member of the American Legion. “That is the total force,” he said.

Speaking to the priorities, Battaglia said that with sequestration “[The military is] going to have challenges of [its] own with downsizing and we are going to have to roll up our sleeves and get things done to ensure that we remain ready, relevant, trained,  educated, and we can face any American threat or a tasker that our president may direct.”

He added, “It is not the first time we have been here. We got  through it before; we will get through it again. While we make our way through,
we are not going to let readiness drop where we are irrelevant or ineffective. That dog is not going to hunt and the NCO corps, the backbone of our military, plays a vital role in that.”

He also said that the service must bridge back to basics by leveraging the technology of today while ensuring we make today’s generation part of the solution and not the problem.

He closed his presentation to the class asking them to renew their commitment to the profession of arms. He said while each service has their creed – Soldier’s Creed, Sailor’s Creed, Airman’s, My Rifle – the Creed of a United States Marine, etc. – there is one thing everyone has that is the same – the Oath of Enlistment.

“Everyone should know the oath just like your service creed,” he said. “It is the common denominator between all of us and has been around since the late 1700s. It is a very, very powerful paragraph and I use it to renew my commitment to the profession of arms.”

For more information about the new transition assistance program visit http://www.turbotap.org/portal/transition/resources/Stakeholder_General_Public.

What is the Sergeants Major Course

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By CSM Gary Coleman, Course Director

The Army’s culminating enlisted Professional Military Education course is the Sergeants Major Course. The course is designed around the university model that educates senior enlisted leaders from our Army, sister services, and allied militaries to be agile and adaptive senior noncommissioned officers through the study of leadership, conduct of Unified Land Operations, and the application of Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and multi-national organizations in an era of persistent conflict and beyond. The SMC is the consummate of enlisted professional military education that prepares sergeants major to be the critical and creative thinkers that can execute at all command levels throughout the Department of Defense.

The course provides tools to develop critical reasoning, creative thinking and decision-making skills to help the sergeants majors advise senior leaders and commanders. Students are provided an education that teaches them to enhance their character, self-expression, and strengthen teamwork abilities. The course assists in the development of logical, practical and original reasoning abilities necessary for problem solving. Students analyze problems based on available information, arrive at logical solutions and decisions with reasonable speed, communicate reasoning and decisions orally and in writing, and supervise to ensure proper execution. Intellectual honesty, integrity, and professional values and standards are highly stressed.

The students experience a curriculum-filled five-day week that includes professional lectures and strategic level briefings from the leaders across the Department of Defense and academia. Additionally, students have the opportunity to attain or complete a college degree from the 22 universities that support the course. This year’s class completed 79 master’s degrees, 183 bachelor’s degrees and 56 their associate degrees.

Throughout the course, students are presented with comprehensive exams in each semester. The first exam, “closed book”, is administered after the first half of each semester with the second exam, “scenario based”, administered at the end of each semester. Furthermore, students are required to write multiple APA style papers, participate in a national security briefing, develop an operational art and design research project, and conduct numerous presentations. The course culminates with a comprehensive End of Course exam that measures the students understanding of our Army and the multiple roles of the Sergeant Major.

The SMC consist of five departments which students rotate through by semesters. These departments, which include an orientation phase at the start of the course, focus on command leadership, military history, Army operations, mission command, unified land operations, and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational organization operations. Each department consists of a team of subject matter experts made up of seasoned sergeants major from all three components of the Army, and senior enlisted leaders from sister services, along with civilian associate professors who prepare master sergeants and sergeants major to elevate from a tactical level of thinking to an operational and strategic perspective. What the students learn prepares them for their roles in battalion, brigade, and division through echelons-above-corps or staff command levels. The joint perspective is enhanced through the attendance of students from the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard as well as international partners.

This Professional Military Education is provided by leveraging both resident and distributive learning educational methods and technologies. The SMC is responsible for delivering three courses; the Sergeants Major Course, a 10-month long resident course containing a total of 1,484.7 instructional hours; the Sergeants Major-Nonresident Course, a 18- to 24-month long course delivered through the distributed learning method culminating with a two-week resident course of instruction at the Academy; and the 10-week International Pre-course which prepares our international students to successfully navigate the SMC.

Command Leadership
Instruction in the Department of Command Leadership focuses on the attributes and competencies required of an operational and strategic level leader in today’s Armed Forces. When a Noncommissioned Officer becomes a Sergeant Major, their span of control decreases, however their sphere of influence increases significantly. The curriculum in this department is designed to enhance individual critical and creative thinking skills so the students can effectively maximize their influence and extend it beyond their chain of command to support the mission and goals of their organization.SMC
Students use a blend of military and civilian case studies to critically analyze contemporary and historical leadership issues. This method expands their leadership perspective in order to gain a greater understanding of the challenges they will face as sergeants major in today’s operational environment. Students are also taught to use the mission command framework of understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess. This enables them to speak the same language as their officer counterparts so they can provide timely and relevant input and advice when confronted with the operational- and strategic-level issues and complexities of leadership.

Students in the DCL will receive Master Resilience Trainer instruction and examine the factors of resiliency and their link to Army Doctrine and Comprehensive Soldier Fitness. They research the core concepts of Positive Psychology and Resiliency with the focus of learning how to develop themselves as resilient leaders. This lesson is based on a holistic program focused on developing the five dimensions of individual strength – physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family. Gaining a greater understanding of these five dimensions provides sergeants major the tools necessary to help develop an Army of balanced, healthy, self-confident Soldiers, family members and Army civilians whose resilience and total fitness enables them to excel in an era of high operational tempo and persistent conflict. As a result of this information, students will gain further self-awareness and insights concerning their own resiliency and the positive impact of resilient leaders on organizations. All graduates receive the additional skill identifier “8R” for Master Resilience Trainer instructors.

Military History
The students in the Department of Military History examine and analyze the evolving roles, duties and responsibilities of the NCO spanning more than 200 years of American history from the mid 1700s to present. Students look at the concept of continuity and change in the role of the NCO over time as well as the factors that account for these changes which form the foundation of the curriculum designed to promote “historical mindedness” for the future sergeants majors in our Army.

The DMH curriculum is episodic in nature. It seeks to integrate themes relevant for today’s joint warfighter and place them in historical context. Course themes include an ever-increasing role of the NCO on the battlefield, the impact of new technologies, previous Army transformation efforts, insurgency and counterinsurgency operations by the British, French, U.S. Armies, and lastly, combat and ethical leadership.

Students analyze the European way of war, practiced by the British Army in the 17th and 18th centuries. They study European tactics, techniques and procedures against the Native Americans and how attempting to apply previous experiences to solutions in the past, to conditions that were fundamentally different. Students also study the Mexican American and the American Civil War, the technological changes that occurred in the years between the end of the Mexican War and the outbreak of the Civil War, and changing tactics and technology in weapons on the battlefield and how it affected doctrine.

Students examine experiences of the American Soldier and how the roles duties and responsibilities of the NCO during WWI evolved due to the changing nature of warfare. Students examine WWII and the process of transformation, Vietnam and the dilemma confronting Soldiers waging counterinsurgency operations, and lastly, operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the evolution of the NCO corps. At the completion of the semester students have a better understanding of the major factors that shaped doctrine, as well as the evolving roles, duties and responsibilities of the NCO.

Army Operations
The students in the Department of Army Operations study the central concept of Unified Land Operations – Army units seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to gain and maintain a position of relative advantage in sustained land operations to create conditions for favorable conflict resolution. Based on this concept, the DAO curriculum has four major areas: doctrine, mission command, decisive action, and operational art. The students explore ULO with a solid foundation of doctrine. The road to 2015 and 2020 are fast moving vehicles and understanding the changes in doctrine and the way forward, sets the conditions for the student to comprehend the philosophy and warfighting function of mission command.

The students study mission command first which allows them to apply the principles of mission command to the rest of their studies. Mission command is the way that commanders drive the operations process. In order to best support the commander, the operations SGM must comprehend the commander’s activities of understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess and be able to effectively use their staff to provide the knowledge and data which supports these actions.

The student’s study of decisive action is the bridge between mission command and operation art. The student broadens their understanding of offensive, defensive, and stability operations and the defense support of civil authorities though the use of practical exercises and automation. The use of the Command Post of the Future is the primary tool utilized within the DAO to enhance the learning experience. CPOF is a computer program which enables the planning process and facilitates collaboration. Students gain a complete understanding of the capabilities of CPOF and how it can best support the mission, staff, and commander.

Operational art is the pursuit of strategic objectives, in whole or in part, through the arrangement of tactical actions in time, space, and purpose. The students explore operational art using the Army Design Methodology. The ADM is the conceptual planning accomplished prior to the detailed planning of the Military Decision Making Process. Through the study of the ADM, the students frame the operational environment; identify the right problem; and establish an operational approach. The students tie this learning to the commander’s needs of understanding, visualizing and describing to produce products that their staffs can use for the detailed planning of the MDMP. Finally, the students bring all of their knowledge together with the use of the MDMP and the application of the principles of the operations process.

Force Management
The Department of Force Management’s objective is to educate and analyze the “how to” and “why” of determining force requirements and alternative means of resourcing Soldier training requirements in order to accomplish Army functions and missions as related to their unit and Army Command-level management positions.

This department provides a systemic overview of “How the Army Runs.” Students learn the constitutional, statutory and regulatory basis for the force projection Army and the capabilities that must be sustained through management of doctrinal, organizational, and material change. They become familiar with organizational roles, functions and missions especially at the command and secretariat/staff levels.

DFM students are also introduced to:

  • Established force management processes; from the determination of force requirements to the resourcing of those requirements and the assessment of their utilization in order to accomplish functions and missions.
  • Command Post of the future to prepare unit training and deployment documents, and then conduct a formal briefing using the materials created.
  • The Fort Bliss Arrival/Departure Airfield Control Group to observe firsthand how installation airfields deploy Soldiers and equipment to support theater requirements.
  • Contracting and budget regulations and guidelines to support Army operations.
  • Army and joint logistics and sustainment systems.

At the completion of the semester a successful student is able to define the roles that sergeants major have in the force management process at all levels.

Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, Multi-National Operations
The Department of Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational is an integral part of the Sergeants Major Course foundation for Joint Professional Military Education. This semester addresses significant portions and objectives of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff training priorities. The DJIIM uses critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving to explore the application of Joint doctrine. By applying these principles to a complex problem set, students develop an overarching perspective of leadership at the operational and strategic level.

During the first half of the semester, students are provided with techniques and methods in an academic setting conducive to the most advance understanding of strategic concepts, national military strategy, state department processes, joint services application, joint functions overview, irregular warfare, and the joint operational planning process. The second half of the semester culminates a 25-hour capstone Mission Readiness Exercise supported by a visit to the Joint Task Force North operating facilities.

Moreover, the DJIIM prepares students to work at the strategic level regardless of their next duty assignments. The overarching concept is to provide rigorous academic challenges and relevant experiences using state of the art systems such as Command Post of the Future and Army Battle Command Systems. Finally, the DJIIM’s deliberate student assessment strategies and department evaluations provide students with immediate feedback required to master each phase of the joint planning process.
NonRes

The Nonresident Course
In order to accommodate students who are unable to attend the Sergeants Major Course in residence, and to broaden the availability of training, the Army developed the Sergeants Major Non-Resident Course.

Each SMNRC class consists of senior NCO in the rank of master sergeant, first sergeant, sergeants major, and command sergeants major from the active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard.

The SMNRC is a 18- to 24-month program of instruction under the new design distance learning portion, Phase I, which must be completed within 18 months, and a two-week resident requirement at the Sergeant’s Major Academy, Phase II, conducted within 6 month after completion of Phase I. The curriculum parallels the Resident Sergeant’s Major Course and provides lessons with both self-graded and on-line graded requirements. Emphasis is on improving student communication skills with written and oral practical exercises, JIIM/DAT.

The Course of the Future
The USASMA continues to analyze and develop the role of the sergeant major and their PME needs. Course improvements slated for Class 65 and beyond include changing the Department of Military History to the Department of Training and Doctrine. This improvement keeps the senior enlisted course in line with the Army’s enterprising structure and the functional educational needs of sergeants major. The course will also see additional lessons incorporated into the Department of Force Management that will focus on garrison operations and absorb the nominative level Force Management course.

As we “Shape the Army of 2020”, the United States Army Sergeants Major Course will continue to be the consummate institution that prepares Sergeants Major to execute at all command levels throughout the Department of Defense.