Across the Army’s 33 NCO Academies facilitators, formerly known as instructors, are leading military education classes for Soldiers preparing to become noncommissioned officers and master sergeants. During the weekend of October 13-14, the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence held a competition to see who the best was at facilitating the Basic Leader Course and the Master leader Course.
“Each of these competitors were selected to represent their academy,” Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Simmons, director of NCO Professional Development and Education said. “They volunteered to be here.”
Simmons explained the competitors were selected to represent their academy through an arduous process that began at their academy and included a digital board conducted by members of the Center of Excellence.
Once selected, the competitors were tested over the two-day event on their physical fitness, their facilitation of a 20 minutes class using the Experiential Leaning Model, and their ability to answer a 5-essay test. A total of nine Soldiers competed in the inaugural event: Staff Sgts. Johnnie Ayala from the Fort Dix, New Jersey NCOA; Vanessa R. Carillo from the 7th Army NCOA in Germany; Jeremy S. Dodge from the Fort Indiantown Gap NCOA in Pennsylvania; Jimmee S. Laster from the Fort Bragg NCOA in North Carolina; Sgts. 1st Class Andre Mangual from the Fort Dix NCOA; Michael V. Davis from Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCOA in Washington; Master Sgts. Colbie T. Jackson from JBLM NCOA; Aaron L. Griffing from Fort Bragg NCOA; and Larry D. Foreman from Fort Dix NCOA.
The winners were announced during ceremonies October 15 at the NCOL CoE. Facilitator of the Year for the Basic Leader Course is Staff Sgt. Vanessa R. Carrillo. Facilitator of the Year for the Basic Leader Course Senior Facilitators is Sgt. 1st Class Andre Mangual. The Facilitator of the Year for the Master Leader Course is Master Sgt. Larry D. Foreman.
“It was good, very different,” said Carillo who explained that her leadership asked her to compete. “I liked that everything was a mystery and I liked that they incorporated the physical events as well.”
Carillo said she enjoys being a facilitator and always puts 100 percent into everything she does, so she takes great satisfaction in being able to compete and win.
“For me it gives me a lot of pride, not only for being a Soldier, but being a part of my academy and being a facilitator,” she said.
For Mangual, he wanted to do something different and pave the way for others to come to the competition. He also enjoyed the not knowing what to expect.
“Not being able to prepare yourself for the competition, I kind of like it in the sense of you just had to go with it,” he said adding that similarly, the same could be said about having to do the Army Combat Fitness Test. “It is a challenge on its own. I wasn’t expecting it and I wish I could have started conditioning myself earlier.”
Foreman, who took the challenge of competing to see how he compares to his peers, said having to do the essay was another unexpected challenge.
“So, after going through the Master Leader Course and then coming here and the mystery challenge was the five-question, 50-minute essay, I wasn’t prepared for that,” Foreman said. “I didn’t know what the questions were going to be just like some of our students. So, what I did was read the questions as fast as I could and then answered them to the best of mu ability. That’s pretty much what we ask our students to do in class.”
“It was good. It put me in the mindset of what the students are experiencing, having to follow a rubric, having to stay within a certain topic,” he said. “It got me in the feeling of so this is what my students are going through. So I understand what is expected of them.”
Foreman also noted the challenge of having to do the ACFT and while has passed it, he had some advice for others.
“It’s not easy. It is very challenging,” he said. “Going forward I would just recommend everybody readjust your workout habits in order for you to be successful in the ACFT when it debuts.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, commandant of the NCOL CoE, lauded the competitors and presented the winners with Army Commendation Medals and the other competitors with Certificate of Appreciation. All received a commandant’s coins for excellence for a job well done.
As the competitors make their way back to the respective academies to resume their facilitation of their PME courses, Carrillo remarked on the new method of facilitation.
“I like the new system the Army has moved to and I really like the new BLC too,” she said. “I think it is great. It is definitely different from the way it used to be and really tests the knowledge, the critical thinking, of the young Soldiers.”
Since the development of the Primary Leadership Course in the late 1970s, the way to train potential junior leaders has been as regimented as the way Soldiers how to fire their weapons. Teaching consisted of instructors imparting step-by-step procedures of how to’s without the why’s and consequences of failure to achieve mission success. A normal 2-hour block of instruction consisted of “Death by PowerPoint”. With the newly redesigned Basic Leader Course, now being taught using the Experiential Learning Method at every NCO Academy, that paradigm is a thing of the past.
“I think today’s course is more on target and more in line with what adult learning should be and that is backed up by educational theory,” Theresa “Tess” Spagna, BLC course manager, Directorate Curriculum Development, NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, said. “The Experiential Learning Model is not facilitator-centric, it’s student-centric and research shows that if [students] are engaged, if they are responsible for their learning, they retain it.”
Spagna said that is exactly what the redesigned BLC does – education in a collaborative, safe, environment where students are able to open up to one another and discuss things.
“They are learning things and find things on their own. Facilitators are there to guide them in the right direction,” she said. “It’s like the old saying, we are no longer the sage on the stage, we are the guide on the side.”
Focused on the six Leader Core Competencies of Readiness, Leadership, Training Management, Communications, Operations, and Program Management, the redesigned Basic Leader Course is designed to build leader and trainer skills needed to lead a team-size element; while providing the foundation for further development along the Professional Military Education learning continuum. Spagna who has been on the ground floor of the redesigned course and its implementation, said the BLC of today is far better than the old lecture-style of instruction.
“I think we have a much better product for our customer which is the promotable E4. Before you were going to a leadership course with all these PowerPoint slides and you are not going to take it all in. I have seen as many as 80 slides. That’s a lot to just throw at somebody with no collaboration,” she said referring to the former method of instruction. “I believe we are at the pinnacle of what adult learning is and we are providing them with a superior product. We are not just training Soldiers, we are educating them.”
The BLC is a 22-academic day course consisting of 169 academic hours taught in four phases. It begins with Foundations phase where the students receive a course overview, learn about group dynamics, are introduced to Physical Readiness Training (PRT), drill and ceremonies, critical thinking and problem solving, effective listening, written communication, training management and conduct training, and take the Army Physical Fitness Test.
“In Foundations they are given an overview of how the course is going to take place, everyone of the topic areas, what the lesson is,” she said. “They get everything they need to know to make them successful. Foundations sets the tone. Then you have the Leadership phase.”
The Leadership phase teaches the students about the Army’s Leadership Requirements Model, public speaking, counseling, Army Values, Ethics, integration of Soldier 2020, legal responsibilities and limits of NCO authority, followership and servant leader fundamentals, and team building and conflict management.
“The Leadership Phase, thats where we go into the Leadership Requirements Model and learn about the attributes and the competencies of what we want leaders to have and reflect,” Manglona said. “Then they go into the Readiness Phase.”
In this phase students are taught mission orders and troop leading procedures, Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program, Soldier readiness, resiliency, and command supply discipline.
“This phase deals with resiliency, how to take resiliency out to the force,” she said. “We are giving them resources, command supply discipline, stewardship of the profession and steward of the resources that the profession uses.”
In the final phase, the Assessment Phase, the students write their end of course essays which includes two 500-word reflective essays and turn in a SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Program) essay. All assessments, some are executed during the Leadership and Readiness phases, are done through observation of their written essays and communication, public speaking, conducting training, and leadership abilities. There competency-based assessments are no multiple-choice tests.
“Multiple choice is really a 50/50 game. If you have four answers you get rid of the one that is definitely not it. You get rid of the other one you know is not it which leaves you with a 50/50 shot. And when you are done you File 13 it,” she said. “With this course they are actually writing about their different leadership topics; they are doing compare and contrast essays regarding servant leadership and followership; they are teaching individuals PRT. In my opinion, the greatest part of this is that at the very end of the course is the essay about everything they have learned – writing, speaking, coaching, mentoring – all the things they learned. It is not just about the GPA, it is about what was important to them, what did they learn and experience.”
For those who teach BLC at the NCO academies, the change in both instruction and student participation is dramatic.
“I can tell you from previously attending the old course – WLC – and also having been a facilitator for the former BLC, it has changed dramatically,” Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Delay, chief of training at the Fort Bliss NCO Academy said. “When I say dramatically, it is the way we facilitate and educate our students. Now our students are learners and we are using that learner-centric environment.”
Delay said the students are taught skills to help them think more clearly, more critical, and the students become more agile when it comes to answering questions regarding problem solving.
“Students are allowed to share and collaborate within the classroom. It is no longer the days where I am going to tell you how to learn,” he said. “Now it is you understanding what you are learning and being able to learn from each other, not just the facilitator.”
The facilitation part, Delay said, is only about 20 percent of just that, facilitators asking questions to create discussion among the students.
“The big difference before was we were telling students how they were going to learn, and it was I am going to do this because you are telling me this is what I need to do,” Delay said. “Now I am being able to discover for myself or share that experience I have. So as a facilitator it was hard to change from being what we called an instructor back then, to facilitator today, to know how to actually guide the students in discussion.”
Staff Sgt. Raymond Furr, Quality Assurance NCO for the Fort Bliss NCO Academy, likened the changed in style of instruction and course design to an awakening – going from a do as I say instruction to a collaborative learning environment.
“I would say it is an awakening of the knowledge they have. Because if you look at it from the student viewpoint, from all the feedback we are getting, a lot of the information we are presenting to this current generation of Soldiers, and yes some have college experience and have written essays, but with the old BLC and Warrior Leader Course, you were seen and not heard. Everything was battle drills,” he said. “Now we are asking this generation of Soldiers to reconceptualize everything which is a big deal. In talking with the Soldiers, it was almost like system overload for them with the concepts.”
Furr said the facilitators are doing an excellent job of transforming the students into critical thinkers, trainers.
“The Soldiers you have now are going to take this back to their units. They are going to start implementing what they learned, and they are going to start developing their Soldiers,” he said. “By FY20 we are going to have Soldiers coming to the course with a clear understanding of what to expect.”
Delay said the Soldiers of today are institutionalized in the old way of learning – do it because I told you to do it.
“There is an institutional culture in the way they deliver training. If we can get the units to transform how they deliver their Sergeants Time training, their Warrior Tasks and how they are conducting their classes, then the Soldiers will already be open to the Experiential Learning style,” he said. “At BLC there are no longer Skill Level I tasks being taught. This is Skill Level II course. So, when they leave this institution they already have the knowledge, skills and attributes to go back and be trainers. There is no more learning a task that I should have learned in my unit.”
Furr said with the redesigned BLC, there no longer is students falling asleep at their computers, or I am not interested, and I am not retaining anything. With the new BLC students get involved and mature as future leaders.
“At the beginning of the course we get the ones who don’t talk or have anything to say or maybe isn’t at the highest speaking or articulation level,” he said. “By the end of the course that Soldier is in the middle of the conversation because the [facilitators and their peers] developed them. Now they know how to talk to people. The maturity level in just 22 days – I think we are producing more critical thinkers, but more mature younger leaders to put back out in the force.”
Spagna said students come to the course with knowledge through their experiences in and out of the Army that applies to leadership. The course helps them to bring that knowledge forward.
“It’s neat to watch them have these conversations in class and they come to the knowledge themselves,” she said. “The light bulb just pops.”
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the 705 students of Sergeants Major Course Class 68, June 22, in ceremonies at the Abundant Living Faith Center, El Paso, Texas. Class 68 had within its ranks 49 international students from 46 different countries as well as members of the United States Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Command Sgt. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of the Center of Excellence, welcomed the special guests and thanked all for attending. Sellers also lauded the efforts of the Center’s plans and operations section, the staff and faculty and the facilitators who taught the students throughout the year.
“These types of events just don’t happen on their own. It takes effective communication, collaboration and coordination on multiple fronts to be able to pull this together,” Sellers said before turning his attention to introducing the guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Daniel Dailey. “I am proud to report,” he added, “705 fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals will be coming to a post, camp or station near you.”
Taking the stage Dailey joked about how the graduates facial expressions have changed since the last time he spoke to them saying today’s looked much better.
“So as I stand here looking at the next stewards of our profession, I can honestly say, today is a great day to be a Soldier. In fact every day is a great day to be a Soldier,” he said.
Dailey recognized all of the families, friends and loved ones in attendance and thanking them for their sacrifice and support of their Soldier telling them, “If the Army’s greatest assets is its people, then our families are the bedrock of that foundation.”
Dailey also gave special recognized to the international students telling them their presence in the classroom makes a huge impact on the learning experience of all. He then launched into his graduation address.
“So it’s graduation day,” he said noting the students wanted him to hurry up, nobody would remember a thing he said, that he too had been there before. “Well just sit back and begin to forget what I am about to say.”
“This is just the beginning. Your are going to be a sergeant major, the pinnacle of your profession,” he said. “It’s starts at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. Are you ready to lead our most precious resource – America’s sons and daughters?”
Your are now the stewards of the nation’s most powerful weapon system – the Army Profession. He said.
“Take heed of the power that you have been given; cherish it; it is a gift, not a right; and it will be taken away from you if you don’t wield it properly,” Dailey said. You need to figure it out. There is no magic recipe for success.”
Dailey then said he would not give the students any advice, but would leave them with his “Top Ten” list.
“It has changed some from the last time as my observations have changed as yours will as you move along.”
Dailey then proceeded to give his revised list.
Yelling doesn’t make you skinny, PT does.
It’s okay to be nervous, being nervous means you are humble.
If you only justification for your continued existence in the United States Army is your 27 years of experience; it’s time to turn in your 4187 (retirement papers).
Be more informed and less emotional – nobody likes a dumb loud mouth.
Never forget that you are just a Soldier, no better, no worse than any other.
If you constantly have to remined everyone all the time that you are the sergeant major and you’re in charge, you’re not.
Be positive, if you can’t go home.
Never forget to take the distinct opportunity to keep you mouth shut.
True leaders don’t just tell people what to do, they inspire people. Leadership in its most simplistic form is simply getting people to accomplish the mission.
If you can’t do what you expect your Soldiers to do, then they won’t respect you.
“Now that you are in a position to do, or not do those things, make a difference,” Dailey said. “Make the difference you promised yourself all those years ago that you would make if you ever got there. Be the leader that our Soldiers deserve.”
The US Army Sergeants Major Course is and will always be the premier Professional Military Education (PME) institution in the world. We must remain a renowned academic leader in the study of leadership, the conduct of Unified Land Operations, and the application of Joint, Interagency, and Multi-National organizations to synchronize all elements of power to achieve national objectives. We will continue to provide our Army with agile and adaptive Sergeants Major prepared to be effective at all command levels of our Army. We will maintain a world-class faculty that leads by example with professionalism and high moral character. We will be dedicated to developing competence in communication, critical thinking, creative thinking, and decision-making skills, with a commitment to enhancing each NCO’s lifelong learning. We will be the model of professionalism that will not only be the key to the success of the SMC but influences the success of the entire USASMA and our Army.
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.
Additional photos of the graduation are available for viewing on our Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.
In just eight months, the newly redesigned Basic Leader Course will launch at each of the Army’s 32 NCO Academies. To ensure each academy is prepared to teach the new curriculum, as well as adapt to the new teaching method, the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is conducting Train the Trainer sessions for select individuals.
“We are bringing in representatives from all of the NCO academies that teach the Basic Leader Course and giving them training on the new curriculum,” William R. Ogletree Jr., director of Curriculum Development said. “We are doing two weeks – the first is focused on the Experiential Learning Model, problem solving, critical thinking and writing. The second week is focused on the curriculum itself – a deep dive into the lesson plans.”
Ogletree said the individuals will obtain a full immersion into the new course including the assessments and how to deliver the lessons in the classroom.
“The outcome is the representatives who are sitting here for two weeks getting the training, will go back and establish their faculty development program within their respective NCO Academy,” he said. “They can go back and train the folks and their cadre on the new curriculum so that when we do roll out the new course in January, we won’t have as many problems starting out.”
Ogletree said with news of the new curriculum and method of instruction already out on the street there is anxiety with the writing program and the critical thinking piece.
“These are not Army tasks and we are switching from a task-based kind of approach to an educational-based approach,” he said. “Some of the younger NCOs are struggling with this paradigm shift. So if we can get that across to them while they are here they can go back and create their own training program, learn the writing piece and relay some of the critical thinking piece.”
Sgt. 1st Class Stacya Mitchell, a small group leader with the US Army Alaska NCO Academy who is attending the train the trainer course, said the new curriculum for the Basic Leader Course will get Soldiers to think more, to self-assess, and to be independent so that they can gain the confidence the Army needs for them to be leaders.
“I’m actually in awe, because my experience with the Warrior Leader Course was more ‘do this, this is what I want you to do, this is how I want you to do it,’” she said. “There was no thought process to it. I think this allows the soldiers to make more decisions.”
Mitchell said using the Experiential Learning Model is a big plus for the course.
“The Experiential Learning Model is allowing the soldier to generally think on their own,” she said. “With the new curriculum we are going to start bringing them into the thought process and linking it to the Army curriculum, so they will have an understanding on their own versus, ‘Hey you are going to do this, this way and at this time.’”
Mitchell said she would have benefitted greatly from a course like the new BLC.
“I [could] see myself as a first sergeant already. I would have excelled because I know I would have all the tools I needed to be that leader the Army wants,” she said. “I wouldn’t be as reactive; I would have been a lot more proactive earlier in my career.”
The validation of the new Basic Leader Course is already complete, Ogletree said. The NCOL CoE & USASMA conducted four series of validations at seven different location – all with favorable feedback. The launch of the new course is set for January 2019.
“We made some adjustments, but all in all the feedback we got is we are going in the right direction,” he said. “The curriculum is solid; this is what the students want and need to know. We got it right.”
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy hosted 29 senior enlisted leaders representing their Career Management Fields for Branch Week, December 4-8. The regimental or Center of Excellence sergeants major, were asked to come to the academy to brief the students of Sergeants Major Course Class 68, as well as USASMA staff and faculty on the advancements and future developments of their career fields, career paths, and broadening opportunities within their CMF.
“Today is a big day for us,” Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of USASMA said. “We talk about the importance of knowing our CMFs, know what our right and left are doing. [These sergeants major] are here to brief us on what their CMFs do, what they are for and the way ahead.”
Sellers impressed upon the students the importance to listen to every brief and when they had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with their CMF sergeant major, to ask the tough questions.
Sgt. Maj. Felice Murrell, operations sergeant major for the Sergeants Major Course, said bringing in the regimental or Center of Excellence sergeants major to conduct a capabilities brief for their CMF was a first for USASMA. She said prior to this event the students would obtain materials from their CMF and brief their fellow students in the class. The regimental or COE sergeants major would then come in from time to time to meet with the students after academic hours were complete.
“This is the very first time USASMA has actually conducted a Branch Week and additionally the first time the actual [branches briefed and] had the opportunity to break off into informal briefing sessions,” Murrell said. “This was two-fold. They were able to give the capabilities brief and be able to go right into an informal brief with their Soldiers.”
Murrell said she received rave reviews from both the CMF sergeants major and the students.
“The sergeants major said they were honored to take part in this and it was an opportunity to welcome the students into the sergeant major rank,” she said. “The students were ecstatic. Some of them had never met their regimental or COE sergeant major and it gave them an opportunity for one on one dialogue.”
She added Branch Week provided the students a total overview of each CMF and a deep dive into what was going on within their CMF.
“Branch Week has been an amazing experience I believe for Class 68,” Master Sgt. Natasha Santiago (CMF 68-Medical), Class 68 class president said. “So many of the regimental sergeants major came through this week and actually briefed the statistics and capabilities for their respective branches and I know personally I learned so much about my classmates and what they do and what they bring to the fight.”
Fellow classmate, Master Sgt. James Brown (CMF 68-Medical), said Branch Week really opened up his eyes.
“Since going through the joint (Department of Joint Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multinational), and force management (Department of Force Management) portion of the Sergeants Major Course, everything at the strategic level the regimental briefers have been talking about I totally understand it,” he said. “My vision stayed at an organization level, at the battalion/brigade level. I struggled at seeing the big picture. The way our line of efforts work you get trapped into this tunnel. … We didn’t get to see the broad picture.”
During Branch Week, each CMF sergeants major was asked to brief the entire Class 68 on their branch history, career management chart and credentialing opportunities, career progression trends for command sergeants major and sergeants major, and future developments for the CMF. At the end of each day’s briefing the students were grouped by their CMF and met separately with their sergeants major to allow for questions and answers and a more direct brief.
“Being at the academy I was definitely eyes open for seeing things in a much bigger perspective,” Santiago said. “With Branch Week I see things through a much larger scale. I think we are being prepared to see things in that multi-domain picture and this helps.”
Brown said Branch Week will help him to inform his Soldiers at his next duty station about the why.
“One thing I will do better of is the explanation piece. I feel that when you are given the mission you are just told here is the mission, task and standard, just get after it,” Brown said. “But with an explanation it helps to understand more and actually helps broaden your horizon as well. So, I will do better with the explanation piece when it is feasible to do so.”
The Sergeants Major Course (SMC) 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, the conduct of Unified Land Operations, and the application of Joint, Interagency, and Multi-National organizations in an era of persistent conflict. The SMC is the consummate institution that prepares them to execute at all command levels throughout the Department of Defense. This Professional Military Education (PME) is provided by leveraging both resident and distributive learning (dL) educational methods and technologies.
The USASMA mission is to provide professional military education that develops enlisted leaders to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.
There are a lot of changes that are coming which will affect noncommissioned officer education, Sgt. Maj. Brian Lindsey of the Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development said during a briefing December 5 to the Sergeants Major Course Class 68 students at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas. It comes in the form of the NCO 2020 Strategy – a document all NCOs should be familiar with.
“You all in this class are going to be the stakeholders [of this change] and you are the ones who are going to get the word out to the force,” Lindsey said. “Some change is good and we need to do some changing. … We haven’t revamped NCO education since 1973.”
Lindsey asked the class to not look at the changes through their perspective, but to see the changes through the lens of a Soldier who is just entering the Army. He provided an overview of INCOPD and its responsibilities in the development of the NCO 2020 Strategy and then asked the students how many have read the document.
“If you are just learning about it here, you and your Soldiers are behind the power curve,” he said. “We have to get this information out to the force and you have to enforce and reinforce it because it is coming no matter how bad you want to hold it up. It’s coming and you need to make sure you are all in.”
The NCO 2020 Strategy, he said, is only 13 pages long and is easy to read. The document outlines three lines of effort for the Army – Development, Talent Management and Stewardship of the Profession. Under Development the main objectives are S.T.E.P. (Select, Train, Educate, Promote), NCO PME (Professional Military Education), Credentialing and Validate. Under Talent Management the main objectives are Broadening, Operational and PDM (Career Map). The main objectives under Stewardship of the Profession are Doctrine, Self-Development, 2020 Year of the NCO and Character Development.
“You need to get on board and read the 13 pages and make sure you are familiar with what you are going to be enforcing real soon,” Lindsey said turning his attention to Leader Core Competencies. LCCs are being placed into all phases of PME particularly in the Advance and Senior Leader courses because the courses are technically heavy. “We are not teaching a Soldier how to be a leader in these courses. We are not teaching them anything about being a leader.”
The Leader Core Competencies focus on six areas – Communications, Leadership, Program Management, Operations, Training Management and Readiness. Along with the LCCs, the Army is introducing Distributive Learning Courses which are replacing the Structured Self Development. The DLC courses will be a part of the progressive and sequential learning model and will include the NCO Writing Program.
“Inside of your DLC there will be a requirement for a reflection paper … then you will have a paper to write when you get to your BLC which will become a part of your GPA,” Lindsey said. “This will become part of the norm as you progress [through NCOPDS] by the time you get to the Sergeants Major Course. We are going to start [Soldiers writing] early and it is going to be progressive and sequential. As you go up, the papers get longer and harder.”
Lindsey explained that being able to develop written communications skills will help support the Soldier and team performance in support of mission readiness.
As part of the NCO 2020 Strategy, USASMA is currently revamping the DLC courses with the updated DLC I expected to hit the streets by June of 2018 with DLC II in August. Levels III through VI will follow sequentially in 3-4 month increments. The Basic Leader Course is also undergoing redesign and is currently in validation with a goal of delivering the course Army-wide by June 2018. The Master leader Course is expected to be a part of S.T.E.P. by October 2018 and a non-resident course expected to come online on or about May 2018.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy hosted a delegation from the Noncommissioned Officer School of the Jordanian Armed Forces November 28 in an effort to build stronger ties between them and the U.S., and to reach the vision of Jordan’s Chairman of Defense in developing their NCO Corps to be like the U.S. Army’s.
The delegation, led by Warrant Officer 2 Mohammad Al-Smadi, commandant of the Jordan NCO School and former Jordan Armed Forces Sergeant Major, met with Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, USASMA commandant, and the academy staff to discuss the Jordanian’s efforts in building an NCO Academy and educating their NCO Corps.
“We established our own Basic Leader Course after we saw the [U.S. Army] model of leadership training and we are now working on our POIs (Program of Instruction),” said Al-Smadi. “We are looking for input from our friends at USASMA about our NCOs because we are developing our academy system.”
Al-Smadi said as their officer academy is run by officers, they are setting up their NCO Academy to be run by NCOs. He added that the meeting with USASMA had been very fruitful.
“We have a very good, strong relationship and friendship from our side with the American NCOs. A few of my team have graduated from the Sergeants Major Course and one from the Basic Leader Course from this academy,” he said. “We have taken away a lot and have had good meetings.”
Sellers echoed Al-Smadi’s sentiments about the partnership and lauded Jordan for their efforts to build an NCO education system.
“I think what they have is a pretty good product right now and we look forward to continuing to work with them and enhance their product,” Sellers said. “I think this is important that we not only give them the tools to develop their NCOs and training development, but this partnership also gives us the opportunity to get over there with them, enhance our partnership base, look at what they are doing, observe them and then provide them with some constructive feedback.”
Sellers added that partnerships and initiatives like this says a lot about USASMA – that its arm is far-reaching, that USASMA can get out an help other countries because they respect our NCO Corps and its lineage.
“A lot of countries come to us for help and assistance. It says a lot about our capabilities, our compassion that we have on Team USASMA. We have been doing a lot of things with Jordan for a while now,” Sellers said. “They gave us some great insight about where they are at.”
To date members of Jordan’s military have attended the Basic Leader Course, the Battle Staff NCO Course, the Sergeants Major Course and one has attended the Commandant’s Pre-command Course. During the meeting Al-Smadi and Sellers discussed increasing the numbers of Jordanian Soldiers attending US Army NCO Professional Development Courses, to include the new Master Leader Course.
“For us it is very important. We want to do something for our NCOs and our country,” Al-Smadi said. “In maybe 10 or 20 years when we see the effect on our military, our army, we can say ‘okay’ we were a part of that. It’s all about our nation, our army.”
Sellers said USASMA will support Jordan’s efforts in developing their NCO education system.
“They gave us some great insight about where they are at currently in terms of their document development. So what we are looking to do is to work with them and make sure their doctrine and curriculum in their BLC course and some of their other courses remain aligned somewhat like ours,” he said. “They would like to use our model – sequential, progressive and continue to build on one another. I think what they have is a pretty good product right now and we look forward to continuing to work with them and enhance their product.”
With the NCO 2020 Strategy driving change for enlisted Soldier Professional Development, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy brought together all of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy commandants September 11 for a 3-day meeting to discuss the way ahead.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of USASMA, hosted the event and explained the overall reason for the meeting.
“We wanted to get all of the commandants together that are responsible for some type of leadership development and training education for our Soldiers throughout the Army,” Sellers said. “We wanted to ensure they understand the direction and changes the Army is going through as we change our NCO curriculum development and program.”
Sellers said the feedback he received from the attendees is they are receptive to the changes.
“They understand that revolutionary changes need to be made with the way we educate and train Soldiers,” he said. “They (also) understand that we have not done this in a while.”
During the meeting the commandants listened to presentations on the pending changes to NCO Professional Development System and its distance learning modules, the responsibilities of the Institute for NCO Professional Development, talent management, faculty development, quality assurance accreditation, the Army Career Tracker, Army University and more.
Sellers noted the changes the Army is making are more relevant to the Soldiers and will help them become better leaders. Also attending the council meeting was Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Command, who informed the commandants their job was to fill all of the seats available.
“We do not want to penalize our Soldiers. Our job is to train Soldiers. If you have capacity …. Common sense says they get in (to school),” Davenport said. “Commandants have the authority for walk-ons. It’s about maximizing capacity.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Jarred A. Gale, commandant of the 40th Training Regiment NCO Academy at Camp Williams, Utah, said he gained an immense amount of knowledge by attending the meeting.
“The biggest thing I got was a lot of the accreditation standards and business practices we at the individual academies go through,” he said. “That has been invaluable for what we are going to be doing in the future.”
Gale added there were things that came out of the meeting that will be very helpful with the future of NCOPDS.
“A lot of this is the way forward and (many) of our Soldiers are not educated on the direction the military is heading,” Gale said. “As commandants we have a big stake to play in that because at any given time we have 200 to 300 students. It is a captive audience and we (need to) take that opportunity to help educate them on the initiative.”
Command Sgt. Maj. John Helring, commandant of Joint Base Lewis-McChord NCO Academy, Washington, said it has been a great experience coming to the council meeting.
“This has been a great experience talking with the other commandants hearing some best practices and lessons learned,” he said. “The most enlightening part was hearing about the Army University, their initiatives and vision on educating the future of our noncommissioned officers.”
Helring said he was going to take back a lot from the event.
“All of the best practices, all of the tools and handouts we got here,” he said. “I think we are going in a very positive direction with the NCO 2020 Strategy.”
When asked what he would tell Soldiers attending NCOS today, Sellers said he would want to be in their shoes.
“As I look at all the different things and changes we are making with the NCO Professional Development System, I think this is a great time to be in our Army,” he said. “They are going to come out well educated, well trained and better prepared to handle some of the challenges they will face in the future.”
USASMA drives change for enlisted Soldier development and is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.
Additional photos of this story can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/133821783@N02/albums.
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy welcomed another iteration of students August 28 for their exclusive Sergeants Major Course and broke two records in doing so. The first record broken was for the size of the class – 713, the largest class in the history of the Academy. The second record broken was the number of international students, 59, again the largest in the history of the Academy. Those international students represent 46 partner nations, including three who sent representatives for the first time – Iraq, Norway and Senegal.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of USASMA, welcomed the group before introducing the guest speaker for the event, Command Sgt. Maj. David Turnbull, command sergeant major of the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
“Today marks a tremendous day in our history of the Sergeants Major Academy as we welcome the largest class to the Sergeants Major Course – Class 68,” Sellers said. “You have tipped the scales of our physical capacity, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are as eager to have you here as you are to be here.”
Sellers said he understood the students were probably wondering what challenges they would be facing and provided them some insight.
“So here’s what I can tell you,” he said. “The faculty is going to challenge you on your critical thinking skills, your thought processes, your writing skills and your humility.”
Sellers continued telling the students they would be taken out of their comfort zone of their MOS and be asked to be a part of a larger picture, and would gain new perspectives an
d knowledge from our sister services and our international partners.
“We have the largest class of international students ever with 59 student representing 46 partner nations,” he said. “Many of them brought their families which will further enhance the cross-cultural exchange in and out of the classroom.”
He concluded his remarks by cautioning the class to “treat each other with dignity and respect” and to “communicate, collaborate and cooordinate” with their fellow students and they will find success at the academy.
Turnbull began his remarks by noting he never imagined as student of Class 52 that he would be “headlining” the class opening someday.
“It’s an overwhelming thought,” he said before turning his attention to the international students. “A special thanks to the international students for being here. You bring a side, a culture and perspective that (we) can’t get by reading books.”
Turnbull said the class needed their thoughts, their different ways of looking at solutions and problem sets.
“We need you here to help us think in a different light,” Turnbull said. “We hope you have a great year.”
This is not the academy I came to, he noted. The leadership, faculty and staff are the envy of colleges and universities across the country.
“We started the fellowship a few years ago and now you have great facilitators who not only have a degree, but they have experience, knowledge and a reputation of being great leaders,” he said. “They will give you insights that I probably did not get.”
Turnbull pressed the students to be open-minded, be open to change, and to change with it or become irrelevant. He concluded his remarks focusing on a benefit of attending the academy.
“The realm power that you are going to get out of this class is the person sitting next to you – the sergeant major on your left and right,” he said. “That is your power. When you leave here, that is the person you are going to call for help. They are going to be invaluable to you. … It makes a world of difference when you are taking care of Soldiers.”
The U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy drives change for enlisted Soldier development and is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025. You can learn more about USASMA by visiting http://ncolcoe.armylive.dodlive.mil/.
Photos and Story by David Crozier, Command Communications
English Clergyman William Pollard once said, “Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
On July 26, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy welcomed the Army’s change team, Gen. David Perkins and Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Davenport of Training and Doctrine Command, for the purposes of recognizing some USASMA individuals who are the “change agents” of the new and improved Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System.
Perkins began his address to the Academy staff by noting it was a good day to be at USASMA.
“What you are doing here at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy is quintessentially at the heart of what TRADOC is for,” Perkins said. “The Army created TRADOC to change the service, not to keep things ‘status quo.’”
Perkins said that USASMA plays a big role in that change and is uniquely designed for change.
“Our NCO Corps is the envy of the world,” he said. “We are really taking (NCOPDS) to a new level and a lot of the work is done right here at USASMA. You are the mantle of NCO Professional Development and you need to be the model of change; change for the better; staying on the cutting edge.”
Davenport said the changes he envisioned 2 years ago looked at what the Army was going to face in the future. The creation of the Select, Train, Educate and Promote system put into effect a forcing function of getting Soldiers to school, which meant that the schools’ curricula needed to change to meet the future as well.
“When they come into that academic environment we are going to challenge them,” Davenport said. “We are going to make sure that when they leave, they’re changed. They are no longer followers, they are leaders. Today we are going to recognize these great change agents for all the work they have done to get us where we are at now with the curriculum.”
With their remarks ended, Perkins and Davenport invited the awardees center stage for their recognition. The first to be recognized were Sgt. Maj. Eugene O’Day and Master Sgts. Jesus Gonzalez and Kevin Kendrick of the Curriculum Development and Education department. The trio were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for their work on the analysis, design and development of six levels of distributive learning, formerly known as structured self-development, and four levels of resident courses. Following the military awards, Perkins and Davenport presented the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service to 12 members of the Curriculum Development and Education department for their work on the analysis, design and development of six levels of distributive learning, formerly known as structured self-development, and four levels of resident courses. Receiving the award were Hugo Cantu, Carl Carlson, Dennis G. Earle II, Robert Edwards, Raffaele Francisco, Jason Henderson, Gerardo A. Hernandez, Sharonne J. Jacobs, Reginald B. Mainor, Richard L. Philpott, Roland Reyes Jr., Michael Roth and Gregory Woolfolk.
The USASMA is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Each level best prepares the soldier to fight and win in a complex world as adaptive and agile leaders and trusted professionals of Force 2025.