All posts by David Crozier

David Crozier is a retired Public Affairs NCO who has spent the last 18 years as a writer/editor/photojournalist both in the civilian market and the Department of Defense. Prior to his assignment as the Command Communications Specialist for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy in 2013, he spent 10 years as the managing editor and editor of the NCO Journal Magazine, the only military magazine devoted to the NCO Corps.

Commandant instills fiscal ownership throughout USASMA

issues-fiscal-responsibility-300x199

When faced with the task of managing the fiscal assets of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy – people, money and equipment – Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy did exactly what was already a part of his management style, he implemented fiscal responsibility.

Beginning with his first budget meeting, long before sequestration became a household word, Malloy set the stage for a culture change within USASMA. His first slide for his brief to the cadre was a quote from Winston Churchill which read, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It’s time we start thinking.”

This alone, he said, let them know that it was no longer a “buy what you think you need operation,” but more of “if you need it – ask yourself three questions before you request it: ‘Do we really need this? How does this help the mission? And is there a better way to do it?’”

The end result, Malloy said, were a whole lot of people thinking outside the box and some major savings in the way USASMA does business.

“The whole gist behind that and the whole time I have been here was, if someone gave you 40 million dollars of course you can do anything, but the reality is the Army only gave us a small amount of money to do what they think we need to do,” he said. “So we have to live within that.”

Malloy said the approach he took was that it was not just one person, one budget clerk sit

ting around figuring out what USASMA needed; it was really the entire Academy’s attitude over a period of time changing and all the leaders were involved in that change.

“So we really got a lot of people thinking how we could do things better which in the end allowed us to execute every single mission without asking for any more money,” he said.

Initiatives that helped USASMA reduce costs of operations included major reductions of personnel on temporary duty orders, placing more course curricula on digital platforms thus reducing printing costs, using digital testing and counseling in courses, removing printer stations from a majority of offices and utilizing print centers, managing copyrights more efficiently, reducing contracts (NCO Journal going digital) and reducing supply expenditures.

“In one year we were able to cut $480,000 in printing curriculum material. The print centers have saved another $85,000 a year,” Malloy said. “In the supplies I told them they had $200,000 and when I saw the request come in at $250,000 I said no and challenged them to justify it. All of a sudden all those extra boxes of pencils and packets of paper weren’t as important.”

Because of Malloy’s insistence on being fiscally responsible, it soon became commonplace that it was no longer we’ll support whatever you want, but we will support what you actually need environment. Soon, Malloy said, the cadre was coming to him with cost saving ideas and methods, things that even he himself would not have found, nor would the S-4 staff have found when they were crunching the numbers.

“Because people took ownership, pride and responsibility for the budget, they took off and found this stuff,” he said. “It’s amazing what we have been able to accomplish.”

Malloy said the key to continued success in accomplishing the USASMA mission is to be brutally honest both internally and externally.

“We have to understand what it is we need to be able to execute our mission and we have to fully understand what the mission is and who is asking or telling us to do what,” he said. “When it comes to that point where we can’t pay for it, then I have to be very candid with my boss and tell him exactly that, we cannot execute that mission. Because what we cannot do is to cheapen training or the products we put out.”

Malloy added there is a line that has to be drawn at some place within your budget and when you cross that line to where it starts hindering training and the type of leader that we are developing, or our mission, then that is when we have to be candid with the commander. The commander then has a decision to make. He either funds it, or cuts it and when you do business like that, it makes everyone honest.

“This whole budget thing, we as a nation have got to become more responsible and we have got to lead by example in the military and here at USASMA,” Malloy said.

What future budget cuts sequestration may bring to USASMA operations is somewhat of an enigma, one thing is certain – Malloy and his team will continue to find new ways to save money and push the envelope of fiscal prudence.

The U.S. Army Heritage Center of the Noncommissioned Officer

Museum5

The U.S. Army Heritage Center (formerly Museum) of the Noncommissioned Officer has a simple mission: “To collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret historically significant property related to the history of the U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer from 1775 to the present.” It is a mission accomplished through more than 2,500 artifacts with about 1/3 of them on display at any time.

The displays are overseen by a staff of four who update and maintain them in the way that history is written – chronologically. Beginning with the first NCOs of the civil war visitors are treated to a variety of displays – from mockups using mannequins to stand-alone displays with insignia, ammunitions, and other military artifacts – that tell the story of the small unit leader, how NCO symbols and insignia progressed over time and the evolution of the NCO corps as a whole. Along the tour there are also video screens which play continuous slide shows of historical photos of the time.Museum10

Recently the staff has updated several of the displays and created a few new ones – the story of Sgt. York, the most decorated man of World War I; the story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated Soldier of World War II; the desk of the Sergeant Major of the Army; the NCO wives display; and the uniform of Command Sgt, Maj. Cynthia Pritchett, the Army’s first and only female command sergeant major of a sub-unified command. Other displays are getting a touch up or redesign, but the chronology remains intact.

The center is routinely used by units on Fort Bliss as a place for NCO induction ceremonies and NCO professional development training.

The facility is located on East Fort Bliss on SSG Sims St., in Bldg. 11331 and is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Admission is free and is open to the public. The staff is available to give guided tours for groups and can be contacted at 915-744-8646/8609.

Museum9Among the center staff is an oral historian whose job it is to capture NCO stories. Many believe this is reserved for senior NCOs and former Sergeants Major of the Army, but nothing could be further from the truth. The historian stands ready to record the stories of any NCO about their experiences serving in the Army.

The website, located https://ncolcoe.bliss.army.mil/page.asp?id=57  will undego an upgrade in the near future  and will include a photo tour and links to all of the oral histories being collected.

Museum6

Structured Self-Development and Advanced Leaders Course – Common Core

bridgeLG

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.

USASMA Recognizes International Students, Inducts Three Into Hall of Fame

This year's inductees into the International Military Student Hall of Fame are Force Sergeant Major of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Chief Warrant Officer Raphael Oa; Sergeant Major of the Swiss Army Pius Mueller; and Sergeant Major of the Taiwan Army Chi-Jui Chuang.
This year’s inductees into the International Military Student Hall of Fame are Force Sergeant Major of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Chief Warrant Officer Raphael Oa; Sergeant Major of the Swiss Army Pius Mueller; and Sergeant Major of the Taiwan Army Chi-Jui Chuang.

By: David Crozier Command Communications

The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy ceremoniously recognized the academic accomplishments of the 41 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 63 June 20, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. The Academy also recognized the service of four of its Military Professional Exchange Program instructors and inducted three former international military students into the International Military Student Hall of Fame.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy, commandant, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and honoring the international students.

“What a great day in our academy history as we formally recognize the academic achievements and the leadership of our international students upon the occasion of their graduation from Class 63,” he said. “Since 18 August 1975, when the first international student attended the academy we have graduated 698 international partners from 72 countries and class 63 has added 41 distinguished graduates to that roll. Class 63 international students have represented their country as a military very well.”

Malloy said every year there are a couple of students who stand out among their peers and this class of international students was no different. Most of the recognition is through academic achievement, he added, such as the student from Switzerland, Senior Warrant Officer Olivier Ditzler, who had the highest GPA of the international students and which also beat out many of the U.S. Army students; or the two students who for the first time in academy history were graduating with a collegiate degree – Sgt. Maj. Genc Metaj from Kosovo and Sgt. Maj. Yi-Jyun Chen of Taiwan – both of whom earned a Masters Degree in Leadership from the University of Texas at El Paso.

“However, I believe the class and international partners would agree the one who leaves the most lasting impact, not only for his academic achievements which were displayed during his attendance at the academy,” Malloy said, “But during the last couple of weeks of the course, in probably the most challenging department, he went down to San Antonio and underwent brain surgery for cancer, came back and completed all academic requirements and will graduate here this morning –Master Sgt. Baysgalan Olonbayar from Mongolia.”

Following Malloy’s remarks, the academy awarded the international students their student badges and certificates and then turned their attention to the Military Professional Exchange Program Instructors by awarding them the Meritorious Service Medal for their work and contributions at the Academy. Recognized were: Warrant Officer One John Kirkham of the Australian Army, Sergeant major Joao Marcelo Mota of the Brazilian Army, Adjutant Johannes Haans of the Royal Netherlands Army, and Senior Warrant Officer Mok Chia Kee of the Singapore Army.

Many of the international students who have attended the Sergeants Major Course have gone on to make significant contributions to the lineage of their own NCO corps and education systems, but only a few have assumed the position of their respective country’s or armed forces senior enlisted advisor, a position similar to that of the U.S. Army’s Sergeant Major of the Army. The Academy recognized three individuals who have done just that by inducting them into the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Malloy assisted each of the honorees to unveil their induction plaques.

The first honoree was Force Sergeant Major of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Chief Warrant Officer Raphael Oa, a graduate of Sergeants Major Course Class 61. Oa thanked the Academy for honoring him and then praised the work of the cadre for their efforts.

“The Sergeants Major Academy is a great opportunity for military education, personnel development, understanding of all aspects of army operations, including full-spectrum operations and irregular warfare,” Oa said. “The curriculum of USASMA is a great exposure to not only US army operations but also of several foreign countries. My advice to all international students is, you get out of it what you put into it.”

The next honoree was the Sergeant Major of the Swiss Army Pius Mueller a graduate of Class 47.

“It is a great honor and a pleasure to be here,” he said. “Nineteen ninety seven was the last time I was here as student. So you see we always come back to our roots.”

Mueller gave a quick break down of his country’s military and then encouraged the international students to understand one another’s military, accomplishments and what they bring to the table.

“We need a common language and a common understanding and this [Sergeants Major] course is a fine example of this process, especially together with all of the international students,” Mueller said. “I am convinced that due to this training you will be better NCOs indeed. It is certainly a benefit for all of our nations.”

The final inductee was the Sergeant Major of the Taiwan Army Chi-Jui Chuang who is a graduate of Class 54. Chuang immediately turned his attention to the international students who were graduating by addressing the things they learned while attending the academy.

“I want you to know, the knowledge that you get and the friends that you have formed here; the partnership will endure. What is more, the leadership skills you have acquired here will help you, your commander develop the NCO of tomorrow,” he said. “Without the dedication and selfless service of the [faculty] and leadership of USASMA we could not make this happen. It is indeed an honor to be recognized and inducted into your hall of fame and most prestigious NCO academy in the world.”

Following the ceremony the inductees were taken to the International Military Student Hall of Fame area to be shown where their plaques would be put on display among the other honorees of years past. For more photos of the ceremony and Hall of Fame Induction visit USASMA Photo Archive.

What is the Sergeants Major Course

DSC_1923


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.

We are getting ready to go Live

Hello everyone. We are currently building this site as a new tool for the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy to keep the force informed about our efforts to educate the enlisted force through professional military education. It is our hope that this blog will be a means for us to not only inform you the stakeholder, but to get your valuable feedback about issues and concerns as it relates to all of the functional NCOES courses as well as structured self development. So stay tuned we will be live soon.