Tag Archives: NCO professional development system

TRADOC leader sees ‘major step forward’ in NCO 2020

By MASTER SGT. GARY L. QUALLS JR.
NCO Journal

As technology, the environment, and the strategies and complexities of warfare continue to evolve in the new millennium, national defense leaders are preparing what is widely regarded as the foundation of that security – the Noncommissioned Officer Corps – with 50 initiatives designed to help NCOs meet those evolving challenges. These key initiatives to the nation’s defense in the modern operational environment are known as NCO 2020.

The NCO-driven plan will serve as the lynchpin of the nation’s defense.

The NCO Professional Development System will be the vehicle that drives the NCO 2020 strategy through human performance optimization in the areas of leader development, talent management, and stewardship of the profession. More than education and knowledge, it is a system of professional development based on substantive concepts that matter, delivered in an efficient and effective way, with each and every part of the system integrated with the others, according to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s “NCO 2020 Strategy: NCOs Operating in a Complex World.”

“We are talking about no less than a paradigm shift in NCO development,” TRADOC’s Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr. said.

Davenport envisions “a continuum of learning” for NCOs, where training designers look at content, how the training is delivered and how to make it matter.

“At times in the past, we’ve had training NCOs completed, but it didn’t really mean anything,” he said. “We want training that has value, that leads to something, and that matters.”

Credentialing is a big part of plan for NCO 2020. Leaders working the initiatives are looking for ways to show affirmation or evidence that NCOs’ training is meaningful and relevant ways. Grading is another tool being considered by the NCO 2020 contingent. Assigning grades to courses and other training may make them more meaningful for NCOs. Moreover, where does the training lead? Does it have a purpose? Does it have a direction? NCO 2020 is implementing an integrated, comprehensive approach to NCO development.

Some of the NCO 2020 initiatives are reviews of structured self-development, curriculum relevance/rigor, skills/qualification/certification, training with industry, professional writing/reading, character development and update Army Career Tracker.

With character development, sergeants major are working on a plan to make Army Values a part of NCOs’ inner being, so when they are in a complex environment they have a foundation of trust.

“NCOs should be an example of honor and integrity because as they progress they are given more and more authority, making the way they handle that authority all the more important,” Davenport said.

The NCO 2020 board is looking at the rigor and relevance of structured self-development and how germane it is to NCO duties and responsibilities, including the provision of self-paced learning allowing NCOs to either take more time with course instruction and material or, for quick-learning NCOs, to test out of NCO training programs.

The board has already decided the Skill Qualification Test, a staple of NCO military education in the 1980s, will not be coming back.

“The more we can encourage NCOs to research, write, and convey their thoughts the better,” Davenport said of the professional writing initiative.

This initiative is actually already underway in the form of the Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston NCO Writing Excellence Program. Submission dates, themes and guidelines can be found at http://armypress.dodlive.mil/nco-writing-excellence-program/

In fact, Davenport said he wholeheartedly agrees with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey making Army University and Soldier education in general a top priority, adding he has every confidence NCOs can “handle any educational challenge and operate at any and every level of the Army.”

Training with Industry has real value and should not be seen by promotion boards as a promotion stopper, Davenport said.

“Those who downgrade Soldiers because they’ve participated in a Training with Industry program do not understand AR 600-25,” he said, adding, however, that Soldiers should not participate in back-to-back programs of that nature – and that Soldiers’ branches have a role in ensuring they are given assignments that help them progress in accordance with their career map.

Extensive planning, effort and innovation are being applied in many other NCO 2020 initiatives.

The NCO Corps has the support of Army leadership, and the initiatives are being carefully planned and put together to ensure they are solid, enduring programs, Davenport said.

The key to the overall plan of NCO 2020 is “an understanding by all parties of what we are doing here and the integrated, sequential way we are making this relevant development happen.” Davenport said.

“I think NCO 2020 will have a very lasting impact,” Davenport said. “These 50 initiatives are the azimuth to take the Corps a major step forward in NCO development.”

Editor’s Note: To review “NCO 2020 Strategy: NCOs operating in a complex world,” click on the following link: https://actnow.army.mil/communities/service/html/communityview?communityUuid=fa6e7266-0b78-4b82-b6d7-bcdbff64d5e1

*(At the Army Career Tracker web site, click on “Communities” on the left side of the page, then select “Other Communities” and select the page “NCO Professional Development,” and click on “NCO 2020” on the right side of the page.)

NCOs learn about changes in leadership development

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

Putting the spotlight squarely on leadership development, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey warned senior noncommissioned officers early last month of the “tough changes” coming as part of NCO 2020 and the updated NCO Professional Development System during an NCO and Soldier forum at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

“Sergeants major are what makes the United States Army the strong power that it is,” said retired Gen. Carter Ham, president and chief executive officer of AUSA, to senior noncommissioned officers in October at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
“Sergeants major are what makes the United States Army the strong power that it is,” said retired Gen. Carter Ham, president and chief executive officer of AUSA, to senior noncommissioned officers in October at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

“What it’s really about is getting our noncommissioned officers to a place we need them to be for 2025 and beyond, and maximizing the equivalency in the education we get in both the academic field and credentialing perspective so that we can sustain the all-volunteer force for the future,” Dailey said. “There are some tough changes coming ahead in the Army. Some of those affect Soldiers both positively and negatively. What I can assure you, though, is [that there is] a very good, comprehensive plan for the future.”

NCOs and Soldiers gathered Oct. 3-5 to not only tell the Army’s story and share it with the public and corporate supporters, but also to educate and share leadership development strategies with Soldiers, Dailey said. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, has called readiness the Army’s No. 1 priority, and Army leaders agree that leadership development is central to building readiness.

“We have to sit back, take our blinders off and ask ourselves what it takes for every single Soldier in the Army to be ready,” Dailey told NCOs.

Dailey said Army downsizing is still underway to reach the goal of 450,000 Soldiers by 2018. Talent management will play a large part in deciding future promotions.

"There are some tough changes coming ahead in the Army," said. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey to senior noncommissioned officers. Dailey said the changes are coming as part of NCO 2020 and the updated NCO Professional Development System during an NCO and Soldier forum in October at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
“There are some tough changes coming ahead in the Army,” said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey to senior noncommissioned officers. Dailey said the changes are coming as part of NCO 2020 and the updated NCO Professional Development System during an NCO and Soldier forum in October at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

“We’re going to keep people based upon talent,” Dailey said. “We are going to promote people based upon talent, and we will slot people for advancement in the United States Army based upon talent. That is exactly what we are going to do to make sure we maintain the quality of Soldiers and noncommissioned officers who are in place to fight our nation’s wars.”

Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, told NCOs about changes on the horizon to enhance professional military education.

“We are looking at all the programs of instruction, with all of the proponents, and we are integrating common core standards,” Davenport said. “We’re investing in our facilitators, our instructors. We are going to consolidate all the various instructor courses into one. Just like we advise to grow noncommissioned officers based on experience and education, same goes for our instructors.”

Davenport also trumpeted the release of three applications to help guide Soldiers through PME ­─ Army Career Tracker, the Digital Job Book and the Digital Rucksack.

Davenport encouraged NCOs to take a look at Army Career Tracker online, a leadership development tool that integrates training and education on one website. Career maps have been updated and follow the five lines of effort ─ military life cycle, education, assignment/experience, credentialing/experience and self-development. Lines of effort link multiple tasks and missions to focus efforts toward establishing operational and strategic conditions.

Davenport praised the Digital Job Book app for its ease of use.

“What is really important about it is [it] allows organizations ─ commanders and sergeants major ─ to add up to 10 tasks that are specific to your organization so that you can battle track it,” he said.

The highly touted Digital Rucksack app will work with tablets and smartphones Soldiers bring into classrooms, Davenport said.

“Our Soldiers scan a QR code, and it puts all the material that they are going to need for the PME,” he said. “We think [the apps] are really going to help us connect Soldiers and organizations to leader development.”

Retired Gen. Carter Ham, president and chief executive officer of AUSA, thanked noncommissioned officers during the forum for their continued and sustained leadership and acknowledged their vital role in the Army.

“Sergeants major are what makes the United States Army the strong power that it is,” Ham told senior NCOs. “We should never lose sight of that, and the investment in you, the investment in those Soldiers who aspire to be noncommissioned officers, we owe them the best possible development that we can afford them. So that when they follow you to lead this Army, they will build on all you have achieved to keep the United States Army as the premier land force on this planet. That is only possible because of the people in this room.”

‘Share the knowledge,’ SMA Dailey urges fellowship program grads

By MARTHA C. KOESTER
NCO Journal

Eager to share what they have learned with the next generation of senior noncommissioned officers, 19 sergeants major graduated in August from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. The graduates, all newly armed with master’s degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University, will perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, congratulates Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche. Defreese called the graduation a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, congratulates Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche. Defreese called the graduation a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Dubbing it a major milestone for the NCO Corps and NCO education, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, commandant of USASMA, said the distance-learning program was “specifically designed to further our NCO Professional Development System and this should indicate … the Army is committed to the education of our NCOs.”

Advancing the corps

Sylvester Smith, fellowship program manager, read a congratulatory letter to the graduates from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey during the ceremony Aug. 22. Calling the graduating class an inspiration, Dailey wrote “information is a commodity” and urged graduates of the online program to share it.

“I firmly believe you will continue to advance the corps and the Army as you apply your newfound knowledge as instructors in our academy,” Dailey wrote. “Do not hold anything back. As NCOs, we are trained if we share the knowledge then we as a corps will be able to develop and train the most versatile and effective corpsmen our Army has ever seen.”

Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson receives congratulations after graduating from the USASMA Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson receives congratulations after graduating from the USASMA Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

Offering his own congratulations, Smith said the “graduates represent the best of the profession in the Army and set the standard” for others to follow.

“In your search for knowledge, collectively you have increased your value to service and country,” Smith told the graduates.

Though no specific military occupational specialty is sought, the cross-section of students face an advanced curriculum to better professionalize senior NCO instructors in the classroom. Under the fellowship program, fellows have one year to focus exclusively on completing a master’s degree in adult education.

Guest speaker Renata S. Engel, associate vice provost for online programs at Penn State, told the crowd she was very pleased that two historic organizations such as the university and the U.S. Army came together in a special program and praised the graduates as “risk-takers.”

The 19 graduates are due to perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course. (Photo by David Crozier / U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy)
The 19 graduates, shown with William Diehl and Renate S. Engel from Pennsylvania State University, are due to perform two- to three years as senior NCO instructors in the Sergeants Major Course. (Photo by David Crozier / U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy)

“You were the first,” Engel said. “There was a risk involved, and I would like to think risk without preparation is folly. … But risk with preparation, along with the confidence that comes that you’re building on foundation … what you create is a path that is more accessible to those who follow. … It’s not just what you accomplish. It’s what you enable others to accomplish, and your degrees in education are actually going to elevate that even higher.”

‘Stick with learning’

In closing her address, Engel said she wouldn’t be giving the graduates any advice as graduation guest speakers often do. Instead, she offered them two wishes.

Graduates from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, take their seats during a ceremony. Nineteen sergeants major graduated Aug. 22 with master's degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Graduates from the pioneering U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program at Fort Bliss, Texas, take their seats during a ceremony. Nineteen sergeants major graduated Aug. 22 with master’s degrees in adult education from Pennsylvania State University. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

“I wish that at some point in your life as an educator you have the joy that comes from a student, a learner, someone who’s following you, tell you about the impact that you have made on them,” Engel said. “It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be amazing when it does. … The second wish I have for you is a wish that you will always want, and I don’t just mean in your profession but … throughout life ─ that you love learning and find so much appreciation for it that you stick with learning.”

The fellowship program offers an opportunity for qualified active-duty senior NCOs to become ambassadors of the Army in the classroom who will help develop agile, adaptive and innovative leaders of the future.

After the past year, Sgt. Maj. Timothy W. Magee and Sgt. Maj. Manuel D. Atencio said they are ready to take their talents into the classroom.

“I am hoping to impress what I have learned in school with the students, and partly the information that I have learned in school is going to help us empathize with what the students are going to be going through,” Magee said. “We know from first-hand experience the pressure we felt going through a new program that we didn’t know anything about. That’s exactly how these students coming through the Sergeant Major Course feel. We’ve got recent education experience with the same anxieties that they are getting ready to experience, so I think that’s going to help us [in the classroom].”

“It was a transformational process, not having been in school for a while to taking four classes at one time,” Atencio said. “It was a great learning experience.”

Both graduates said they would recommend the fellowship program to senior NCOs and encourage them to continue their education.

“I think it’s a very worthwhile program,” Magee said. “One of the amazing parts was when we all got together at Christmas time and we had just completed four classes. … I didn’t realize I had learned anything until we sat around and talked. Just listening to everybody say, ‘Well we talked about this, and we learned this and we learned that,’ and I’m like ‘Holy cow, we actually did learn something.’ It was amazing and pretty fun, too.”

 

Fellowship program graduates
  • Sgt. Maj. James J. Adcock
  • Sgt. Maj. Manuel D. Atencio
  • Sgt. Maj. Scot D. Cates
  • Sgt. Maj. Carl B. Dwyer Jr.
  • Sgt. Maj. John O. Garrison
  • Sgt. Maj. Reginald R. Gooden
  • Sgt. Maj. Jason B. Johnson
  • Sgt. Maj. David J. Lee Jr.
  • Sgt. Maj. Jason F. Leeworthy
  • Sgt. Maj. Timothy W. Magee
  • Sgt. Maj. Patrick D. Mason
  • Sgt. Maj. Feliece Y. Murrell
  • Sgt. Maj. Pedro F. Quiñones
  • Sgt. Maj. Dennis M. Reynolds
  • Sgt. Maj. Ryan C. Robert
  • Sgt. Maj. Christopher A. Roche
  • Sgt. Maj. Timothy C. Todd
  • Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Townsend
  • Sgt. Maj. Terry J. Wade

For more information on the program, contact Sgt. Maj. Joseph J. Hissong, director, USASMA Fellowship Program at 915-744-8827 or email him at joseph.j.hissong.mil@mail.mil

Town hall sparks online discussion; Davenport urges #Talk2TRADOC talks continue

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

Out of sight of the cameras, a team of more than 30 people had just spent two hours quickly and professionally answering questions from noncommissioned officers on Facebook, Twitter and a chat room as part of an NCO Professional Development Town Hall on Thursday at Fort Eustis, Virginia.

The team fielded many questions during the night, calling in experts when they could, and passing other questions to the six people filming live in the studio. It was late, and the team was tired, but Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, wanted to let them know their efforts, however appreciated, weren’t finished. Davenport had asked NCOs to continue to use the #Talk2TRADOC to provide feedback and ask questions on social media channels, and he wanted to make sure those questions received answers.

With the chat room questions displayed at the front of the room, a group of NCOs and experts answer questions during the town hall. (Photo by Jonathan (Jay) Koester)
With the chat room questions displayed at the front of the room, a group of NCOs and experts answer questions during the town hall. (Photo by Jonathan (Jay) Koester / NCO Journal)

“I know a lot of effort went into this, but our work doesn’t stop here,” Davenport told the team at the end of the night. “We can go high-five one another and have fun tonight, but tomorrow we have to get right back in there and start rowing the boat. We need to answer those questions, because our word is our bond to the Soldiers. If we say we are going to answer and we don’t, they will immediately point the fingers at us and say, ‘See, I told you they don’t care; they’re not listening.’”

Building a foundation

Hundreds of NCOs filled the chat room during the town hall, and questions flooded in on social media. Davenport said he felt the event built a good foundation for continued discussions.

“I think when you’re open and honest with Soldiers, and you sincerely want the best for them, that’s when you build trust,” Davenport said. “Hopefully, I built some trust with the force tonight, and they know I’m trying to think through this as we build toward the future.”

One of the behind-the-scenes experts answering questions on social media was Liston Bailey, chief of the Learning Innovations and Initiatives Division of the Institute for NCO Professional Development. Bailey said he thought the forum provided some short, credible answers to NCOs, which they could use to follow up with their chain of command or other sources.

A group of NCOs and policy experts quickly answer questions posed during the town hall. (Photo by Jonathan (Jay) Koester / NCO Journal)
A group of NCOs and policy experts quickly answer questions posed during the town hall. (Photo by Jonathan (Jay) Koester / NCO Journal)

“We received a lot of questions about how Soldiers are going to manage their careers, and their concerns about the feasibility of being successful as they move from grade to grade,” Bailey said. “Questions about opportunities for broadening assignments were another big topic. Soldiers are interested in their growth and development and their access to information.”

Panel teams together

Charles Guyette, director of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy’s Directorate of Training, participated by answering questions in the live chat room during the town hall broadcast. He said there were many questions concerning professional military education.

“The questions were very thought-provoking and relevant to the force,” Guyette said. “You can tell there is a need for information out there because there are a lot of things they are not aware of. There’s some misinformation. There are misconceptions about NCO PME and the NCO professional development system. This helped better inform the Soldiers out there, especially related to their professional military education. We want to get this right, make sure they understand what they need to do to get to those courses.”

Liston Bailey, chief of the Learning Innovations and Initiatives Division of the Institute for NCO Professional Development, left, and Amy Haviland of U.S. Army Public Affairs, respond to NCO questions on social media while the town hall plays on the screen. (photo by Jonathan Jay Koester / NCO Journal)
Liston Bailey, chief of the Learning Innovations and Initiatives Division of the Institute for NCO Professional Development, left, and Amy Robinson of U.S. Army Public Affairs, respond to NCOs’ questions on social media while the town hall plays on the screen. (Photo by Jonathan (Jay) Koester / NCO Journal)

Both Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Wills, the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Reserve, and Command Sgt. Maj. Brunk Conley, the command sergeant major of the U.S. Army National Guard, were part of the on-camera panel taking questions from the force.

“It shows that we are one Army team,” Conley said. “When Sgt. Maj. Davenport asked both me and Sgt. Maj. Wills to attend, it showed that we’re all in this together and we’re one team, one fight. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here.

“We’re going through a lot of changes right now, and the Soldiers are concerned,” Conley said. “They have a lot of good questions about how this affects them and what they need to do to be successful. They want to hear senior leaders’ thoughts on how this is going to affect the Army, the Guard and the Reserve.”

The two-hour town hall has been posted to TRADOC’s YouTube page for those NCOs who couldn’t watch it live. It may be found at: https://youtu.be/5z1QDL2qWts. Also, check the NCO Journal at http://ncojournal.dodlive.mil/ next week for a complete report on the questions and answers from the town hall.

The event is over, but the conversation continues, Davenport said.

“This is not just a one-time event soliciting feedback from our Soldiers,” Davenport said. “If they want to continue the dialogue, we have all the social media outlets, we will answer all the questions. But more importantly, they can follow me on the blog that I do. It’s tradocnews.org. You go on that page and you see Straight from the CSM, and that’s my blog site. I solicit feedback on there to things that we are talking about. That feedback has really made a change in our Army in everything from structured self-development to the STEP policy.”