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SMA unveils bonuses, incentives to retain Soldiers for million-strong force

Read more: Questions, answers about the Army’s new talent management program

NCO Journal report

With the total Army tasked to expand by 28,000 troops this year, the service hopes to retain quality Soldiers with incentives, such as cash bonuses up to $10,000 for extensions, the Army’s top enlisted member said this month.

“We need Soldiers to stay in the Army,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said during a town hall meeting at the Defense Information School. “If you’re on the fence [and you plan to get out this year], go see your career counselor. I guarantee you that they have some good news.”

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017 recently raised the Army’s end strength to just over 1 million Soldiers for all components. Initial proposals had the entire Army slated to draw down to 980,000 by the end of this year. The NDAA increased the active force by 16,000, to an end strength of 476,000, and also bumped the reserve component by 12,000.

The troop surge would represent the Army’s largest yearly increase without using a draft or stop-loss involuntary extension and will double its annual retention mission, Dailey said.

“We’re not in a drawdown anymore; we’re in an increase situation,” he said. “The Army is going to get bigger.”

Soldiers who decide to extend their service for 12 months may receive the cash bonus, up to $10,000, depending on their military occupational specialty, time in service and re-enlistment eligibility, he added.

Choice of duty location, stabilization at duty stations, chances to extend service rather than re-enlist, and incentives such as schools are other ways the Army hopes to retain its own. Assignment and training options vary by MOS.

“There are some very creative things we’re going to do to stimulate all of that,” he said. “The important thing Soldiers need to know is to ensure they talk to their career counselors. They are the experts at the unit level who can tailor options based on a Soldier’s specific situation and MOS.”

Dailey also highlighted readiness, as the Army transitions from an emphasis on counterinsurgency to full-spectrum operations, which will require an adaptable, well-trained, and ready force. Currently, more than 180,000 Soldiers are serving in no fewer than 140 nations around the globe.

Education benefits for enlisted Soldiers are also improving, he said, with “huge systematic changes” to the NCO professional development system, ongoing reviews of common core for all career fields, and possible expansion of tuition assistance.

“We need to change the dynamic in how we train and educate our Soldiers,” Dailey said.

Military training, he said, can help Soldiers obtain college degrees through the Army University’s credentialing program.

Under the NDAA, Congress has authorized the Army to pay for credentials that translate to a civilian occupation as long as it relates to an MOS, a Soldier’s regular duties, and during a Soldier’s transition out of the Army.

“We have permission to pay for your credentials for the job you do in the Army,” he said. “That’s not a bad deal.”

The Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program also informs Soldiers how to use their military training toward certificates and licenses required for civilian professions, such as electrician, plumber, welder, and many other jobs.

In addition, the Army is working toward letting Soldiers use tuition assistance to pay for these certificates and licenses, Dailey said.

These efforts, he said, will allow Soldiers to thrive in the civilian sector once they leave the service.

“We have a responsibility to prepare you for that, just like we prepare you for war,” he said. “Simultaneously, by doing that we’re making you a better Soldier.”

These changes may also convince many Soldiers to keep serving or even persuade potential recruits to sign up.

“It sends a perception across America that we value people,” Dailey said. “We want to stay at a competitive level and make sure that we get the right people to join.

“It’s a reinvestment in the all-volunteer force of the future.”

SMA visits, talks professional development with Soldiers in Italy

By STAFF SGT. LANCE POUNDS
U.S. Army Africa

The 15th Sergeant Major of the Army visited Soldiers and senior enlisted leaders assigned to U.S. Army Garrison-Italy tenant units to discuss his Army-wide leader development initiatives.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey hosted two town hall meetings during his visit from Nov. 16-18 to Vicenza, Italy. The first was directed toward Soldiers in the ranks of staff sergeant and below; the second was directed toward sergeant first class and above. The intent was to share with them the changes that have been made, how it affects their careers, and the future of the profession.

Dailey first talked about Soldier readiness, the Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley’s number one priority. Dailey said NCO-led, individual and collective training is vital to the responsible drawdown of the force.

Sustain and retain the best

Dailey said the way to sustain and retain the best enlisted Soldiers is through NCO professional development schools. He said changes were being made to ensure noncommissioned officers throughout the Army received the training opportunities for career advancement.

The first professional development school Soldiers attend is called the Basic Leader Course. In this course, junior Soldiers in the ranks of private first class through specialist, sergeant, and in some cases staff sergeant, receive tactical-level leadership training needed to lead small groups of Soldiers.

The next school is the Advanced Leader Course. The curriculum of this course is intended to develop junior leaders, in the ranks of sergeant through staff sergeant, by exposing them to the operational-level leadership training needed to lead squad and platoon sized units. In addition, this course is branch-specific and is intended to develop the skill and proficiency of a Soldier’s military occupational specialty.

The Senior Leader Course, intended for Soldiers in the rank of sergeant first class through master sergeant, provides leadership, technical and tactical skills, knowledge and experience needed to lead platoon- and company-sized units.

Currently, the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy is the only NCO professional development school acknowledged by military and civilian organizations as an accredited academic institution. However, some colleges do recognize and provide lateral credit for successful completion of BLC, ALC and SLC.

Dailey said there are plans to increase the level of accreditation of all professional development schools. He added that in order to develop leaders “we must take opportunities to invest in the person.”

Investing in the person

“Someone saw the potential in me,” Dailey said, during a flashback story of how he was inspired to serve beyond his initial contract.

According to Dailey, in order to maintain the stewardship of the profession leaders must invest in their Soldiers. He said it is for this reason the Army is changing how leaders are evaluated.

On Jan. 1, the Army released a revised version of the Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report intended to better assess the performance and future potential of enlisted leaders.

Dailey said the new evaluation will help restore balance to the reporting system. He added that previous reports indicated 80 percent of NCOs were evaluated as, “among the best.” Dailey said that system took away from those who truly earned top marks on their evaluations.

America’s perception

According to Dailey, last month was the first time in 20 years the Army ranked as the number one choice for civilians seeking a career in the military.

Dailey accredited this to ongoing efforts to change the way Americans perceive the Army. He gave an analogy that explained the perception of pride.

“All Marines, even those kicked out of service, if asked, proudly say they are ‘Marines for life,’” Dailey said. “We can train, educate and promote a Soldier through retirement; then pay them for the rest of their life, and we still suck.”

Dailey further explained perception with word-cloud graphics, which depicted words associated with each service. “Educated” was a word associated with both the Air Force and Navy, while “Dangerous” associated to the Marines and Army. The most disheartening word Dailey said was “Average”, which was only associated with the Army.

Other words associated with the Army were “ordinary” and “low skill,” which led Dailey to ask attendees, “Why is it less than other services?”

One attendee stated that while serving as a recruiter, he noticed people’s perception of the services began the moment they enter a recruiter’s office. Dailey agreed, and then added approximately 69 percent of those who join were influenced by current or former service members.

Setting the example

As the most senior enlisted leader of the Army, Dailey understands that every decision he makes will have an effect on those he leads.

“Good, bad, right or wrong, my presence influences people,” Dailey said, and on Nov. 17 Dailey’s influence would have a lasting effect on one Soldier’s career.

During his visit Dailey promoted Spc. James Sheridon, a USARAF command driver and native of Wayne, Mich., to the rank of sergeant.

“It was an honorable experience,” Sheridon said. “Dailey’s willingness to take time to recognize a junior Soldier sets an example for all NCOs to follow.”

“If he can make the time, we can, too,” said the newly promoted sergeant.

U.S. Army’s most senior enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, promotes a junior enlisted Soldier, Spc. James Sheridan, one of U.S. Army Africa’s command drivers, to the rank of Sergeant, Nov. 17, 2016, in front of the USARAF headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. The promotion to sergeant marks a pivotal role change in a Solider’s career from one who is given tasks to one who gives tasks. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds)
U.S. Army’s most senior enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, promotes a junior enlisted Soldier, Spc. James Sheridan, one of U.S. Army Africa’s command drivers, to the rank of Sergeant, Nov. 17, 2016, in front of the USARAF headquarters in Vicenza, Italy. The promotion to sergeant marks a pivotal role change in a Solider’s career from one who is given tasks to one who gives tasks. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Lance Pounds)

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.”

SMA: Army needs female NCOs to transfer to combat arms MOSs

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey has asked female NCOs to consider transferring into combat arms military occupational specialties.

More than 100 women have volunteered to join the ranks as combat arms Soldiers, but these Soldiers also need female leaders. Dailey said he hopes female NCOs will answer the call and rise to the challenge.

“These young women have demonstrated the drive and desire to take on some of the most challenging assignments the Army offers,” Dailey wrote in a memo to the force Aug. 1. “As young Soldiers do, they will look for leadership and mentorship from their superiors. Unfortunately, we have not had a sufficient number of serving female Soldiers and NCOs volunteer to transfer into these mentorship and leadership roles.”

In April, the Department of Defense opened the remaining combat-arms MOSs to women, including all positions in 19-series armor and 11-series infantry. Dailey said he personally supports the move to remove all gender-based restrictions, and is glad to see anyone who is qualified, male or female, serve the Army in any capacity.

As it has done in the past when integrating women into an MOS, the Army is taking a “leaders first” approach. Placing female leaders in those MOSs before integrating new Soldiers has been made a priority, but finding those leaders has been a challenge. Dailey is asking more female NCOs to make the change to combat arms because there are still not enough female mentors for the new recruits.

“We need leaders to help shape the next generation of combat Soldiers,” Dailey said. “I know we already have female Soldiers with the drive and ability to be successful in ground combat arms formations. If you think you have what it takes, I am personally asking you to consider transferring to combat arms.”

Dailey noted that it will not be easy. Soldiers are required to pass MOS-specific High Physical Demands Tests, for which men and women are graded on the same scale.

“The standards have and always will be very rigorous,” he said. “You will be challenged both mentally and physically. If you are interested in taking on this challenge and leading our Soldiers into the future, please talk to your career counselor today.”

Pvt. Kaleena Gaeth was one of 16 women in a class of 75 Soldiers who graduated June 3 from Advanced Individual Training as 13B cannon crewmembers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Pvt. Kaleena Gaeth was one of 16 women in a class of 75 Soldiers who graduated June 3 from Advanced Individual Training as 13B cannon crewmembers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. (Photo by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

 

Former SMAs share lessons with Sergeants Major Course students

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

Five former sergeants major of the Army joined the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on April 12 to share lessons with Class 66 students of the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Current Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey introduced the esteemed panel, telling the students, “This is your opportunity to tap into more than 250 years of military experience, spanning from prior to Vietnam all the way to present day.”

After opening remarks focusing on the challenges the SMAs faced during their tenures, a student asked the panel, “As the Army is drawing down, the Army’s vision is changing toward a younger, faster promotion process. What are your thoughts on sacrificing experience with selecting young Soldiers to fill those senior enlisted positions?”

Former SMA Raymond F. Chandler, who served as the 14th sergeant major of the Army from 2011 to 2015, took on the question first, and immediately dropped a truth bomb on the class.

Former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene C. McKinney (left) speaks while former SMA Jack L. Tilley looks on during a panel in front of Class 66 students of the Sergeants Major Course on April 12 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)
Former Sergeant Major of the Army Gene C. McKinney (left) speaks while former SMA Jack L. Tilley looks on during a panel in front of Class 66 students of the Sergeants Major Course on April 12 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photos by Meghan Portillo / NCO Journal)

“Just because someone is experienced doesn’t mean they’re worth a damn,” Chandler said. “It’s about what have you done for me lately and what do you bring to the table. If you can’t meet those basic standards that you expect your Soldiers to meet, then you, in fact, are no value added and probably ought to hit the door. Basic things: Do you actually go to the range? Do you pencil-whip your PT test? Do you meet the height and weight standards? Those are the criteria at any age that are important to those Soldiers who you’re going to lead.”

Former SMA Jack L. Tilley, who served as the 12th sergeant major of the Army from 2000 to 2004, had earlier talked about his efforts to increase NCO pay. He said promotions for young Soldiers are another important part of rewarding the best in the Army.

“I’m all for accelerated promotion,” Tilley said. “I think if you have some people who are really aggressive, want to get out there and do the job, then you need to pay them for it, and you need to get them up that ladder.”

Former SMA Gene C. McKinney, who served as the 10th sergeant major of the Army from 1995 to 1997, advised the students to continually look for opportunities to serve the Army in ways that would help their advancement.

“You have to find the hard jobs. You have to go get them,” McKinney said. “Look at the difference between a pond in a forest and another pond that is being aerated. You don’t get mosquitoes in that aerated pond. But you get mosquitoes in that pond that just sits there still and stagnant. If you want to sit still and stagnate, you’re going to have mosquitoes all over you.”

Former SMA Julius W. Gates, who served as the eighth sergeant major of the Army from 1987 to 1991, continued on the theme of hard work being more important to promotion than experience. Gates often had the class laughing with his folksy humor.

“What you need to do is promote the NCOs who are qualified. If they are not qualified, they should not be promoted,” Gates said. “We have a society today that’s a, ‘What’s in it for me?’ society. ‘My name is Jimmy; I’ll take all you gimme. I don’t have to work for nothing.’ In the United States Army, you have to earn your promotion. You don’t just sit there and say, ‘Hey, promote me.’”

As the panel shifted to closing remarks, former Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, who served as the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2005 to 2008, told the students that, just that week, he had talked to a suicidal Soldier and helped him.

“Be involved,” Gainey said. “Don’t do like some and when you retire say, ‘Well, I’m disconnecting from the Army.’ Be involved. You are a Soldier for life. When you die, you should be a Soldier dressed in your uniform with a flag over your casket.”

In earlier remarks, McKinney made reference to the sexual harassment accusations that eventually led to the end of his tenure. McKinney was suspended from his duties as SMA in 1997. Though he was cleared of all harassment charges, he was found guilty of obstructing justice and demoted to the rank of master sergeant in 1998. In his closing remarks, McKinney said he had felt left behind by the Army since then.

“I served in the Army for 30 years,” McKinney said. “I gave everything I could give. For almost 20 years, I thought the Army had forgotten about me, until Sgt. Maj. Dailey invited me to this panel. I didn’t think I had anything to contribute to you. Now I know better. So I appreciate Sgt. Maj. Dailey inviting me here to participate in this panel. Thank you.”

Class 66 of the Sergeants Major Course listen to a panel that includes, from left, former Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, former SMA Julius W. Gates, former SMA Gene C. McKinney, former SMA Jack L. Tilley, former SMA Kenneth O. Preston and former SMA Raymond F. Chandler.
Class 66 of the Sergeants Major Course listen to a panel that includes, from left, former Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, former SMA Julius W. Gates, former SMA Gene C. McKinney, former SMA Jack L. Tilley, former SMA Kenneth O. Preston and former SMA Raymond F. Chandler.

Tilley spoke of how much his years in the Army made him a better person, and he urged the students to remember their responsibilities.

“The Army really changed my life,” Tilley said. “I wasn’t a good kid when I was younger. In fact, I was a bad kid. I used to tell people that when I look back on my life I probably would have been dead by the time I was 25. The Army really changed my life. Any successes I’ve had in life, even after the Army, have been because of the Army.

“All I ever ask of anybody in this room is just do your job,” Tilley said. “Stay focused on your Soldiers. Understand what the commitment is. You have to understand, our job is to win wars for our country. You have a hell of a responsibility. Stay focused, and do what you’re supposed to do.”

Former SMA Kenneth O. Preston, who served as the 13th sergeant major of the Army from 2004 to 2011, urged Class 66 to use the knowledge they gain at the Sergeants Major Academy to become good teachers for the next generation of Soldiers.

“Everything that you gain here at this institution, as you go back out to the big Army or your respective services, take the knowledge you gained here and take it back and pass it on to your troops,” Preston said. “It’s really the information that you take back that allows you to be a teacher.”