Tag Archives: TRADOC

TRADOC leader sees ‘major step forward’ in NCO 2020

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.)

New software helps Army roll out training apps faster

Combined Arms Center

The Army is picking up the pace to make more training mobile applications available for Soldiers’ smart phones and computer tablets.

Recently a team of Soldiers and civilians at Fort Eustis, Virginia, started using software to ensure Army mobile apps meet government security requirements and other standards.

“With this new vetting software, we can expedite getting proponent-approved and cyber-secure mobile apps to the force,” said Lt. Col. Joe Harris, Training and Doctrine Command Capability Manager-Mobile (TCM Mobile). “Soldiers are getting accurate, up-to-date training content.”

TCM Mobile has used the software to vet nearly 80 mobile applications for infantry training, gunnery practice, reporting sexual harassment and other topics. Its effort is part of a broader Army campaign to get training and educational materials to Soldiers when and where they need them.

Last year, TCM Mobile started posting mobile applications to the TRADOC Application Gateway hosted by TRADOC Capability Manager, Army Training Information System as well on commercial sites such as iTunes, Google Play and Windows Phone.

To make sure the applications met standards, TCM Mobile relied on a private company or another defense organization.

“The process was expensive and time consuming,” Harris said. “We decided to get our own vetting software from a private company. Now we can do the vetting ourselves. Our goal is have 200 or more mobile applications, vetted, approved and posted by the end of next year.”

TCM Mobile also is certifying units’ applications for wider use in the Army.

“A number of Army organizations developed mobile applications for themselves,” said Matt Maclaughlin, TCM Mobile’s senior mobile instructional design specialist. “By vetting these units’ applications, we’re building a validated, secure, mobile application library to help Soldiers throughout the Army.”

In addition to using the software, TCM Mobile utilizes a human-in-the-loop check to ensure the applications meet standards.

TCM Mobile is part of the Combined Arms Center—Training at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. CAC-T develops training requirements, fields training systems, delivers leader training and sustains training capabilities to support Army institutional and operational training of Soldiers, leaders, and units to successfully execute Unified Land Operations in complex, ambiguous environments.

Third TRADOC town hall focuses on talent management

NCO Journal

In the early days of Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport’s 30-plus year career, the young staff sergeant who was on drill sergeant duty was already weighing the merits of impressing his promotion board by getting an associate’s degree. It took hours of hard work as well as a lot of peer support, but the command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command made it to sergeant first class. He never looked back.

Talent management was the focus of TRADOC’s third town hall Thursday, Nov. 3, at Fort Eustis, Virginia, where panelists including Davenport addressed how noncommissioned officers can get ahead in today’s Army.

“It’s about how you identify the very best noncommissioned officer to do these other things to make them a more well-rounded, experienced NCO, and expose them to different things as well,” Davenport said.

Before the start of the third TRADOC virtual town hall, TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport invites Soldiers to engage with panelists via Twitter. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Before the start of the third TRADOC virtual town hall, TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport invited Soldiers to engage with panelists via Twitter. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

With the Army still in the middle of downsizing its ranks, the Noncommissioned Officer 2020 Strategy aims to prepare and mold NCOs into fully developed leaders. The NCO Professional Development System, which is part of NCO 2020, calls for managing talent to better benefit the Army institution and the individual.

“I think everyone has unique abilities, knowledge and skills,” Davenport told the NCO Journal before taking his seat at the virtual town hall. “What we are trying to figure out is how to maximize that, get the right Soldiers in the right job. Not only a job but also in broadening opportunities, and there are many of them. No longer can NCOs be just drill sergeants and recruiters. They can go work with industry, and they can do academic fellowships. We are really trying to open up the aperture to develop NCOs.”

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey warned NCOs that promotions will be based on talent management during the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C., last month.

“We are going to promote people based upon talent, and we will slot people for advancement in the United States Army based upon talent,” Dailey said.

Davenport acknowledged that NCOs have had a lot of information thrown at them about NCO 2020, but he said that’s why the series of TRADOC town halls were developed. They offer an opportunity for Soldiers to get their questions answered from senior NCOs and to have issues placed into context for them.

“Their voice and their opinion matters,” Davenport said. “After all, there’s 391,000 of us Soldiers (that’s across the active component, Guard and Reserve) and I happen to be one. [With the other panel members,] we are a very small percentile of this group of NCOs who are trying to set the course for the next 20 or 30 years for our NCO Corps, and acknowledge all the great gains and all the sacrifices and the great work that NCOs have done, build upon the success.”

Moderator Master Sgt. Michael Lavigne, from left; TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport; Sgt. Maj. Derek Johnson, deputy chief of staff G1 sergeant major at Headquarters Department of the Army; and Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson, command sergeant major of Human Resources Command, prepare for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's third town hall on talent management on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Fort Eustis, Virginia. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)
Moderator Master Sgt. Michael Lavigne, from left; TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport; Sgt. Maj. Derek Johnson, deputy chief of staff G1 sergeant major at Headquarters Department of the Army; and Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson, command sergeant major of Human Resources Command, prepare for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s third town hall on talent management on Thursday, Nov. 3, at Fort Eustis, Virginia. (Photo by Martha C. Koester / NCO Journal)

At a time when staying relevant in today’s Army is crucial, Davenport had some advice for NCOs pondering their futures in the Army.

“Stay current, read and ask questions of those who can make the decisions or give you the proper answer,” he said. “Don’t hesitate to engage senior leaders. Don’t hesitate to engage the branch managers, and take advantage of all this stuff. In this day and age of social media and virtual town halls, leaders are very accessible. You need to take advantage of that.”

The NCO Journal will have more news from the town hall in the coming weeks. Until then, you can watch the entire broadcast at: https://youtu.be/xdXGuYSv7Fc

Third town hall to answer, ‘How do I get ahead in the Army?’

NCO Journal

NCOs looking for answers to their questions about Army talent management will have a chance to participate in the third NCO Professional Development Town Hall on Thursday, Nov. 3.

Thousands of NCOs participated in the first two town halls in March and June, watching live and asking questions in chat rooms and through social media. In an effort to allow even more participation, Thursday’s town hall has been moved to an earlier time. NCOs may tune in from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT at www.tradoc.army.mil/watch. The chat room at the same web address opens at 11 a.m.

NCOs may send their talent management questions to Army leaders who will be staffing the chat room, or to TRADOC’s Facebook or Twitter page using #TRADOCtownhall.

Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, began the town halls as a way to communicate to the force the changes being made to NCO professional development. Davenport wrote last week that the third town hall is meant to help answer the question, “How do I get ahead in the Army?”

“During the town hall, you’ll have an opportunity to learn about commissioning programs like ROTC, West Point, Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School,” Davenport wrote on his news blog at tradocnews.org. “The experts joining us come from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Department of the Army G-1 and TRADOC G-1, and they are going to share with you their experience and knowledge about the various programs available to help you get ahead.

“What will you do with this information once you have it?” Davenport wrote. “Will you take charge of your career and start making decisions based on your ability and potential, or will you settle and put your career in someone else’s hands? The opportunity for you to ask and to be heard is being presented. I challenge you to take advantage.”


Fort Sill’s move to certify drill sergeants at brigade level paves way for Armywide POI

NCO Journal

Drill sergeants are entrusted with transforming civilian volunteers into new Soldiers. They must be symbols of excellence for new recruits, as they are everything their Soldiers know of the Army. The Army’s future rests on them and their ability to mold motivated, disciplined, fit and capable Soldiers.

“The ultimate goal is to produce and maintain the highest quality trainer so they can produce the highest quality Soldier,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, command sergeant major for the Center for Initial Military Training at Fort Eustis, Virginia. “The better drill sergeant we can produce, the better Soldier we can produce for the force.”

So how does the Army ensure only the best of the best continue to train America’s Soldiers? Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 350-16 stipulates that drill sergeants must certify each year to prove they are still subject matter experts in all the warrior tasks and battle drills. But the process by which the drill sergeants certify varies across the Army’s training centers, and even from one battalion to another.

To remedy the problem, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, now conducts the certification at brigade level. The change ensures a more consistent training experience for each Soldier, and has paved the way for standardization of drill sergeant certification Armywide.

“Fort Sill has an outstanding [certification] program that it has in place right now, almost to the point where it is a model that we can look at as a best practice to incorporate into other facilities, into the Program of Instruction,” Gragg said.

Gragg said he hopes to standardize the requirements for drill sergeant certification across all four Basic Combat Training locations. The POI that would accomplish that should be in place by the end of 2016, he said.

“We will definitely use some tenets from the program in place at Fort Sill,” Gragg said. “What Fort Sill has done – is doing, and continues to do – is awesome, and I can honestly say they are producing day in and day out some of our best Soldiers coming out of basic training.”

Fort Sill drill sergeant certification

When Fort Sill’s drill sergeant certification was being implemented at the battalion level, drill sergeants were grading other drill sergeants, which created staffing issues.

“Anytime certification needed to be done, the units had to cut this position out – that is a drill sergeant that could be utilized to train Soldiers that they can’t use to train Soldiers because they have to train or maintain consistency in the drill-sergeant population,” Gragg said. “That’s why Fort Sill doing it at the brigade level eases some of the manning requirements; it is one level teaching it as opposed to duplication of efforts at a battalion level.”

Staff Sgt. Franco Peralta, Fort Sill’s Drill Sergeant of the Year for 2015, noticed that, in addition to staffing challenges, the grading and the tasks being graded differed greatly from one battalion to another, and that the certification was not much of a challenge for the drill sergeants to obtain. He worked with his command to standardize the certification process and raise the bar for drill sergeants across the 434th Field Artillery Brigade. The new process was implemented in February 2016.

“Now, at brigade level, it is more rigorous and more challenging,” Peralta said. “And, drill sergeants are graded by cadre from Headquarters and Headquarters Support who are subject-matter experts. For example, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear tasks are graded by CBRN experts in that field. If it is a medical task, it is graded by medics.”

The certification is offered once a month, after a four-day refresher course in which drill sergeants train on the 30 tasks outlined in the Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks (SMCT 21-1.) On certification day, the drill sergeants are tested on 15 of the 30 tasks, but do not know beforehand which those will be.

“A drill sergeant is an expert in the warrior tasks and battle drills,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Randall, Fort Sill’s Drill Sergeant of the Year. “That’s what we are. We should be experts in everything in SMCT 21-1. We train Soldiers right out of that book, and if we don’t know how to do it ourselves, how are we going to teach them? The whole idea of this certification is to get everybody on post on the same page, so that every Soldier is getting trained to standard, across the board.”

If drill sergeants fail the certification test – which has happened quite a bit across the brigade, Randall said – they receive counseling and are required to recertify the next month. If they fail twice, they will receive counseling and be removed from the drill sergeant program for a month. They will remain with their unit, but will not be allowed to train Soldiers for 30 days.

“The idea behind that is to get them 30 days of solid training so they can meet the standard,” Randall said. “If they fail a third time, they will be recommended for removal from the drill sergeant program all together.”

Both Randall and Peralta said they have noticed a marked difference in the confidence of the brigade’s drill sergeants and in the quality of the training they provide.

“I think it’s good because when the drill sergeants know they can do everything by the book, they get in front of the Soldiers and teach them with confidence,” Peralta said. “That extra pressure – it’s hard when someone is looking at you and testing you. ‘OK, let me see how you clear an M4, how you load an M4.’ It makes them nervous. But after they prepare, study, read through the book, they have more confidence to teach their Soldiers and know they are teaching a task the right way, just how TRADOC wants it to be taught.”

“I think everybody is kind of walking with their chest puffed out, walking a little taller than they used to,” Randall said. “They feel more proud to be drill sergeants, and if they haven’t certified yet, they look at it as a competitive game. It’s good stuff.”

Moving toward an Armywide standard

Though Gragg praised the measures Fort Sill has taken to standardize certification across the brigade, he pointed out that the process still varies from one brigade to another. The fact that the 434th Field Artillery Brigade will soon be breaking down basic training under two Advanced Individual Training brigades, he said, further highlights the need for an even higher-level standard to maintain consistency.

“Right now, the advantage of brigade-level certification is that it provides a consistent standard from that brigade on down. The only concern with that is that if the standard they are teaching at brigade A is different than what they are teaching at brigade B, then you have an inconsistent product that is being produced,” Gragg said. “My goal is to have a Program of Instruction in place across TRADOC so that, whether it is being utilized at the brigade level or the battalion level, the product is the same.

“Whether the Army Training Centers choose to utilize the POI at the brigade level or the battalion level is going to be up to them. The Center for Initial Military Training isn’t going to tell units how to conduct their certification. We just want to ensure that the certification is conducted to a standard that we feel all drill sergeants need to meet.”

Gragg said he hopes to have the POI completed by the fourth quarter of this year. Meanwhile, he is gathering feedback from the force as to what should be included. What are the most important perishable skills that drill sergeants need to brush up on every year? He is working to identify those areas and get drill sergeants the tools they need to keep those skills sharp and deliver the best training possible to U.S. Soldiers.

“We in IMT are in the business of process improvement,” Gragg said. “We have been making Soldiers for 241 years, but we still aren’t perfect at it. We are always looking at ways to improve our ability to produce the best Soldiers we possibly can.”

U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants with the 108th Training Command stand at attention during a change of command ceremony at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, June 13, 2015. (Photo by Sgt. Ken Scar / U.S. Army)
U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeants with the 108th Training Command stand at attention during a change of command ceremony at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, June 13, 2015. (Photo by Sgt. Ken Scar / U.S. Army)