SMA Dailey: “I am merely a product of the best the Army has ever had to offer”

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By C. TODD LOPEZ
Army News Service

Before administering the oath of office to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno explained what it is he believes Dailey will bring to the office.

The general said the first time he met Dailey, the noncommissioned officer had been a platoon sergeant. Subsequently, he served as a battalion sergeant major, brigade sergeant major, and division sergeant major. Dailey also has in-depth institutional experience, Odierno said, having served as the command sergeant major at TRADOC.

“He brings this broad experience of both understanding the institutional side as well as the tactical and operational side,” Odierno said. “In my mind, there is no one more qualified to take on the responsibilities and the challenges our Army faces in the future.”

The general named three such challenges, saying they are concerns he thinks about every day. He said he believes that Dailey will be able to help address those challenges, as did Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III before him.

First, he said, is the continued commitment of Soldiers across the globe — as many as 140,000 Soldiers are now deployed or forward stationed. “It’s our responsibility to ensure they have the resources and tools necessary to do their jobs. And that we develop NCOs … so they are able to lead our Soldiers anywhere.”

Secondly, he said, is the downsizing of the Army. “How do we maintain the strength of our Army by keeping the right NCOs in the force, but while also taking care of those who raised their right hand and were willing to serve this nation in a time of war, and how do we properly transition them and do it the right way?”

Finally, he said, is planning for the future of the Army, to plan for what the Army will need to continue to maintain the security of the United States.

With all of those issues, Odierno said, he believes that Dailey will serve as an advisor and leader to help the Army make the right decisions.

“Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Daily is the one who can lead us that way,” he said. “He understands those problems and he understands what it will take. I know his preparation and leadership and experiences will help us to lead this great Army into the future — and to ensure that this Army will remain the greatest Army in the world.”

HUMBLE

After being sworn in to office, and swapping out his uniform coat for a new one that bears his new rank insignia, Dailey explained how he, a self-described “middle of the road guy,” was able to rise to the highest enlisted position in the Army.

“As a young man I was a pretty average kid,” Dailey said. “I did well in school, but I wasn’t the valedictorian. I was somewhere in the middle of the class. I played high school sports. But I wasn’t a superstar athlete. I couldn’t play in the band — because I don’t have any musical talent at all. I’m even average by military standards: 5-foot 9-inches, and 161 pounds, as of this morning. I checked. By all accounts I was a poor, average kid from Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, left, administers the oath of office to the Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, Jan. 30, 2015, at the Pentagon. Dailey's wife, Holly, holds a bible. (Photo by C. Todd Lopez)
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, left, administers the oath of office to the Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, Jan. 30, 2015, at the Pentagon. Dailey’s wife, Holly, holds a bible. (Photo by C. Todd Lopez)

“How does a middle-of-the-road guy make it to this rank? To represent the finest fighting forces the world has known?” he asked. “The answer is simple. It’s sitting in the seats in front of me. It’s leadership — leadership from great Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers that I served with over the years. These are the people who make Army leaders.”

Daily said leadership is not born, but is rather built.

“I am merely a product of the best the Army has ever had to offer,” he said. “I am grateful for that.”

Dailey thanked both the officer and enlisted Soldiers who helped shape his career, as well as civilians in government and those from his home town, including his high school principal. Dailey also thanked his mother for developing in him and his brothers “the ethical and moral foundations we needed. Mom, thank you and I love you.”

He also thanked his father, an Army veteran who recently passed away. “He taught us boys a strong work ethic and discipline. And he ensured we all had a sense of patriotism. Dad, rest well, and the boys are all okay.”

He also thanked his two older brothers, saying that as the baby of the family there had been for him both privileges and sacrifices.

“My brothers felt it was their responsibility to begin building my resiliency at a very young age,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience. “In the Dailey house, resiliency is code-word for ‘the punching bag’ during their live re-enactment of Saturday morning episodes of Kung Fu Theater. Brothers, you made me strong. Thank you. But don’t try it now. Combined with years of military service, and the fact of this stage of your life — the younger samurai now has the advantage.” He mentioned also his younger brother.

He thanked his wife Holly: “I love you for sticking by me for 21 years, and the seven I wasn’t there; but most of all because you’re my best friend. Thank you.”

Finally, he thanked his son, Dakota. “I’m so proud of you … you’re the reason why I get up every day and work so hard. You really are.”

“All of these people, from the former leaders to my family, made it possible for an average guy to be the representative for a million of the nation’s best and brightest,” Dailey said. “That’s why I’m convinced that anyone can be the sergeant major of the Army. Any Soldier in today’s Army, even an average Soldier like me, has the potential to be an Army senior leader some day. It just requires two things: great leadership, and a strong Army family.”

Recruiting offers NCOs opportunity to enhance Army

By LYNSIE DICKERSON
U.S. Army Recruiting Command

When Master Sgt. Donald Gallagher joined the Army Reserve, he already knew he wanted to be a recruiter. His interest in recruiting started with friends talking about their own experiences in the field. It seemed to him like a very fulfilling assignment.

“When I first got into recruiting, I found that it was very fast-paced and you had to really work hard,” said Gallagher, now a Recruiting and Retention School instructor who is heading to the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy in the summer. “Your work ethic was pushed. The harder you worked, the more success you saw.”

Recruiting duty provides noncommissioned officers with the opportunity to shape the future of the Army, positively impact the lives of others, and advance their own Army careers. It’s a great broadening assignment that strengthens an NCO’s skill set, he said.

“I truly believe that when a noncommissioned officer comes into recruiting duty and when he leaves, he’s made immense leaps in his ability to coach, teach, mentor and counsel individuals,” Gallagher said. “I would just tell anybody that’s potentially looking at coming into recruiting, that if they want a challenging assignment that offers great career progression and is going to help them become a better noncommissioned officer, they should really look at coming in to Recruiting Command.”

Recruiters are an elite group with an elite mission. Only the top NCOs in each MOS are selected to be recruiters.

“Recruiters today are the very best of the noncommissioned officer corps,” said Maj. Gen. Allen Batschelet, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command. “When we’ve looked across all the noncommissioned officers in the Army to find who can qualify to be a recruiter, less than 10 percent of NCOs can be considered.”

Without recruiting, there is no Army. Every day, recruiters build the Army, finding those with a genuine desire to serve and putting the best in uniform.

Staff Sgt. Yu Rhee, one of the Army's first recipients of the new Master Recruiter Badge, conducts an interview as part of U.S. Army Recruiting Command's first Master Recruiter Badge competition at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in September. The competition began with more than 1,000 recruiters, and seven earned the coveted badge. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Recruiting Command)
Staff Sgt. Yu Rhee, one of the Army’s first recipients of the
new Master Recruiter Badge, conducts an interview as part of U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s first Master Recruiter Badge competition at Fort Knox, Kentucky, in September. The competition began with more than 1,000
recruiters, and seven earned the coveted badge. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Recruiting Command)

“The ability to shape the future of the Army — there’s no other job in the United States Army that gives you the flexibility that recruiting does when it comes to that,” said Master Sgt. Jeff White, NCOIC of USAREC’s Recruit the Recruiter team. “You are literally recruiting the men and women who are going to form the Army of the future.”

As the face of the Army to the American public, recruiters must be self-disciplined, live the Army values, and have a high level of integrity. Recruiting requires independent and adaptive thinkers who are capable of making decisions in unfamiliar environments while maintaining the respect and trust of civilians.

Recruiters perform a variety of tasks, including giving presentations at schools, interviewing applicants, and participating in community events.

“It’s fun because you kind of get connected back to actually helping your community more than you would in the mainstream Army or even in the civilian world,” said Recruit the Recruiter team’s Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Vance. “I had the chance to go back to my MOS and turned it down.”

Recruiting provides Soldiers the opportunity to help the Army while helping other people.

“I’m helping the Army provide the strength in numbers, but when I talk to the applicants and people interested in the Army, I’m here to help them as well,” said Staff Sgt. Yu Rhee, a recruiter at the Los Angeles Recruiting Battalion who was one of the first seven individuals to earn the Army’s new Master Recruiter Badge. “I really get to know what their goals are in life and why they’re here sitting in front of me in my office. There’s that job satisfaction that comes with helping others. I think that’s what I enjoy most about it.”

White said there’s a small percentage of recruits who, before coming into the Army, were on the ‘wrong track,’ getting in trouble, or not doing well in school.

“When you can take them and get them off of that track and put them on the right track, when you see them come back from basic training, that’s when this job is worthwhile,” he said. “You literally change someone’s life.”

Serving as a recruiter advances an NCO’s career by offering high promotion rates and strengthening a variety of skills.

“Your opportunity to exercise initiative, to be in a mission command environment, do the things we enjoy as leaders and develop your leadership skills are more available inside of the Recruiting Command than they are in the operational Army,” Batschelet said.

Recruiting duty sets people apart from their peers, White said.

“From a career-enhancement standpoint, you’ll be looked at much more favorably on centralized promotion boards,” he said.

Recruiters must learn to be inspirational and motivational to be successful leaders, White added.

“I think that recruiting teaches you that you can’t rely on the rank that’s on your chest; you have to rely on interpersonal skills necessary to lead, and it really helps you hone those skills,” White said. “That’s something that—even coming from a combat arms MOS—I could have never imagined I was going to become a better leader as a recruiter than I was as a tank commander.”

NCOs interested in volunteering for recruiting duty can find out more information from the Recruit the Recruiter office at (502) 626-0210.

 

NCOs take over training at new THAAD schoolhouse

By C. TODD LOPEZ
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — Soldiers destined to operate the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system will now learn their trade from fellow Soldiers.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Instructional Facility, or THAAD, opened at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Jan. 23. Already, four classes are underway at the schoolhouse.

“This represents the culmination of a lot of activity to get the facility built, the instructors trained, and the training devices built and delivered,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Spillman, commandant of the Air Defense Artillery School, located at the Fires Center of Excellence. “All of that required a monumental amount of work and coordination from various stakeholders across the air defense artillery community.”

In the past, Soldier training for THAAD was done by contractors. That is standard for new Army systems, Spillman said. But as those systems mature, and the cadre of Soldiers familiar with those systems grows, the Army can instead come to rely on its own non-commissioned officers to train newcomers.

“Today marks the transition from the way we used to train Soldiers to now, having the Army train our Soldiers in the institutional training base,” Spillman said.

The THAAD system provides a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile launcher sits in the new THAAD Instruction Facility at Fort Sill, Okla. The ribbon was cut on the Lt. Gen. C.J. LeVan THAAD Instructional Facility paving the way for Air Defense Artillery Soldiers to begin schoolhouse training on the THAAD system. (Photo by Marie Berberea)
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile launcher sits in the new THAAD Instruction Facility at Fort Sill, Okla. The ribbon was cut on the Lt. Gen. C.J. LeVan THAAD Instructional Facility paving the way for Air Defense Artillery Soldiers to begin schoolhouse training on the THAAD system. (Photo by Marie Berberea)

A THAAD battery includes up to six truck-mounted launchers, each with the capability to store eight interceptor projectiles, a radar system, and a fire control system. Spillman said such a battery might have as many as 80 Soldiers on board.

Soldiers who are bound for those units will first attend schooling at the new THAAD training facility at Fort Sill. Right now, Spillman said the schoolhouse teaches five courses of instruction, including one for new air defense artillery officers, a separate course for warrant officers, and courses to provide THAAD skill identifiers to each of three enlisted military occupational specialties.

Today, the Army has fielded three THAAD batteries, with a fourth battery now stood up and going through new equipment training. In the coming years, Spillman said, the Army will stand up and equip another three batteries, with potential for an eighth battery.

“The THAAD is an important system for national defense,” Spillman said. “When you deploy a THAAD battery, or any air and missile defense capability for that matter, it sends a pretty powerful signal to adversaries in our various regions, that those areas are of important national interest to the United States.”

Most recently, Spillman said, the United States sent such a message to adversaries in Northeast Asia by locating a THAAD battery in Guam.

“THAAD has been a major success story for the United States and for the Missile Defense Agency,” Spillman said.

Maintenance NCOs help keep Army moving

By JONATHAN (JAY) KOESTER
NCO Journal

A lot can go wrong with Soldiers’ means of transportation in the heat of battle — from something dramatic like a vehicle rollover to the more mundane breakdown of air conditioning. Arriving to help in those situations are the NCOs and Soldiers of the maintenance military occupational specialties — the 91 series.

Much of the instruction in this career field, especially for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers, is led by the NCOs at the Regional Training Site–Maintenance at Fort McCoy, Wis. The site is one of four Army Reserve RTS-M sites; the others are at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.; Fort Devens, Mass.; and Fort Hood, Texas.

Sgt. Robert Reyes, right, maneuvers a concrete block as he learns the controls of a HEMTT wrecker at Fort McCoy, Wis. (Photos by Jonathan (Jay) Koester, NCO Journal)
Sgt. Robert Reyes, right, maneuvers a concrete block as he learns the controls of a HEMTT wrecker at Fort McCoy, Wis. (Photos by Jonathan (Jay) Koester, NCO Journal)

All the instructors at the Fort McCoy RTS-M are Active Guard Reserve noncommissioned officers, while the students who go through the school can be Reserve, National Guard or active-duty. The school teaches only reclassifying Soldiers. Initial training for the maintenance MOSs happens at the U.S. Army Ordnance School at Fort Lee, Va.

RECOVERING ARMY VEHICLES

An additional skill identifier that 91-series Soldiers and NCOs can receive at Fort McCoy is H8, recovery operations. It is a much-needed skill because, as Sgt. 1st Class Hyrum Haworth said, “as soon as the Army came up with vehicles and operators of the vehicles, they started getting stuck. And they had to come up with ways to get them recovered.”

NCOs instruct wheeled-vehicle recovery at Fort McCoy, while tracked-vehicle recovery is taught at Fort Hood. Haworth, the lead instructor for the H8 ASI, wheeled-vehicle recovery course at Fort McCoy, said it takes a certain kind of Soldier to do well in recovery operations.

“The Soldiers who do the best with this ASI and doing recovery operations are the ones who downright enjoy going out and getting muddy and dirty,” Haworth said. “You are crawling underneath broken trucks; you’re climbing in and out of mud pits. You’re going to get dirty. It’s a rough-around-the-edges kind of job.”

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lowry, an H8 instructor at Fort McCoy, added a few other skills Soldiers and NCOs must have in the recovery field.

“The type of Soldier who I think does well is one who doesn’t mind getting dirty and has the knowledge and common sense to do something safely,” Lowry said. “Recovery specialists are always going to be the last ones in the gate at night, because they are always the last ones in the convoy. So it has to be someone who has no problem working late.”

There are several mire pits at Fort McCoy that allow instructors to get a vehicle good and stuck before students are trained in how to get it out. In addition to the mire pits at the recovery range, Fort McCoy offers many other good training locations, Haworth said.

Staff Sgt. James Rumph, left, instructs students on the operation of an arm of a HEMTT at Fort McCoy.
Staff Sgt. James Rumph, left, instructs students on the operation of an arm of a HEMTT at Fort McCoy.

“The recovery training facilities that we have here are phenomenal,” he said. “The one drawback is that they are only phenomenal part of the year. We have 63,000 acres, and we have range roads that give them far more realistic training than some of the other recovery ranges I’ve seen. We’re fortunate enough to have thousands of acres, so we can start them out on smaller hills and then build them up. We can start off with people who have never driven anything big and haven’t towed anything, start them on smaller hills and build up to towing a HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck), with a HEMTT wrecker up a major steep hill. Then you have to teach them how to go down the hill because once you go up a hill, you have to go back down the backside. So, we get a lot more in-depth, realistic training when it comes to the driving. The recovery range — we have a variety of scenarios we can run them through.”

But Wisconsin is cold in winter; like, really cold.

“We’ve done recovery pop-up classes in the middle of winter. But we were struggling to get the truck stuck to make it even close to realistic,” Haworth said. “You can’t do wet mire operations in February at 20 degrees below zero.”

After a morning of teaching students how to use the recovery controls on some of the HEMTTs, Haworth talked about how the school’s NCOs teach the students.

“What we’re doing today — keeping with the Army’s teaching philosophy of crawl, walk, run — we do all the classroom stuff, all the crawl phase, then we do the walk phase, where we are out in the yard at a slower speed with no or minimal load,” he said. “They have some concrete blocks that they pick up with the crane and move them around, so that’s what we’ll be doing this morning. This afternoon, we’re going to be operating the winches, pulling out some snatch blocks and some chains, hooking up to some trucks that are not mired. Then after that, we’ll get to the run phase, and we’ll go out to the range and get the trucks stuck — where they have to put them under full load and pull them out.”

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lowry instructs students in the operation of a M984 A4 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck [HEMTT] at Fort McCoy, Wis. "We're letting the students get some familiarization with the equipment. Some people have never touched the crane, so we're getting them some hands-on training," Lowry said.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lowry instructs students in the operation of a M984 A4 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck [HEMTT] at Fort McCoy, Wis. “We’re letting the students get some familiarization with the equipment. Some people have never touched the crane, so we’re getting them some hands-on training,” Lowry said.
A lot of the classroom training is working with students on the use of training manuals, said Staff Sgt. James Rumph, an instructor at the school.

“We teach them to look at the training manuals, because if we teach them a certain model, and then they go overseas and have something completely different, they could have trouble,” Rumph said. “So, it’s best to know how to maneuver through a training manual.”

Then, at the ranges, they put their classroom learning to the test, said Master Sgt. Christine Wolf, the school’s chief instructor.

“In the classroom, they learn the physics and the mathematical properties of how you recover a vehicle,” Wolf said. “They learn what to do, whether it’s mired — stuck in the mud — or overturned.

Then they have to go do it at the ranges. The instructors will mire a vehicle in the mire pit, and the students have to retrieve it. They’ll do an overturned vehicle, and a vehicle mired in sand, as well.”

Sgt. Robert Reyes, a 91B (Army Reserve) NCO from the 706th Transportation Company in Trenton, Ohio, was a civilian mechanic for 12 years before joining the Army. He was at the school to learn recovery operations.

“It’s part of our MOS. We have to learn recovery operations,” he said. “These pieces of equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you need to be trained well before you attempt to recover something like that. If you are untrained, you are likely to break something or hurt yourself.”

REPAIRING ARMY VEHICLES

As he instructed 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic students who were getting their air conditioning certification as part of the Advanced Leader Course, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Schauf talked about the importance of being able to fix the air conditioning in up-armored vehicles in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

“If it’s 140 degrees outside, and a Soldier is wearing all his gear, you want it to be 70 degrees in the cab. Having air conditioning is definitely beneficial to the morale of the Soldier,” Schauf said. “With the cabs being sealed because of up-armor, you have no air flow. You can’t have the windows open, because that leaves a vulnerable point. That makes air conditioning essential.”

Schauf said teaching mainly Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers can mean he needs to reiterate the leadership skills an NCO needs.

Students working with Staff Sgt. James Rumph, upper right, laugh at the struggle of trying to precisely control the operation of an arm of a HEMTT at Fort McCoy.
Students working with Staff Sgt. James Rumph, upper right, laugh at the struggle of trying to precisely control the operation of an arm of a HEMTT at Fort McCoy.

“They don’t do a lot of basic soldiering skills that we learned in basic training,” he said. “They are not used to formations, the new up-to-date regulations, [Physical Readiness Training] and some of the new equipment. We train them on equipment that the Reserve and National Guard don’t often get.

“So, we teach them leadership here, but I’m also teaching them so they can take this back to their units and teach their Soldiers how to repair and troubleshoot a system, then fix it properly,” Schauf said. “They can’t certify their Soldiers like we can here. But at least they can show them what to do, so in an emergency, they have the basic knowledge of how to do it.”

The RTS-M at Fort McCoy has a wide variety of armored and engineering vehicles that students can learn how to operate and repair. Because the property book is so large at the Fort McCoy RTS-M site — approximately $28 million worth of vehicles and equipment — they have two supply people, in addition to their nine instructors and seven support staff. While walking around the motor pool, Wolf talked about some of the vehicles the students work on.

“Some of these are training aides, for instance a humvee that gets torn apart and put back together, repeatedly,” Wolf said. “Some of these are used at the range to train on recovery operations. So, there is a difference between a piece of equipment that’s classified as mission-capable or for training. All this equipment in the motor pool is used by the 91J (quartermaster and chemical equipment repairer) and 91H (track vehicle repairer) students.”

The NCOs at the RTS-M at Fort McCoy expect to stay busy with new students despite the Armywide drawdown in process. The 91-series MOSs are just too much in demand, Wolf said.

“It’s a very dangerous job, so the safety requirements are very strict,” she said. “It’s in high demand in-theater. Every convoy that goes out, the last vehicle is a recovery vehicle. So, if something breaks down, they are there to help.”

USARAF G-6 NCOs demonstrate leadership, planning skills to forces across Africa

By MEGHAN PORTILLO
NCO Journal

The NCOs of U.S. Army Africa’s G-6 directorate adapt to many challenges as they work alongside African partner nations to provide communication support for operations and exercises in areas with few resources.

As USARAF’s only signal asset, the G-6 assumes the regular duties of ensuring USARAF headquarters in Vicenza, Italy, has Internet and phone service and of troubleshooting printers, computers and mobile devices. The approximately 50 personnel are spread thin, however, as they also provide communication support during exercises and other missions on the African continent.

“Fifty-one people trying to support all of the communication assets on the African continent can be very challenging at times,” said Sgt. Maj. Anthony Harris Sr., USARAF’s G-6 sergeant major. “There are a lot of exercises and not enough people. I do not have regionally aligned forces to support USARAF fully. So that’s why you see [individuals and teams of two] going to different exercises, different operations. Depending on what is going on on the continent, somebody is going to say, ‘Hey, I need radio.’ ‘Hey, I need Internet.’ ”

More than 2,000 languages are spoken in Africa’s 54 nations, and each country regulates its telecommunication differently. This leads to unique challenges when USARAF brings nations together for regional exercises.

“I rely on my NCOs so heavily,” Harris said. “They are smart enough to be able to pick up and adapt. They are coming here and learning on the fly, which is a good thing. They are learning two and three different military occupational specialties. I’m training (25V) combat camera guys to be 25B IT specialists. So if they go down to the continent, they can take pictures, and they can also work on your network.

“These guys are worn out. I know that. I depend on them to go [to Africa] because they are intelligent and they can do the job. When they get down there, they are professional. I trust them.”

Bringing nations together

Each year, USARAF coordinates an exercise in each of the four regions of Africa as part of the “Accord” series. The exercises are intended to enhance African forces’ abilities to conduct operations on their own, increasing stability and security in each region.

As a G-6 exercise planner, Master Sgt. Christopher Tunison works with the G-3/5/7 operations, plans and training directorate to arrange communication support for each exercise. He is usually deployed a week or two out of every month to attend planning events.

“Each participating country will send representatives to the planning events,” Tunison said. “We will figure out what the objectives are for the exercise this year, and the communications planners from each of those countries will sit down [often with a translator] and figure out how we are all going to talk, collectively, at the exercise.”

Tunison said the most difficult aspect of the planning process is keeping participating countries from relying too heavily on the U.S. Army for technology and communication support, and instead getting each country to provide as much assistance as they are able to support the exercise.

“For instance, Uganda is quite advanced in regard to communication technology,” Tunison said. “But then, countries like Senegal or Malawi are further behind. So, it creates a challenge: How do we get them to work with us without us doing everything? We want them to develop their own capabilities instead of leaning on us.”

Sgt. Markus Dickinson, a USARAF information systems technician, said that USARAF’s goal of helping African countries build their own network capabilities is difficult when countries see that it is often easier to obtain equipment such as computers, radios and satellite terminals from the United States than to provide it themselves.

“Some countries are very poor and don’t have a large budget,” Dickinson said. “So when you ask them to bring 15 radios to an exercise, that might be everything that they have available.”

Once the planning team has agreed on the contributions from each country, the USARAF G-6 makes arrangements to provide whatever else is needed to support communication during the exercise.

Tunison said they know, however, to always be prepared for changes. If a country should pull out of an exercise at the last minute, USARAF must fill the gap and compensate for the services or equipment that country would have provided.

“Things on the African continent turn on a dime,” Dickinson said. “There are so many different countries, and every region has something that could boil over at any minute. We lost a couple of countries right before the last Eastern Accord exercise – South Sudan wasn’t able to participate because of political sensitivities in Kenya, for example. When that happens, you just have to roll with the punches.”

Exemplary leadership

Though USARAF NCOs are usually the only enlisted personnel amongst many officers at a planning event, they display leadership skills and teach others how to prepare for an exercise just the same. The high-ranking officers of partner nations who join them at the table sometimes lack planning skills common to American NCOs and often do not have the authority to make decisions or approve their country’s provision of resources or equipment, Tunison said.

“The biggest difficulty we notice when we go to these planning events is their lack of planning ability,” Tunison said. “So, we are trying to help them expand on that capability. Granted, they are very senior-level officers, but … we try to teach them how to plan efficiently, how to develop their own standard operating procedures, how to run their S-6, and how to take different MOSs, balance them and leverage them against specific equipment.”

“When these officers see our NCOs go to the continent and actually show them — on an NCO level and not an officer level — how to plan, it is amazing to them,” Harris said. “In the past, they were taught that officers are at the top and NCOs are the worker bees. Not in this case; not in today’s Army. In today’s Army, we have qualified, educated NCOs who can perform at any level.”

Because the end goal is for African nations to take over the planning, execution and expense of these exercises, Tunison said he always appoints an officer from another country to take the lead. Teaching others to lead while guiding from the sidelines is a fine art every NCO needs to work on, he said.

“That can be a challenge even in a roomful of U.S. Soldiers,” he said. “Here, we are a sergeant first class in a roomful of majors and lieutenant colonels, and we have to use a lot of etiquette to [accomplish our objectives]. We are dealing with varying countries, and they all have different views as far as protocol and the relationship between NCOs and officers.”

It is encouraging to see relationships build and observe the progress being made, said Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Ramirez, a G-6 exercise planner.

“For right now, we are hoping some of these countries will start taking the lead in the planning events, and we have started to see a little bit of that,” Ramirez said. “Some of these countries are surprising us. By the second planning event, you can see some of the guys starting to take the lead, and that’s what we want to see.”

Adapting to change with limited resources

Once an exercise is underway, Dickinson and others supporting the operation face their own challenges. Dickinson explained that, in addition to fixing computers and making sure everyone at the exercise is able to print, it is his responsibility to set up and maintain the portable system that converts a country’s available commercial Internet into the secure connections commanders need to do their jobs.

“We put a lot of people on these networks and try to squeeze a lot of systems onto these little mobile units,” Dickinson said. “They are not as fast as what the U.S. Soldiers are used to. But we just have to adjust; get used to it. There are a lot of people trying to squeeze onto this one little satellite dish.”

Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Ramirez, a G-6 exercise planner, explained that most African forces operate on high-frequency radio networks, and satellite access is usually not available for an exercise unless it is provided by the United States.

“Even the [American] regionally aligned forces often have this mentality that, when they go down to Africa, it’s going to be like Afghanistan or Iraq again, and that those same [high-speed] resources will be available to them,” Ramirez said. “They’re surprised when they come here, and we are operating 20 to 30 people off [one access point] – a portable satellite that fits on about half a pallet and is meant to support about half of what we put on it.”

But learning to do more with less has made them better NCOs, Ramirez said. They have had to become better planners and be more adaptable to change. When they are faced with stumbling blocks, they must be creative to find a solution, he said.

“You have to stay diverse,” Tunison said. “I mean, it’s the biggest key to being a noncommissioned officer in today’s Army. If you are not diverse, if you are not adapting, we have no need for you in the Army today.”

Dickinson agreed, adding that NCOs should never be afraid of taking on a role that is outside of their comfort zone.

“The [communication] system I went to support, I had never even heard of it before. I had to look it up,” Dickinson said. “They say, ‘You are going to support that.’ I say, ‘Roger.’ It’s not, ‘Oh, there is someone else that may be better for this.’ You say, ‘OK, tell me where I need to go. I’ll figure it out, and I’ll be ready when the time comes.’”

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Prattis, right, a squad leader with B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, communicates via radio with his platoon sergeant during a three-day joint situational training exercise with South African Defense Forces, part of Exercise Shared Accord 2013. As the regionally aligned force supporting U.S. Army Africa, the 1st Infantry Division participated in the biennial training exercise to promote regional relationships, increase capacity and further cross-training and interoperability. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard)
Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Prattis, right, a squad leader with B Company, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, communicates via radio with his platoon sergeant during a three-day joint situational training exercise with South African Defense Forces, part of Exercise Shared Accord 2013. As the regionally aligned force supporting U.S. Army Africa, the 1st Infantry Division participated in the biennial training exercise to promote regional relationships, increase capacity and further cross-training and interoperability. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Tamika Dillard)