WASHINGTON (October 7, 2008)-Command Sergeants Major across the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command participated in a panel presentation on noncommissioned officer career professional development at the National Meeting of the Association of the United States Army at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Welcome remarks: Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston
Facilitator of the Panel: Command Sgt. Maj. David Bruner, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
Panel Members:
Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) John Sparks, College of the American Soldier
Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy
Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Laidlaw, U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center
Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Johndrow, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center

10:00 - Sgt. Maj. Of the Army Preston provided opening remarks advocating for increased professional development of noncommissioned officers. He mentions that NCOs are often disadvantaged when they do not have the opportunity to receive further education.

10:03 - Command Sgt. Maj. Bruner welcomes panelists and recognizes Sgts. Maj. across TRADOC.

10:08 - Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Sparks begins his presentation, Creating Adaptive Leaders, which covers NCO initiatives and issues. NCO leadership is collecting data and feedback from junior leaders on Army training programs. Shortcomings in past models had Soldiers receiving classroom training on tasks that they had faced in the field.

NCOs are placed in a unique position because of deployment rates and schedules. These deployments can often interfere with training schedules and create obstacles when they are eligible for promotions.

10:18 - Sparks introduces Army Career Tracker, a database for Soldiers and civilians to explore training and growth opportunities within their career. For Soldiers, recruiters would be able to explain a career timeline which maps out training options for each rank.

10:21 - Sparks introduces College of the American Soldier. Soldiers often take college classes sporadically because of their schedules, and this often leads to conflicts in the transferability of credits. Universities can sign up to accept credits from degree-bound Soldiers.

10:27 - Sparks moves on to the NCO Degrees Program. This program is designed to expand existing civilian higher education degree choices to provide career NCOs with a broad degree options. This is not tied to enrollment to a military occupational specialty degree but enhances NCOs leadership and war fighting capabilities. The end goal is to maximize the time and create new opportunities for the Soldier.

10:30 - Other initiatives through the NCO education system are looking to integrate similar strategies to advanced degrees. Sparks has developed partnerships with the American Council on Education to review the Army Correspondence Course Program with the goal of translating the Army classes into college credit hours.

10:42 - Sparks continues with transforming the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course. TRADOC leadership is looking to integrate blended learning models which would greatly reduce residential course length and address NCOES backlog. The distributed learning models would also allow more creativity in developing tasks and projects.

10:46 - Command Sgt. Maj. Chandler begins his update on the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. The role of USASMA is to be the TRADOC lead for the NCOES. Annually, 90,000 Soldiers are trained and educated through USASMA courses or courseware.

10:48 - Chandler discusses a redesign in the Warrior Leaders Course. WLC was meant to meet a specific need at a specific time, which is no longer relevant to today's Soldier. The new model aims to target the five roles that a warrior leader should play: warrior leader, leader developer, resource manager, an ambassador and a critical thinker.

10:51 - A trend in the NCOES is to deliver the training in non-traditional medias. Chandler discusses that pilot endeavors to open BNCOC for use in distance learning and video teletraining for fiscal year 2009 and work at full capacity by fiscal year 2010. A key feature of electronic media is that courses are easier to edit, therefore the training topics can be updated more often.

10:54 - The Battle Staff NCO Course is the most popular course offered. A two part course, there were no regulations as to which course had to be taken first, but now the First Sergeants Course is a prerequisite for BSNCOC Level I and Level I is the prerequisite for Level II. Since this rule has been implemented the pass rates for each level has increased.

The Sergeants Major Course is currently being synchronized with the Command and General Staff College at the operational and strategic level of learning. This new course will focus exclusively on education and building intellectual capacity and integration of joint units.

11:00 - The Sergeants Major Nonresident Course is also in the process of being synchronized with the Resident Course in preparation for the August 2009 class. This will have many similar features to an online college course where students will attend through the Web and submit essays on an interactive platform.

11:01 - Structured Self-Development modules are being converted to distance learning classes. Level I and II are complete and Levels III to V are expected to be completed by September 2009, three years ahead of schedule.

11:05 - Command Sgt. Maj. Laidlaw begins his presentation on building the future force with an overview of specific ARCIC departments and what they do:

- Concept Development: starts building ideas for what will be required 25 to 30 years out, which also includes war game exercises geared to help forecast what future combat will look like.
- Experimentation Division: executes TRADOC initiatives and synchronizes them with the rest of the Army services and joint operations.
- Capabilities Development and Assessment Directorate: capabilities development and evaluations for current force directs and manages joint capabilities.
- Architecture and Integration Management: leader of operations and architecture.
- International Programs Directorate: coordinates with allies to enhance joint operations.
- Force Design Directorate: coordinates resources and how they function in operations.
- Future Force Integration Directorate: synchronize the implementation of Future Combat Systems technology.

11:16 - Command Sgt. Maj. Johndrow from CAC discusses fueling change through a comprehensive approach of coordination, collaboration and cooperation for the future forces. The Center for Army Lessons Learned integrates the lessons learned in preparing for combat by evaluating systems and functions. He also discusses the growing need for Soldiers to perform state building, as outlined in FM 3-07 Stability Operations. This manual also emphasizes the need for interagency cohesion and support.

11:25 - Bruner draws the panel to a close by thanking participants for their support and reminds the Soldiers in the audience that NCO leadership is "all about you".

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