USASMA commandant speaks to changes in NCO development
Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Chandler, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, laid-out specific changes to noncommissioned officer education curricula during a Sergeants Corner presentation at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting.

WASHINGTON (Oct. 6, 2009) -- Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Chandler, commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, laid-out specific changes to noncommissioned officer education curricula during a Sergeants Corner presentation at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting here today.

Titled, "Leader development: developing NCOs in an era of persistent conflict," Chandler spoke to an audience of officers, noncommissioned officers and civilians about how the NCO courses are changing to provide career-long learning.

"We're transitioning from a training based organization to an educational based organization," he said. "We know that a Soldier that is trained performs well. What we want is a Soldier that is educated and can solve problems in a variety of conflict."

The Warrior Leaders Course will use both performance-based testing and performance evaluations. "In the past, we tested Soldiers on tasks. Now, they're going to have a performance based assessment and a cognitive module-based assessment," he said.

The Sergeants Major Course will also undergo improvements. One of them is to align the ten-month course to the academic school year, which will accommodate the students who bring their families to Fort Bliss, Texas.

Chandler also mentioned the integration of more senior enlisted students from across the services and nations into the school. "We don't have a directive like the officers to train with international Soldiers, but we know inherently that NCOs will have to operate in a joint environment. We have to expose them to it earlier," he said.

The biggest change will happen between operational experiences and schoolhouse education through structured self-development. The self-paced, professional development is designed to fill the gaps and teach other lessons such as the rank systems of other services and how to conduct drill ceremonies.

"We've had correspondence courses. What we want to do is provide structure and that structure is going to give Soldiers what they need between education and the operation," said Chandler.

Soldiers will complete scheduled SSD modules as a prerequisite to schoolhouse classes. For example, SSD1, which teaches the rank system of sister services and drill ceremonies, will be completed after advanced individual training, but before Warrior Leaders Course. The complete program will be available by September 2010.

Chandler closed the update highlighting the educational accomplishment of today's NCOs.

"Our last two classes, you have started to see the educational impact on NCOs. Ninety-three percent of people who graduated [two classes ago] graduated with a college degree ... we're proud of what we do, and we're proud of where we're going, and we're proud to be a part of TRADOC."

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