Year of the NCO: Command Sergeants Major, senior trainer
October 23, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- He can still see her, "clear as day," like it were yesterday, standing in the third-floor window of the barracks at Fort Hood, Texas.
"I always call her the 'Woman in the Window,'" said Command Sgt. Maj. Earl Allen, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
Allen, now with 23 years experience Soldiering, was a specialist at that life-altering moment when a sergeant first class summoned him.
"She said, 'Spc. Allen, come up. I want to talk to you,'" Allen recalled. "She said, 'You know, every day I see you and your buddies doing the same thing - drinking, partying, all times of night," he said. "And she said, 'I see more potential in you than that. I'm not telling you don't hang out with your friends. I'm not telling you don't have fun.'"
Then she nailed that potential and gave him guidance that he shares with his Soldiers today.
"But I'm telling you," she said. "You need to start getting in school, get an education, enroll yourself in correspondence (courses). And the partying is going to be there."
Allen might have returned to his group of friends without giving her advice much more thought.
"But this is what I admired about her. The next day she came to my office, she picked me up, and took me over to the education center and got me enrolled in college," he said.
Training, development, education, progression are words that command sergeants major - and all noncommissioned officers - must drive into their Soldiers and make them live it, according to Allen and USAG Schweinfurt Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest Lee.
"You've got to get those Soldiers educated," Lee said.
Today, through training and education, the Army develops its Soldiers and NCOs the same way it has always raised officers, enabling all Soldiers the ability to make doctrine-based, critical decisions, according to Allen.
"The young Soldiers today, they need to understand education is the key, because big Army is looking at a smarter Army, a smarter Soldier that can think quickly and make decisions to save lives on the battlefield. We're at war now," Allen said.
"Twenty-three years ago, I think I practiced more habit than doctrine. And when I say that, if someone came and told me, 'Hey, this is the way it should be done. This is the way we do it here. Hey, Got it. But I never followed up to open a regulation and read it," he said.
"NCOs today are practicing doctrine, because they've got to. The Army is going through a transformation, and as they go through this transformation, we've got to be abreast of all current changes. We're moving at a fast pace," he added.