Quartermaster Pre-Warrior Leaders Course Effecive
Staff Sgt. Raymond Morris, Pre-Warrior Leaders Course senior instructor, marches students just before a drill and ceremonies session.

FORT LEE, Va. (May 13, 2010) -- It has produced one honor graduate, 25 Soldiers who've earned a place on the Commandant's List and given many more the confidence and motivation to succeed at the next level.

The results speak for themselves. The 49th Quartermaster Group's fledgling Pre-Warrior Leaders Course is precisely what's needed to give junior Soldiers a leg up to successfully complete the two-week WLC, said its senior instructor, Staff Sgt. Raymond Morris.

"The Warrior Leaders Course doesn't really cover all that is required of a Soldier," said Morris, a mortuary affairs specialist and former infantryman. "This program was initiated to ensure that Soldiers not only get all aspects of Soldier training not covered by WLC but get all the techniques, skills and knowledge to become better NCOs."

The Warrior Leaders Course is the foundation of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System. Previously called the Primary Leadership Development Course, it was 30 days in length but was shortened a few years ago due to ongoing operations in Southwest Asia. WLC is required for promotion to sergeant.

Command Sgt. Maj. James Sims, the 49th QM Group command sergeant major, initiated actions to create the Pre-WLC. He envisioned a course that would introduce new skills, build on others and, most importantly, provide attendees with a shot of confidence required to exceed the standards. He now sees it as a validation of the unit's commitment to develop leaders.

"It shows how well developed and technically and tactically proficient 49er leaders are and how focused they are on training, mentoring and developing our junior leaders," he said.

Since the Pre-WLC's first class in September of last year, seven other classes have been held and more than 400 have joined the ranks as graduates. Many are enthusiastic about the program of instruction.

"What we learn throughout the course is a very good learning experience for future NCOs," said Sgt. Chad Niebels, assigned to the 54th Quartermaster Company, 240th QM Battalion, and a former student and current instructor in the course.

"It helps you to build confidence, gives you the ability to be able to stand out in front of your peers and lead them - to accomplish a mission," he said.

Soldiers in the course, said Morris, are taught 12 of the 40 Warrior Battle Drills and Tasks and learn them not only from a technical standpoint but from practical standpoint as well. Furthermore, students are given leadership positions and held accountable for their actions as leaders, just as they are in WLC.

"If you're a PFC or specialist going down there (to the WLC), you've probably never been in a leadership position," said Niebels, who attended the Pre-WLC course in March and graduated WLC in early April. "This gives those Soldiers that experience to know what squad leaders go through on a daily basis - being accountable to Soldiers, getting the schooling they need, counseling them and being a leadership example."

Niebels didn't make the Commandant's List or status as one of the top students in the WLC class, but averaged 94 percent nonetheless.

"Without this course, it wouldn't have gone nearly as well," he said.

The course also has been successful as a motivator. Morris said he gets many students who have plans to part ways with the Army or can't find a reason to be in the class.

"I've had Soldiers come to my class on the first day and say, 'Sergeant, all I want to do is get out. I don't even know why my unit sent me over here.' I've had Soldiers tell me that but leave here, go to WLC and make the Commandant's List."

Stories like that motivate Morris to keep producing top-notch Soldiers.

"The things we cover in this course provides these Soldiers with enough motivation and drive to not only perform their jobs when they step on the battlefield but to train other Soldiers to complete the mission downrange," he said.

Thirty Soldiers in the current class are set to graduate May 14. Ten more classes are planned for the remainder of the year.

Page last updated Thu May 13th, 2010 at 15:26