• Tacoma Anderson gets properly prepared for an airborne training tower jump at Fort Benning, Ga., during one of the DOD Executive Leader Development Program experiential training opportunities.

    Tacoma Anderson

    Tacoma Anderson gets properly prepared for an airborne training tower jump at Fort Benning, Ga., during one of the DOD Executive Leader Development Program experiential training opportunities.

  • Tacoma Anderson is a housing management specialist in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management at the Pentagon.

    Tacoma Anderson

    Tacoma Anderson is a housing management specialist in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management at the Pentagon.

  • Tacoma Anderson makes her descent from the Ranger tower at Fort Benning, Ga., during one of the DOD Executive Leader Development Program training opportunities.

    Tacoma Anderson

    Tacoma Anderson makes her descent from the Ranger tower at Fort Benning, Ga., during one of the DOD Executive Leader Development Program training opportunities.

WASHINGTON (May 4, 2012) -- Army civilian Tacoma Anderson is literally busting down doors to progress her career. The 15-year Army careerist recently traveled to the Kingdom of Bahrain where the Coast Guard taught her how to breach structures and apprehend bad guys holed up inside.

"We learned how to cut down doors, enter the building and take over," said Anderson, a 41-year-old housing management specialist in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management at the Pentagon.

Anderson is participating in the Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program, known as ELDP, which provides a series of stateside and global training experiences that blend experiential and academic learning with hands-on exercises. The 10-month program focuses on the role of the war fighter.

It's one of many programs available to Army civilians to help them progress their careers while filling proficiency gaps in the Army. The goal is to develop agile, decisive and competent civilians who can lead in a dynamic, global environment.

The ELDP is the latest in a series of sequential and progressive Army and Defense Department courses Anderson has taken to accelerate her career and develop her expertise and leadership skills. An enlisted Soldier for eight years, Anderson has taken the fast track in her civilian career, progressing from a GS-4 to a GS-12 in seven years.

"With each course, I developed a new skill set to help me better understand my organization and the people within my organization," said Anderson. "I have learned diversity in cultures by working with many personalities, which has enabled me to work better with people."

Previous Army Civilian Education System, or CES, and supervisor development courses helped Anderson prepare for her participation in the joint, civil-military ELDP course, as well as her duties as a GS-12. The Army's new emphasis on civilian leader development focuses on providing a deliberate and progressive training framework for every civilian employee.

"The Army's 330,000-plus civilians must be provided the same opportunities to progress their careers as those available to the military workforce," said Vicki Brown, chief of Civilian Training and Leader Development, Army G3/5/7. "Competent, decisive civilian leaders help save lives and secure our freedoms by providing expertise in support of the war fighters."

Congress agrees. The National Defense Authorization of 2010 charged the Defense Department to "plan, program and budget investments in civilian leader development." The Army's Civilian Education System, supervisory development courses, and DOD offerings provide the training framework Congress envisioned.

CES is the Army's core leader development system which begins with the Foundation Course. Civilians at all grade levels hired after 2006 are required to complete the self-paced, distance-learning course. Topics range from conflict management and team building to Army Values and leadership doctrine.

The follow-on courses, from Basic to Intermediate and Advanced, all build on this foundation. The courses progressively address financial management, supervisory skills, human resource management, leader development and other subject matter areas. They take students from small team leadership to operating in the joint, international DOD arena.

Two additional developmental tracks are available to Army civilians. The first track includes the voluntary Action Officer Development Course, or AODC. This course is geared toward informing civilians of the expectations of manager and staff activities; problem solving and time management techniques; and effective oral and written communication skills for military environments.

The current Supervisor Development Course, or SDC, is the mandatory training for all military and civilian supervisors of Army civilians. They must take the training within one year of appointment to a supervisory position and complete refresher training every three years. Supervisors are to complete their training requirement by June 30. The subsequent Manager Development Course,or MDC, is recommended for supervisors to continue building their management skills.

The next track focuses on developing leader skills in a joint environment. These courses, such as the ELDP, are funded by DOD and expose Army civilians to a multi-service, collaborative environment. They offer Army civilians the opportunity to work on real-world, international issues with military and civilians from across the DOD spectrum. Like the Army's leader development courses, the DOD program prepares Army civilians for senior civilian leadership positions and for attending the various Senior Service Colleges.

Having completed several of the Army's leader development courses, Anderson is now setting her sights on serving the Army at the executive level.

"I'm looking at future opportunities," she said. "Being a continual learner means always being on the front line, just like our war fighters."

The government benefits from the return on investment it makes in building a deep pool of knowledgeable civilian leaders. "Organizations that invest in people and opportunities are going to have a great return on that investment," said Anderson. "I bring back extra skills, knowledge and understanding that make my workplace more pleasant and makes the organization more efficient because it takes less people to do the job."

The ELDP program is taking Anderson places, not only in terms of career but also in terms of geography. During the program, she will visit Hawaii, Morocco, South Korea, Belgium, France and many stateside locales. She will meet with NATO officials, unified and joint commanders, and leaders from around the globe.

The biggest take-away from the Bahrain trip, said Anderson, came from comments provided by Vice Admiral Mark Fox, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces.

"He meets with every Sailor when they join his command, and speaks to them about maintaining all levels of physical, mental and financial health. His time spent with our class was a moment that will help define our futures."

Anderson's 2012 ELDP course graduates June 14. The deadline is June 1 to apply for the 2013 ELDP program, which runs from October 2012 to June 2013. Applicants must apply through and be nominated by their respective commands.

To learn more about ELDP, the Army's CES courses, the Supervisor Development Course and other civilian competitive professional development opportunities go to www.civiliantraining.army.mil and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/armyciviliantraining.

Note: Jeff Hawk, public affairs officer for the Pittsburgh District Corps of Engineers, wrote this article during a public affairs fellowship with the Civilian Training and Leader Development Division in the Headquarters, Department of the Army, G-3/5/7 Training Directorate.

Page last updated Fri May 4th, 2012 at 00:00