College of the American Soldier
What is it? The College of the American Soldier (CAS) is a new Army program aimed at maximizing potential college credit for a Soldier's military training and education. Targeted toward the NCO Corps, it works with Service Members Opportunity Colleges Army Degrees (SOCAD) member schools so that a Soldier could realistically retire with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree based on American Council on Education (ACE)-recommended credit for military training and education and the completion of college classes. CAS will link with a portal called Army Career Tracker, which will show a Soldier a specific "map" toward a degree. Soldiers will be able to see what Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) courses will transfer as equivalent credit at any point in their career - from basic training through the Sergeants Major Course (SMC). The portal will list exactly what a SOCAD school will grant for each credit source, and it will provide a list of other guaranteed ways to meet degree requirements.
Why was CAS established? Out of the Army Leader 21 Implementation Plan came nine key initiatives* to improve NCO development. One of those initiatives is to develop and implement a lifelong-learning strategy for a warrior leader-development program for NCOs. Army Initiative 5** (Accelerate Leader Development), under Army Imperative Transform, focused this initiative by selecting the lifelong-learning strategy as a quick win; AI 5 also included creation and development of the Warrior University under that initiative. A critical first step of Warrior University is creation of CAS, which includes the Career NCO Degrees Program (CNDP). The Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey approved U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)'s NCO development strategy in September 2007, including creation of the Warrior University and CAS, and directed Headquarters Department of the Army G-3 to provide the required resources.
What is CAS doing? TRADOC Cmd. Sgt. Maj. John D. Sparks, in coordination with TRADOC's G-3/5/7 and Army's G-1/Human Resources Command's Army Continuing Education System (ACES), negotiated the criteria for participation with SOCAD. Since this is a new program, work needs to be done yet, such as TRADOC's G-3/5/7's development of the strategy document for staffing during the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2008.
What is planned for the future? The CNDP portion of CAS began Nov. 1, 2007, with full implementation planned for February 2008. The CNDP is available to all NCOs at any point in their career - but maximum credit for Army leadership schools will be based on completion of NCOES up to the SMC. Army Career Tracker will continue to evolve for not only NCOs, but also officers, warrant officers and Army civilians. Changes in NCOES will continue to occur, such as development and implementation of the Structured Self-Development Program (SSDP), consisting of five levels, with about 80 hours of Web-based content in each level. The first 20 hours of SSDP Level 1, targeted at the private first class / specialist level, will be tested in March 2008.
- For more information, see TRADOC News Service's Web special on accelerating leader development, here; the TRADOC CG's comments on leader development, here, and the three-part TRADOC News Service series on the changes in NCOES here.
- The nine key initiatives are: study/analysis of Army/NCO culture; create one school system under one command; continue to transform NCOES; institute structured/guided self-development; develop and implement a lifelong-learning strategy for NCOs; develop and implement a comprehensive Army learning strategy; create Warrior University and Army Career Tracker; migrate Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) access to the basic combat training level; and continue to reduce course lengths.
--Areas of focus for AI 5 will be the NCO lifelong-learning strategy; self-development; Army Career Tracker; Warrior University; revision of BNCOC and ANCOC; and investment in MTTs.