FORT McPHERSON, Georgia - Thirteen seasoned non-commissioned officers graduated from the first video teleconferenced Battle Staff Course at Ft. McPherson, June 27.

Graduates of the course successfully completed four weeks of training that tested their knowledge and skills in areas that have become new terrain for NCOs in the past 15 years said Command Sgt. Major, John D. Fourhman, U.S. Army Central command sergeant major.

According to the U.S. Army Sergeants' Major Academy, the Battle Staff NCO Course trains NCOs how to operate as part of a battalion or higher staff. The course focuses on the major areas of Plans, Orders and Annexes, Graphics and Overlays, Military Intelligence, and Combat Service Support. During the course, students presented a military information briefing and took part in a command post exercise (CPX) to demonstrate what they learned throughout the course.

Fourhman emphasized the importance of this class in order to teach NCOs the skills they need to adapt to the needs of today's Army.

"Years ago the NCO's role in a staff or a headquarters was pretty much limited to putting up tents, setting up the tactical operations center, making sure there were enough copies of things for the staff officers to get their business done and pretty much all the other administrative details," Fourhman said.

The training the graduates received will make them part of the decision making process, Fourhman said. Officers learn all the technical aspects of putting a plan together and understand how to execute analysis and formulate plans but having an NCO who has spent most of their career around Soldiers brings a human dimension into it.

Fourhman also emphasized the importance of this course as USARCENT transforms into being full spectrums operations capable.

"There is a deficit in captain and mid-grade officers," he said. "What our commander has done because he has faith in the NCO corps is to tell the Department of the Army or Human Resources Command, 'hey look you give me some trained Sgt. 1st Classes and Master Sergeants and I will build those staff officer billets. We have NCOs who will do it.'"

One of the NCOs that stepped up to the challenge was Master Sgt. Annette Dantzler, G-3 Operational Sustainment NCO.

Dantzler saw the course as an opportunity to learn how to function in a variety of positions.

"I think this is an important course to be involved in because, at this particular time with all the things that are going on in America, this course provides vast knowledge for senior NCOs and lower enlisted to learn how to function both in theatre and in a garrison environment whether in a headquarters, battalion or brigade."

Two assistant instructors taught the course in conjunction with the video teleconference from Ft. Bliss. Master Sgt. Gregory Jeter, G-3 Fires and Effects NCO and Sgt 1st James Seivers, G4 Land Operations NCO were selected to teach the first class held at Ft. McPherson. Both are graduates of the course and hold the additional skill identifier of 2S.

Each of the graduates of this course are leaders and will implement their learning into each directorate, Jeter said.

"This class was important for NCOs because these are seasoned Soldiers that will bring the human factor to it. If officers are writing something, they can say, 'oh Sir, we should word it this way so the Soldiers on the ground understand it better.'"

As the graduates prepared to get their diplomas, Fourhman left each of them with a strong message.

"Having received this training I expect you to train your subordinates on how they can be a part of or assume their role in the staff," Fourhman said. "You have the tools and information to make sound timely decisions. Advise and train your officers. You won't be training them on how to do their jobs but how to use you. I challenge you to assume your new roles and help them accomplish our diverse missions."

The next course is scheduled for September with 32 students in attendance.