By Phil Tabor, USARECDecember 20, 2013
FORT KNOX, Ky., (Dec. 20, 2013) -- As leaders it is our responsibility to train our subordinates. AR 600-20, Army Command Policy states "The commander is responsible for training." While the commander is responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen, it is the noncommissioned officers (NCOs) that assist the commander in accomplishing the following:
• Transmitting, instilling, and ensuring the efficacy of the professional Army ethic.
• Planning and conducting the day-to-day unit operations within prescribed policies and directives.
• Training of enlisted Soldiers in their MOSs as well as in the basic skills and attributes of a Soldier.
• Supervising unit physical fitness training and ensuring that unit Soldiers comply with the weight and appearance standards of AR 600--9 and AR 670--1.
• Teaching Soldiers the history of the Army, to include military customs, courtesies, and traditions.
• Caring for individual Soldiers and their families both on and off duty.
• Teaching Soldiers the mission of the unit and developing individual training programs to support the mission.
• Accounting for and maintaining individual arms and equipment of enlisted Soldiers and unit equipment under their control.
• Administering and monitoring the Noncommissioned Officer's Development Program, and other unit training programs.
• Achieving and maintaining courage, candor, competence, commitment, and compassion.
Over the years, training has become one of the first leader responsibilities cut because of geography, time, funding, or mission. As a result of these factors, we have incorporated training methods that attempt to train in collective forums without focusing on individual needs, practical application, or evaluations. We also adopted the use of virtual systems to save TDY costs but often these systems are conducted in a manner that do not provide appropriate interaction or incorporate the train-as-you-fight concept. Lastly, to free up the leaders time, we became dependent on Master Trainers to rectify our training needs all the way down to the lowest level.
Aristotle stated "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence; rather, we have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."
If we follow the thoughts of Aristotle, our training must be continuous and contain the tasks we want our Soldiers to perform in an exemplary manner. Having said that and considering the factors as to why we have reduced or modified training formats over the years begs the question "What are we to do?"
The answer is simple. First-line leaders train their subordinates. Geography and time factors are removed when the center commander can train-as-you-fight with his or her subordinates. Instead of holding center training to conduct all training, focus on the Soldiers individual training needs and go into the fight with them. Training and development is a continuous process and each subordinate needs your mentorship. The funding factor is removed when the first sergeant can build training time into their center visit plan and work one-on-one with the center commander. In the end, training by the first-line supervisor can and should be conducted as the primary and most effective means in which to train. If you train your subordinates to be independent of leadership they will accomplish their missions thereby mitigating this factor.
We are a continuously transforming organization and part of this transformation is the reduction and change of duties of our master trainers. Master trainers are responsible for training management, which includes assessing the unit's training posture, developing and designing training plans, and managing the units training program. Master trainers will always be available to support leaders with training but can no longer be used as the primary trainer of subordinates. This is the responsibility of the first-line leader.
"That's what leadership is all about: identifying quality people, giving them the opportunity and experience to create and develop to continue to make the company successful. The best leaders identify and mentor potential leaders. A leader's most important legacy is the leaders he or she develops," as stated in the book "Leadership is a Choice" by Kenneth E. Strong and John A. Dicicco.
In closing, what do you want your legacy to be? A Soldier that accomplished the mission at the expense of subordinates or the leader that trained and developed subordinates to be competent and capable leaders that can move the organization into the future.