By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 31, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 31, 2014) -- The U.S. Army Combined Arms Center command sergeant major visited Fort Rucker July 23 to inform Aviation Soldiers about the future of the NCO corps and spoke to more than 100 Soldiers, including students at Yano Hall and sergeants to command sergeants major at the NCO Academy.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Wright extended his stay at Fort Rucker in order to speak to Soldiers, and made it clear that he would answer any questions they had about their futures, whether they were about the drawdown, sequestration, the NCO 2020 project or how to teach new NCOs in the 21st century.
"We can't answer problems if we don't speak candidly to each other," he began. "I am here to serve you today. I want to let you in on what may be coming, because it is going to get worse before it gets better. But good leadership will lead us out of these difficult times. So let me know what is happening on your level and I will let you know what is happening on our level."
Sgt. Brandon Noel, NCO Academy cadre, said it was good to see senior Army leadership take the time to develop and mentor young and upcoming leaders in the NCO corps.
"With the downsizing of the Army, it was great to get some specific direction and guidance of career progression and how to stand out from your peers," he said. "Hearing where the Army is headed, his predictions for 2020, 2030 and 2040 were some of the most interesting points of discussion."
Everyone is looking at the future of where the Army needs to be at, said Wright, who then spoke about what NCOs need to do to ensure they are successful in the corps in this transitional time.
"You need to go after those tough assignments. You need to take advantage of college assistance. You need to be a go-getter," he said. "You have to stay involved, informed and physically fit. Practice what you preach and stay away from sub-performance. Be the go-to guy.
"You have to reach out and find the information, not wait for it to trickle down to you. You have to be energetic enough to gain that knowledge on your own," he continued. "Make yourself multidimensional. That is how you will prepare yourself for the drawdown."
To survive as an NCO corps, and in order to say relevant, Wright said that officials will have to make tough decisions concerning numbers.
While at the academy, Wright also spoke about the future of Army robotics and its impact on war, training and retention numbers; institutional stability; future of the sergeants major academy; leaders micromanaging; digital job book; future Army technologies, training and learning; training vs. learning; digital media; broadening assignments; professional development; and cyber attacks.
"We are going to have to have leaders that are willing to adapt to a new Army. In order to handle what might be thrown at us, NCOs must be masters in their skill crafts, they must have an education, they must have experience and they have to have a foundation in the Army profession," he said.
Wright added that his team is working on ways to train and develop leaders that can work with young Soldiers who challenge everything.
"I bet the first thing many of your Soldiers do when you tell them something is Google it and then they tell you you're inaccurate," he said while smiling. "So leaders of today have got to find a way to be effective in explaining the 'why.' It's not about the 'what,' it's now about the 'why.'"
Wright said that if leaders can successfully explain the "why" first, then they will be successful with their Soldiers.
Optimizing human performance was also one of Wright's main talking points.
"We want to get the most out of you, and we want to put the time and investment into developing Soldiers' cognitive dominance. We would like you to have cognitive overmatch of your enemy that you will face," he said. "Look at that from the development and mastery of your skill set, which is us giving you the experience and education for you to apply your mastery to the unknown. It's incumbent upon us to make sure we give you the skills to be able to have that cognitive dominance to do that."
He finished by thanking the NCOs for their comments and questions and told them to stay strong.
"We are men and women in an Army profession that are competent, committed and Soldiers of character," he said.