WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 13, 2015) -- "Not in My Squad" is a grass-roots approach to creating a climate of dignity, respect and cohesion, Sgt. Maj. of the Army, or SMA, Daniel A. Dailey said.

Dailey delivered opening remarks during the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army-hosted SMA's Professional Development Forum here, Oct. 13.

"Our first-line leaders are charged with the care of our Soldiers both on and off duty," he said, adding that the best place to fix the Army's problems is with them.

Not in My Squad, or NIMS, addresses more than sexual assault, he explained. It also relates to such things as leadership, training and physical fitness.

NIMS is about noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, taking responsibility and senior leaders empowering them to do that, Dailey said. "I don't want to put band-aids on cuts. I want to prevent cuts."

The SMA then related his own experiences as a junior NCO.

"As a young squad leader, I always used to say that the responsibility for every one of the Soldiers in my squad is mine," he said. "And, if this isn't the best squad in the Army, then it's my job to do something about it."

That just doesn't pertain to the squad level, Dailey said. "I don't want you to think it stops there. It's not in my platoon. It's not in my company. It's not in my battalion. It's not in my brigade. It's not in my division. It's not in my corps. And it's not going to be in my Army."

SMALL-GROUP DISCUSSIONS

Small-group discussions among about 200 senior NCOs followed, focusing on "identity, climate and culture," with each group then presenting its opinions and ideas.

Sgt. Maj. David L. Stewart, assigned to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, or CAPE, located at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, said he and his team will be bringing workshops like this to installations across the Army over the next couple of years.

Specifically, the questions posed to the group for discussion were:

- What do you know, think and do about empowerment, time and space and accountability?

- What keeps you from doing that all the time?

- Who and where have you seen these barriers being overcome?

- What other ideas do you have about removing these barriers?

- How and by whom could these skills be taught and promoted at the unit and integrated into everyday training and activities?

- What are other important best practices for squad leaders?

Some of the group presentations that followed focused on improving communications, problem solving, goal setting, self-development, leading by example and inspiring and instilling trust at all levels within the Army.

GENISUS OF NIMS

The Army faced some "challenges" over the last few years, Dailey said. NIMS originated with a discussion group addressing sexual assault and harassment at West Point.

Cadets themselves recognized sexual assault and other issues as their problem, he said. "They didn't need leadership to tell them to fix the problem that really stemmed from within their ranks," Dailey said. "They didn't need anyone to lead them through the problems. They realized that they themselves should take responsibility, so they created their own organization called Cadets Against Assault and Harassment."

Stewart said NIMS then evolved, with discussions with squad leaders from around the Army who met in Arlington, Virginia. To sum up, they focused on "respect and inclusion" as "the most important points to affect change," not just with sexual assault and harassment but with the other problem issues mentioned by the SMA.

Dailey added that some of the genesis for NIMS also resulted from concern expressed by U.S. political leadership that the Army was not taking responsibility for actions by the few bad Soldiers.

The SMA said he's entrusted his life to NCOs in the past and he believes they will be the key to solving the problems and will step up to the plate to make that happen.

NIMS ASSESSMENT RESOURCE

Stewart encouraged Soldiers to use the Army's new website, "Not In My Squad Assessment Resource," a tool designed to help improve squad leaders' professional development and make good squads even greater.

The online assessment focuses on four areas:

-- Shared identity of trusted Army professionals

-- Standards and discipline

-- Professional climate

-- Esprit de corps