WEST FORT HOOD, Texas -- The top NCO of the unit charged with recruiting and training Soldiers stopped and talked with Operational Test Command NCOs on a wide range of topics Friday.

Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr., the honcho of NCOs at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, swung by OTC to mentor Soldiers on NCO 2020 Strategy.

"What I'm working on is how we're going to improve the NCO Corps for the next 30, 40, 50 years," he said.

STEP is a topic Davenport brought up immediately, which he said means Select, Train, Educate, and Promote.

"STEP is nothing more than a policy that is a force and function to get you, the Soldier, to school. Because if you don't go to school, you don't get … promoted," he said along with all the NCOs in unison response.

Davenport clarified that STEP is not automatic promotion.

"S means that you must be selected based on your performance, your potential, and your character," he said.

"Character matters to be a noncommissioned officer," he stressed. "We want leaders of character. Not bad character, but good character, who uphold the Warrior Ethos, our Army Values -- we want role models for our Soldiers, so character matters."

He went on to describe a particular problem the Army is having.

"We've got a lot of great young Soldiers … E4s … that are fully qualified to go to the sergeant board, and they're not going," he explained. "About 19 percent is all we're recommending."

He went on to say these younger Soldiers haven't done anything wrong.

"They've done absolutely nothing wrong," Davenport said. "They're not flagged, they're not pending any UCMJ. They're good young men and women."

He explained the problem is evident when you start looking at why they're not going to the local promotion board.

He said, "You see things like, 'Specialist Mack, I'm not recommending you for promotion this month because you did not score 270 or above on the PT test.'

"Is that our Army standard?" he asked the NCOs.

Of course, they responded, "No."

"What is the Army standard?" asked Davenport, giving them food for thought.

"Specialist Barrios, I'm not recommending you for promotion this month because you did not attend Sergeant Major Schmidt's Soldier of the Month Board," he said as another example.

"Is that an Army standard," he asked the NCOs.

"No!" they exclaimed collectively.

"So, we're not recognizing young Soldiers based on standards that are not Army standards and it's causing a problem," said Davenport.

"I think we can do this (right) if we identify the problem and get at it," he added.

During almost an hour of two-way interaction with the NCOs, Davenport said it is important that he get out to speak with NCOs about what affects the NCO Corps.

"Whether they are Guard or Reserve, or FORSCOM, TRADOC, or here at the Operational Test Command, I'm more than willing to spend an hour or two hours to communicate about the work we're doing with NCOs," he said.

He said he was happy to visit OTC and learn about its mission.

"I learned about the complexity of the OTC mission and the responsibility it has to our Army, to make sure that what we put in Soldiers' hands -- what they shoot, and the tactics they use to fight with -- that it's validated through an arduous process," he said.

For those interested in more of what the TRADOC CSM has for all Soldiers, turn to his blog at http://tradocnews.org/category/straight-from-the-csm/

Davenport is hosting a virtual Town Hall Nov. 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, the third in a series, that will help Soldiers learn how to get ahead in their careers.

"This is a very important topic," Davenport said, "especially for those of you who want to advance in your career but don't have a clear understanding of how to do it."

To join Davenport's Town Hall, turn browsers to: http://www.tradoc.army.mil/watch/

During the Town Hall, davenport will also be responding to direct questions via his Twitter at #TRADOCtownhall, or the TRADOC Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/USArmyTRADOC