GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas -- Congratulations to the first graduating class of the newly formed 80th Training Command Quality Assurance Officer course here. Soldiers from the command's three one-star divisions, the 800th Logistics Support Brigade and their subordinate units completed the QAO course on Jan. 26, 2017, making them the first qualified QAOs for their units.

Lt. Col. Roy Ramey serves as the QAO course manager for this first class. He is the training officer for the 80th TC as well as the commandant for the Staff and Faculty Development Academy located here. He explained that the QAO course was developed because "accreditation is a big part of what we do in the training realm."

The Training and Doctrine Command, as the higher headquarters of all Army training, is the proponent of quality assurance. By Army regulation, the 80th is required to have a team of QAO evaluators throughout its command. In the past, TRADOC's quality assurance training consisted of 16 online hours and did not include face-to-face classroom instruction. "It was very basic training," said Ramey. "We wanted to take it a step further to conduct a three-day course in a more formal format. So, we collaborated with TRADOC to create this as our first QAO course for the entire 80th command. TRADOC provided us with an outstanding team of instructors who helped us with teaching various blocks of instruction."

As one of the TRADOC instructors for the QAO course, Sgt.Maj. Glenda Schan also serves as the quality assurance evaluator at the TRADOC Quality Assurance Office. She hopes that the students take away from this course an understanding of their role as quality assurance evaluators for their specific units. "I want them to understand the processes that will help their units be successful," said Schan.

When Capt. Tanny Retz was hired at the United States Army Reserve Command in July 2015, he was tasked with developing and implementing USARC's Quality Assurance Officer and Staff and Faculty Development programs. He and Lt. Col. Carmen Mousel, chief of Individual Training Operations Branch for USARC, attended the 80th TC's first QAO course. Retz explained that USARC's role is to focus on quality assurance policies and procedures. "We want to ensure all training commands, including the 80th, have the resources to perform their duties as Quality Assurance Evaluators and to set up their own Quality Assurance Offices," said Retz.

To attend this QAO course, there is no rank requirement. However, Ramey explained anyone wanting to attend would be interviewed on an individual basis. "We want to talk with you, if you're interested in becoming a QAO, so we can assess your background, skills set and personality," said Ramey. "We want to be sure you're a good fit for this additional duty."

Because the 80th trains Active, Reserve and National Guard components, providing this QAO training benefits the entire Army. Assigned to the 94th Training Division, Master Sgt. Rochelle Einjel Uyehara said she can see the benefits of her new role as a QAO. She will help the division and its downtrace units in accreditation for their training. "My mission, as a QAO, is to support our units and help set them up for success," said Uyehara.

As a quality assurance professional, this training also has a positive impact on the civilian side. According to Ramey, military experiences make the soldier valuable to his or her civilian employer. "You've had other life experiences that have brought you to this quality assurance training, such as being a training NCO or instructor," Ramey said. "By the processes that you use in quality assurance, you can apply these same methods in your civilian profession. With this QAO training, you will gain valuable skills, like knowing how to brief your supervisor and understanding training in the civilian sector."

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Darlington, the command sergeant major of the 80th TC, explained that the ultimate benefit is to "ensure our soldiers across the nation and around the world receive the first class training they deserve to make our Army better, now and in the future." He emphasized that these QAO soldiers are the commanders' eyes and ears to ensure adherence to the highest standards of training and providing the best educational opportunities. "These soldiers graduating today as QAOs are a vital part of this training," said Darlington.