About 20 USASAC employees and members of the command's Mentorship Program have toured one of the nation's most famous small towns during a staff ride.

Personnel visited each battle site in Gettysburg National Military Park and presented briefings on pre-assigned Civil War characters at each location.

USASAC supply technician and mentee Bruce Franze showcased his knowledge of the Gettysburg campaign and leadership skills by representing three Confederate generals, providing insight and anecdotes to put in perspective his characters' role in the Civil War's bloodiest battle.

While he enjoyed the camaraderie and learned a lot about one of our nation's most pivotal battles, Franze said the real advantage of the staff ride was his ability to network and be mentored by senior management.

USASAC G4 Services and Products Division Chief Jewel "Ann" Scott said, like the staff ride, all of the Mentorship Program's events are designed to develop civilian personnel while improving their knowledge of the Army and the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command.

"The Mentorship Program provides opportunities for experienced leaders and security assistance managers to mentor employees who are dedicated to the Army and the security assistance mission," she said. "Mentors guide and prepare mentees to transition to levels of greater responsibility and to become mentors themselves while engaging in career management and professional development."

Mentees improve their communication and planning skills, while building confidence and having access to "senior leaders who aren't in their chain of command," Scott said.

Mentee Frank Swanson, a logistics management specialist, said he joined the program to grow professionally and learn from senior colleagues in his career field. He said what he has learned so far has been helpful.

"I've obtained a broader understanding of the logistics field and I've learned about some changes that are taking place within the organization," Swanson said. "I would recommend this program for anyone who wants to advance their careers, to find out what programs are out there to help them with the challenges we face working for the Army."

Scott said the Army heavily promotes mentorship.

"But in my 35-plus ears of federal service, I've seen only a few formal mentor programs where there is structure, coordinated events and an expectation that mentors and mentees will have real opportunities to learn and grow, and do more than occasionally chat," she said.

A staunch advocate for mentoring programs, Scott said she is pleased with the program's progress so far and can already see growth in those participating. She hopes formal mentoring programs throughout the Army will continue to expand, but in the meantime she's looking forward to growing the USASAC program.

"Mentor relationships are built on rapport and trust in ways that other training programs generally are not," Scott said. "When a mentor and mentee have established rapport and trust, mentees often feel comfortable discussing things with a mentor that they would not necessarily discuss with a supervisor or trainer, so it allows them to get below the surface of issues in ways that many other relationships do not."

Scott described mentorship as one of the easiest and least costly, yet most effective ways to develop a professional workforce.

USASAC's recently launched New Cumberland-based mentorship program is part of the command's FY '17 Training and Leader Development Guidance.

The organization's Command Sgt. Maj. Gene Canada, who attended the staff ride, called this and other leader development opportunities vital to USASAC and to the Army, "because the success of individual team members has a direct impact on the success of our mission."

"We are all Army professionals, regardless of the uniform or suit we wear," Canada noted. He urged civilian employees to participate in mentorship, and he urged directors and supervisors to encourage it.

"Because at the end of the day, it is our civilian workforce, serving alongside our service members in theaters all over the globe, who are providing the consistency, subject matter expertise and support that will bring mission success."