By Mr. Patrick K Hodges (Fort Knox news)November 7, 2018
About 100 protocol practitioners from across the Army convened at Fort Knox's Palma Hall Nov. 7 to attend the Army Protocol Fundamentals Seminar.
In the three years the Army has offered this training, which is hosted at various installations eight times annually, this was the first time it was offered at Fort Knox.
Attendees learned about a wide variety of topics, to include event coordination; invitation structure; funding; precedence and seating; event sequencing; and official gift rules and regulations.
Fort Knox Deputy Executive Services Chief Mick Chiara, who also served as one of the event's organizers, stressed the seminar's importance.
"The course provides the basics of Army protocol that every protocol officer in the Army should know. It's a vital course for those serving in our field, and I think it's a privilege to host it here at Fort Knox," Chiara said.
Executive services officers as well as those who assist with protocol matters as an additional duty took part in the training. According to Headquarters, Department of the Army Protocol Program Training Manager Elizabeth Simpson, who serves as the sole instructor for the seminar, only about five percent of course attendees are actually protocol officers.
The course serves as a protocol basics course for those new to the profession as well as a refresher for seasoned professionals. Simpson said, in her opinion the primary benefit of the seminar is to achieve uniformity.
"We're trying to get everyone on the same page about flag lines, ceremonies and seating -- those are probably the three hottest topics," Simpson said. "Everyone is coming from another installation where they used to do something a different way or their commanding general wanted something done a certain way and, unfortunately, that just carries on bad traditions from one installation to the next. We are fighting against that and trying to create a standard."
Seminar attendee Mark Burton, a plans and operations specialist with U.S. Army Financial Management Command, in Indianapolis, said he thought networking as well as the standardization of protocol was helpful.
"The opportunity to network is the best. Now, if I have a question that's not in the book or in today's training, I know who to reach out to and discuss what I'm doing," Burton said. "I'm retired military and I've worked protocol for events in the past, and it's always different everywhere you go. I like the concept of it being uniform and coming from HQDA on down."
While Simpson said she will continue to travel around the country to ensure protocol professionals everywhere have an opportunity to attend the course, she will use Fort Knox as a future venue.
"We're always going to rotate because we need to reach as many people as possible, but this is a very central location as indicated by the size of this class," she said. "I would definitely come back. As long as I advertise it far enough in advance, people will fly here."
Chiara said he hopes to be able to offer this training at Fort Knox every two years.