A group of 29 command sergeants major and sergeants major representing the Combined Arms Center's centers of excellence and schools gathered at Fort Leavenworth Feb. 5 and 6 for the CAC CSM Forum.

The two-day forum gave the senior noncommissioned officers the opportunity to discuss all levels of enlisted education in the Army, from basic combat training for newly enlisted soldiers to the higher level leadership courses.

The forum was hosted by CAC Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Dostie. Dostie said he wanted the group to be able to come together in one place and be able to have an honest dialogue about the successes and challenges at each of their schools.

"There was some good sharing going on," Dostie said.

Because the COEs and schools that fall under CAC are spread across the country, many of the CSMs attending the forum had never met in person, only online or during a videoteleconference. Dostie said having them come together and make connections opens the lines of communication between them.

"This should initiate that cross talk," Dostie said. "So later, when we have the VTCs, they will be more likely to talk to each other."

Cyber School Command Sgt. Maj. Julie Guerra said coming together and being able to put faces to names helps her know who to reach out to with specific issues.

"The networking we are able to do in the social setting and in this forum is invaluable," Guerra said.
During the two days the CSMs discussed a wide range of topics. Some of the topics, like new uniforms and continuing education, applied to all the schools and COEs. Attendees were also able to bring up challenges and successes specific to their schools and locations.

One of the topics affecting all the COEs that was discussed more than once during the forum was the new Army Combat Fitness Test. The ACFT is currently being adopted across the Army and will become the new fitness test of record in late 2020.

Guerra said it was helpful to know that everyone is going through the same challenges implementing the ACFT.

"It's good to hear that you're not alone," Guerra said.

The group participated in organized physical training early on the second day of the forum. Set up circuit training style, the PT was focused on exercises developed to prepare soldiers for the new ACFT. Dostie said he wanted to bring the group together for PT because it was an opportunity for team building and because it gave everyone an opportunity to check the exercises out personally.

"During the rollout of the ACFT, we need to be involved in the communication of it and understand it," Dostie said.

Dostie said he believes the forum was a success and he was pleased with everyone's level of participation. He said there is value in the forum and that CAC doesn't have a date set but CAC intends to host one again in the future.