WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 28, 2009) -- Noncommissioned officers are communicating about issues ranging from combat operations to physical fitness - all on one internet forum developed by the Army.

The forum, called NCO Net, is meant to make it easier for NCOs to share information, ideas and best practices among other NCOs.

"NCO Net bridges the knowledge gap by allowing Soldiers to pass down institutional knowledge," said forum manager Joseph Pearson during a May 28 conference call with military bloggers.

NCO Net is part of a larger program called the Battle Command Knowledge System, which was developed in 2004 to foster collaboration between Soldiers.

"I can't understate the importance of NCO Net and knowledge sharing platforms," said Col. Charles Burnett, director of the BCKS. "It allows a Soldier to expand his collective base of peers to hundreds or thousands."

The forum's popularity has steadily increased since 2004. There are currently more than 38,000 registered members on NCO Net and 130,000 on BCKS.

"The members we have want to give back and contribute," said Pearson, a retired sergeant major. "One of our obstacles is some NCOs assume their peers already have access to the information, but that's not always the case."

Pearson said the objective is to create a community of members of both junior and senior enlisted Soldiers.

"We are all mentors and subject matter experts in some area," explained Pearson. "So we want to draw in those individuals so they can share their experiences with younger NCOs."

Members pose questions, post news and engage in dialog about any issue that affects the lives of an NCOs.

Topics range from combat operations to the proper way to fill out paperwork.

One of the forum facilitators, Colin Caspers, a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve, said his involvement with NCO Net has been beneficial for his own development.

"It has certainly helped me grow as an NCO," said Caspers. "Training time can be limited for Guardsmen and Reservists so there can be a steep learning curve and the forum can help."

Caspers added that one of the advantages of NCO Net is the freedom to ask a question on any topic.

"Don't be afraid to ask a question if you're short on information," said Caspers. "Reach out to NCOs who have been downrange, including junior enlisted who have combat experience."

Pearson said senior NCOs can leverage the forum to communicate about current issues, such as Year of the NCO initiatives. He added the forum encourages participation from retirees and other individuals with a connection to Soldier-related issues.

"You don't need to be an NCO to join," said Pearson. "The only requirement is members bring something to the table with issues that affect the lives of NCOs."

Pearson expects knowledge sharing platforms like NCO Net to increase in importance in the future.

"I see this as the next level of after action reviews for the Army because it reaches across the entire force and is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week," said Pearson.

Anyone with an AKO login is eligible to join the forum. To join, visit the AKO Web site link on the right side of the page and follow registration instructions.