KUWAIT - The first line of the Army noncommissioned officer's creed says, "No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers."

In order to attain the rank of a noncommissioned officer, Soldiers must attend the Basic Leader's Course, where they learn the fundamentals of leadership, readiness and training.

U.S. Soldiers in the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team have been able to attend the Basic Leaders Course while deployed in the Middle East, thanks to U.S. Army Central that hosts a class nearly every month.

"We want to ensure our Soldiers do not fall behind during deployment on their professional military education," said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Elmer Harmon, the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team's senior enlisted adviser. "There are approximately 200 seats, of which we can send about 20 Soldiers every month."

At a graduation ceremony of BLC on Friday, 26 Old Hickory Soldiers completed the course, with seven Soldiers achieving the commandant's list, including the distinguished honor graduate and commandant's writing award winner.

"At BLC, they learn the skills to be a first-line supervisor and to train Soldiers," said Harmon. "It's the first step to becoming an NCO; to teach, coach and mentor."

U.S. Army Spc. Emilee Austin with the 1-150th Cavalry Regiment, West Virginia National Guard, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, was the distinguished honor graduate and recipient of the commandants writing award. She said that one of the advantages to attending BLC while deployed is that Soldiers are already away from home and in the same environment.

"We were able to bond more as a class because we were all going through the same things," said Austin. "Having a support system is a big factor, which we had from our units and from one another."

The course also teaches Soldiers the fundamentals of training, including physical readiness. Austin also said that being proficient in Physical Readiness Training is important when attending the course.

"Have all of the exercises from start to finish memorized and make sure you are doing everything properly," said Austin. "It's all goes back to attention to detail."

Harmon said that one of the biggest advantages for today's Soldiers preparing for leadership courses is access to information and the regulations through technology. He said they have the ability to research and study on the internet at all times through their cell phones.

Aside from the access to mobile technology, the soon-to-be-NCOs also benefitted from strong leaders and instructors.

Austin said that her classmates had outstanding small group leaders who facilitated the instruction and shared lessons from their own experiences. She added it was also beneficial to hear from her peers and their experiences.

"One of our instructors told us, 'don't become what your unit is, become what your unit can be,'" said Austin. "Take what you learn from BLC and apply it back at your unit and be ready to make a change to be better."

Harmon said the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team Soldiers traditionally perform well at schools because as National Guard Soldiers, many have unique skills and roles as civilians, such as law enforcement, college, or in business.

"Our Soldiers have job experiences, and in some cases, years being supervisors, educators or employees that enhances their leadership and knowledge," said Harmon. "That's the benefit the National Guard brings to the services."

The 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team is comprised of National Guard Soldiers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia and Washington, deployed for Operation Spartan Shield.