NCOs Stay Close, While Physically Distant
Written by Sgt. Andrew Mallett
Innovative leaders in the Army will always find ways to reach their soldiers, even in the face of a pandemic. Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Johnson, the noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of the Sensor Management Cell, assigned to the 11th Missile Defense Battery (MDB), 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, makes videos to continue to train soldiers during COVID-19 pandemic at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
“We started making the videos as a way to stay connected with our soldiers after the COVID-19 pandemic started.” Johnson said. “My Soldiers have a 24/7/365 mission, so teleworking was an impractical option for us.”
The leadership of 11th MDB had to innovate and come up with new ways to reach their soldiers, Johnson said. Face-to-face interaction became limited.
Johnson and his fellow soldiers have made multiple Youtube videos to include topics such as sports nutrition, mobility, and physical fitness programming for the Army Combat FItness Test (ACFT). They make the videos short to keep the soldiers engaged and easy to watch on-the-go.
They range from 4-8 minutes long for physical training videos, and 10-12 minutes for the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development (NCOPD) videos.
The ACFT is going to be replacing the Army Physical Fitness Test effective October 1, 2020. The Army has been testing and making improvements to the events for the last few years and Soldiers have needed to adjust their training accordingly.
Initially, the videos were produced for the soldiers of his unit, Johnson explained. As they began to gain popularity he was contacted by soldiers from other units and made a decision to get the awareness of reaching out to soldiers more readily available. Johnson wanted to make them as accessible as possible to anyone that may want to improve both professionally and with their personal fitness goals.
Johnson has received a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science in 2019, is an Army Master Fitness Trainer and passed the ACFT NCOIC course. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Athletic Development Management.
“I have been very fortunate to be in a profession where I can use my degree,” Johnson said. “I also think it is very important the Army gets a return on their investment. If they are going to spend money to send me to schools, it would be unfair for me to hide out and not utilize my knowledge to improve the organization.”
Studies have shown that strength and mobility training leads to far less injuries, Johnson said. There is also a factor of mental toughness that is built when taking your body past its limits. The sense of accomplishment can work wonders for mental health as well.
With the success of their digital training videos, there are plans for Johnson and his fellow Soldiers to produce a video every month in the future. They are working on the script and are optimistic of the outcome.
“Being good at physical training alone does not make you a good leader,” Johnson said. “However, it gives you one less thing to worry about if you know you can pass yourself. You can use your time to help your Soldiers get prepared and that is what makes a good leader. Lifelong fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Sgt. 1st Class Johnson's videos can be found at the links below: