FORT BLISS, Texas – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence updated the curriculum for the Basic Leader Course, the first professional military education program given to Soldiers in the ranks of corporal and specialist. The new material, which rolled out to the force in October, contains nine lessons covering topics including the Army Body Composition Program, financial readiness, talent management, sexual harassment, and equal opportunity.
The change in curriculum marks the second time in five years BLC underwent improvements, a result of the NCO 2020 Strategy calling for the overhaul of the entire NCO Professional Education System.
“The major trigger for BLC 2.0 was that [Sergeant Major of the Army] Michael Grinston wanted to ensure the success of Soldiers by granting a certificate in the realm of fitness to students graduating from BLC,” William Ogletree, director of Curriculum Development Directorate, said. “We have Soldiers who do physical training all the time and attend leadership schools, but they get out of the Army and can’t get a job at a [civilian] gym.”
Forty hours of instruction related to physical fitness were added to BLC 2.0, and successful completion of the course results in the Soldier receiving a Department of Army Tactical Fitness Trainer certification along with the BLC academic evaluation report.
“This is something we can do to recognize that these Soldiers have been through a total-concept physical fitness curriculum that includes lesson plans on the Army Body Composition Program, Holistic Health and Fitness and nutrition readiness among others,” Ogletree said. “We are hopeful that by doing so, the Army can support any efforts a Soldier might have for civilian credentialing in the future.”
While a primary focus of BLC 2.0 is on physical fitness, other lesson have been included, or updated, to reflect the Army’s need for well-rounded NCOs.
“Even before the [Department of Defense] commissioned a board to determine how [the Army] ensures diversity and inclusion throughout our formations, we were already working with the Equal Opportunity Training Proponent and [Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program] academy to determine how best to deliver material through our curriculum,” Sgt. Maj. Christopher West, BLC course manager, said. “Our financial management curriculum also helps Soldiers become more aware of available resources, and gives leaders the tools they need to avoid financial hardships and increase operational readiness.”
West noted enlisted leaders must be involved in preparing their Soldiers for BLC 2.0 by knowing the new curriculum, which is available on the NCO Worldwide website.
“Squad and platoon leadership need to march their Soldiers and prepare them for the drill and ceremony portion of the course,” he said. “Upfront training by the Soldier’s leaders will all tie to some aspect of BLC. Allowing a Soldier to lead a PT session, a class, or a formation, for example, will better prepare him or her for BLC.”
Since the onset of BLC 2.0, all classes have been held in a virtual environment due to coronavirus safety precautions. The authorization by the Army to use a civilian .com website to deliver the course to the active duty component has worked remarkably well, West said, hoping to offer the same platform to the Reserves and National Guard courses in the near future.
Currently, the NCOLCoE is on its third BLC 2.0 active duty cohort. The Army Reserves, National Guard, and all 32 of the NCO Academies worldwide began offering BLC 2.0 at the start of 2021.
For more information on the Basic Leader Course 2.0, visit www.ncoworldwide.army.mil.
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence is an accredited academic institution aligned under the Army University and the Combined Arms Command, and is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education – Introductory, Primary, Intermediate, Senior and Executive. Previously known as the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, the NCOLCoE expanded its mission to include instruction for other programs such NCO Battle Staff, Commandants Pre-Command Course, Spouse Leadership Development Course and the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program. For more information on the NCOLCoE, visit www.ncolcoe.army.mil