Officers attending Basic Officer Leaders Course-B and Captains Career Courses are getting the opportunity to jump-start their self-development with a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command initiative called “Project Athena.”
Project Athena, named for the Greek goddess of war and signifying wisdom and learning, is a leader development program designed to inform and motivate Soldiers to embrace personal and professional self-development. These assessments are intended to serve Soldiers throughout their career and over the next year will extend to noncommissioned officer, warrant officer and Civilian Education System courses at all levels of professional military education.
Specific assessments vary based on the level of PME. Trained proctors at the Centers of Excellence are currently delivering a series of introductory assessments to BOLC-B students. Assessments tapping into more advanced capabilities are given progressively to CCC and later to other more senior military students in the Command and General Staff Officers’ Course.
Mission Command Center of Excellence Director Brig. Gen. Charles Masaracchia is spearheading the program for TRADOC and the Combined Arms Center. “Leaders need to ask themselves three questions: 'Am I as good as I want to be, or need to be, to lead Soldiers? Am I willing to honestly answer an assessment about who I am right now? Am I willing to put in the effort to improve?' If the answer is ‘I’m not as good as I need to be,’ then Athena can help.”
As an example, BOLC-B students execute the following assessments during the program of instruction: Nelson Denny Reading Test, Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Service, Social Awareness and Influence Self-Assessment, Self-Assessment Individual Difference - Inventory (SAID-I), Army Critical Thinking Test, and a Leader 180 (self and peer assessment). In contrast, CCC students conduct a full Leader 360 (includes self, peer and superior assessments), Social Skills Inventory, Individual Adaptability, SAID-I, and the Military and Defense Critical Thinking Test and Inventory.
Staff and faculty are then made available to interpret the results and provide feedback to the individual, upon request. This feedback, a crucial component of the program, will help students gain self-awareness, learn where they need improvement and guide them in the creation of a self-development plan.
Hundreds of learning resources, tied to each assessment and the areas assessed, are available at no cost to the individual. Armed with this information, Soldiers can begin the self-development process immediately and proceed at their own pace.
“Athena takes a comprehensive view of what Soldiers and leaders need to be able to do and the ways they can improve,” said Col. Samuel Saine, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Leadership. “Better self-awareness allows individuals to make better choices about what they do – with tangible feedback, they can quickly take action to address how they lead, communicate, think, and interact with others.”
Athena assessments began in July 2020 and CAPL and the CoEs are continuously reviewing the program’s execution and making adjustments as necessary. All students in the remainder of the CCCs and in CGSOC will begin using Athena assessments in early 2021.
“Leaders that answer their assessments openly and honestly, will benefit the most,” said Saine. “They can continue to evaluate feedback and adjust their personalized programs throughout their careers. The intent is to fuel a lifelong commitment to self-development and improvement. If we’ve accomplished that, we’ve met our goal.”