FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Brig. Gen. Charles Masaracchia, director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., visited Fort Leonard Wood this week to speak with leaders and future leaders on the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command initiative called “Project Athena.”
Named for the Greek goddess of war and signifying wisdom and learning, Masaracchia said Project Athena is a leader development program designed to inform and motivate Soldiers to embrace personal and professional self-development. Masaracchia is spearheading the program for TRADOC and the Combined Arms Center.
“The ultimate goal is producing better leaders for our Soldiers,” he said. “(Project Athena) provides self-awareness by identifying strengths, weaknesses and blind spots for the individual. The more honest they are with themselves, the better the assessment feedback will be in the end.”
Students attending the Basic Officer Leader Course and Captains Career Course began taking Project Athena assessments earlier this year as part of their program of instruction. There are specific assessments based on the level of professional military education, Masaracchia said.
BOLC students are taking assessments such as the Nelson Denny Reading Test, Criterion Online Writing Evaluation Service, Social Awareness and Influence Self-Assessment, Self-Assessment Individual Difference - Inventory, the Army Critical Thinking Test, and a Leader 180 (self and peer assessment). Students in CCC 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.
Feedback is provided upon request, Masaracchia added.
“As we go through our careers, we need to understand who we are,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had a program that was this detailed. Especially starting with lieutenants, being repetitive in nature and with progressive complexity. We are now getting down into — not big, broad areas to work on — we’re talking about getting into sub-components, the very specific areas and understanding in what environments you might tend to show those weaknesses. When you understand that, you might be able to apply a strength to mitigate that.”
One of the attendees at a professional development event Tuesday at Lincoln Hall Auditorium was BOLC student 2nd Lt. Alexander Dewald, who’s been in the Army just a few months.
“It’s a progressive idea,” he said, referring to the focus on self-development. “It makes me very optimistic for the direction of the Army. One thing I’ve learned so far is that the Army definitely tests you and your weaknesses.”
Over the next year, Masaracchia said the goal is to extend Project Athena to noncommissioned officer, warrant officer and Civilian Education System courses at all levels of PME.