The Command Sergeant Major of the Adjutant General School visited Fort Knox’s Olive Theater recently to meet with Soldiers, discuss changes to the school, and encourage participation in available programs as part of leadership professional development.
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert H. Atkinson, Jr. was invited by the 1st Theater Sustainment Command leadership, and the program was open to all members of the Adjutant General Corps working at Fort Knox.
Atkinson has served in the Army for 27 years, “because I absolutely love it,” he said. One of his first messages was that relationships matter. He shared that his first leader was Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Hickman who now serves as the chief warrant officer of the branch.
The AG school’s mission is to train, educate, and develop adaptive total force human resource professionals and musicians; and to develop and integrate Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities and Policy solutions to enable large scale combat operations.
During the course of the 90-minute LPD, Atkinson highlighted changes and noted that the new structure will increase the rigor and the knowledge base for HR professionals starting with Advanced Individual Training. One of those changes will include HR professionals now going to the field during AIT.
Atkinson shared opportunities for Soldiers in all ranks to earn credentials while serving as Army HR professionals. He encouraged participation in programs to enhance knowledge and make Soldiers more competitive, both in the Army and after service in the civilian job market. He urged leaders to continue to push these programs to enhance our organizations.
He described the Army’s credentialing program beginning with junior enlisted Soldiers with zero to six years of experience. They can earn an associate Professional in HR credential.
Mid-career Soldiers with four to 10 years of experience can earn a Professional in HR credential. While a career Soldier with 10 plus years of experience has the opportunity to earn a Senior Professional in HR credential. Atkinson stressed that having these credentials makes Soldiers more marketable.
Other credentialing opportunities available are the Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Office Specialist Expert, and Microsoft Office Specialist Master. Soldiers can earn certification promotion points too.
There is also a project management certification. Soldiers can become a Certified Associate in Project Management from the Project Management Institute.
Atkinson, who’s been in his current role for a little over a year, said that he would also like to see an increase in senior noncommissioned officer and officer participation in programs, such as the Training with Industry initiative.
This program is designed to provide a year-long, hands-on experience where professionals learn HR practices and concepts in an industrial operation or business setting to expose them to best practices and tools in corporate America. They develop professionally, and take this knowledge back to their units and the Army.
Some of the large corporations currently participating in the TWI program include: United Airlines, Navigant, UPS, The Walt Disney Company, Wells Fargo, and HR Certification Institute.
Atkinson also highlighted some of the tools the field should be using to maintain individual and unit readiness. The Central Army Registry is one of the most important tools that he wants HR professionals to use. “It contains all of your collective training, and it is always up to date.” He said. The CAR is available at https://rdl.train.army.mil.
Atkinson encouraged Soldiers to distinguish themselves above their peers. “Submit that achievement for an award,” he said.
Atkinson said our profession is about taking care of Soldiers. He said that, “Taking care of Soldiers is all about leadership.”
Atkinson ended his presentation talking about three corrosives that we need to rid out of the Army. Suicide was the first. He said that we are losing Soldiers at an alarming rate.
The second corrosive is sexual assault and sexual harassment. He encouraged leaders to step up if Soldiers aren’t adhering to policies in place.
Finally, he discussed that there is no place for extremism and racism in the Army. “We need to get our arms around that one, leaders,” he said.
He urged all present to “have the courage to speak up.” He said, “We cannot ignore it. If one leader ignores it, take it to the next leader. If that leader ignores it, take it to the next leader. We need to act on it so that it does not impact our readiness. We can eradicate it from our force.”
While there were many points to take away from his presentation, Atkinson was very clear about his perception of Soldiers and their abilities to progress and control their careers.
“There is nothing in the Army that you can’t do. Don’t let your MOS, gender, or race hold you back from whatever your potential is; but you have to do the work,” he said. “Nothing will hold you back, except you.”