Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston visited Fort Hood, Texas, to talk to Soldiers, discuss the pilot “This is My Squad” app, and to tour the People First Center here Oct. 27-28.
During three sensing sessions of varying ranks from across post, Grinston said he heard a lot of positive things happening across the installation.
“I heard a lot of, “Our NCOs care about us,’" Grinston said, adding he also heard Soldiers saying, "Our leaders care, they want to be engaged, the want to know about us, they actually do care.”
Grinston talked with roughly 20 troops in three groups for 90 minutes. Along with Soldiers expressing that they see their leaders caring for them genuinely, one theme which resonated related to time.
“What I hear we do still need to improve on is time management and training management,” he said.
One way to help with time and training management is a novel application Grinston was at Fort Hood to see and test. The ‘app’ is centered on the “This is My Squad” initiative
“We started that app at Fort Hood, and looking at a squad leader, that squad leader has an application that helps them manage their time,” Grinston said. “It comes with a chat room and the leader can say ‘here is the task for the day’ and assign those to Soldiers.”
Twenty Soldiers from 3d Cavalry Regiment piloted the new app. The goal of the application is to help provide technical tools as another way for Soldiers to build cohesive teams, expand education opportunities, manage time, and to become better leaders.
“The functionality and intent behind the application I really enjoy,” said Staff Sgt. Hunter Cozart, cavalry scout, 3d Cavalry Regiment. “It's really easy for information to get lost or forgotten, but with this application, I really like how everything is consolidated into one space.”
The TIMS application has been in pilot for around 90 days, and one of Grinston’s goals at Fort Hood was to get much-needed Soldier feedback.
“I like the fact that we were in direct communication with the team developing the application, and they considered all of our complaints,” said Staff Sgt. Kerry Cartwright, cavalry scout, 3d Cav. Regt. “The developers listened to us and actually added those useful links as features.”
In addition to visiting Soldiers and discussing the application, Grinston toured Fort Hood's People First Center to learn about the tools, resources, and the processes at the center.
The People First Center focuses on creating a supportive environment for leaders and Soldiers. Soldiers train on how to prevent sexual harassment and how to notice when things are different with their Soldiers so they can intervene to prevent suicidal ideations, for instance. Additionally, Soldiers get a chance to bond as squads, platoons, and companies while learning more about each other as individuals.
Grinston spoke to leading experts and trainers at the center, those who work in specialties such as the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program, the Army Substance Abuse Program, equal opportunity, suicide prevention, master resiliency training, spirituality, and the Family Advocacy Program.
“I want to have an honest discussion,” Grinston told the experts.
Discussion focused on incorporating physical training into the curriculum, and ensuring the staff at the center had a way to measure success. Additionally, he left the People First Center chain of command with questions to consider regarding the growth and future of the center.
Following Grinston’s visit he traveled to Army Futures Command in Austin to bring forward questions and feedback regarding the TIMS application testing.