The 8th Theater Sustainment Command’s senior noncommissioned officers convened for the Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders conference at U.S. Army Pacific’s (USARPAC) headquarter building on Feb. 24, 2022 on Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
The conference included a renewed focus on training junior NCOs and soldiers, implementing predictability in training calendars, and role model development for junior soldiers.
The 8th TSC’s senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Graham, led the conference with some of the Army’s most senior enlisted leaders, and guest speakers Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Brzak, USARPAC’s senior enlisted advisor, and U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center Command Sgt. Maj. James Light.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Florek, an NCO from the Command Group Initiatives section, found the conference particularly useful. “[It] encompassed guest speakers from across the Army spectrum discussing current trends, initiatives, and priorities that the senior leader audience from across our organization were able to easily absorb to take back and implement throughout their formations.”
Graham stated that mentorship is essential to soldier development.
“Our institution requires senior NCOs to teach, coach, and train the junior NCOs and soldiers,” said Graham. “My inspiration for hosting the conference was to ensure the 8TSC senior NCOs are aware of the guidance and expectations of not only the USARPAC command sergeant major, but from sergeants major across the Army.”
This conference focused on preparing leaders across the command’s formation for ever-changing Army policies. Senior NCOs’ provide a broad base of experiences and apply lessons learned to best lead and train their subordinate NCOs and soldiers.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Brzak stated it well, our primary responsibility as senior leaders is the training and development of our junior Soldiers,” said Graham. “We must return to the fundamentals of training and development of our subordinates. These proven fundamentals are at the core of taking care of soldiers.”
With a focus on training comes a responsibility for senior NCOs to provide effective, planned training to improve predictability within their formations.
“We must commit ourselves to constantly improve training,” Graham points out. “If training is scheduled, properly resourced, vigorously rehearsed, and expertly executed in accordance with doctrine, we will produce soldiers that are proficient in their battle skills and progress quickly through the gates of untrained, practiced, and eventually trained to meet their mission requirements.”
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Command Sgt. Maj. James Light used his time as a guest speaker during the conference to stress that taking care of soldiers is not limited to an NCO’s interactions during duty hours. Light not only provided data on issues impacting the Army’s readiness as a whole, but asked those in attendance to ask themselves what they could do to influence soldiers’ behavior and decision-making in their free time.
“NCOs must set the example by being role models for soldiers to emulate,” said Graham. “If soldiers see, through word and deed, that we genuinely care about their welfare and development, it leads to improved morale, increased productivity, a disciplined formation, and overall mission accomplishment.”
Graham stated that this conference inspired him to empower NCOs throughout the 8TSC and the Army.
“This conference was built upon the premise that every senior NCO is empowered to coach, teach, mentor, train, and develop our junior soldiers,” said Graham. “That responsibility and authority has never wavered and is the core responsibility of the NCO Corps. As we build and implement the tenants of ‘This is My Squad’ across our formations, it is imperative we return to the battle-tested basic fundamentals of training, and all it embodies. These battle-tested fundamental are proven and are the foundation of what has produced the greatest fighting force.”
While this conference was the first convened under Graham’s tenure, it is far from the last. 8TSC is planning another conference for the third quarter of Fiscal year 2022.