Earlier this year, nominative command sergeants major and sergeants major across the Total Army developed the definition for the term multifunctional NCO. In the end, it was agreed a multifunctional NCO is a senior noncommissioned officer who possesses broad experience and can fulfill several functions or roles in the logistical discipline.
The need for this definition stems from our enabling responsibilities as a sustainment enterprise in the push toward the Army of 2030. I had the privilege last year to participate in and listen to several sustainment forums and Army senior leader discussions regarding the importance of developing an agile and adaptive force for the future. From the start of those discussions, the importance of developing multifunctional NCOs for large-scale combat operations (LSCO) became abundantly clear. Lt. Gen. Charles Hamilton, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4, and I agree the Army enables its total readiness by putting its people first, and this extends across the service’s backbone — its NCOs. Continued investments in tailored leader development programming and education will ensure our sustainment NCO corps is postured to persistently meet the needs of our Army’s warfighters in the complex and evolving environment of future warfare across domains. With this in mind, I believe it is important to develop this further by defining and messaging what the term multifunctional truly means to the NCO cohort.
As the G-4’s sergeant major for two and half years, I learned an immense amount of information about the Total Army Analysis (TAA) process. TAA is commonly referred to as the Army’s pacing process that takes us from the Army of today to the Army of the future. The TAA process makes it clear the Army’s force structure is ever evolving. For the sustainment community, this dynamic requires decision makers to anticipate requirements for where adjustments to force structure may be required. Changes to our force structure present an opportunity for the sustainment community to ensure we are resilient to shifts that may alter how we deliver critical sustainment support.
By establishing a culture of multifunctional NCOs throughout the Army, we will develop the expeditionary and operational mindset required to sustain the force to fight and win in combat. Similarly, multifunctional NCOs must be critical thinkers who possess and display the requisite knowledge, skills, behaviors, experiences, and, most importantly, desire to serve in positions that extend beyond their traditionally assigned military occupational specialty (MOS) positions.
I’ve always given NCOs the following advice: get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This boils down to NCOs being able and willing to serve in positions of greater responsibility and scope. Positions like drill sergeant, recruiter, NCO Professional Development System instructor, or observer/coach/trainer are great examples. These positions provide an opportunity for NCOs to excel, gain confidence, leverage untapped potential, and develop areas of expertise to access later in their careers. Among many other benefits, experiences gained in the force-generating domain help an NCO build upon foundational knowledge, ensuring they become a subject matter expert in their given field. Upon completing the aforementioned broadening assignments, successful multifunctional NCOs compete to serve in MOS immaterial positions, such as operations, support operations, or as logistics NCOs within a battalion, brigade, division, or corps level staff.
A strong grasp and understanding of Army doctrine are foundational to the success of a multifunctional NCO. Understanding Army Doctrine Publication 4-0, Sustainment, is vital to understanding the fundamentals central to setting the joint strategic support area. By familiarizing yourself with doctrine, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge necessary to fully operationalize the principles of sustainment: integration, anticipation, responsiveness, simplicity, economy, survivability, continuity, and improvisation. Additionally, through a series of scheduled career assessments, adept multifunctional NCOs display the attributes attained from learning the sustainment and NCO common core competencies (CCCs). By design, the CCCs are woven into the Logistics NCO Academy program of instruction to be progressive, sequential, and designed to develop multifunctional NCOs who are successful regardless of the position in which they serve.
The education attained through the professional military education system, coupled with varying operational experiences across MOSs, will build and continually develop the pedigree of high-performing NCOs capable of fighting and winning in LSCO across all domains.
Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers currently serves as the Command Sergeant Major of Army Materiel Command. He graduated from all levels of the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development System, culminating with the Nominative Leaders Course. He has a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is also a graduate of the Force Management Course, Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education Course, and Legal Orientation Course.
This article was published in the Winter 23 issue of Army Sustainment.