FORT STEWART, Ga. - The Noncommissioned Officer Education System is a key component in the training of NCOs. The Warrior Leaders Course, Basic NCO Course, and Advance NCO Course are requirementS for all NCOs as they get promoted.

Noncommissioned Officers are used to having to attend resident courses an NCO Academy to complete these courses when it is time. The times are changing though, no longer will sergeants and staff sergeants attending BNCOC phase 1 have to go to the NCO academy for their course.

The BNCOC phase 1 is transitioning to online courses only. The current class at Fort Stewart, which graduates Oct. 1, will be the last BNCOC phase 1 class held by the NCO Academy.

"BNCOC phase 1 is just a refresher from WLC," explained Sgt. 1st Class Roman Manzano, the BNCOC chief for the Fort Stewart NCO Academy. "They go over the same curriculum. The only difference is that in BNCOC phase 1 students take written exams, where as in WLC the testing is more hands-on demonstration of the task."

Some of the instructors do not think that the change to a self-paced online course is necessarily for the better.

"I think there will be a negative impact," said Staff Sgt. Duntrail Kelly, an assistant instructor for BNCOC phase 1. "When you are sitting in a classroom and you don't understand, there are 15 other people you can lean on. Online, it's just you. It's going to hurt the students."

Less student interaction and no instructor to go to when you have a problem is also an issue in student's eyes. Sergeant Toby Colon, a personnel NCO with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, voiced his opinion on the topic.

Sergeant Colon said the online course is slower paced, and students don't get the interaction that the would in the classroom. He fears that, with an online course, you won't get the opportunity to work with Soldiers from other units and installations that you do in the classroom.

As for the instructors currently teaching BNCOC here at Fort Stewart, their teaching jobs are complete.

Many of the instructors have been here for quite a while, said Sgt. 1st Class Manzano. They will either PCS to new duty stations or be transitioned back into the units here at Fort Stewart.

Whether the change to online coursework is a good decision or a bad one, only time will tell. Regardless of the outcome, NCOs will continue to be the backbone of the Army and leaders of tomorrow's NCO Corps.