NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Sept. 14, 2010) - Company commanders, first sergeants, drill sergeants, and platoon sergeants gathered for the Initial Entry Training Leadership Forum September 8 through 10 in Newport News, Va. to address issues and provide an opportunity to share insight into their units.

Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling, deputy commanding general for Initial Military Training, opened the floor for young leaders to speak on their successes, challenges and ideas for the future.

"You all have some pretty good ideas. Sometimes when you are working in your organization, from [physical training] to tactical policy, these are the things you need to talk about," he said.

Sessions of the forum featured presentations from subject matter experts in areas such as Army Physical Readiness Training, TRADOC Regulation 350-6: Enlisted Initial Entry Training Policies and Administration, adult learning models, and social networking.

"We need to have the folks closest to the spear discuss these topics," said Hertling. "You are the Soldiers from the training base and know what's going on. It's up to you to share your ideas and take something back with you when you leave."

Hertling reemphasized the need for lessons learned and assigned homework to the Soldiers. "At the end of three days compare notes with each other and I expect you to come out with more polish as a leader," he said.

Frank Palkoska, director of U.S. Army Physical Fitness School, provided a pocket-sized, quick-reference guide to Training Circular 3-22.20, Army Physical Readiness Training, as an example of what to give to incoming soldiers to aid in physical training techniques. Discussions focused on overall army fitness strategy, the doctrine that guides training, and how to better prepare Soldiers physically for the current operating environment.

TRADOC Regulation 350-6 is currently being revised. This regulation, applying to all Army, prescribes guidance, policies and procedures for managing and conducting enlisted IET. Working groups were formed to provide a holistic review of the regulation to address changes and make improvements.

"The updated information and changes to 350-6 and the new PRT are just a few things I will take back to my organization and make sure that we understand and the implement those changes," said Lt. Matthew Hodge, a commander in the 194th's 5th Squadron, 15th Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Knox, Ky. "This forum was needed and appreciated."

Maj. Gen. James Milano, commanding general of Fort Jackson, S.C., also participated in the forum and addressed the group of young leaders.

"It really is an honor to be in a room full of leaders. From my perspective leadership in IMT is vitally important because you are responsible for transforming civilians into soldiers. You communicate and enforce standards. You make risks. You are the role model of our new soldiers and cadre," said Milano.

For leader development, forum participants explored the technical skills of incoming Soldiers and how this merges with Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Basic Officer Leaders Course. The possibilities of these new technologies are currently being implemented as pilot programs at some training posts. Applications such as the Army Blue Book, Army Creeds, and Army Physical Readiness Training have already been adapted for the Android and iPhone mobile devices.

The forum session concluded with Lindy Kyzer, a social media consultant. Kyzer gave tips how families can stay connected with their Soldier's chain of command through social media and protecting information shared by practicing good operations security.

"Status messages or posts, particularly as they pertain to your chain of command or coworkers, can have real life repercussions. Divulging too much information can get you into hot water," she said.