By Zach Morgan, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerOctober 12, 2010
FORT POLK, La. -- "No one is more professional than I..." Those words are part of the non-commissioned officer creed, which is filled with similar phrases that reinforce the professionalism of U.S. Army NCOs. Fort Polk's NCO corps took time out on several occasions in September to network with each other and learn skills to improve their performance.
Command Sgt. Maj. James Diggs, U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School command sergeant major, visited Fort Polk Sept. 21 and spoke to the post's medical NCOs. He explained the importance of taking time to train medical Soldiers on tasks outside their line of duty. While some medical technicians at hospital units and in line units are not assigned to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, their leaders can help them maintain proficiency by working with BJACH to get them a chance to train hands-on. Diggs talked with the NCOs and addressed their questions about medical corps promotions, areas for improvement at the school, and the difficulty of maintaining medical proficiency simultaneously with basic Soldier skills.
"My objective was to interface with the non-commissioned officers and give them a sampling of the things going on across AMEDD and Army-wide," Diggs said. "In fixed facilities and tactical situations there are professional development opportunities and things Soldiers can do to empower themselves - to help them and their Soldiers get to another level."
Diggs, who had been stationed at Fort Polk earlier in his career, said he was impressed with its NCOs. "We have some outstanding NCOs. The heart of being an NCO is taking care of Soldiers and Families. When I interacted with NCOs at Bayne-Jones, the 115th Combat Support Hospital, Operations Group, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, I learned that people here want to do the right thing, and they're getting it. From a corporate perspective, Fort Polk has made tremendous improvements on post."
The big picture is something Diggs said he wants NCOs to latch on to.
"They have to put together a business plan, maintain an organizational budget, identify root causes of problems. Knowing the technical piece alone won't get it," he said. "I tell leaders 'you're expected to know your craft.' Continue to do your part at your level. Make an impact, not only on your organizations, but in the military community at large. Look beyond the platoon or company and see how you can contribute to the big scheme of things."
Staff Sgt. Brian Thompson, 4-10, said he learned to look beyond his own unit at the professional development session. "We have a diverse group of individuals on this installation, but if we only focus on our brigade we get tunnel-vision. Forums like this are good because it brings together the Soldiers who wear different patches."
The NCOs who attended the session were also able to network with each other. "I just came here from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I'm still learning about the resources that are available," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Trevino, 4-10. "It's good to meet the other NCOs we can go to for advice." Trevino hopes to share knowledge, too. "I was in pre-deployment medicine, and brigade combat team training at the schoolhouse. Part of the combat lifesaver course has been revamped, and I want to make sure the 4-10 medics and Soldiers know about it. I hope that we can give some guidance to the subordinate units."
Fort Polk was visited by another influential NCO Sept. 30. Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Burnett, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization command sergeant major, toured the Joint Readiness Training Center to see the IED defeat techniques that are being imparted to rotational training units and to pass along tips that he picked up while working with other units overseas. Burnett also spoke to a gathering of Fort Polk NCOs about his findings, and shared some general advice with the professional Soldiers.
"I wanted to spend time looking at the training venues at JRTC and share some tactics, techniques and procedures I saw being used in Iraq recently," Burnett said. "I also wanted to impart the knowledge of JEIDDO, what we do and some of the lessons learned."
Burnett also said he was encouraged by the NCOs he met during his visit to Fort Polk. "They are very professional and carry high standards," he said.
"That speaks volumes for the tone that Command Sgt. Maj. (Jeffrey) Hof is setting here at Fort Polk. I have been impressed with JRTC. I've been here a number of times - everything that's going on here is world-class. They're providing great training and looking for ways to improve."
As the NCO creed concludes, Fort Polk's NCOs support each other in building the Army: "I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders."