ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- A senior leader's vision, brainstorming ideas, and a plan to make that vision a reality came to fruition Feb. 14 at the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics - designed Action Officer Development Program, or AODP, at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

CECOM Chief of Staff, Col. William 'Bill' Montgomery, had a vision and idea of a training and professional development program that was specifically geared toward the needs of the CEOCM workforce and supervisors.

"This program is designed provide students an overview of information and skills necessary to become top-notch action officers." said Montgomery. "We wanted to support our personnel in being effective and successful at what they do here, and elsewhere."

He said with the command's recent relocation, the command experienced an influx of new hires, some already possessing a wealth of knowledge in their fields, while others may be new to the job. In part, this variety in expertise prompted the idea of providing a training program that develops and sharpens the skills of CECOM's action officers by arming the workforce with information on how to do business within the command, said Montgomery.

"Developing and training our CECOM personnel are among the top priorities in the command," said Montgomery. "In the spirit of continuous improvement, I believe the skills taught in this program will position the employee, the supervisor and the command for success in the long-run. It's a win-win."

This instructor-led course is taught by CECOM leaders to include the Chief of Staff and G-3/5, G-6, the Secretary to the General Staff, as well as outside instructors from Harford Community College, according to Maria Layton, Chief, G-1 /Human Resource Development Division, who led the effort to design the program over the last year. Layton explained that CECOM leaders played an integral role in designing the curriculum for the new CECOM program.

"The CECOM managers know better than anyone what the professional development needs of their employees," said Layton. "That's why leadership input was so valuable during our planning process and in identifying areas that need to be addressed command-wide."

The first class offering kicked off in Dec. 6 and spanned seven training events covering topics like: what an action officer is; CECOM's command structure; Army writing style; CECOM staff Actions; email etiquette; writing an information paper; briefing presentation skills; and critical thinking skills and accountability, according to Layton.

"I really enjoyed the presentation skills section of the class," said Elina Tsaturyan, management analyst, CECOM G3/5. "The professor videotaped our briefings and played them back for us to point out things we need to improve on and things we do well. We spent a lot of time reviewing our mannerisms and understanding how to improve upon them. It was really eye-opening […] I learned a lot about myself as a briefer and what areas I could strengthen when speaking publically. This portion of the class brought the class closer together."

"Feedback on the initial offering of AODP has been very positive and interest is growing even outside of CECOM. One of the Commands on APG has approached us about possible participation/partnering and /or the development of their own AODP. All of this contributes to the organizations on APG working together for the benefit of all of our employees," said Layton. G-1/HRDD maintains a dialogue with the APG training community about AODP and other CECOM programs.

As a result, two of the participants in the March 6 class are from the Army Test and Evaluation Command, known as ATEC. Fifteen students will be admitted in the next class starting March 6, and additional offerings will be added to the FY12 training calendar, said Layton. The on-line Army Action Officer Development Course (AODC) is a pre-requisite for AODP. Currently, the directors and managers of each organization are choosing the employees who will attend each offering of the program, she explained.

"Interacting with colleagues from different CECOM activities was invaluable because I was able to benefit from the wisdom of CECOM personnel at varying stages in their careers," said Tsaturyan. "We helped each other develop and sharpen our skills sets by trading feedback to become better action officers."