By T. Anthony BellMay 23, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (May 23, 2012) -- The Army is currently in the process of redesigning part of a component of the Officer Education System to better meet the requirements of an expeditionary force.
That component, the Captains' Career Course, is currently the subject of a pilot program that the Army hopes will produce leaders who are more adaptive and are critical and creative thinkers.
Each of the Army's branch schoolhouses were charged with conducting the pilot under the Army Learning Concepts 2015, a new technology-based learning model. One Combined Logistics CCC, or CLC3, class at the Army Logistics University was assigned the pilot's course of study. It concludes May 31.
The changes affect the seven-week common core portion of the roughly six-month course. Capt. Jennifer Ernest, a CLC3 small group leader instructor, said the pilot extends the course by one week and concludes with a staff exercise.
More importantly, it features a departure from the training approach that emphasizes repetition to one that develops how leaders think rather than what they think.
"The blocks of instruction, the way they are presented is the biggest change," said Ernest. "The old captains' course curriculum was designed to get students to a knowledge and comprehension/cognitive level of learning. The new curriculum takes them to something called analysis synthesis, which means that we're asking officers not just to regurgitate concepts but to take those concepts and now apply them over operational vignettes or scenarios that are directly relatable to our operating environment."
Student response to the new curriculum has been varied, said Ernest. Sixteen students were randomly selected to participate in the pilot that she described as "more rigorous than it used to be."
"There is a lot being asked of them," she said, noting the instruction is going in a positive direction. "The demands for reading as well as understanding self-development -- it is a lot higher in the new curriculum. So, there are some challenges for these new students."
Capt. Jason Jones, a student whose follow-up assignment is with the 2nd Armored Calvary Regiment in Germany, said he is encouraged about the course material but much has to be done to find the right balance.
"The pilot program, if I could sum it up, it's pretty intense," he said. "We move at a faster pace with a flood of information."
The School of Advanced Leadership and Tactics, a branch of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is charged with writing doctrine for the course. It will analyze the data from student feedback and tweak the course to standard, said Ernest.
"They will take the feedback from the pilots and use it to further refine the curriculum -- to tailor the assignments as well as the blocks of instruction to meet the needs of the student," she said.
Ernest said that she expects the ALU pilot programs will yield to implementation some time in fiscal year 2013, however, "the overall Army concept is to go to full implementation in 2015."
The Captains' Career Course is sequentially the second level of training in the OES, between the basic officer leader course and the intermediate level course, formerly the Command General and Staff Course for majors.