WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 7, 2015) — The role of noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, in mission command could be more clearly defined in Army doctrine and in the field, said Soldiers, who participated during the first-ever NCO Solarium.
“Not in my squad.”
“Not on my campus.”
The locations are different, but the goal is the same, and for the second year in a row, the Army and academia partnered to find ways to put an end to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
This year, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command leaders met with representatives from regional colleges and universities April 29 at Fort Eustis, Virginia, to discuss a problem that affects Soldiers as well as students, many ages 18-24.
“Many of the issues we are seeing in our communities and on our installations and campuses are very similar, when we start talking about issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment,” said Maj. Gen. Ross Ridge, deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training and TRADOC’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program co-lead.
This year, 10 university and college reps attended the roundtable discussion, which focused on a variety of topics, including bystander intervention, lessons learned, best practices and new ways to prevent sexual harassment and assault.
“We are all working a similar problem, but we are all trying to work it independently,” said Ellen Helmerson, TRADOC deputy chief of staff for G-1/4, G-8 and TRADOC SHARP co-lead. “This is an opportunity for us to talk about what’s working, what’s not working, to partner and collaborate, and see if this is something that we can work together.”
Helmerson said the challenges the two groups face may be more similar than they think, comparing freshmen to basic trainees and resident assistants to noncommissioned officers.
“I really never thought about it in the same way,” said Evelyn Whitehead, Virginia State University representative. “When they talked about new Soldiers in the barracks and compared it to residence halls, the concerns the military has are very similar to the concerns universities have about incoming students.”
As schools shared their experiences with different prevention initiatives, many agreed one of the bigger challenges is getting people to understand they are, in fact, responsible for their peers.
To that end, TRADOC leaders discussed the sergeant major of the Army’s new initiative, “Not in my squad,” which charges front-line supervisors to be accountable for their Soldiers’ well-being, including issues of harassment and assault.
Another topic discussed was that many think it won’t happen to them; that they are somehow immune to the possibility of harassment or assault.
“The issue that we found was that many did not see themselves as potential victims,” Ridge said.
However, statistics tell a different story: According to the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, nearly one in four females and one in six males will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. And of those who are not directly affected, many know someone who has either been a victim or a witness of sexual harassment or assault.
One of the ways TRADOC is helping to aid and empower both victims and bystanders of sexual assault and harassment is through its “We Care” app. Available for download on Apple and Android smartphones, the app provides resources for victims and witnesses of sexual harassment or assault.
“It’s not about whether you need (the app), but you may need it to help your friend,” Ridge said.
The two-hour session ended with an exchange of information between TRADOC and the schools, and although Sexual Assault Awareness Month ended the following day, the partnership between the Army and academia continues to grow.
The team effort began last April with the first discussion of this kind — a historic event including a list of more than 200 attendees — military and civilian — ranging from Army leaders to community leaders and educators representing various colleges and universities throughout the region.
Although this year’s event was smaller in number, Helmerson said it was equally as successful.
“The great thing was — they opened up more,” she said of the representatives, adding that several different schools attended this year, which also brought different experiences and ideas. “I think we had about the same number of schools, but the mix was different, which is good news,” she said.
Whitehead, who was also a first-time attendee, said she thought the meeting provided a very good dialogue.
“I think the military has so many resources that the universities can take a note from them,” Whitehouse said, adding that she hopes to attend future sessions. “It’s important for us to be involved in conversations like this.”
And TRADOC intends to keep the conversation going.
After last year’s SHARP event, the undersecretary of the Army reached out to colleges and universities across the U.S., inviting them to enter SHARP partnerships with their respective ROTC programs. The goal of the partnerships was — again — for the Army to share knowledge and prevention efforts with academic institutions via the ROTC units. To date, 185 schools have signed charters, or agreements, and at least 50 more are expected to sign by the end of the year.
“We’ve made such great progress on getting agreements between the schools and their ROTC leads,” Helmerson said.
Additionally, TRADOC began to look to its schools and centers of excellence across the nation for more ways to reach out to local communities and exchange prevention efforts. To date, three TRADOC locations have joined in the initiative.
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at Presidio of Monterey, California, was the first location to partner with the Air Force, Navy and 14 universities during a SHARP workshop March 31-April 1.
“The event was successful because it brought together, for the first time, a broad range of participants who share the similar challenge of preventing sexual assaults on our bases and campuses,” said Col. David K. Chapman, DLIFLC’s commandant.
Currently, Fort Rucker, Alabama, is preparing for an upcoming SHARP event, and the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is scheduled to conduct a national SHARP conference July 20-21 titled, “Achieving cultural change: Building trust between an Institution and its members.”
“It’s a great opportunity to take that three-tier approach,” Helmerson said. “One, what can we do locally using professors of military science; two, what can our commanders do to reach out regionally; and three, leveraging the SHARP Academy — what can we do to reach out nationally to colleges and universities?”
Aside from differences in processes and procedures between the Army and academia, there are still similarities that can help both institutions share possible solutions to a common problem.
“We have information that we think can help them, and they have information and ideas that could help us,” Helmerson said. “The goodness of it is continuing to communicate, and if some lesson that we’ve learned can help somebody else, whether it’s an individual or a school, I’m just happy to share it.”
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 5, 2015) — Soldiers at the first-ever NCO Solarium said they felt the Army has gone soft on those who have failed their Army Physical Fitness Tests, or APFT, too many times – and called for more discipline in enforcing standards.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ruiz, Headquarters Services Company, U.S. Army North, said allowing Soldiers, who have repeatedly failed their APFT to stay in the Army is inconsistent with the idea that physical fitness is important.
“When Soldiers end up being retained, we feel it is a detriment to the unit and other units, who see that Soldier being retained,” Ruiz said. “One of our recommendations is to remove the commander’s ability to decline a separation packet for APFT failures.”
Ruiz served as the spokesperson for the physical fitness group during the 2015 NCO Solarium on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. During the Solarium, about 80 NCOs, from throughout the Army, were tasked to come up with solutions to problems involving education, Army culture, training, mission command, physical fitness, and Army vision and branding. Those Soldiers were then asked to brief the sergeant major of the Army on their findings.
1st Sgt. Robert V. Craft Jr., 1-16 Infantry, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was also part of the physical fitness group. He speculated that the Army was accepting poor performers on the physical fitness test as a way to retain manpower numbers – something he felt was a bad idea.
“Over the last decade or so … we have begun to accept substandard performance in order to make numbers for missions,” he said. “By retaining those Soldiers, it basically leads to a consensus … that PT [physical training] isn’t important, that being in shape isn’t important.”
The same rigorous accountability that is applied to those within the Army Body Composition Program, ought to also be applied to those who fail the Army APFT, Craft said. AFPT failures could force a separation after a second time, or after a Soldier has failed within a certain number of years, for instance.
There should also be stricter Army physical fitness standards for those in leader positions, such as platoon sergeant, first sergeant or commander, Craft said. There should be stricter standards for those going off to any of the Army’s professional military education, or PME, schools. “Then we are getting the best to go to school,” he said.
Craft said his time as a first sergeant is limited – and often heavily managed. He said he ends up spending an inordinate amount of time working with Soldiers, who have failed too many times to meet Army standards. Above his head, he said, commanders continue to file the paperwork and make the exceptions to keep those Soldiers in the unit – something he said is not good for the Army.
“I can’t fix a Soldier if the Soldier has quit,” Craft said. “If the Soldier no longer has the desire, then get rid of him. I can do more with less [Soldiers], if I no longer have to worry about the bottom 10 percent.”
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey told those NCOs at the Solarium to not refrain from sending less-than-stellar PT performers to Army PME schools. He said at an Army PME school, a Soldier cannot hide from the repercussions of failing to meet standards.
“Send them to school,” he said. “We’ll take care of them. There should no longer be the idea that if they no longer make PT, we’ll hold them back. Send them. They go to school. We’ll grade them. We’ll help you take care of those people. Policy is going to drive that. When you fail, when you get that referred report in your file, you’re going to be eligible for QMP [Qualitative Management Program] – as you should.”
The QMP is a program that deals with substandard performing Soldiers, and can remove them from service.
Dailey said Soldiers must meet the standards of being a Soldier the entire time they are in the Army, and there is no reprieve from the standards.
“There is no pause button on being a Soldier,” he said. “So nowhere in the regulations does it say two or three times you are allowed to be fat. It says you have to be skinny all the time. You should be graded from the time you enter the Army until the time you leave. Your peers are graded the same way. Don’t hold them back from school anymore. Send them. We can help with that.”
Sgt. 1st Class Erin L. Hicks, U.S. Army Dental Activity, Fort Carson, Colorado, said her group was calling for a “supreme authority” on installations when it comes to things like nutrition and physical fitness. Right now, she said, there is no such central authority, and the network of individuals who provide that information and guidance is “fragmented.”
She pointed out that 68M Soldiers, nutritional specialists, are serving as cooks in military dining facilities. She said that flies in the face of the modern understanding of a nutritional specialist, which is somebody who can provide counseling and education regarding nutrition.
She also said the master fitness trainer course is unit-funded, coming out of discretionary funds. With fiscal constraints, she said, “not all commanders will be able to send NCOs to that critical course, bring them back and use them in their brigade, battalion, etc.”
With skills like fitness training and nutritional expertise dispersed, and not guaranteed, she suggested the Army create a new position in the Army, an enlisted expert on fitness, sleep and nutrition, that can be the central go-to Soldier for what the Army is calling its Performance Triad.
“Why can’t we bring all that together, like I would as a civilian and seek a personal trainer, who will provide me with nutrition education, physical training, recovery training,” she asked. “Why can’t we make that into an MOS [military occupational specialty], bring it all together and put it at brigade level?”
She said such a position would not eliminate the need for Army master fitness trainers, but would instead serve as the lead for that program.
Hicks suggested the 68M be transitioned from MFT/nutritionist to be the supreme authority on installations about fitness, nutrition and sleep. She said creation of such a position, which is Army-funded, not unit-funded, will be a “constant reminder that we take total Soldier fitness seriously and that we are going to make it a priority.”
Ruiz also said that his physical fitness group wanted to see the Army’s APFT more aligned, doctrinally with Army Physical Readiness Training, which is focused on preparing Soldiers physically for specific Soldier mission tasks. He said the AFPT does not effectively evaluate what is being done in PRT. He also said that many units are not actually doing PRT, but are doing other forms of physical fitness.
Dailey told NCOs that a lot of Army units are not putting the necessary emphasis on physical training that is needed to keep the Army ready. He said today that 40 percent of Soldiers are overweight, and that there are as many as 45,000 Soldiers, who are not deployable today.
“Most of those [are] associated with lower-extremity profiles,” Dailey said. “And largely associated with, believe it or not, your ankles hurt when you are 30 or 40 pounds overweight. Your knees hurt when you are 30 or 40 pounds overweight. Your knees hurt? Stop eating donuts.”
Dailey also said that the Army must change the culture of physical fitness, and bring back accountability to the program.
“You don’t get good at physical training unless you do physical training,” he said. “When you allow your platoons and your squads to do squad physical training, I can tell you most of the time … it is not good. I don’t know how we ever said we have to let squad leaders do physical training every day. We need to probably reel some of that in. There was a lot of goodness when the battalion had to meet in the quad and salute the flag together. It’s called accountability.”
FORT SILL, Okla. — Guests from around the world swarmed Snow Hall May 4-6 for the Fires Conference to sample the latest industry technology and discover how the Fires force is evolving.
“Change is important; change will always happen. What we’re doing here at the Fires Center of Excellence is moving into the future,” said Maj. Gen. John Rossi, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general.
The Fires Conference 2015 “Leveling the Bubbles: Training and Educating the Future Fires Force,” focused on three things: training, education and experience.
“All three of these have to be built on a Fires framework, not a branch framework,” said Rossi.
The theme of the conference referred to what Soldiers draw upon for their expertise.
The commanding general said while the field artillery has a 100-year head start to its history compared to air defense artillery, the two branches must grow together.
“This is an opportunity and we’re going to seize it. We’re in motion on Fires. We just completed our first Fires Pre-Command Course with colonels, lieutenant colonels and sergeants major combining FA and ADA,” said Rossi, who joked that they were all still alive. “They’ve got some new teammates they can move forward with in the Army.”
The conference also introduced emerging concepts for employing Fires in the next 10 years, some of which are already in progress. These aligned with the direction the rest of the Army is moving, as indicated by one senior ranking general officer attending the conference.
Gen. David Perkins, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command, was one of seven guest speakers for the conference. He said he receives a lot of input about the architecture of the Army, but added small answers may detract from the actual solution.
“I remind folks that right now we’re in the process of asking big questions.”
When discussing the Army’s operating concept for the future, an example Perkins gave was, “What level of war are you going to design the United States Army for?”
He said while past Army operating concepts such as, “Air, Land, Battle,” were effective, it cannot be used in the current fighting landscape because what the Army is now facing is unknown, unknowable and constantly changing.
He said the Army going forward is focused on the capabilities of the force versus the specificities of the enemy.
Other topics covered during the conference included, Preparing the Next Generation, Breaking the Mold: New Approaches for the Future, and FCoE: The Next Fires Platform.
Attendees viewed the latest products and services for the Army from 25 exhibitors, including local businesses BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. For more photos visit www.flickr.com/fortsillcannoneer.
Photo: Guests from around the world attended the Fires Conference May 4-6 at Fort Sill. Maj. Gen. John Rossi, FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general met with his counterparts from countries including Germany, the UK, France, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Poland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Japan to discuss how their schoolhouses operate and to solicit recommendations from them on how to overcome common challenges. U.S. Army photo by Marie Berberea
The commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, Maj. Gen. Scott Miller, hosted the MCoE quarterly “Azimuth Check” April 24 at the Benning Club to assess several initiatives at the Maneuver Center.
“What we’re going to focus on in this particular ‘Azimuth Check’ is results,” Miller said. The “Azimuth Check” covered five broad categories with in-depth discussions on training, lethality, physical performance, needs of the operational force, and care of Soldiers, Families and community outreach. Every three months, the leaders of the Maneuver Center gather for this event and the next will be July 2015.
Leaders from across Fort Benning shared insights on initiatives. Sgt. 1st Class Ken Rose of the Army Marksmanship Unit provided best practices and effective techniques from his first-hand observation of the newly designed Master Marksmanship Trainer Course. This particular course focuses on a common approach to marksmanship, and will transition from the Army Marksmanship Unit to the 316th Cavalry Brigade this fall.
Col. William Thigpen, 316th Cavalry Brigade commander, described his organization’s efforts to establish the Lethality Battalion. This battalion will focus on marksmanship and lethality of all weapons systems from the M4 rifle all the way up to the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank. Efforts are well underway to establish the Master Gunner Common Core curriculum with plans to validate the updated course in May 2015, Thigpen said.
Optimizing Physical Performance is a significant effort across the Army, and the Maneuver Center is leading the way in this regard.
Lt. Col. Greg Burbelo, Human Dimension expert with the Maneuver Center’s Directorate of Training and Doctrine, described a common approach to enhancing physical performance for implementation across Fort Benning.
Col. Rich Timmons, 198th Infantry Brigade commander, highlighted recent success in implementing functional fitness in his 11B Infantry one station unit training courses.
Col. Scott King, 194th Armored Brigade commander, said he is seeing marked improvements in physical performance indicators such as push-ups, sit-ups and run times with the Initial Entry Training Physical Readiness Enhancement Program. IPREP screens new Soldiers using functional movement screening techniques to identify physical problems before a Soldier enters a training course.
Early results indicate as much as a 30 percent increase in graduation rates with participating Soldiers.
The Maneuver Center is focused on developing Soldiers, leaders, and formations that are smart, fast, lethal and precise. Smart means routinely generating situational understanding; fast means physically and cognitively faster than the Army’s adversaries; lethal means the Soldier can take their weapon system and destroy the enemy with as few rounds as possible – “preferably one,” said Miller; and precise means sufficient understanding, speed and skillsets to actually be precise in the application of power.
“We must train and educate our Soldiers to be smart, fast, lethal and precise from the time they enter the force,” Miller said. “This azimuth check ensured leaders are leading in the right direction and sharing lessons with each other across Fort Benning to unlimitedly ensure Maneuver Center does its part to achieve the Army’s imperative of ‘Winning in a complex world.'”
Editor’s note: The Bayonet and Saber’s Noelle Wiehe contributed to this article.
Photo credit: A Paratrooper from the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division provides security while mounted on a camouflaged Lightweight Tactical All Terrain Vehicle during Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise 15-01 on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, April 14, 2015. (Photo by Sgt. Flor Gonzalez, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)