Well, there you have it folks, we have successfully completed four State of NCO Development town halls. I know some of you may snicker at the “successful” part, but it’s the truth. One of the toughest struggles we have at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command is getting information out to the force, primarily to our junior Soldiers and leaders. The changes we make in today’s Army are going to affect those individuals the most, so ensuring they have information as to what we are working on has always been of the utmost importance. These town halls have contributed to not only being able to answer your questions directly, but they have also provided an opportunity to gather feedback as well as improve the NCO 2020 Strategy and several initiatives.
Each town hall deliberately touched on various topics within the strategy, with the intent of informing Soldiers and leaders about how TRADOC is revolutionizing leader development for noncommissioned officers over the course of their service. The first town hall covered the strategy in general, which generated a lot of buzz because of the discussion on STEP (Select, Train, Educate, Promote) and professional military education. Now a year later, STEP is old news and making a huge difference in the development of our NCOs. The feedback we received from you, both negative and positive, was far more than we ever expected, so it didn’t seem right to stop there. The next town hall covered the development effort within the strategy. It also hit on some very popular topics. The implementation of the Master Leader Course drew the most feedback and questions, especially from our senior NCOs. The most common questions being “Why now? Is it required for STEP? Who is required to attend?” This year’s master sergeant list holds the first group that is required to attend.
We had more questions and comments from our junior population on the changes coming to common core and structured self development, or SSD. We listened when you said redundant training needs to come out, as well as the mandatory training that is already required at the unit level. I feel the force is going to be very pleased with the changes we have made to better these initiatives.
The third town hall concentrated on talent management. What was so great about this town hall was that we focused on developmental positions and assignments, both inside and outside of the career management field. We wanted to make sure that you not only knew about the variety of opportunities available to enhance your careers, but to allow you to hear success stories as well. Some of you just need to realize that while you may very well be the right man or woman for a job, you first may have to do a little paperwork, compete and work hard to show that you deserve it. The sky’s the limit, but you have to believe that you can do it.
Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, along with other subject matter experts, reviews and responds to Soldiers’ comments and questions via an online chat board during the State of NCO Development Town Hall 4, which took place March 30, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Janna Escudé)
This last town hall was the culminating event, focused on being a steward of the profession. This one was by far the most unique because some of the topics discussed have not yet been approved. Basically, they are still in the drafting stage, and your comments and feedback are only going to improve upon the concepts we have thus far. Some of you were pretty passionate in your responses. Believe it or not, that’s what I wanted – so that we are developing exactly what the force needs.
I know there’s still a tremendous appetite to talk one-on-one with leaders. TRADOC’s leaders cannot travel to every post, camp and station – but there are still ways to connect. I encourage all leaders to really talk with their Soldiers, but they should educate themselves first so they can be ready to answer questions.
I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall outcome of these town halls. Your support and participation has only made the NCO 2020 Strategy that much stronger, which means the same for your development in the future. Our mission remains the same, stay true to the strategy and help to educate our cohort of competent and committed NCOs of character, as trusted Army professionals who are ready to thrive in a complex world.
If you missed any of the town halls, they can be found here on my blog page at http://tradocnews.org/category/straight-from-the-csm/ as well as on other TRADOC media channels.
But before I go. This week, I also thought I’d share the blog space with our moderator, Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne, so you could hear his thoughts on the series.
Master Sgt. Michael Lavigne shares his experience as part of the State of NCO Development Town Hall series:
A little over a year ago, TRADOC made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – moderate a town hall, broadcast live from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, focusing on the initiatives in NCO 2020, the future of NCO professional development. The rules were simple – a panel of senior NCO leaders would discuss changes coming to the Army, and I would take questions from the live audience watching online and pose them to the experts.
The response was overwhelming.
The outpouring of questions showed there was a gap in informing the force. Over the course of the next year and three subsequent broadcasts, TRADOC has looked to fill that gap, both through the broadcasts, follow-up communication to answer questions we couldn’t get to during the show, and to correct common misperceptions.
Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne, right, discusses initiatives laid out in the NCO 2020 Strategy with Command Sgt. Maj David Davenport during TRADOC’s second State of NCO Development Town Hall June 26, 2016. Lavigne served as the moderator for the town halls, each of which was streamed live around the world via TRADOC’s website and various social media platforms. Lavigne is a student in Class 67 of the Sergeants Major Course at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. (U.S. Army photo by Angel Clemons)
Soldiers and civilians have shared videos of the town halls, and the clips from them focusing on specific areas, through social media hundreds of thousands of times, across a variety of platforms and sites. Troops have sounded off through those same channels with a clear message – they’re hungry for more of this one-on-one engagement. And leaders are listening, recently U.S. Army Human Resource Command also held a town hall to address Soldier’s personnel specific questions.
I am extremely proud to have had a role in this series of broadcasts, and enjoyed learning as much as I have from the nearly two dozen subject matter experts who came to participate. I’ve been able to see parts of the NCO 2020 Strategy go from concept to reality in that short time, and I’m excited to see the rest of it come to fruition in the coming years.
It’s great to look back on what we’ve accomplished in the past year – but as soon as we take the 30 seconds to do that, it’s time to get after what’s next.
I hope you’re as excited as I am to see what’s next.
Until next time … Victory Starts Here!
CSM David Davenport
Watch the State of NCO Development Town Hall 4 below.