JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — U.S. Army Training and Command’s senior enlisted leader updated leaders and Soldiers on the progress of one of the command’s main efforts – the NCO 2020 Strategy – during a leader professional development session July 28 at Wylie Theater on Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Beginning with the evolution of NCO education, Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport explained the need for – and importance of – the “revolutionary” changes currently taking place within NCO education and professional development as a result of the NCO 2020 Strategy.
The TRADOC command sergeant major urged those who have not read the strategy to take a look at the 13-page document – with “only about 10 pages worth of real reading,” he said – to learn how the Army will move the NCO Corps toward the future.
“As you read the document, you’ll see three lines of effort: How we’re going to develop noncommissioned officers differently, how we’re going to assign them in the future, and how we remind noncommissioned officers of the role we have as stewards of this great profession called being a Soldier,” Davenport said.
He added there are more than 45 different tasks within the strategy that TRADOC has identified to help prepare Soldiers for a future that’s unknown, unknowable and constantly changing.
“And I’m proud to tell you all, through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, the vast majority of those are completed; all of them are at some stage of working toward an end state,” Davenport said. He also shared how proud he was of the work and partnerships from within TRADOC, Army headquarters, the Combined Arms Center and Army University that helped turn these initiatives into a reality for the NCO corps across the total force.
One of these initiatives, Davenport said, has garnered much more attention than the strategy itself – the Select, Train, Educate, Promote, or STEP initiative. This initiative, which he called a “forcing function,” has helped reduce the previous backlog of 14,000 Soldiers waiting to attend professional military education. Less than two years later, the backlog currently stands at less than 3,000 Soldiers.
“So the force is understanding that if you want to get promoted, you’re going to have to complete the PME so you can earn that promotion,” he said.
On the topic of STEP, Davenport said the concern he hears the most is that there aren’t enough school seats in TRADOC for Soldiers to attend PME. The Institutional Training Common Operational Picture can help with that challenge, he said. The ITCOP is a web-based program that shows all of the available NCO academy and military occupational specialty-training school seats across the total Army. Here, Soldiers and leaders can view seat availability across the active, Guard and Reserve components.
“We want the force to take advantage of the excess capacity so we’re not wasting the money for the seat or the instructor’s time,” he said.
The professional development session also covered additional topics including career maps, instructor development and records of training as well as the latest updates on curriculum development, which can be found in Davenport’s latest blog, where he encourages the force to provide feedback.
“I love putting ideas out there and hearing back from the force – what you think about it, and if we’re going in the right direction or not,” he said.
After closing the NCO 2020 portion of the session, he moved on to “a very lengthy class” (but not really) that he gives to the nominative sergeants major about leadership, adding that they’re really applicable to every level.
“It’s kind of like ‘Dave Davenport’s top 10 list,’” he said.
And here it is:
- It’s not about what you do, but how you do it.
“Are you seen as a team player? Are you seen as one of those leaders who works in a gray area? Are you collaborative? That goes to not only your reputation inside the organization, but outside the organization.”
- You have to read and stay current.
“At your particular CMF, you have to know what’s going on. It’s different at each level. If you think your platoon is weak on counseling – how about picking up 6-22 and reading about it.”
- Listen, think, pause, and respond.
“You’d be amazed how much our Soldiers just want us, as leaders to listen to them. But before you say anything, make sure you think through what you’re going to say before you respond, and it’s okay to say ‘I don’t know.’ And keep emotion out of it because when you get emotional, the whole process starts to go downhill.”
- Know what you’re talking about in order to define or identify the problem.
“If you know what you’re talking about, then you can really identify the problem and work a solution. I need 391,000 problem solvers, not problem reporters.”
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
“I often tell people there’s a big difference in talking with your Soldiers and talking at your Soldiers. We do a lot of talking at our Soldiers, but we don’t talk with them to make sure there’s a clear understanding before asking them to do things.”
- Be a servant-leader.
“You’re accessible, you’re knowledgeable and you’re comfortable handling problems for your Soldiers. Again – it’s not about you anymore; as a leader, it’s about those men and women whom we lead. You get promoted to do more for our Soldiers.”
- How are you going to develop your Soldiers?
“It’s more than just trying to get them to PME. It’s about empowering them – giving them missions, letting them fail and teaching them from their mistakes.”
- How are you going to gain and maintain situational awareness?
“That means you have to be out there with your Soldiers. The more you engage and you stay with your Soldiers, the more you’ll learn and the more you’ll know what’s going on.”
- Be positive and have the right attitude.
“There are going to be days that are terrible, and how you handle that really affects the organization in which you lead. If you have an attitude of woe-is-me and the world’s caving in on me, your Soldiers are going to buy into that. Be positive, be adaptive and your Soldiers will follow you anywhere.”
- Your ideas or goals are for the organization must be nested with your commander or officer in charge.
“If you’ve got a great idea for the platoon, your platoon leader needs to be informed. Because if our officer corps doesn’t buy into it, they’re responsible, and it’s not going to gain any traction. The more you collaborate and nest your ideas and thoughts with your leaders, the better off it will be for our Soldiers.”
For more on NCO 2020 initiatives visit www.tradocnews.org or to provide feedback directly to Davenport, visit his blog, “Straight from the CSM” and click the “Straight to the CSM” button on the right.