Several weeks ago during my trip to Britain, I was given a tour of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. A very unique home to over 300 Army veterans called Chelsea Pensioners.
Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport Sr., U.S. Army Training and Doctrine command sergeant major, will host the second in a series of live Army-wide State of NCO Development Town Halls June 23.
The event will once again provide Soldiers a chance to get their concerns and questions addressed directly by the leaders charged with revolutionizing NCO development for the force.
“The last town hall was a huge success,” Davenport said. “I received a lot of great feedback, but as I stated in an earlier blog, I felt that the first town hall was too wide in focus.
“So for this town hall, I would like to limit the discussion to the first line of effort of the NCO 2020 Strategy, which is Leader Development.”
To address this line of effort, Davenport has gathered senior leaders from the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Institute for NCO Professional Development and the Training Operations Management Activity to field questions.
“This time, we are going to try some new things, including opening up the chat board at 4 p.m. EDT – one hour before we start answering questions on the panel,” he said. “This way, we can have more questions for our discussion.”
The live panel discussion will run from 5 to 6:30 p.m. EDT however, the chat room will remain open until 7 p.m. to ensure participants have every opportunity to have their voices heard.
“Now, more than ever — and certainly more than when I was a private — Soldiers have the ability to share their perspectives and have their voices heard,” said Master Sgt. Elsi A. Inoa-Santos, INCOPD senior military analyst, in her recent blog post, “A Soldier’s perspective on the NCO Town Hall.”
Inoa-Santos was among the many people working behind the scenes answering questions during TRADOC’s last State of NCO Development Town Hall March 3.
As a senior analyst in TRADOC’s INCOPD, the organization dedicated to the advancement of professional military education for NCOs, she also has a firsthand perspective on how TRADOC is improving NCO education.
“I really believe that TRADOC is on the cusp of the greatest era of change the Army has ever experienced,” she said. “For example, TRADOC is influencing current and future development to our professional military education with efforts like the Master Leader Course and the Executive Leader Course.”
Senior leaders on hand to answer questions on NCO leader development include: Command Sgt. Maj. David Turnbull, USACAC command sergeant major; Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, USASMA commandant; Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Huggins, USASMA deputy commandant; Charles Guyette, USASMA director of training; Dr. Aubrey Butts, INCOPD director; Troy Nattress, TRADOC G-3/5/7 deputy chief of staff and TOMA plans officer; and Jeff Wells, TRADOC, G-3/5/7 chief of plans and TOMA plans officer.
Representatives from USASMA will field questions and lead a discussion on the purpose, objectives and methodology of the Master Leader Course, the concept and learning objectives of the Advanced Leader Course and the Senior Leader Course’s Common Core curriculum. The USASMA team will also provide insight on the redesign and learning objectives of all Structured Self Development and the Basic Leaders Course.
Turnbull will field questions and lead a discussion on the purpose of Army University, as it increases the academic rigor of Army education programs through broader accreditation, while also establishing a collaboration with the nation’s premier universities and colleges.
“Be a part of this – your voice and experiences are important to us, and will help shape our efforts. I cannot think of a better way to be heard and share your ideas or concerns. We are listening,” Davenport said.
*The State of NCO Development Town Hall 2 is June 23. The chat room is open from 4 to 7 p.m. EDT. The senior leader panel discussion is scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Watch and participate live in the chat room at www.emc.army.mil/broadcast, or ask questions via social media. Upload your video or typed questions to TRADOC’s Facebook page or post them to Twitter using #TRADOCtownhall.
Brig. Gen. Iain Harrison Order of the British Empire, Head Capability Integration & Portfolio Manager, British Army, listens as Maj. Gen. Robert Dyess Jr., deputy director, Army Capabilities Integration Center, discusses ARCIC initiatives May 26 at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command headquarters on Fort Eustis, Virginia. During Harrison’s first visit to the headquarters visit since his posting in June 2015, the two discussed a number of topics including the British Army’s operating model, capability integration and the U.S. Army Warfighting Challenges. The visiting party also included Col. Nick Luck, UK foreign liaison officer to TRADOC, and Lt. Col. William Eden, UK LNO to the Department of the Army’s G8. (U.S. Army photo)
Army senior leaders, including Under Secretary of the Army Patrick J. Murphy; Gen. Dennis L. Via, commander of Army Materiel Command; and Maj. Gen. Christopher P. Hughes, commanding general of Cadet Command — all graduates of the ROTC program — attended a commemoration event, June 3 at the Pentagon, to recognize the 100th anniversary of the program.
“ROTC is the largest producer of U.S. military officers in the United States,” Hughes said. “In fact, since its inception in 1916, ROTC has produced over one million officers for our military. At the end of 1918, ROTC produced its first 103 commissioned officers, and produces more than 7,500 total, across the services, every year — men and women who have chosen to serve our nation, as our leaders, for the Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy and the Air Force.”
Today, ROTC has programs at over 300 universities and campuses across the country, Hughes said. Many of those schools also offer their program to nearby college campuses who are unable to host their own program. So the total footprint for campuses served by an Army ROTC program exceeds 1,000.
“Each of these programs strives to recruit the best possible cadets to lead our armed forces, and to that end, ROTC has become our nation’s largest grantor of scholarships at our universities,” Hughes said. “They award more than $431 million each year to roughly 23,700 cadets, putting young men and women on a pathway to advanced education at top-tier colleges and universities around the country, while volunteering to serve a cause greater than themselves: to serve their nation as leaders in one of the noblest professions in our country — that of the U.S. military.”
Gen. Dennis Via, a 1980 graduate of the ROTC program at Virginia State University, said it was ROTC that opened his eyes to the possibilities that available to him in the U.S. Army.
“Virginia State introduced me, a small country boy, to a world of endless possibilities,” he said. “But it was ROTC that opened that door to the new world. When I reflect back on those days, I often think of the huge difference ROTC made in my life, and the difference ROTC has made in the lives of thousands of other former cadets like me, throughout their careers.
“Today, when I visit universities and ROTC battalions across the nation, I am so very proud to see how the program and the cadets are woven into the very fabric of the campus communities. The young men and women who have passed through our ROTC battalions over the last 100 years have benefited greatly from the leadership, discipline, structure and positive environment that the program provides.”
In addition to creating new officers, Via said that the ROTC program is also partly responsible for creating the diversity that’s now seen in the Army.
“They have led the way for diversity and inclusion in our force,” he said. “The Army that we have all come to know today would not exist as it does without the college and university ROTC program.”
While the future of conflict is uncertain, Via said, he’s confident that the ROTC program will continue to provide officers that are well-prepared to lead America’s Army.
“I can say with full confidence that with the enduring excellence of the ROTC program, our armed forces will continue to be the best-trained and best-equipped and certainly the best-led fighting force in the world.”
At the Pentagon event were some of those future officers, now in the ROTC program, including ROTC Cadet Staff Sergeant Charles Derrick and ROTC Cadet Private Michael Wong — both students at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Derrick, who studies international affairs and geographic information systems, said he plans to accept a commission into the National Guard — something his grandfather had done before him. His service, he said, will bridge his professional and personal goals.
The ROTC program, he said, is “sort of a segue between my professional aspirations and the things I care about. Helping people is something that’s important to me, and this was really a way that could materialize.”
Wong, who studies economics and international affairs, said he’s competing for a commission in the Regular Army — he wants to go active duty as an armor officer, or possibly military intelligence or engineer.
“I have the chance to compete for an active duty slot,” he said. “It’s not set in stone. I have to achieve a high enough grade point average, things like that. I have to do well enough to actually gain the active duty slot.”
For him, ROTC lets him attend a prestigious civilian university, with the end goal of serving his country.
“ROTC presented the unique opportunity to study as a civilian, but also train as a future military officer, with the hopeful aspiration to serve my country in the greatest honor possible: being an officer in the U.S. Army,” Wong said.
At the ceremony at the Pentagon, hundreds of Army officers attended — and the room was filled also with cadets and mid-shipmen now in the ROTC program. Derrick said he was impressed by the attendance.
“It’s cool to see all this support and all the people willing to come out,” Derrick said. “It speaks a lot to the program and what it provides to the country.”
— Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” a science fiction novel that focuses on futuristic military space conflict and the leadership and ethics of the titular military recruit, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin. Discussion on this book should happen between July and October of 2016
— Simon Sinek’s “Leaders Eat Last,” a non-fiction title that discusses how good leadership puts the needs of their team before their own needs. Discussion on this book should happen between November 2016 and February 2017
— Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why,” a non-fiction tile that discusses why leaders do what they do, rather than how. Discussion on this book should happen between March and June of 2017
Right now, the SMA is reading “Ender’s Game” in preparation for discussions he plans to have with Soldiers about the book, beginning in July. By then, the SMA’s office will have also provided a discussion guide for that book to help junior leaders discuss it with their own troops.
Master Sgt. Michelle Johnson, a spokesperson for the SMA’s office, said that Soldiers who want to read along with the SMA should not be focusing now on getting all three books, but should instead focus on locating a copy of “Ender’s Game” and work on that title alone.
While all three titles can be purchased online or in book stores, Soldiers who want to participate should not be required to purchase any of them. Instead, Soldiers should check with their local public or post Morale, Welfare, and Recreation library to see if the title is available in a hard copy, or online for digital checkout, said Karen Cole, director of the Army’s MWR Library Program.
“There should be print copies of Ender’s Game at your local MWR library, and there are copies available on the Army’s virtual library through Overdrive,” Cole said. “All you need is a library account.”
Cole said she is working to increase availability of all three titles in either hard copy at MWR libraries or online at OverDrive.
None of the three books that have been suggested by the SMA involve the U.S. Army directly, though one does involve a futuristic, science-fiction-based military. But all three books provide opportunity to discuss themes and topics germane to professional development, as practiced by those outside the Army.
According to Dailey, one of the reasons for standing up a book club was to generate discussion of leadership concepts outside of the military world. He’s asked NCOs to “take our blinders off” and learn how the business world, academia, social scientists, for instance, are doing business or explaining the world.
While participation in the SMA’s Book Club is voluntary, Soldiers who want to participate can expect that the next time the SMA visits their installation he’ll have also scheduled time with Soldiers in squads who volunteer to participate, to lead discussion on one of the titles he’s recommended.
Johnson said the SMA believes the book club will provide increased opportunities for squad leaders to interact with their Soldiers outside of regular training and instruction. So Soldiers can discuss the books together, even without the SMA in the room — and it’s the expectation that they will do just that.
The SMA also hopes the book club concept will help establish critical reading as a crucial skill for NCOs, considering the reading, research and writing curriculum now prominent in Army professional military education, including the Basic Leader Course, the Advanced Leader Course, the Senior Leader Course and the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
In the future, selections for the book club will come from a list generated by Soldiers themselves. It’s expected there will be an SMA Book Club-related website available in July that will allow Soldiers to make such recommendations, and to also house a discussion guide, links to library resources, the SMA’s book review, and on-line discussion sessions.