In the late 1700s a Prussian-born military officer, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, joined General George Washington’s Continental Army and revolutionized the notion of training a professional military force which utilized its noncommissioned officers as instructors. This idea became the cornerstone of the U.S. Army of today and the model for others to emulate.
Archive for February, 2016
The Select, Train, Educate, Promote (STEP) system took effect Jan. 1, and Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said NCOs have noticed the new education requirements and are filling Army schoolhouses.
After participating in an enlisted leader panel discussion at an Association of the United States Army conference last fall, Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, realized that more needed to be done to communicate the changes being made to NCO professional development.
During the panel, there was so much interest and questions raised about the changes to the NCO Professional Development System, or NCOPDS, that Davenport wanted to make sure Soldiers could have their voices heard and questions answered.
To that end, Davenport and other subject matter experts are hosting an online Town Hall about NCO development from 5 to 7 p.m. EST on March 3 at www.tradoc.army.mil/watch.
“This is a great event for Soldiers,” Davenport said. “Their voice has been an important part of our efforts to completely change the way we develop our NCOs. The new NCOPDS is not just an evolution of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System: We are talking about revolutionary changes, and Soldiers need to know what’s going on.”
Soldiers’ input has been an important part of the changes made, and their voice will continue to be heard, Davenport said. Anthony O’Bryant, command information chief at TRADOC Public Affairs, said NCOs’ thoughts have been heard through surveys and events such as the two NCO Solariums last year with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
“That’s what motivated us to put on this town hall,” O’Bryant said. “It’s another opportunity for NCOs to provide their voice, and so they can hear from the experts who are working these issues. Because a lot of the things that were said in the surveys or in forums like the Solariums, those are the kinds of things that have worked their way into the NCO 2020 Strategy. They have influenced what the Army is doing.
“The goal is to keep it simple,” O’Bryant said. “To watch or participate, go to www.tradoc.army.mil/watch at 5 p.m. EST on March 3. You can watch the live video, and there will be a chat board on the site for you to join in the conversation.”
The town hall will begin with a 15-minute overview from Command Sgt. Maj. Davenport on the State of NCO Development in the Army. After his remarks, Davenport and other experts from the Institute of Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development will answer as many questions as possible until 7 p.m. EST.
“Social media is going to be a big part of this event,” O’Bryant said. “Soldiers can actually send us a question before the event by using the hashtag #talk2TRADOC on Facebook or Twitter – even using video. In fact, we will play a couple of videos of Soldiers asking questions. This is a great chance to represent your unit.
TRADOC will also have leaders and INCOPD experts monitoring the hashtag #talk2TRADOC and answering questions on social media during the event in addition to the chat board and Davenport answering questions on video.
Davenport said he is hoping senior leaders will use the town hall as an opportunity to assemble NCOs and learn about NCO professional development.
“I encourage sergeants major and other leaders across the Army to use this event to inform Soldiers, answer questions and continue to listen to their ideas,” Davenport said. “The event is free, and gives leaders an opportunity to organize troop calls at their locations to watch and participate in the discussion as a group, where the first sergeant or sergeant major can offer mentorship.”
What: State of NCO Development Town Hall
When: 5 to 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 3
FORT SILL, Okla., (Feb. 11, 2016) — After a week of voluntary sleep deprivation and complete physical exhaustion, 11 Soldiers completed pre-Ranger training here, Feb. 5.
The course was organized by 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, as a way to help Soldiers attending Fort Sill’s Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC), who also wanted to earn their Ranger tab be as prepared as possible prior to Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“Ranger assessment phase is four days at Fort Benning, and in essence is 96 hours of continual movement with physical tests and classes,” said Capt. Jed Fisher, a small group instructor at BOLC, the brigade pre-Ranger officer in charge and Ranger qualified himself. “It is extremely stressful and one of the things we realized was our training didn’t accurately represent the stress you’re going through at Ranger school.”
Toward the end of fiscal 2015, 1-30th Field Artillery leaders began to analyze their statistics and realized many of the qualified Soldiers they were sending to Ranger School were not graduating at a level they were comfortable with, said Fisher. He worked with Capt. Evan Cummings and Capt. Kyle Carlson, who are both transitioning out of the Army and Ranger qualified, to create the course.
They determined one of the key elements was replicating the cumulative effect of fatigue. Their current training has a five-mile ruck march on Monday, a swim test on Tuesday, a 12-mile foot march on Wednesday. However, it wasn’t accurately representing the stress the Soldiers would experience going through Ranger School.
“We designed a five-day model that will get them to the point of physical and mental exhaustion that they will experience at Ranger School,” said Fisher.
The Soldiers attending the training are all graduates of BOLC. To receive admittance to Ranger School Soldiers must first, qualify physically, then, pass their academics to the standards required by BOLC, said Lt. Col. Jeremy Jelly, 1-30th Field Artillery commander.
During their time at BOLC, Soldiers who plan to attend Ranger School can participate in pre-Ranger training which begins with Phase 1, which takes place during BOLC and includes physical fitness. Typically upon graduation, students who have earned a slot to Ranger School remain at Fort Sill for six weeks before attending. During those six weeks, Fisher said they are able to “put on the finishing touches” with Phase 2.
For the 11 Soldiers participating in the pre-Ranger training, the finishing touches included working with Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Houston, a Ranger instructor at Fort Benning, who came to help prepare them. Throughout the week he, along with other instructors, worked with the Soldiers to create an environment that will be comparable to what they will experience during their first four days at Ranger School, called Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week.
“This course replicates RAP week,” said Houston. “We are trying to simulate through the course, the mental stress they will experience.”
A sample day for the Soldiers included waking up a 5 a.m. for a 20-minute, two-mile run in boots, with a rifle and a fighting load (to include vest and helmet). Immediately following the run the Soldiers conducted a day-time land navigation where they traversed between 5 and 10 kilometers. Immediately following the day-time land navigation, the Soldiers went into a night-time land navigation on a similar course, followed by a 7-mile foot march. They averaged about four hours of sleep at night.
“They’re extremely fatigued,” said Fisher. “For many of them this is the most exhausted they’ve ever been in their entire life. In terms of goals for them, Ranger School is bigger than college graduation, it’s bigger than commissioning. For these young men and one woman, this is the ‘Super Bowl’ of their life. They’ve been going continually.”
Fisher and Jelly, said the course is important, because as leaders, it is their responsibility to help their subordinates reach their goals. In addition, having Ranger training increases the value of the Soldier, said Jelly.
“The more field artillery officers that have this additional skill and ability will make our officers become a force multiplier,” said Jelly. “That makes us much more capable.”
Fisher said he believes the 11 Soldiers who completed the training will represent Fort Sill well. All will attend Ranger School together, and Fisher believes, the combination of attending BOLC and then engaging in the physical demands of Ranger training will give these Soldiers an edge.
“We have confidence that they have been given everything we can give them to be able to succeed,” said Fisher. “They’re young and very tough and very motivated. I think when you have a combination of heart and physical stamina then you can overcome almost any obstacle. It’s reassuring that this is the product of our BOLC course. We have young men and women who are this capable and this motivated to do something that is easily the hardest course in the United States Army.”
Fisher is realistic though and said Ranger School has a 42-percent passing rate, and that includes infantry Soldiers and Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment.
“For many of them, Ranger School will be a life-long pursuit,” said Fisher. “Many of them will chase Ranger School and chase the Ranger tab for years and years. They may not get it on the first try, but our job is to give them a foundation that betters them. Even if they don’t succeed in Ranger School when they go down the line, they’re better prepared for it.”
“Some will struggle more than others,” said Houston. “Overall they should be very successful in RAP week.”
As these 11 Soldiers enter Ranger School, Fisher said the leadership at BOLC will be watching to see how they progress to determine how to change their course for the better.
Photo credit: Second Lt. Zach Lord signals his unit to halt during a week-long pre-Ranger training event created by 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery on a training range at Fort Sill, Okla., Feb. 4, 2016. (U.S. Army photo by Monica Guthrie)
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 11, 2016) — The goal of achieving an expeditionary, uninterrupted mission command network is taking shape but is still “a work in progress,” said Brig. Gen. Willard M. Burleson III.
Burleson, director, Mission Command Center of Excellence, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, spoke Feb. 11 at the Association of the United States Army-sponsored Hot Topics forum on Air and Missile Defense during a panel about “Networked Mission Command.”
PURPOSE OF NETWORK
Before diving into the details of what’s been accomplished with the network thus far, Burleson described the importance of the network to warfighting.
First and foremost, the network enables mission command, he said, meaning that it is the vital command and control technology piece that links leaders and Soldiers with their systems, joint forces and partners. This connectivity enables informed planning and decisions based on situational awareness across the domains of warfare.
Besides being expeditionary, the network must be robust enough to operate uninterrupted, he said, acknowledging that networks, like any systems, will not always be perfect. That’s why it’s important that Soldiers still be able to continue the mission without being “solely dependent on connectivity” in environments where the network is “degraded, intermittent and limited.”
Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commander, U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, and deputy commander, Second Army, then described the Army’s network modernization effort.
To understand where the network is today, Morrison illustrated how far that modernization has come in just a few years.
It wasn’t long ago when Soldiers deploying to Southwest Asia from the U.S. or another theater had to have their computer turned in to get reimaged, he said. That occurred because tactical and strategic networks were “stove-piped,” meaning that each network worked separately from other networks.
“That’s no longer the case,” he said. “We worked aggressively over the last year in regional cyber centers to standardize the basic capabilities provided so units moving around the world could transition from theater to theater. Now, you can deploy to any theater and plug into the network.”
Morrison emphasized, “We’re in the midst of probably the most comprehensive modernization effort for network modernization ever.”
A lot of that effort, he said, is going into standing up Joint Regional Security Stacks, or JRSS, to ensure that the network communicates securely and efficiently across the joint force, he said. JRSS features common architecture, meaning software, tactics, techniques and procedures.
Four JRSSs were stood up recently in the United States and are now operational, he said. By the end of this calendar year, two more will be stood up in Europe and two in Southwest Asia. He said the effort to stand up JRSS is being done across the services, in cooperation with the Defense Information Systems Agency.
A challenge, Morrison said, is getting coalition partners to share the network. The technology is in place to do that, but the policy hasn’t caught up. “This needs to be formalized quickly.”
Morrison said network modernization is also taking place on installations across the Army. Over the last 18 months, 16 installation network systems have been modernized.
An example of what this modernization looks like, for example, is Fort Hood, Texas, he said. There, operators were routinely running “96 percent of the pipes,” meaning using up 96 percent of the bandwidth to stream videos, pictures, text, whatever.
Now, it’s down to around 10 percent,” he said. This reduction in bandwidth “allows us to collapse the networks and provide capacity for everyone on a single, secure, joint infrastructure for first time.”
Another aspect of network modernization, he said, is using Army personnel to engineer and install networks and upgrades, as opposed to relying on contractor support.
Morrison admitted that the Army and joint force have a ways to go to get the network where they want it to be.
“Over the past year we supported over seven named operations and in not one instance did the unit take their full network capabilities with them,” he said. “Almost every instance was distributed, where a [network] portion remained back at home station and had to be connected to a footprint that was much smaller forward.
“Yet, the commander wanted the same capabilities as if he had his full staff there,” he continued.
Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Sheriff, deputy commander, 263rd U.S. Army Air and Missile Defense Command, said the hardest piece of network modernization has to do with his own area of air and missile defense, the “human dimension.”
The human dimension is a term encompassing a wide range of human involvement in the process, from getting the tactical and technical exposure at the schoolhouses to developing leaders and Soldiers to accept this new technology and employ it to its full capacity, he said.
Talent management also falls into the human dimension realm, he said. That means the right Soldiers need to be placed in the right jobs based on their skills and potential to learn.
Burleson added that in the human dimension, “leaders must be able to thrive in situations of ambiguity and chaos where connectivity to the network may be limited or nonexistent. A lot of that can be learned through leader development.”
He added that the Army has done a lot of great work thus far, but there’s still a lot left to do.
Photo credit: A Soldier at Fort Bliss participates in a network integration exercise in 2015. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)
MONTEREY, Calif. – The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center welcomed Gen. David Perkins, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to the Presidio of Monterey, California, Feb. 9.
Perkins visited a classroom in the institute’s Middle East I school where he interacted with some of the students who are learning Arabic. Afterward, he spoke about DLIFLC as an example in the upcoming Army University, which will be a premier learning institution that prepares Soldiers and civilians to win in the future security environment.
“Something we are trying to increase and propagate in the Army is that we want you to continue your education and your level of self-development,” said Perkins. “For the rest of your life we want you to build tools to stay connected to the community of learning, and I think DLIFLC is really setting a great example of how we do that.”
Since 2002, service members attending the institute have been able to earn an accredited Associate of Arts degree in foreign language upon successful graduation from their program. Nearly 12,000 associate degrees have been awarded since DLIFLC became accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The Army has succeeded in making it possible for students to receive the two-year college degree with 45 DLIFLC credits and 18 units transferred from other accredited institutions or authorized sources.
“In many ways, DLIFLC is a part of an example we want to propagate throughout the rest of the Army in that they get accredited courses here and they are recognized around the world,” said Perkins.
The Army continues to modernize its professional military education in order to improve the quality of professional training, development and schooling that its Soldiers and civilians receive. Perkins spoke further about how he expects Army University, which encompasses all 37 TRADOC schools including DLIFLC, to be a game changer in the professionalism of both Soldiers and civilians.
“From an Army University point of view, not only does it allow us to credential and accredit courses that our Soldiers take, but it raises everyone’s game to a higher level,” said Perkins. “If you want to be accredited you’ve got to have well developed faculty, great resource tools, and the students have to perform at a high level.”
Accreditation through Army University will also allow Army schools to partner with other colleges and universities, the same way DLIFLC did with MIT, for example, to develop tools for students to access in and out of the classroom.
“Because DLIFLC has a recognized level of expertise and excellence, that makes MIT want to work with them because they are a well know entity,” said Perkins.
“That is exactly what we want to do within other organizations within TRADOC and the Army.”
Dr. Branka Sarac, director of technology integration, and Dr. Tamas Marius, director of language technology evaluation and assessment, showed the general some of the language training products produced by DLIFLC that are available for pre-deployment training, deployment use or refresher training.
“Some of the technology that I just saw – the web access, voice recognition, self-paced distance learning – I think that is going to be key so that people other than just professionally trained linguists have at least a minimum background in language and culture,” said Perkins.
Through technology, Perkins would like to see language and culture training given to the total force as he spoke about the ever-changing role of training in the military. For 75 years, linguists have been trained at DLIFLC. Graduating with a high level of proficiency, they go on to become the language experts at the units to which they are assigned, but as Perkins points out, these language experts are too few.
“I think what we’re going to find in the future is that it is not enough. When we send a unit to a particular region for regional alignment we are going to want a level of language and cultural proficiency throughout the formation and we can’t send them all to DLIFLC,” said Perkins, reemphasizing how the institute’s online language training products can assist regionally.
Speaking further about regionally aligned forces, Perkins said, “The world is going to get more and more complex.”
“No matter what mission we give our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines they are going to be in an environment with multiple cultures, multiple languages, and multiple backgrounds all simultaneously interacting with each other. This is a level of complexity that we are not used to,” said Perkins.
The Army also expects Army University to better prepare Army professionals to operate successfully in a global environment by increasing foreign partnerships and regional studies, especially for regionally aligned forces.
Education is the most reliable strategic investment the Army can make to address Army warfighting challenges. Speaking another language and understanding the cultures of other nations will help the Army in building foreign partnerships and enhance cooperation with those countries.
The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center provides resident instruction in 23 languages at the Presidio of Monterey, California, with the capacity to instruct another 65 languages in Washington, D.C., graduating more than 200,000 linguists since 1941.
In addition, multiple language training detachments exists at sites in the U.S., Europe, Hawaii and Korea spanning all the U.S. geographic combatant commands, to support the total force.
Photo credit: Gen. David Perkins, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, speaks to students studying Arabic at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., Feb. 9. (U.S. Army photo by Patrick Bray)