Bridging the Basics

| December 2, 2013 | 0 Comments

Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Wilson
307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion
516th Sig. Brigade
311th Sig. Command (Theater)



Being at war for more than a decade has deteriorated our junior noncommissioned officers ability to train and our leaders ability to properly plan training.

To meet our training needs during the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle, the Army increased its use of the Internet as a means to train, disseminate and collect information.

Leaders have largely failed to account for this additional training when publishing training schedules. This use of the Internet, combined with traditional training requirements, has overwhelmed junior NCOs, the primary trainers of Soldiers. We must afford our junior NCOs time and predictability to improve their Soldiers technical and tactical competencies.

Before the attacks of 9/11, junior NCOs were good instructors who knew and followed the eight-step training model or other training models, like the military decision making process and troop leading procedures. They were proficient mainly because of leader involvement in every step of the model. Over the past 12 years, most of these Soldiers who remained in the Army became our platoon and first sergeants. During this era of mobilizations and the ARFORGEN cycle, the number of training skills passed to new NCOs diminished. As the operational tempo grew, less time was available to conduct productive training meetings and develop qualified trainers. Instead, training schedules were focused on the reset, train/ready and available cycles as units prepared for their next deployment. “Training to standard not to time” was replaced with “just get the prescribed ARFORGEN training done.”

In addition to the mandatory Army training requirements, our primary trainers must also meet the increasing demands of the Internet. Soldiers must multiple online classes. The added demand of Internet use, without allocating time on unit training plans, causes junior NCOs to carry a greater workload. It is not allowing them to give sufficient time and attention to individual or collective tasks.

Our primary trainers are modifying the eight-step training model. They are only identifying the task to be trained in Step 1 (plan the training) and then skipping to Step 6 (execute). Before 9/11, NCOs didn’t work on computer-based training after duty hours. They prepared for the training they were tasked to give, well in advance and in accordance with the unit’s training plan.

I’m holding our company command teams of the 307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion responsible for providing their primary trainers with protected and predictable training schedules that also incorporate online training. The first step in developing our trainers is to give them predictability. Brigades and battalions must provide annual training guidance in a timely manner allowing companies to develop their unit training plan. Platoon and company training meetings are vital to the success of our team chiefs, squad leaders, and section sergeants. Computer-based training is training, and should be scheduled like any other training event.

Junior NCOs, you are our primary trainers. Show Soldiers what right looks like instead of giving them more unscheduled classes, which doesn’t fix the problem — it only adds to the myriad of tasks they must accomplish. Give them detailed and protected training schedules that include Internet-based training, which will allow for the proper use of training models.

Once the training environment has been created, you will enable primary trainers to become more proficient.

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Category: News, Training

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