Army taps Civilian Corps’ potential through leadership course

| May 19, 2016 | 0 Comments





Master Sgt. Gary Qualls
Army News Service

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Ignite them!

That’s what the Army Management Staff College is out to do to its students: Ignite their leadership potential with a premier leader development experience. These are not Soldiers the college is endeavoring to mold into Army leaders, however. They are members of the Army Civilian Corps with unique backgrounds, routines and legal guidelines.

The AMSC was born in 1985, according to the college’s website, when studies on education and training in the service convinced top Army officials Department of the Army civilians lacked the preparation for leadership their uniformed counterparts received in military staff and service colleges. The Army civilian education effort went through various changes through the years, ultimately resulting in the Civilian Education System. The CES provides enhanced leader development and educational opportunities for Army civilians throughout their careers. The college is the executive agent of the CES.

At the heart of this ignition of civilian leadership, is instilling in them a level of commitment that rises above that for a mere job.

“We try to instill in them a conviction that this is not a job – but a calling,” said AMSC Director Kim Summers.

The AMSC courses run two to four weeks, depending on whether they are the basic, intermediate, or advanced level. All the processes and content in the courses, which are primarily for Army Civilian Corps members at the GS 7 through GS 12 levels, are viewed through the perspective of how they pertain to the individual student — making self-awareness one of their pillars, Summers added.

“The students grab whatever makes them better,” he explained, adding, “We don’t teach them what to think, but how to think.”

Along with self-awareness, other pillars: such as team building and mission accomplishment (while improving the organization) create the foundation of this ambitious program.

And, it all takes leadership.

“You can have the best artillerymen in the world, but, without good leadership, they won’t focus on what they were truly meant to do,” Summers said.

Moreover, Soldiers and the nation are counting on the Army Civilian Corps more than ever in the Army today, Summers added.

The fact the world is so interconnected today makes the role of the civilian in the Army even more important, added Lt. Col. R. Taylor Basye, an intermediate instructor at AMSC.

“You’ve got Soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq talking to civilian team members back in the States while trying to fix an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle,” he said.

The principles taught in AMSC are broken down into specific actions members of the Army Civilian Corps can take to improve themselves and their organizations. A specific action to improve confidence, for example, is to accept relevant feedback. To enhance resilience, an action is to model comfort in dealing with ambiguity. And, to stimulate innovation, an action is to embrace uncommon thoughts.

“This course has helped me become a better leader, to understand where Soldiers are coming from,” noted Chris Benavente, a chief industry hygienist in Camp Zama, Japan, who is here for the course.

Throughout the AMSC learning process instructors strive to demystify the Army and its jargon-filled language to the Army Civilian Corps.

Logic and emotion are tied together to drive home the importance of the Army Civilian Corps’ role.

“The charging of their batteries starts with values,” Basye said.

Values, such as commitment, integrity and appreciating the worth of the individual, play a big part in this motivating conviction.

“It’s huge that the Army is believing in me,” said Monica Walker, a project management specialist at Fort Belvoir, Va. “I feel the Army has realized they have to start training us for the future. They’re investing in our development – and it means a lot.”

Other insights, knowledge and attained skills noted by class members included the “eye opening” dimension of the class’ emphasis on self-awareness and the individual, the priority placed on values and the way the course tied the Civilian Corps Creed and the Army Values together, the encouragement from the Army sharing its vision and leadership responsibility with the Army Civilian Corps, and how that kind of trust is helping to break through the “continuity barrier.”

“I feel I’ve gained a lot of tools here to take back to help transform my directorate into the greatest organization it can be,” Shannon Comperato, a contract specialist for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, said.

The class members agreed their class facilitators in their iteration of the course, Thomas N. Barnhouse and Lyle N. Adams, are “fantastic.”

Many large organizations centrally enroll their employees and use an order-of-merit list to select who from their command goes to the course, as there is a great demand for class seats and limited availability.

The AMSC fully pays for the course as a part of the Civilian Education System. All travel, hotel and associated temporary duty costs are covered by AMSC.

“What I’ve gained here is profound,” Comperato said.


Course Registration

Army Civilian Corps members interested in attending one of the 14 courses run by AMSC each year can register online at

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Category: Army News Service, News

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