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Home | Tag Archives: NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

Tag Archives: NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

From Spouse to Mentor through a Virtual Environment at Fort Bliss

The first Spouse Leadership Development Course, Distance Learning (SLDC-DL), launched May 11-19, with 41 spouses in attendance.

Sgt. Maj. Matildo Coppi and his team ensured the SLDC-DL went live for the spouses after going through a pilot phase during the summer of 2019.

“A dedicated team of professionals developed this course,” Coppi said.
“Furthermore, it is delivered by a superb facilitator- Ms. Michelle Mebane.”

The SLDC program is run by the SLDC Director Michelle Mebane, who helps the spouses sharpen their skills, support readiness, and boost morale.

“Ms. Mebane’s depth of knowledge, professionalism, and energetic personality make this course dynamic,” Coppi said.

The course teaches senior enlisted spouses the importance of team building, leadership, readiness support, and effective communication to complement their service member in their new role as a sergeant major.

“The SLDC-DL training objectives align with the in-person, resident SLDC,” Coppi said. “Although the delivery mode is different, the focus is to immerse each senior spouse into the various training topics to meet the learning outcome.”

Mebane explains how engaged and committed the SLDC-DL spouses were during the seven-day course.

“Dedication is one of the words spouses learn the meaning of in this course,” Mebane said. “Having the opportunity to watch 41 dedicated spouses for the last seven nights fills my heart with joy.”

Distance learning scared some spouses at first, but they quickly overcame their fear of technology and participated in the course.

Mebane added, “distance learning is only effective if you invest your time into the course. These spouses are completely dedicated to learning their new roles as advisors/mentors when they move into their next position, supporting their service member.”

SLDC-DL participant Caroline Boudreau appreciated the option for spouses to share their experiences, ask questions and have real conversations with their facilitators through the chat function on Microsoft Teams.

“I think it’s important to have the chatbox to give real-time feedback to the lecturer, so they don’t feel like they’re teaching to an empty room,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau referred to this feature as virtual eye contact.

Other participants of the latest course also found it exciting to be a part of the groundbreaking experience.

“These are strange and trying times for everyone, and to be able to maintain some sense of normalcy and to continue being able to learn has been comforting,” Tabitha Tahbo said.

She added, “this class has helped to clearly define my role and responsibilities as a support person for my Soldier and the families in our organization.”

The subject matter experts’ delivery and execution made the class as real as possible in the virtual environment.

“The ‘virtually’ indispensable information provided, lessons learned and spouses met during classes, is beyond extraordinary,” SLDC-DL participant Jennifer Lowrance exclaimed. She added, “I could not thank Ms. Mebane and the others [facilitators] involved enough for this phenomenal experience.”

Participants of the Spouse Leadership Development Course through Distance Learning receive a brief from Zenon Molina from Army Community Services on the roles within the Army’s Casualty Response Team (CARE Team), May 12. | Picture provided by the NCOLCoE Commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers.

SLDC-DL provides an everlasting impact on the spouses.

“I would highly recommend the course to other spouses,” Tahbo said. “The wealth of knowledge that I gained will help me to become a better advisor, and help support the junior spouses and families in our organization, as well as my Soldier.”

Many of the participants preferred a face to face environment, but they all appreciated the opportunity to glean from their new-found knowledge.

“Verbal communication is better than nothing,” Boudreau said. “Now, I feel more prepared to be a mentor for newer spouses because of this class.”

The SLDC-DL provides a learning environment for all spouses with Soldiers attending the Sergeants Major Academy.

“It provides us the capability to reach spouses who were not able to PCS here with their students, or could not leave their home for other reasons to attend in person,” Sgt. Maj. James Halchishick, the director of the Sergeants Major Academy, said.

The DL course also increases the number of seats available for participants.

“It also increases capacity,” he said. “We enrolled 48 spouses in the current course [41 attended]. That is twice the normal class size.”

The online collaborative environment provides all the participants will the right tools to be successful senior spouse mentors.

“This course will educate spouses on the myriad of Army Programs and other resources available to Soldiers and Families,” Halchishick said. “SLDC-DL has made the entire world our classroom.”

The next SLDC-DL is scheduled from Tuesday, May 26 to Wednesday, June 3, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Contact the SLDC director Michelle Mebane at to register.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

NCOLCoE Students of Class 70 – Learners, Leaders, and Mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso

FORT BLISS, Texas – Five students from the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and Sergeants Major Academy lead the change by volunteering with the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of El Paso.

Artez Lamar an instructor for the Sergeants Major Course organized the opportunity for the Class 70 students by having the BBBS program provide a 15-minute informational brief for his class at the beginning of each semester.

“As an Instructor at the Academy, the goal is to provide the military and civilian communities with enlisted leaders of character and competence,” he said. “Children are our future and for this reason, I asked the students of Class 70 to extend the influence of our Academy into the El Paso Community.”

Lamar an active volunteer with the BBBS program, started when he was a student at the SMC.

“It’s been almost 20 years since I volunteered with the program,” Lamar said. “Though I was first introduced to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as a child and then again as a student of Class 51.”

Lamar added, “When I was a little boy my mentor’s name was Mr. Nathaniel Williams. He helped me when I needed it most and told me ‘all I needed to do to be successful was to help other people every day’ (HOPE).”

Through his volunteer efforts Lamar found a way to give back to the community that gave to him.

“Over the years this translated to me helping my Soldiers, students, and the communities I became a part of,” he said. “The students of Class 70 rose to the occasion with five becoming mentors ‘Bigs’ for children ‘Littles’ in the El Paso Big Brother Big Sister Program,” he said. “Their willingness to serve in this way helps their Littles meet the challenges they face in this complex world.”

Master Sgt. Harrison Helms a geographic bachelor explains his experience as an SMC Big, matched to a Little named Cole.

“My interactions with Cole helped me to have a better understanding of his age group, which is the same as my children.”

Master Sgt. Harrison Helms a student with the Sergeants Major Academy Class 70 and a Big Brother Big Sister mentor stands with his mentee Cole at the Globo Rojo Auto Club Museum in El Paso, February 23. | Picture Previously Taken and provided by Master Sgt. Harrison Helms-

“Since Cole and I have been matched, we have tried to do something every weekend together,” Helms said. “We have gone bowling, visited a museum, and we escaped from a Red Door escape room down at the Fountains.”

Outings with the Littles builds trust, develops bonds and promotes growth.

“Cole and I have had a few outings helping us to form the bond that will enable Cole to trust that I will be available when he needs to talk to someone and does not want the parental judgment,” Helms said. “The intention for each new activity we engage in is to provide Cole another method of learning and growing as he transitions through adolescence.”

Though BBBS is a program to benefit the children it also creates opportunities of growth for the Bigs.

“Another aspect is my growth in these activities,” Helms said. “With all of the studying, I spend a lot of time closed up in a room by myself, isolated from the world. By participating in the BBBS program, I am able to break free of my routine and experience activities I otherwise would forego.”

Even through the current times of social distancing Helms continues many forms of contact with Cole.

“I have been talking to my little through an online gaming chat program that has text, picture, and voice capabilities,” Helms said. “In addition to our regular chats I run a ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ game for my kids who are still in Florida.

Helms and the rest of the SMC Bigs provide a few hours every month to give back to the community by interacting with their Littles, and enrollment into the program is always open.

“It is a great honor to be a positive addition to a young kid’s life,” Stormy Graham Jr. an SMC Big exclaims. “I am having the time of my life being able to take part in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters program and I recommend more people participate, we can change the world.”

Rebecca Romero the Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso development director explains new Bigs and Littles are always welcomed, especially during a pandemic.

“As we all adjust to our temporary new normal, it’s important to remember that many El Paso families are no stranger to hard times even outside this COVID-19 crisis time,” she said. “Those are the families Big Brothers Big Sisters continues to serve while the world is on hold.”
BBBS practices social distancing and leveraging digital platforms for Bigs and Littles to get enrolled and matched.

“The agency has adapted to make mentoring possible from the online enrollment to the virtual mentor/mentee hangouts,” she said. “While Bigs and Littles can’t see each other in person for the time being, there are still plenty of ways to connect, from calls and texts, to social media and online gaming.”

Romero added, “Of course, real world experiences will be back on the menu as soon as the world goes back to normal, but in the meantime, our Littles need the support now more than ever.”
BBBS also provides a little extra support to military families through Operation Bigs.

“The agency has funding specifically to serve military youth,” she said. “The one-to-one mentoring with a screened, trained and caring adult mentor does wonders for a child’s self-confidence and ability to avoid risky behaviors, not to mention expose them to amazing new experiences.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

For more information on enrolling to be Big or Little, click here.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

Ft. Bliss’ NCOLCoE creates fit and disciplined senior enlisted leaders

FORT BLISS – A part of the mission at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence is to provide the force with fit, disciplined, and well educated senior enlisted leaders.

Within the institution, two NCOs epitomize this very idea, Sgt. Maj. Billy Atkinson, a student with the Sergeants Major Academy Fellowship Program and Master Sgt. David Zeek, a Sergeants Major Course student of Class 70.

Atkinson won the El Paso Marathon, held in February with a run time of 3:01:51. While Zeek is the first senior enlisted leader at the NCOLCoE to achieve an Army Combat Fitness Test score of over 590.

Both SELs created small goals to attain these achievements, and continue to do so today.

Zeek creates several goals every day, and it all starts with getting out of bed early.

“Fundamentally, if a person completes several tasks early in the morning, whether physical or mental, your productivity level throughout the day will be higher,” he said.

While Atkinson, who won the third marathon he participated in, created short-term goals to break the three-hour mark.

“I specifically trained and set my pace for this time,” he said. “I was on target to achieve my goal [during the race] but slowed down the last three miles even more.

Atkinson added, “It was a difficult race, and even though I did not achieve my goal this year, I am still proud of my time.”

Atkinson may not have wholly reached his goal, but he attained a new title as the winner of the El Paso 2020 Marathon and is preparing for the 2021 race next year.

“I have already registered, and my goal for that race is not only to break the 3-hour mark but improve my time to 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Though their processes are different, they each have one sizeable trait in common; Discipline.

Zeek served the last ten years in the 75th Ranger Regiment, he trains cardio in the morning, runs 3-5 miles per day, and lift weights or conducts bodyweight exercises in the evening relating to the ACFT events.

“I would not say I prepared for the ACFT. Rather, I built a mindset and a discipline over the years that helped me achieve and overcome physical obstacles,” he said.

Atkinson, who started running for sport over five years ago, considers his experience life changing.

“My first marathon was the El Paso 2019 Marathon, where I placed 15th and finished with a time of 3:34:40,” he said. “My second was the 2019 Bataan Death March.”

Atkinson added, it takes “commitment, dedication, and the desire to excel. By never giving up, goals are achieved, and obstacles overcome.”

Even during quarantine due to the COVID-19, they both continue to train.

“The quarantine has not changed my training,” Atkinson said. “I still run early in the mornings [six days a week] and conduct my strength and flexibility training here in my home gym.

Zeek adds, “you do not need a gym membership to run, do pushups, sit-ups, and throw on a ruck to go for a long walk.”

Zeek further explains, “during this unprecedented time, eating well-balanced meals will make you feel good, will help prevent sickness, and will enable performance, whether in a physical or mental form.”

Being fit and disciplined is only a part of the NCOLCoE mission. They must also be well-educated professionals capable of meeting challenges.

“Continue to train smart, and never give up on your goals and desires,” Atkinson said.

“Being disciplined is a part of wearing stripes,” Zeeks explains. “If senior leaders start to relax, then the force will start to relax, and then our national security is at risk.”

For Soldiers, failure can be severe at times, but it is also a part of the learning experience.

“Of course, failure will happen,” Zeek said. “Learning from failure will produce a more agile, lethal, and resilient force, which is what we need to suppress our enemies in future wars.”

The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence is the premier institution driving innovative development for enlisted leaders, constantly focused on readiness.

For more information on the NCOLCoE visit their website.

Author: Danielle ODonnell – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

For some at Fort Bliss’ NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, e=Emergency distributed learning

This article is brought to the NCO Corps by the letter “e.” Due to the current precautions in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Basic Leader Course, the Master Leader Course, and the Sergeants Major Academy move towards distributed learning platforms.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, the Commandant of the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, explains the importance of delivering professional military education through distributed learning platforms.

“We refined methods to ensure we continue to develop and deliver world-class professional military education to the enlisted force,” he said.

Though the effects on each installation and location will vary, the NCOLCoE continues to focus on maintaining a healthy, ready, and lethal combat force.

“It is imperative that we maintain a safe and healthy environment to train and educate NCOs and Soldiers to the standards codified in our course management plans,” he said.

Sellers explains, the Army is a learning institution which remains in a constant state of improvement, that gets better every day.

“As our NCOA Commandants and their teams experience challenges associated with delivering the first online BLC,” he said. “We’ll codify their lessons learned and share them throughout the entire enterprise.”

Reducing the risk of unnecessary exposure is why the BLC is conducting two different tracks under the emergency BLC (eBLC) learning.

Blended Learning consists of a combination of limited faced to face training and online training via

“NCOAs will facilitate the blended learning environment by reducing the number of Soldiers per classroom down from 16 to 8 Soldiers,” Ogletree said.

Soldiers are spread out across the classroom while adhering to the social distancing requirements.

“Soldiers are able to spread out- exaggerating the social distancing requirements,” Ogletree said. “This also makes up for the lost time in the classrooms.”

This method of training and lessons will be advanced and reinforced online via blackboard once the class is over for the day.
The other virtual option is full Online.

“NCOA Commandants are fully prepared to facilitate BLC completely online based on Senior Mission Commander and CSM Guidance,” Ogletree said.

He added, “think of this option as a traditional online college course.”
The upcoming BLC Class 6-20 will go as scheduled, and no student will be canceled out in ATRRS and will utilize the website.

The MLC students transitioning from resident to the distributed learning platform will first encounter a dis-enrolled from the Resident course and reenrolled into the MLC DL course.

“At this time, no actions need to be taken by the sergeants first class scheduled or planning to attend MLC,” Ogletree said. “The quota source managers and the registrar at the NCOLCoE are processing the transfer enrollments from resident to non-resident.”

NCO Academies will cease delivery of Master Leader Course-Resident conducted from Apr 1 through June 18.

Ogletree confirmed, “the canceled MLC-R courses entered into the Army Training Requirements and Resources System are coded as ‘Non-conduct’ utilizing reason code 6 [COVID-19].”

Once the cancellations are complete, the re-enrollment occurs by their Army components.

“The active duty Soldiers are enrolled through the Human Resources Command, while the Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers receive re-enrollment through their quota managers,” Ogletree said.

On March 23, the Sergeants Major Course implemented the virtual classroom, using to enable faculty to hold class in a collaborative online environment.

“We will continue in this modality as long as required, based on the current operational environment,” Sgt. Maj. Jamie Halchishick, director of the Sergeants Major Academy said.

“The NCOLCoE is adapting to the ever-changing situation on Fort Bliss and in the El Paso community related to COVID-19 restrictions and health updates,” Sellers said. “Class 70 is conducting DL for the immediate future.”

This effort includes the ability to use to host collaborative classroom sessions and provide synchronous learning environments.
The NCOLCoE created measures to mitigate the risk of exposure by utilizing DL platforms.

“In keeping with the messages from our Army’s senior leaders,” Sellers said. “It’s imperative that we adhere to the safety guidance disseminated by the Centers for Disease Control. By effectively protecting the force, protecting our families and protecting the mission. We will be highly successful in the battle against COVID 19, and be able to resume resident PME once it’s deemed safe to do so.”

Sellers added, “in the end, I think we are going to see marked improvements as a result of the current operating environment. The lessons learned will enable us to develop more ways to increase training capacity and opportunities for our Soldiers and NCOs to attend professional military education courses.”

For more information on the courses provided by the NCOLCoE, click here.

Author: Danielle ODonnell – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

Chief Master Sergeants of the Air Force visit the NCOLCoE at Fort Bliss

Chief Master Sgts. Brent Sheehan the commandant of the Air Force Senior NCO Academy and Michael Wester, the director of Air University’s Chief Master Sergeant Leadership Course visited the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence at the invitation of Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, the commandant of the NCOLCoE, February 19.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers speaks about the importance of the visit.

“This visit gave us the ability to talk to them about how they are progressing in their NCO Professional Development System,” he said. “It also allowed us to share lessons we learned as we were developing and educating our NCOs.”

“Most importantly,” he added. “This visit helped us tie in together how we want to continue moving forward on providing joint services.”

The NCOLCoE and Air Force have joined together in providing senior enlisted education to the sergeants first class community either through the Army Master Leader Course or the Air Force Advanced Leadership Experience through the Air Force Senior NCO Academy at Hunter-Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

“A part of our interoperability communication and our memorandum of understanding, the AFSNCOA authorized 30 slots a year for the Army to fill for the AFALE,” Sellers said. “To date, 22 NCOs graduated the AFALE and received their MLC course credit.”

Sellers added, “upon completion of the MLC or the AFALE NCOs are then eligible to be enrolled into the Distributed Leaders Course V.”

Besides solidifying a partnership with the Air Force, the NCOLCoE sponsored the visit to assist the chiefs in gaining a better understanding of how the Army delivers NCO Professional Military Education, the life-cycle for enlisted development, and to learn the institution’s best practices.

“There are a lot of value-added practices we see from the Army,” Sheehan said. “By being here and cross-talking, I can glean from someone who already started the path we are moving towards.”

While visiting the NCOLCoE, the chiefs received a brief from the institution’s main directorates to include: Policy and Governance, Curriculum Development, NCO Professional Development, and the Sergeants Major Academy.

Tony Battle, the director of Policy and Governance, explained the analysis, design, and implementation for the educational and training curriculum across the NCO Corps.

“The NCOLCoE’s mantra,” Battle stated, “is to collaborate, communicate, and coordinate, and it works,” he said. “There is a shared understanding across all the directorates and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command,” he said.

Battle also informed the chiefs, when the commandant flattened the organization it helped rid the institution of the communication challenges, and promoted growth and open communication in driving the mission of NCO PME.

Wester then spoke to the group on the opportunities and challenges NCO PME presents.

“The challenge occurs when you have not developed your NCOs enough, and they cannot take advantage of those opportunities, Wester said. “We are looking for opportunities to develop our NCOs and eliminate the challenges,”

Battle agreed with Wester on the importance of creating more development opportunities and spoke about the NCOLCoE Fellowship program, which not only benefits the Sergeants Major Academy by producing highly qualified and highly educated instructors, it is also doubles as a broadening experience for sergeants major.

“Yes, you want to have a well-trained and educated force, as much as possible,” Battle said. “The fellowship program not only benefits our NCO Corps, by producing highly qualified and highly educated instructors, it also doubles as a broadening experience for sergeants major while creating opportunities for them to excel in their careers.”

The chiefs also learned of the different outcomes and educational opportunities provided throughout each level of NCO PME.

William “Bill” Ogletree, the director of Curriculum Development, explained to the group how the directorate sets the standard for designing and developing world-class enlisted common core curriculum.

“The NCOLCoE Directorate of Curriculum Development is committed to creating and sustaining professional, learner-centric products that link NCO education with Soldiers’ experiences,” he said.

Ogletree added, “all of our products focus on the six NCO Common Core Competencies of Leadership, Readiness, Training Management, Operations, Communications, and Program Management.”

The NCOLCoE has closed the gap in NCO PME by creating an educational system that is progressive and sequential with lesson content that is relevant to today’s operational environment.

“This visit has been incredibly valuable,” Sheehan said. “We are all trying to get after the same objectives in improving our NCOs’ professional development opportunities.”

Wester added, “Working together and joining forces will help us advance our capabilities. Our National Defense Strategy is the foundation of which we set our priorities and align our resources. This visit has allowed us to align our resources with another branch of the military.”

This joint opportunity afforded the NCOLCoE and the Air Force to share best practices to see how our directorates work together, and most importantly having both military branches working together by continuing to drive change for enlisted leader development.

Author:  Danielle ODonnell  | The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

Fort Bliss’ NCOLCoE names Educator and Instructor of the Year

FORT BLISS, Texas—The results of the panel are in, the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence names both the educator and instructor of the year.

The Educator of the Year and Instructor of the Year were recognized for their exceptional dedication, knowledge, and skills to the educational mission of the NCOLCoE during the Distinguished Service and Recognition ceremony, Dec. 6. at the Cooper Lecture Center.

Dr. Barbara Yancy-Tooks, an assistant professor of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy received recognition as the NCOLCoE EOY.

“It is truly humbling and an honor to be named the NCOLCoE Educator of the Year,” she said.

Joining Dr. Tooks on stage, Sgt. Maj Dietrick Louis, the NCOLCoE Instructor of the Year, who is working towards his doctorate in education and a USASMA fellow from the third cohort.

“Winning this award demonstrates the superb competencies of all the educators in the Department of Professional Studies,” he said. “It feels great. I have learned a lot from the leadership and my fellow instructors.”

Command Sgt. Maj. David Lee, the director of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy praises the new EOY and IOY as stewards of the profession.

“SGM Louis and Dr. Yancy-Tooks are phenomenal instructors,” Lee said. “Within USASMA we have a world class faculty, however, for this competition they rose above their peers.”

The NCOLCoE EOY and IOY competitions build tenacity and sustained readiness through training programs, empowered leaders and mission support.

“All competitors displayed the acumen of dedicated professionals that we have come to see and the students enjoy every day,” he said.

The winners went a step above their competitors by volunteering, practicing, and maintaining a presence in their individual classrooms.
“It was a pleasure to see them in action first hand, and without a doubt their selection as winners in both categories was verified by the tough panel we assembled,” Lee said.

Each of the winners have different learning styles that provides the Sergeants Major Course students with the same outcome.

“I believe in positive learning outcomes,” Tooks said. “There are three areas for helping students re-direct attention to their own learning. Done through using interpersonal communication competence to help in building a growth mindset, providing opportunities to practice decision-making, and using critical analysis.”

Tooks added, “I am positive that reflection on learning preferences and habits helps determine a depth of understanding.”

Louis explains his teaching style inside the educational environment.

“Every semester is unique; my role as an instructor is to assist every student regardless of their learning styles,” he said. “I believe it’s my duty to adjust my teaching style to accommodate the uniqueness of each semester and the individual student. In the adult learning environment, the teacher must understand that we are learners as well.”

Tooks and Louis also inspire others with a common purpose and commitment to achieving the Army Vision.

“I challenge students to think critically when given the opportunity to make suggestions for improvement,” Tooks said. “They tell me what they learned and would like to learn.

She continued, “I make learning relevant and place emphasis on gaining knowledge as a part of their life long journey.”

Louis added, “an instructor must establish a safe and trusting environment, be prepared, and understand that facilitation sometimes leads to instructing, and most importantly adds relevance to the curriculum.”

Taking personal responsibility and accountability with their high standards, the awardees provided some words of advice for their counterparts for the next competition.

“Embrace the Experiential Learning Model and help students achieve successful outcomes,” Tooks said. “Compete with the person you were yesterday, and always strive to give back.”

“Preparing every day to be better educators, will most likely give you an advantage over the instructor who prepares a week before the board,” Louis added.

Command Sgt. Maj. Lee commended the awardees for their ability to inspire and educate the students of the institution.

“They displayed their top notch competence and commitment to our Academy. Job well done,” he exclaimed.

The awardees will move on to compete in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command IOY and EOY.

Author: Danielle ODonnell – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence 

What Distributed Leader Course IV means for the Sergeants First Class

FORT BLISS, Texas — The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence has been instrumental when it comes to ensuring Soldiers have the proper tools and training to be successful and professional NCOs. The latest of these endeavors is the Distributed Leader Course, DLC IV that went live Oct. 1.

“This course is part of the progressive and sequential NCO Professional Military Education, and is intended to prepare the Sergeants First Class for the Master Leader Course, Claudia Nieto,” DLC course manager said.

“The course includes topics that Soldiers may already have been exposed to, which is one reason we employ the Experiential Learning Model and it will introduce new material to set a foundation for what is taught in MLC,” she said.

“This is in line with the Army’s concept of the ‘Continuum of Learning’ and the ‘Life-long learner’.”

Prior to being implemented the training must be validated empirically by testing the performance of two groups of subjects. One group is composed of experts, having already achieved the rank and knowledge for Structured Self Development Level 4. They are called masters. The other group is composed of non-masters with no training experience with SSD 4.

Master Sgt. Dagoberto Chapa Rivera, current Sergeants Major Course Class 70 student and a part of the group of masters, volunteered for the operational trial along with 9 other masters and 10 non-masters who served as validators for the new course.

“The future is bright, he said. Our lessons are now relevant and adjusted to the future generation. The scenarios we go through help us learn and build our character attributes, which makes this training retainable.”

The DLC is a self-development domain that includes competency-based, goal-oriented learning that reinforces and expands the depth and breadth of an individual’s knowledge and self/situational awareness, which supports adaptability and critical thinking.

“We wanted to ensure the reading material was relevant, current, and presented in digestible chunks in lieu of reading entire regulations. When it was all said and done, we wanted the lessons to resonate with the learners,” Nieto said.

Sgt. 1st Class John Desrosiers, a non-master validator enjoyed how the training was not presented as the typical training he has been accustomed to throughout his career.

“This form of training actually makes you think, versus watching training videos and answering the questions”, he said. “The scenario keeps going no matter the answer selected and throughout the lesson you learn about different courses of action.”

“What is important is the fact you learn from the decisions you make whether they are good, bad, or indifferent”, he said.

DLC IV was created to develop the SFC to lead at the unit and organizational level.

This 43-hour course prepares the learner for unit-level administrative and staff roles to ensure successful operations.

“The training starts from the pre-deployment phase and goes all the way through a deployment and being re-deployed,” Desrosiers said. “It gives a really good idea what it is like to be a platoon sergeant and/or first sergeant in taking Soldiers through deployment and getting them back home safely.”

“This course was very different from the SSD training,” Sgt. 1st Class Clarissa Turner, non-master validator said. “It keeps you engaged in the mission versus death by PowerPoint. The graphics also make all the difference, it is like I am going through a live comic book but learning at the same time.”

Soldiers are also enhancing their professional competencies as they move through their lessons.

“This training covers almost every area needed to be successful as a senior leader,” Master Sgt. Daphne Thomas, master validator said.

“I even learned it is okay to be a Soldier not just a specific MOS because it covers everything from all the elements which make-up the Total Soldier Concept.”

Soldiers in the rank of SFC need to be aware they will no longer have the ability to enroll into the SSD 4, now that DLC IV is open.

SFCs who have already completed SSD 4 will receive full credit and will not be required to enroll.

SFCs who are currently enrolled in the SSD 4 and fail to complete the training by 30 August 2020 will be disenrolled and enrolled by their component quota source managers into DLC IV.

“Once a Soldier is enrolled in DLC IV the goal should not be to complete the course in record time, instead Soldiers must seize this opportunity for what it truly is, an opportunity to learn, and prepare themselves for MLC,” Nieto exclaimed.

DLC V is slated to come out by the middle of November.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence 

NCOL CoE, USASMA celebrate a new path of education

Embarking on a new path of education, the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy at the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence hosted an official accreditation ceremony in the Kenneth W. Cooper Lecture Center on Fort Bliss, on June 14.

This event was held to commemorate the USASMA receiving an accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and being named as a branch campus under the Command and General Staff College.

The NCOL CoE and USASMA spent the Army’s 244th birthday celebration by adding another milestone to Army history by unveiling the Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development diploma from the USASMA.

“What a great day it is to be a noncommissioned officer,” Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, the NCOL CoE commandant exclaimed. “We began today with a four mile run, and a great conversation. Now, we are here on the Army’s birthday to officially acknowledge the fact the USASMA is an accredited institution and branch campus under the CGSC.”

Receiving an accreditation was a dream for USASMA, after 10 years of an arduous and complex journey down a road less traveled, this dream is now a reality.

The initiative encompassed years of course catalog development, assessment plans, policy bulletins, and most importantly the development and credentialing of a collegiate faculty. Every piece of the puzzle was imperative in order to develop the supporting academic justification for the USASMA to become a branch campus under the CGSC.

“If you look backwards you will have a better appreciation on what has occurred and what it took to achieve the desired goal,” Sellers said.

The Year of the NCO, 2009, was the same year retired Sgt, Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler became the first enlisted commandant of the USASMA. His vision for the institution is what placed USASMA on a course for higher education.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers the commandant of the NCO Leadership Center Excellence and former Combined Arms Center, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Johndrow | Photo by Danielle ODonnell
The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

“I wanted to provide relevant sergeants major who were able to contribute immediately to their units’ success in the operational sergeants major role,” said retired SMA Raymond Chandler. “There was a huge gap. We were in a bubble and not understood at the time. We were not in sync. We needed to align our curriculum with the CGSC.”

The next commandant to take charge of USASMA was Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, now retired. Malloy added rigor to the curriculum, and changed the passing scores on tests from 70 to 80 percent.

“My vision was to bring the academy well into the 21st century and to ensure the sergeants major had the tools needed to meet current and future wartime needs,” Malloy said.

The third enlisted commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese, who is also retired, instituted the USASMA Fellowship program and was lauded by Sellers for his innovative thinking on credentialing instructors, which became the foundation of the degree process.

The road less traveled took another turn towards accreditation in January of 2017, when Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, Charles Guyette, William Ogletree and members of the Army University met in Austin, Texas to collaborate on a pathway for the USASMA students to take in order to attain their degree in a timely manner.

“We have been waiting a long time and finally, summer is here,” shouted Sellers. “Which brings us to this point of accreditation a year sooner than anticipated.”

Keynote speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. retired Philip Johndrow the former Combined Arms Center, command sergeant major, spoke to the long journey USASMA has endured to attain this historic milestone in NCO history.

“With true NCO Corps fashion, when we see something that is important to us we will continue to press forward until we are able to see the mission accomplished,” Johndrow said.

During his time as the CAC, CSM Johndrow noticed the inadequacies in the intermediate level of education for officers in the rank of major receiving a graduate degree versus the enlisted soldiers graduating the USASMA with only some college credits.

“This started a long chain of many amazing leaders who continued to look at our senior NCO capstone school the USASMA and how we could maximize its effectiveness,” he said.

Speaking to the history of USASMA Johndrow highlighted key points in history which made this monumental achievement possible.

“In 1971 the Army gave the NCO Corps a huge boost by making an enduring commitment to NCO education, with the establishment of the NCO Education System. In 1972 the Army established the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy as the capstone of its NCO Education System. In January 2019 they received notification that the resident Sergeants Major Course was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, he said”

He reminded the students to be prepared for the challenge as a leader and to continue to self-improve, and seek education.

“We must develop and exercise our mind just as we exercise our bodies. Education is PT for the mind,” he said. “The Leadership and Workforce Development degree program is making the process of receiving the education you require easier to obtain and giving you the college credits, you deserve and have earned in recognition for the time you have invested.”

The Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Workforce Development is a degree program that helps the Army develop better NCOs who are ready to lead and inspire Soldiers and units. The core competencies of Leadership and Workforce Development are essential requirements for Army NCOs.

Using the motto of Sergeants Major Course, Class 69, Johndrow had one final word for the students.

“Embrace this opportunity and know that you will now be armed with tools necessary to BE THE DIFFERENCE,” he shouted!

Closing the event Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers thanked Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, Maj. Gen. Jack Kem, former Army University provost, Dr. James Martin, CGSC Dean and the SMC developers Bill Backschieder, Lori Ramos, Jose Madero and Efrin Ordaz.

“On behalf of this institution and those receiving the degree on June 21, thank you, Sellers said. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication for bringing this accreditation to fruition. You changed the lives of at least 105 Soldiers this year and many more in the years to come.”

The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence provides professional military education that develops enlisted leaders into fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex world. We develop, integrate and deliver education and training readiness. We are the premier institution driving innovative development for enlisted leaders; constantly focused on readiness.

For more information on the NCOL CoE visit the website.

Author: Danielle ODonnell  – The NCO Leadership Center of Excellence

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