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Home | News | What Distributed Leader Course IV means for the Sergeants First Class
The NCOL COE is providing a new path of NCO Professional Development, leader development, and Master Leader Course preparation through the Distributed Leader Course IV, which was launched this month. | Photo by 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 

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