by Command Sergeant Major Randolph Hollingsworth
It is our belief that the Army inculcates in its soldiers a sense of purpose, loyalty, discipline, dedication, and work ethic for these are our values.
General Maxwell Reid Thurman
In this issue, I am addressing professional development and mentoring in the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps. Command Sergeant Major Francis C. Manley of the 704th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade, Fort Meade, Maryland, contributed the second portion of this article. He emphasizes the NCO's role as the Army's trainer and advocates using the NCO Education System (NCOES) to train the trainer.

Professional Development and Mentoring

When do we stop mentoring our soldiers? When do we stop developing our junior and senior NCOs? Is there a time when a sergeant first class or master sergeant no longer needs training? Should we, as senior NCOs, think only of our own futures and not the future of the NCO Corps, the Army, our families, and the United States of America? When can we as leaders say, I have done my fair share? The answer to all these questions is Never!
We must always remember that regardless of the rank of ourselves or our subordinates, we still are and always will be soldiers. That is why it is important to remember that mentoring is not only for the sergeant, but for the sergeant major and command sergeant major as well. Mentoring and training our soldiers go hand in hand.
The hands-on training our specialists must perform to standard is the same training that all senior NCOs need to perform. All soldiers need to do common task training, perform flawless drill and ceremony, lead physical training, ensure preventive maintenance checks and services on equipment is performed, and execute our individual mission, whatever that may be. We, as leaders, devote much time preparing our soldiers for Soldier of the Month, and NCO of the Quarter boards; we need to spend just as much time with NCOs whose records are going before a Department of the Army promotion board.
By now someone is asking, What is Hollings-worth trying to say? The answer to that question is that we need to take a more active role in giving our soldiers guidance when they are preparing themselves to rise to the next level in their career. Sometimes I hear senior NCOs say things like, All sergeants first class should know how to check their records.
I know if First Sergeant Jimmy Sheppard or Command Sergeant Major John Castro had felt the same way, I would not have made master sergeant or sergeant major. A portion of their mentorship to me was taking the time to inspect my official photo and go over my DA Form 2A, Personnel Qualification Record Part I, and DA Form 2-1, Personnel Qualification Record Part II, with me. They did not do this just for me; they did it for every soldier in their unit.
Their personal goals, as senior NCOs, was to have every qualified soldier in their respective units selected for promotion. While serving as a member of the 1994 Master Sergeant Selection Board, I was amazed that some NCOs had not even signed their personnel qualification records! There was no way to tell if some NCOs had even looked at their records. The following areas could make the difference between being considered and being selected for promotion and need to be emphasized to our NCOs
Photographs. All soldiers must have a current DA photo, yet I still find soldiers with old photos in their personnel file. A photograph should reflect the NCO's present status, including rank, current assignment, awards, and decorations. The photograph and the height-weight data on NCO Evaluation Reports (NCOERs) go hand in hand; one should support the other.
Records Maintenance. It is the responsibility of all individual NCOs to update and maintain their records. Senior NCOs must teach their subordinates to maintain their records. Some NCOs think that if their DA Form 2-1 looks "pretty" that is all that counts. They fail to realize that the DA Form 2-1 provides promotion boards with vital information on the NCO's assignments, education, military schools, and other accomplishments. In fact, while the DA Form 2A might show that the NCO has no post-high school civilian education (based on the one-, two-, three-, and four-year degree requirements), the DA Form 2-1 can more accurately show that the NCO has anywhere from three baccalaureate hours to a masters degree or doctorate.
Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). NCOs should use the Interactive Voice Response System to obtain their OMPF early enough to ensure its accuracy before a board meets. Also check that the OMPF contains the other soldier documents and NCOERs that it should. After individual soldiers review their OMPFs, their first sergeants, sergeants major, and command sergeants major should review the OMPF with the NCOs. Take advantage of anyone who has been a member of a DA promotion board; ask that person to review your file.
Correspondence to the President of the Board. NCOs should carefully consider their reasons before sending correspondence to the president of a board. Letters to the President of the Board must deal only with present information that is not in the OMPF, for example: awards, recently completed NCOERs, and induction into the Audie Murphy Club. Last, but not least, have someone check for errors. Too often I noticed letters submitted in improper format, with poor spelling and grammar, inappropriately boasting of the NCO's value, contribution, and future potential. A poorly written, boastful letter does more harm than good.
Former Board Member. Officers, command sergeants major, sergeants major, and panel NCOs must tell their officers and NCOs how promotion boards work. We must stop our NCOs from thinking that promotion boards are "hit and miss." Through NCO development programs, former board members can give NCOs the correct information they need to keep themselves competitive for promotions. The experience that one gains from sitting on a DA promotion board is worth a million dollars when it comes to training and mentoring. Please remember that mentoring and training does not stop at a certain rank; it is an ongoing process like intelligence preparation of the battlefield.

Train-the-Trainer: A Lost Art, A New Opportunity

Some years ago, a decision was made at Army level to share the load of soldier training. The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) received the job of training initial or entry-level military occupational specialty (MOS) skills to a novice level of competency. Other skill enhancement and additional MOS enrichment training was also left in TRADOC. User units were left to train soldiers to proficiency, using in-unit, on-site assets.
Today's reality is that every NCO in the unit bears a tremendous training load. Sergeants at every level must conduct training in Army-directed subjects, basic survivability skills, and site-specific skills driven by local equipment and taskings. In addition, the same NCOs must ensure soldierization. They must also pre-train their soldiers for those often tough classes at the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) and other NCOES courses. Every one of these training responsibilities competes with, and is often conducted at, the expense of soldier proficiency in the skills needed to accomplish the intelligence mission.
In a bygone era, a soldier's first learning experience in how to be an NCO occurred in the Basic Leadership Course, usually taught at the soldier's installation. The major core element of that course was Methods of Instruction (MOI). This was every potential NCO's introduction to proficiency requirements for trainers. This is where Train-the-Trainers began. The second step was taken in the NCO Academy. The primary goal at this level was achieving initial proficiency as a trainer. Introduction of all the topics taught in the academy was in the context of
Then it all stopped.
Not until the advent of the Basic NCO Course (BNCOC) and the rest of what we now know as NCOES, did NCOs begin to go the rest of the way to effectively reaching proficiency as trainers, capable of independently conducting training. They had finally reached the stage of proficiency; success in the Train-the-Trainer process.
In the years since its inception, NCOES for MI soldiers has been drawn away from its earliest success. The MOI is no longer called "MOI." The how to train soldiers aspect of NCOES now competes for the NCO's attention with a directed list of topics (common leader skills), MOS primary and intermediate technical skills and, in some cases, former additional-skill-indicator courseware. NCOs sometimes leave BNCOC and the Advanced NCO Course (ANCOC) having lost sight of their basic NCO responsibility to pass on their knowledge to be, know, do as a trainer. Many NCOs never achieve the expertise to effectively train and sustain Proficiency in the soldiers that attend their in-unit training. The locally focused, or prioritized training efforts conducted by these less-than-proficient NCOs can wind up institutionalized. With all the inherent conflicting demands in every unit, the common result is soldiers with less than proficient skills in those tasks necessary to effectively, optimally achieve the intelligence mission.
There are many effective trainer programs in use in the Army today. The cryptologic community has the Adjunct Faculty program. The Defense Language Institute has military language instructors who actually conduct foreign language training in the initial early training environment. These programs have similar qualities of remarkable expertise in specific subject areas. Each of them require the trainer to personally attain, sustain, and then transfer to their students a requisite level of proficiency.
TRADOC has its own courses designed to bring an NCO to the level of expertise necessary for platform training. This course culminates in the award of skill qualification identifier H. The processes, training skills and results of these programs can serve as examples for NCOs conducting in-unit training.
The primary role of the NCO as the Army's trainer needs reemphasis at every level of NCOES. The concept of using NCOES as the place to Train the Trainers and expand technical MI MOS skills needs dusting off. We cannot lose sight of our training roles. When the NCOES sequence begins in the PLDC (grade E-4 promotable), we want the result to be an initially proficient trainer. Reemphasize MOI. Teach the facts and skills by teaching the PLDC student how to teach others to the basic competency level.
Move forward in the NCOES process during BNCOC (grades E-5/E-5 promotable) by broadening the MOI perspective. Teach these students to the sustained trainer proficiency level. Give them the tools to plan, prepare, execute, evaluate, and conduct remedial in-unit training. In some technically heavy courses we may want to give these NCOs Adjunct Faculty status in specific MOS core course topics. Introduce these NCOs to all the best training tools currently available, then make them the in-unit points of contact for their respective MOS's adjunct expertise. Address new school materials, solutions and updates to these specific NCOs as the best entry point for quickly improving that decentralized in-unit training.
At the last stage, use ANCOC (grades E-6/E-6 promotable), to teach students how to deal with local conditions and demands by adapting current tools, courseware, electronic connectivity to experts, coaching techniques, and so forth. Broaden adjunct qualifications within the MOS and career management field and give parallel skills (such as IPB for MOS 98C). Broaden mentoring skills. Achieve proficiency as a trainer to the level of being able to teach soldiers how to think.
There is no new formula for success in this article, rather a renewed perspective, and emphasis of the NCO role as the trainer. It is an art that cannot be lost within the MI Corps if we are to be successful in the future.
CSM Manley has served in every enlisted leadership position and has worked as a translator/interpreter in Chinese Mandarin, voice interceptor, cryptanalyst, signals intelligence analyst, and interrogator. He has a bachelor of arts degree in Asian Studies from the University of Maryland. Readers can contact him at (301) 677-0246, DSN 923-0246, and E-mail at 704mib@meade-ams1. army.mil, bdqq16c@prodigy.com, or via manleyf@meade-emh1. army mil.