Publishing Disclaimer: In all of its publications and products, NCO Journal presents professional information. However, the views expressed therein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Army University, the Department of the US Army, or any other agency of the US Government.

More from The Town Hall: What’s next from TRADOC

By Clifford Kyle Jones - NCO Journal

July 12, 2016

Download the PDF PDF Download

Sgt. Carlos Del Los Santos, Comanche Troop, 4th US Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, receives his Expert Infantrymen Badge at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport is working on creating a similar badge, the Expert Action Badge, to signify proficiency at Soldier skills. (Photo by Spc. Patrick Kirby)

Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, command sergeant major of Training and Doctrine Command, detailed progress in several aspects of the NCO 2020 Strategy and Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development during the second State of NCO Development town hall June 23. But he mentioned several other initiatives that Soldiers should watch for.

The Expert Action Badge

When town hall moderator Master Sgt. Michael Lavigne posed a question about the Expert Action Badge, Lavigne noted “this is a new term to me.”

The EAB, though, started with work Davenport did in Europe as command sergeant major of U.S. Army Europe, said Aubrey Butts, director of the Institute for NCO Professional Development.

Davenport “looked at other badges that indicate excellence — the [Expert Infantryman Badge], the [Expert Field Medical Badge] — and he tied it to readiness and to every Soldier in the Army qualifying and doing the critical tasks, along with tasks from the commanders, to earn the badge,” Butts said. “We’re still working on it right now. We’re probably at 70 percent solution.”

Davenport said some of the Army’s previous strategies to evaluate those core competencies, such as the Common Task Test or the Skill Qualification Test, were outdated and no longer appropriate for today’s Army.

The EAB “is really a way to certify Soldiers in their core tasks,” he said. “If we’re saying the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills are the foundation of what we want Soldiers to know, it’s important that we have something to test them on.”

Davenport called the work on the EAB “preliminary” and said no formal plans have been presented outside TRADOC, but he said, “We really want to empower commanders and leaders at the organizational level to really validate and certify their Soldiers on their core tasks. And this is just a way to do that.”

Armywide training?

The possibility of Armywide training came up from several commenters in the town hall’s accompanying online chat, including to re-enforce core competencies for Soldiers, but Davenport said he saw no indications of that.

“I’m not aware of any movement to direct sergeant’s time training from higher levels,” he replied. “That is a commander’s program to use. It’s a training venue, of course, that we would like to see commanders do to exercise those young noncommissioned officers in training their Soldiers. After all, that is the job of noncommissioned officers, to train Soldiers. …

“What we are doing in PME is that we are going to teach noncommissioned officers how to be trainers. We’re going to teach them the 8 Step training model, we’re going to teach them how to identify a critical task, develop a lesson plan, come up with some performance-orientated testing to make sure that the Soldier gets that task,” he continued. “So if we’re going to invest all that in PME, of course, we would like units to be able to allow their NCOs to do that.”

Professional development program

Lavigne posed a question submitted by U.S. Army WTF! Moments: “Understanding that every unit is different, is there ever going to be a push from the top down for units Armywide to maintain an NCODP or ODP and conduct professional development for officers and for NCOs?’”

Butts said a survey of Soldiers and commanders closed in June to determine what sorts of NCO and officer leader development programs the Army is currently using and the relevance they had to individual units. He said INCOPD would evaluate the data and come up with a recommendation about whether an Army-wide system would be cost-effective and useful to units.

Davenport said the survey process was similar to the process that led to the creation of the NCO 2020 strategy, and he looked forward to seeing ideas for an NCODP.

“That’s an integral part in developing noncommissioned officers,” he said. “There are three domains as I remind everyone: There’s the self-development domain: Soldiers having responsibility for their development. There’s the institutional domain that we at TRADOC represent. Then there’s that operational domain that organizations have in developing leaders, and NCODP is one of those tools that they have.”

Order of Merit List

A commenter asked about whether an Order of Merit List would be integrated and how that could affect promotions.

Davenport noted that the OML is managed by Human Resources Command, where a Soldier’s promotion points, sequence number and standing list were evaluated.

However, he pointed out some innovations that Command Sgt. Maj. Scott C. Schroeder, command sergeant major of Forces Command, had implemented to identify promising Soldiers and get them ahead of the curve in the PME system by taking open seats in courses whenever they are available.

Schroeder is having FORSCOM units “develop their own OML to really take advantage of that Priority 5, that train-ahead population,” Davenport said. “They’re really being aggressive in helping us fill the seats.”

Schroeder was featured in a pre-recorded message during the town hall encouraging Soldiers to push for their own education and for units to track what courses Soldiers need and what courses might be available for them.

SMA’s Book Club site coming

During the online chat, a commenter asked about Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey’s Book Club. The SMA had previously announced the first three books that he would be discussing with Soldiers during his visits to installations.

The first, which Dailey will start discussing this month, is Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game,” a science fiction novel about a young boy’s military training to face an alien enemy.

A representative from INCOPD announced on the chat accompanying the town hall, “It’s expected there will be an SMA Book Club-related website available in July 2016 that will allow Soldiers to make such recommendations, and to also house a discussion guide, links to library resources, the SMA’s book review, and online discussion sessions.”