Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 93

SECRET TO SUCCESS (Photo by Sgt. Leon Cook, 20th Public Affairs Detachment, USARCENT Public Affairs) Egyptian soldiers listen to an Arabic translation of a speaker over headsets 18 May 2015 during the first U.S. Army Central (USARCENT) Multinational Noncommissioned Officer Symposium at El Paso, Texas. USARCENT hosted officers and NCOs from seven countries during the weeklong symposium, which aimed to strengthen relationships between U.S. and partner-nation NCOs from the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Depuy envisioned that this new model would be built around the squad leader, one of four primary subordinates of a platoon leader (the lowest organizational level of authority for officers).2 The squad leader would be a staff sergeant, an NCO with a few years’ experience as a sergeant or team leader. The span of control for the squad leader would remain eight to eleven soldiers. The doctrinal change would increase the amount of power extended to the squad leader as well as other NCOs in the Army. This newly empowered group of NCOs would be formally educated in the classroom and trained in tactical field environments using advanced tactics and new doctrine—with a heavy emphasis on leadership. In this manner, the Army would develop NCOs who were fully capable of managing, leading, and directing squads. In Depuy’s words, the new NCO would be “… a commander, just like an officer. … It’s just the smallest tactical element [the squad].”3 By empowering these sergeants, and demanding they possess high-level leadership capabilities, the Army developed a corps of professional NCOs over time. The NCO corps created its own motto, proudly proclaiming that “no one is more professional than I.” Part of this “NCO Creed” also declares, “officers of my unit will have maximum MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine.”4 They took, and continue to take, great pride in performing the daily tasks that make an army function. These include accountability for personnel and equipment; equipment maintenance; and individual and team training on tasks such as marksmanship, first aid, patrolling, land navigation, and radio communication procedures, to name just a few. As the NCO corps matured, the Army increased the responsibility of its NCOs, demanding that more senior NCOs mentor inexperienced officers. The senior NCOs were to provide a voice of sk illed reason and to offer sound advice based on their years of accumulated professional knowledge. Soon, NCOs also were required to demonstrate a baseline competency by successfully performing standardized tasks, regardless of their particular specialty, during annual skill qualification testing or common task training. Task difficulty and complexity increased with higher skill levels and grades. The Army also began introducing NCOs to future officers at the earliest opportunities in officer educational institutions, including the three commissioning sources: Reserve Officer Training Corps programs, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and 87