Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 96

skills with little emphasis on leadership. These technical schools rarely elaborate on leadership principles, indoctrinate leadership abilities, or encourage unilateral decision making to facilitate mission accomplishment. This lack of emphasis on junior leadership can handicap a platoon leader by having an entire platoon awaiting its officer’s instructions without the willingness or ability to independently resolve problems within the scope of their own competencies in order to carry out the mission. Change the pay system. As the U.S. Army realized following the Vietnam War, you eventually “reap what you sow.” In order to attract quality recruits, the pay scale for enlisted personnel should at least be comparable to the civilian sector’s wages. In nation-states that are postconscript, this can be a subject of great controversy and may create negative headlines in the national press. The United States faced similar problems following the Vietnam War when defense budgets were slashed. Nevertheless, restructuring defense spending methods is a matter of national priorities and an important component of reform. In addition, pay tables should be configured so that promotions are encouraged, earned, and awarded with a monetary incentive. This goes along with the enhanced military prestige and increased levels of both authority and responsibility for the promoted NCO. Transform the promotion system. A professional NCO corps requires a merit-based promotion system where upward mobility is encouraged, competitive, and rewarded. This may require modifying the way NCOs are traditionally promoted in other countries. In many armies, career soldiers are compensated based exclusively on their time of military service. In contrast, while the U.S. Army also rewards time in service, the rank and pay grade of each NCO is also determined based on an individual’s merit. Over time, U.S. Army NCOs build individual profiles based on their job performances, which are evaluated for promotion by more senior NCOs and officers. Promotion boards for junior NCOs (corporal through staff sergeant) are decentralized and conducted locally, but promotion boards for senior NCOs (sergeant first class through sergeant major) are centralized and conducted annually.\. Adapt the evaluation system. Assuming a desire to emulate such a merit system for promotion, the NCO evaluation system of a given army may need to be revamped as well. It should continue not only to evaluate technical skills but also to place a much greater emphasis 90 on evaluating leadership—an emphasis that reflects the changing relationship between the NCO and the officer. Empower the NCO support channel. In the U.S. Army, the chain of command is reinforced by the NCO support channel. The NCO support channel serves as an administrative and operational “backbone” supporting the officers’ command positions and military authority. While this system is not required, it certainly has been effective for the U.S. Army. Therefore, it should be considered by armies in other countries desiring to mold a professional NCO corps that works efficiently and effectively with their officers’ corps. Change the of ficer mind-set. A reforming army’s officer corps may need to be entirely retrained as well. Many U.S. Army officers were very resistant to what some perceived as a radical change in doctrine in the 1970s.8 They mistakenly thought that empowering their subordinates would hollow out their own power base. This type of resistance can be expected in any army attempting to implement similar changes. However, with military orders mandating change, along with the support of senior and midgrade officers who buy into the changes and possess the ability to foresee the long-term benefits of enforcing these improvements, this innovation will eventually be accepted and endorsed. The benefits and ground rules must be explained thoroughly to the entire officer corps—from cadets to general officers. Benefits from NCO empowerment can include, for example, improved logistical support, equipment maintenance, and personnel accountability. Additionally, delegation of authority to NCOs for conducting individual and small-unit collective training without constant direct supervision saves officers time and eliminates duplication of effort. Empowering and trusting NCOs with these responsibilities greatly increases small-unit cohesion, morale, and technical and tactical proficiency. Improve the personnel management system. Finally, improvements must be made to enlisted personnel management systems in changing armies. Many armies have not invested deeply in their enlisted personnel management systems, which may make the creation of a competitive centralized promotion board and a professional career track for NCOs difficult. Having gone through the evolutionary process of establishing an enlisted personnel management system initially in the 1970s, the U.S. Army is still in the process of modifying its own system. For example, it is currently streamlining its personnel system November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW