Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie W. Spencer, USA, Ret.
Director, Noncommissioned Officer and Soldier Programs
Burch: Guard faces NCOES challenges
"We’re facing some challenges" in the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES), the command sergeant major of the Army National Guard said, "and we’re putting a team together to look at it."
Command Sgt. Maj. Richard Burch said, "There is a mindset we need all E-5s to go through the Warrior Leadership Course. Some will never make E-6. We’ve got to get those to the course that we want to promote."
He said for guardsmen time is of great importance. "We don’t have that luxury" of being able to schedule a soldier for a course without taking into consideration that "we have to pull them out of work and away from their family."
Burch added, "This means we have to be looking not just at the soldier and the unit."
By doing that, the National Guard also "is cleaning up the no-show rates" in the Army school house. "We are better preparing them" for their courses.
Looking at having the necessary equipment for training, he said, "The logistics folks are addressing fielding new equipment to our units," concentrating on the units being mobilized. "Right now, we have 50,000 Army National Guard soldiers are available for mobilization."
He added, "One of our priorities is dual-use equipment – probably don’t need M1A2 tanks, but Bradleys and Strykers can have other uses – roadblocks."
The Army National Guard is moving closer to its Army Force Generation Model goals of being available for deployment one year out of five. "We’re one to 3.5 now, and it’s improving" as operating tempo declines in Iraq. There are exceptions – military intelligence. "They’re turning over pretty quickly."
Units are still cross-leveling soldiers to meet deployment requirements. He said manning levels in those units are at 125 percent to get 100 percent out the door for deployment. "On top of that the Army wants us to deploy at 110 percent. You lose a few each month for medical issues, family issues."
He added that non-traditional missions are continuing to evolve in the Army National Guard. "Those do affect the force balance and mix."
Burch said, "There are certain things we are supposed to do for the soldier and families and we also make sure we get the employer involved" at 30-, 60- and 90-day intervals. This includes taking leave and receiving medical check-ups.
"The Guard Bureau has fielded Yellow Ribbon coordinators to work directly with family readiness groups and the G-1 community" to help with re-integration," as well as Joint Family Support Assistants.
Burch added that chaplains and behavioral health specialists are also available to assist guardsmen and their families.
"We have a number of resources available," and the National Guard wants soldiers and their families to know they are there for their use, he said.
Schultz: Getting the Army Reserve back in balance
"We’re over-strength in E-8s and E-9s and E-1s and E-4s," the command sergeant major of the Army Reserve said, and that is also true in a number of military occupational specialties as well.
To get the Army Reserve back in balance, he said boards at the regional command level are convening to review records of senior enlisted serving in the AGR.
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Schultz said, "It helped us in holding the board," because a number of senior NCOs chose to retire. "We’re sending a good message."
He said that means at the regional level the question becomes: "What are you doing about excess?" in terms of rank. "If you have 36 persons in those ranks but only 30 slots, there’s an excess."
When he was installed as the command sergeant major earlier in 2010, he said that one of his major goals was to help the Army Reserve come more into balance in rank and MOS.
"We are 150 percent of strength in chaplain’s assistants and we’re trying to move some of those enlisted and junior NCOs" into other MOSs. He added that the Army Reserve is looking for more civil affairs, military police and transporter soldiers.
"The demand for them is high."
Schultz said overall the Army Reserve "is getting closer" to the Army Force Generation Model of being available for deployment once every five years.
He added that having the latest equipment such as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for training is improving. "It’s definitely a step in the right direction" to have the equipment available at training sites before deployment. "We would want to have it even earlier, for weekend training."
In addition the cross-leveling of soldiers from one unit to another "is down because the op tempo is being reduced." Much of it "is now handled internally" because a number of soldiers are volunteering for deployments to round out units.
Schultz said that the Noncommissioned Officer Education System took a major step forward recently when the program of instruction for the Warrior Leader Course was standardized.
While it may last 15 days if taught at an Army Reserve facility rather than 17 if taught at an active duty facility, "we lengthened the day by half an hour" to keep the program the same.
For the next class at the Sergeants Major Academy, Schultz said the Army Reserve is looking to move its AGR students into staff positions before having them serve in command sergeant positions. "We only have 39" AGRs. Active duty graduates serve in staff positions for a year before being considered by a board for a command sergeant major position.
Schultz said the Army Reserve is fully committed to the Yellow Ribbon re-integration program. "We’re bringing re-integration to them" and paying transportation costs. "It’s that important."
Having been in his position for five months when interviewed by AUSA NEWS, Schultz has traveled extensively to hear what soldiers are thinking. "I’m really excited about it, to be working with Lt. Gen. [Jack] Stultz. He’s still asking questions about how things are working with a soldier."