New Warrior Leader Course will begin in January 

 
Whether in the field or the classroom, soldiers who attend the Warrior Leader Course are expected to conduct themselves as professional noncommissioned officers. Here a team of soldiers practice an indirect fire movement drill at Yakima Training Center. (Photo Credit: Spc. Hannah Frenchick, 20th Public Affairs Detachment)

Mikie Perkins

U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy

Fort Bliss, Texas

Preparing soldiers for the Army of 2020 means restructuring a critical link in the Noncommissioned Officer Education System chain that prepares soldiers for future leadership – the Warrior Leader Course.

Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine command, asked the commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, or USASMA, Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy, to evaluate whether or not the Warrior Leader Course, or WLC, was meeting the Army’s needs.

"When you get a request from the top to look into a course as important to the future of our Army as WLC, you know the boss is paying attention to his soldiers," Malloy said.

The year-long analysis resulted in a number of suggested changes and improvements, which were tested during three iterations of the pilot course at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, both in Texas.

After the iterations were completed, the changes were approved and the course was updated to reflect the assessment of training.

Modifications to the WLC include changes in course length as well as subject improvements and additions.

The length of the WLC will increase from 17 to 22 academic days.

The academic day will be limited to 8.5 hours, resulting in time for reflection, and additional time to reinforce training in areas such as counseling and leadership.

The restructured WLC will also include 12 hours of map reading – four of which are introduced in the Structured Self-Development Level One as a prerequisite for WLC, and the remaining eight will be taught in the WLC.

The addition of the Army Physical Fitness Test to the WLC will ensure soldiers are capable of meeting the Army’s fitness, and height and weight standards, Malloy said.

He added the inclusion of a noncommissioned officer initiatives class was a valuable tool in keeping soldiers on the path to success.

"The best thing about the NCO initiatives class is there’s flexibility built into it, which allows for the insertion of new and emerging trends that soldiers need to be aware of and keep up with," Malloy said.

Two areas where training hours increased include instruction in writing NCO Evaluation Reports as well as a more comprehensive block of teaching in counseling. Malloy said while the 17-day program of instruction served soldiers well, the change was necessary in order to provide the best training possible.

Changes to the course were the result of a comprehensive approach taken by USASMA.

The commandant and his team used a variety of sources, including end-of-course surveys, working groups and a selection board to gather information and feedback from subject matter experts to compile data and provide a comprehensive picture of the course – both its strengths and possible areas to target for improvement.

"We put together a Critical Task Site Selection Board, or CTSSB, comprised of 29 leaders from the active Army, the National Guard and the Army Reserve, from staff sergeants through command sergeants major," Malloy said.

Adding, "There were also master sergeants, sergeants first class and even officers on the board. We collected feedback from major commands and noncommissioned officer academy commandants who included 12 month’s worth of end-of-course surveys from 32 NCO academies across the Army."

Active Army implementation of the new WLC will begin in January 2013.