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Professional Development, Soldier for Life, 'SOLDIER TODAY'

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s association for education and professional development, and a major supporter of the Army’s Soldier for Life efforts.

Here we are back in a new year and focusing again on our annual Membership Report, renewing the discussion on why it is important to be part of the Association of the United States Army.

For all of us who are AUSA members, this discussion is a “no-brainer.”

But from a captain’s or sergeant’s perspective we have to ask: What is the value of being a member of the Association of the United States Army and what do I or my soldiers get from becoming a member?

I had the opportunity to start this New Year with the soldiers of the United States Army Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Okla., and the soldiers of the Oklahoma National Guard for a leader development presentation and discussion on the NCO Corps of 2020.

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U.S. Army artillerymen assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery, 82nd Airborne Division, conduct a live-fire exercise at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Joe Bush)

Speaking to a group of mid-grade and senior noncommissioned officers, I had the opportunity to talk about our Army.

All three components – Regular Army, U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard – are globally committed in support of operations in more than 140 countries.

In each venue, I shared with the noncommissioned officers in attendance the ongoing operations and training exercises in each of the six geographic commands.

Most in attendance did not realize 46 percent of the demand for ground forces across all the geographic commands is met by the Army.

With the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations as the principal components of land warfare, the Army does most of the heavy lifting in supporting the combatant commanders.

We discussed in detail some of the specific types of missions junior noncommissioned officers are conducting around the world with their soldiers.

Today, young lieutenants serving as platoon leaders find themselves serving as platoon commanders, with their platoons fragmented across the operating environment in small teams and squads lead by sergeants and staff sergeants.

Over the last 16 years of deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, we have watched the responsibility and the expectation at all levels of noncommissioned officer leadership increasing.

Improvements to noncommissioned officer education evolved quickly and effectively over the last 15 years, enabling commanders and leaders at all levels of responsibility to use junior subordinate leaders like never before.

Today more and more of the Army’s missions on the ground involve small teams that are multi-component Army, joint and interagency.

We can all be proud of how our soldiers and leaders evolved and adapted to operating in the complex world where we live today and we are proud of how the Army’s training institution continues to evolve by providing the educational foundations needed for leader success.

In each of the professional development sessions I was asked about the role of our Army’s professional association – AUSA – and the value it provides to noncommissioned officers.

What is the professional development, educational or leadership value for those sergeants who choose to become members?

Let’s explore these members’ decisions and look closely at what they gain from being an important part of the “Army’s Professional Association.”

Junior and mid-grade leaders often ask me if they should become involved in an Army, military or veteran service organization.

My short answer is YES!!!

Whether these leaders are Army National Guard, Army Reserve or Regular Army, I always say yes! Get involved!

Soldier- and leader-focused organizations are a great place to meet new friends, stay active in your military and civilian communities and learn a little more about something of interest to you.

Whether you are considering joining a cultural, social or professional organization, I recommend you check it out and learn about its history, mission and what the organization can do for you.

When you find an organization you really like, get more involved in its activities, contribute your time and, if you desire, grow into leadership roles in the organization just as you have done in your Army career.

The Association of the United States Army’s young professional focus is targeted on junior and mid-grade officers, noncommissioned officers and Army civilians.

Beginning this month, the new, hot-off-the-press “SOLDIER TODAY” leader book e-blast will be distributed in email format to all our uniformed and retired soldier members.

Young professionals have asked for professional development, leadership, education and mentoring from their professional association.

“SOLDIER TODAY” will begin our efforts to providing the information our soldier-members want and need to remain current and competitive in their profession and their occupational specialty.

Our intent is to provide this information in a light, quick, informative, and easy to read e-blast, designed to be read and absorbed while standing in Starbucks or the dining facility line. (Chow line for the older group of young professionals.)

Your input will help us grow “Soldier Today!” to become an educational tool that will not only keep you current on issues impacting your profession, but provide you a tool to keep your soldiers informed too.

Feedback from Army leaders, old and young, helped shape the initial product and your input will keep us pushing to provide you leader book notes that count and make a difference.

In addition to “SOLDIER TODAY” the Firing Line blog discussions found on our webpage, www.ausa.org, focus on current, real-world developments, issues and trends that impact all young leaders and their soldiers.

These online discussions become an important part of our junior leader development by delving into the art and science of the decisions leaders make every day.

The Association of the U.S. Army’s chapters serve as the interface between the Army and the local communities surrounding our military bases.

AUSA’s 119 chapters provide opportunities for their members to volunteer alongside many corporate sponsors and businesses throughout the community in support of local chapter goals.

All the members of an AUSA chapter are volunteers. They have jobs, families and other responsibilities.

The great advantage of these associations is everyone who volunteers a little gains much more back in fellowship, connections, communication, education and mentoring.

These volunteer opportunities provide young and older retiring professionals with the opportunity to network and build relationships in preparation for their transition into the civilian sector.

Everyone in uniform, at some point in his or her career, must transition to a new chapter in life outside the Army.

Employers today look for professionals who can multi-task, or do multiple types of jobs and tasks.

Employers also look for those professionals who thrive and excel in what many might consider busy lives, and even stressful environments.

The secret of these young professionals is their gradual growth and involvement in education and professional organizations above and beyond their daily jobs.

Becoming part of and contributing to a professional organization is a great addition to any resume, and provides the opportunity to gain some real world experience beyond any military occupational specialty.

Serving in leadership or committee level positions further demonstrates your abilities to efficiently and effectively prioritize tasks, manage time and see projects through to completion.

Keeping engaged in community-based activities beyond your daily job allows you to learn many more broadening skills that will make you smarter and wiser.

The Army’s Soldier for Life program is aligned with the four quadrants of a soldier’s life in and out of uniform.

These quadrants are; Start Strong (when you join the Army), Remain Strong (throughout your Army career), Reintegrate Strong (after your term of service or Army career is finished) and Remain Strong (for life as a members of the Army alumni).

Your Association of the United States Army can meet your needs in each of these quadrants.

The Soldier for Life webpage at https://soldierforlife.army.mil/ provides a link among the Army, soldiers, retired soldiers, veterans and all their families of the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve.

Starting strong and serving strong is an essential part of learning “what right looks like” for both young officers and noncommissioned officers.

Learning and growing in one’s profession continues through the network of professionals and mentors you meet and learn from along life’s journey.

The reason we have the greatest Army in the world is because we have the greatest soldiers.

The legacy of service of each of our veterans who have worn the uniform of a soldier is passed on from one generation to the next.

So if you are on the fence and not sure if you should join the Association of the United States Army, check us out at www.ausa.org.

The experiences will be worth the hassle, and you’ll come out with lasting memories and a host of newly acquired skills.

Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA, and AUSA needs your membership support.

Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.

Keep America’s Army Strong!

Take a Stand!

Still Serving, Still Saluting!