NCOs Vital to Delivering Ready, Agile Force

NCOs Vital to Delivering Ready, Agile Force

NCOs on a panel at AUSA Global Force
Photo by: AUSA/Jared Lieberher

NCOs play a key role in building a force that’s ready to sustain itself on a complex and dispersed battlefield, a panel of senior enlisted leaders said March 26.

“Gone are the days in which we had 10 operating days of supply and equipment on hand, stacked up at the back of the [forward operating base] or [brigade support area],” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, senior enlisted leader for Army Materiel Command. “Now we’re looking at how do we get [those supplies] to the point of need, all the way from the factory to the foxhole, … and make sure we have the right supplies on hand.”

Speaking alongside the senior enlisted leaders from Army Futures Command, Army Training and Doctrine Command and the West Virginia National Guard at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium and Exposition, Sellers said the Army is studying how it should move on a “dynamic” battlefield while ensuring soldiers have what they need to fight.

The key is “being able to fix, arm and fuel forward and making sure we’re not a stagnant organization that’s standing still,” he said. “How are we going to be able to provide that multifunctional logistics noncommissioned officer that’s able to … get those requirements to the commander as required?”

Part of that effort is training, educating and developing NCOs so they’re properly equipped to lead soldiers and be force multipliers for their units and commanders, said Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Harris, senior enlisted leader for Training and Doctrine Command.

Work is underway to revamp the Senior Leader Course, a prerequisite for promotion to sergeant first class, to produce what Sellers and Harris referred to as multifunctional logistics NCOs. The goal is to “ensure they understand support operations and how to be a leader within the sustainment community,” Sellers said.

The goal is to start implementing the revamped Senior Leader Course “maybe end of this year, beginning of next,” Harris said.

The Army also must make sure it has the right soldiers with the right aptitude, Sellers said. “If we don’t have the right soldier, … the technology is going to outpace us,” he said.

For the Army National Guard, it’s important for the component to modernize and transform so it can remain relevant, said Command Sgt. Maj. James Jones, senior enlisted leader for the West Virginia National Guard. “There are significant other challenges when you talk modernization and the National Guard, number one being time, and two being money,” he said.

One Army National Guard “priority division” is in the first wave of modernization, transforming “along with their [active Army] counterparts,” Jones said, but “most of the greatest among our forces in the National Guard will remain ready and relevant through cascading modernization.”

The Guard must keep up and adapt, he said. “It can’t be just-in-time readiness,” Jones said. “If it’s not intuitive enough that a Guardsman can learn it really quickly over a couple of days, it has to be a more deliberate process, because we have limited time to train up on equipment. You have to get out and get reps and sets on that equipment … to build true readiness.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hester of Futures Command, who said the character of war is changing as innovation and technology continue to evolve, emphasized the importance of consistency. “The nature of war remains consistent,” he said. “For the Army, that means we have to be consistent and remain the dominant land force. … And we have to be able to do that at 10 [times] to our adversaries.”