Training, Communication Critical to Building Teams

Training, Communication Critical to Building Teams

CSM Sampa speaks
Photo by: Rod Lamkey for AUSA

Training repetition, physical and mental fitness, and engaged communication with leadership are all key aspects of building readiness and cohesive teams throughout the Army, according to a panel of senior NCOs.

“The Army exists to fight and win our nation’s wars. You have to be an expert at your craft,” whether you’re an infantryman, armor soldier, human resources specialist or any other MOS, said Command Sgt. Maj. Todd Sims, senior enlisted leader for Army Forces Command.

That means building and maintaining readiness by mastering the fundamentals at the squad, platoon and company levels with “reps and sets” of basic skills, Sims said Oct. 12 during the Sergeant Major of the Army’s Professional Development Forum at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2021 Annual Meeting and Exposition. 

“Anytime soldiers go into the field,” their teamwork and unit cohesion improve, he said.

Despite budget shortfalls and a lack of predictable funding, the Army “is going to continue to build readiness as best we can,” Sims said. “Whatever we can do to make better noncommissioned officers, that’s our aim.”

Soldiers at all levels and in all components “must be highly trained, disciplined and fit,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex, the senior enlisted leader at Army Training and Doctrine Command.

One way the Army is increasing training opportunities is “aligning expert badges under the framework [of training]” by allowing soldiers up to three opportunities each year to train and test for those skills badges, Hendrex said. 

Soldiers attempting to earn the Expert Infantry Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge and Expert Soldier Badge used to train in separate three-week cycles followed by one week of testing. Now, the process takes only two weeks, he said.

Another important initiative to improve readiness is the Army’s Holistic Health and Fitness program. Poor fitness leads to injuries, Hendrex said, and pilot H2F programs at the battalion and brigade levels have reduced musculoskeletal injuries in those units by 10%.

Trust in leadership is critical to building teams, and engaged leaders improve readiness by communicating and knowing their soldiers “both in and out of uniform,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Sampa, senior enlisted leader for the Army National Guard.

His initiative to improve communication is simple but effective. “Every soldier [in the Army National Guard] carries a 3x5 card that they carry on their person” with topics of discussion, “giving leaders and soldiers something to talk about” and promoting “dedicated and passionate conversations” to build trust, Sampa said.

— Luc Dunn