The Evolution of Noncommissioned Officers in Training Soldiers

October 6, 2009

Emerging prominently from U.S. Army training doctrine is the relatively new role of senior noncommissioned officers (NCOs) as “master trainers.” Senior noncommissioned officers at the battalion and company level hold primary responsibility for planning and executing to standard all individual and most small-unit training in a manner that is supportive of, and synchronized with, collective and leader tasks. With fifteen to twenty-five years’ service and the benefits of the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES), the Army’s senior NCOs are the equivalent of the guild masters of the Renaissance. Guild masters trained mid-level journeymen in the more advanced skills of the craft and taught the journeymen how to train apprentices. Above all, the masters set the standards and enforced them within the trade. Those who did not meet the masters’ standards were retrained or removed from their positions. Likewise, the U.S. Army senior noncommissioned officer today trains the mid-level platoon sergeants who in turn train the junior NCOs.

How did the U.S. Army get to the point that the commander and his noncommissioned officer sequence their work and talk through each stage of their unit’s training plan, once considered strictly “officers’ business”? Many throughout the world see this collective involvement in training as the epitome of synchronization, allowing organizations within the Army to progress smoothly through the different training phases.