FORT KNOX, KY. - While enlisted Soldiers and noncommissioned
officers, or NCOs, may have heard talk that diverse broadening
assignments are in their Army futures, many do not know where to go
for information and guidance on making them part of their career
While such documents as Army Regulation-621-7 and
AR-621-1 lay out guidelines for specific educational opportunities,
there is no overarching policy or regulation equivalent to
Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3, published in late 2014.
However, broadening for enlisted Soldiers, a parallel concept,
is "the purposeful expansion of an NCO's core military occupational
specialty, or MOS, proficiency and leadership provided through
diverse developmental positions, opportunities and assignments both
within and outside their career management field," said Aubrey
Butts, director of Training and Doctrine Command's Institute for
Noncommissioned Office Professional Development.
NCOs are better able to operate in a complex environment. We have
learned much after our longest ground conflict. Looking to the
future our leaders understand we must expand our learning options
and embrace diverse-learning domains: Institutional,
self-developmental and operational. We as an Army must shore up our
education system and provide meaningful opportunities for lifelong
learning to win in a complex environment," he said.
self-development and primary military education remain pillars of
enlisted and NCO development, said Sgt. Maj. Michael Barbieri, a
branch sergeant major with U.S. Army Human Resources Command's, or
HRC's, Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate. But broadening
assignments that take Soldiers out of their MOS or provide a new
perspective on it have become key to growing the right kind of
Soldiers for Army 2025 and beyond.
The aim, as articulated by
Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, commanding general, U.S. Army Human
Resources Command, is "creating flexible, agile and adaptive leaders
through education, experience and training."
getting people to do something a little bit different," Barbieri
said. "Downsizing drives a lot of that, it just comes with the
territory. As the end strength number comes down, they're going to
expect more out of you. Everybody. Officer and enlisted."
make broadening possible, there are nearly 12,000 nominative
positions open to enlisted Soldiers as they progress through the
ranks, said HRC's Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith. In addition to
classic diversity assignments such as recruiter (5,000 plus), drill
sergeant (2,000 plus) and advanced individual training platoon
sergeant (about 700), there are a wealth of opportunities both
inside and outside a Soldier's MOS or career management field, and
outside the Army itself, he said.
Barbieri said enlisted
career paths differ from those of officers, "because theirs are a
little more open. It's not quite as structured as the officer career
Opportunities range from assignments with the Defense
Information System Agency to the Asymmetric Warfare Group to the
White House Communications Agency, and include a number of staff
assignments both within and outside the Army proper. Others involve
meeting other Army requirements to fill equal opportunity and
inspector general billets.
"There are opportunities.
Obviously, not everybody gets a chance at all of them," Barbieri
said. "And it has to bring a benefit to the Army, otherwise it's
just a cool assignment. There has to be a tangible benefit to the
Department of Defense."
Barbieri said broadening assignments
contribute to growing a Soldier's operational and strategic
experience and skills. At the same time they meet the current needs
of the force while building the bench of leaders at all ranks
envisioned by today's leadership for Army 2025 and beyond.
"They have to be able to adapt, to operate in an environment outside
of what they are used to. You have to get away from simple and move
into complex thinking. If all they know is the tactical side of
things, they're going to fail when they get put in those strategic
positions," he said.
"There's nothing wrong with loving what
you do and wanting to do that, but you've got to be able to see the
bigger picture. As the Army transitions, they're going to be looking
for somebody who is a little more diversified. They don't want a
one-trick pony, they want somebody with a deeper experience base,"
Still, convincing Soldiers of the benefits of
broadening assignments to their individual careers, sometimes has
its challenges, he said.
"It's varied everywhere I go. It
seems like there are 10 percent that are all in, 10 percent who are,
'no, don't do that,' and then everybody else is in the middle,
waiting to see how things fall. For someone that's outside an MOS,
that's not so technical, it's a little more challenging.
the kicker is, if we're going to make it a priority, make it
important through policy or regulation, we have to ensure all senior
leadership is on the same sheet of music," Barbieri said.
Promotion boards have to show by their actions broadening has a real
value to Soldiers, he said.
"Whoever's going to be sitting on
the centralized promotion boards is going to have to be able to open
their minds. Right now we're seeing a lot of people volunteering,
but if they don't see any return on the investment they are making -
it's a leap of faith. Especially with downsizing, if they think
they're going to fall behind their peers, that's a big step for
Soldiers to take."
On the other hand, Barbieri said he also
needs to educate Soldiers to manage their expectations.
"Broadening doesn't equal promotion. To do well you have to push
yourself, and that's part of the whole concept: getting outside your
comfort zone and pushing yourself to expand, to add to your skill
set. There are opportunities, but it is what you make of it, like
any job in the Army. Performance is everything," he said.
"It's a process of self-selection - determined or defined by matters
of performance and the potential for leadership each Soldier
displays," Mustion said. "The way for every officer, warrant or
enlisted Soldier is different. There is no model path or program
that fits all."
As boards recognize Soldiers, who take on
more challenging assignments, the value of broadening will become
more evident to all enlisted Soldiers and NCOs, Barbieri said.
"I interact with my peers and we have this talk all the time.
I'm looking for the right person, at the right time, in the right
place. That is the challenge. What can you do that's going to make
you more competitive," he asked.
By David Ruderman
U.S. Army Human Resources Command
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