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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Return to the Army green... Part three (NonCommissioned Officer)

The U.S. Army NCO Education System (NCOES) has made some changes since I have attended the Basic NonCommissioned Officer courses in 2010.  Mainly, the names of the courses have changes, the content, not as much.  While a Specialist (SPC/E-4) during those early years in the Army National Guard I was very inpatient at advancing to Sergeant (SGT/E-5).  I had been advanced to SPC while still active duty, sometime in 1999, I would remain that rank until 2003, what seemed like an eternity, but actually, would be less time than I spent at the Staff Sergeant (SSG/E-6) rank. 

So, after the Olympics, I was placed into a slot for the first of the NCOES schools, what is now known as the Warrior Leaders Course (WLC), but at the time was the Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC).  I attended in early 2003 and accepted a SGT position at Utah's Medical Command located at Camp Williams in Riverton, Utah.  This was also the location I attended PLDC.  I had some excellent instructors in PLDC, good NCOs, that took their jobs seriously and wanted to pass on the required resources and knowledge to those of us attending to make us better junior leaders in the Army.  I understand the need for the NCOES schools, but honestly, not anyone can, or should be, an NCO.  I have had this discussion with some close military friends in the recent past.  Years ago,the Amry had SPC rank that advanced past the pay grade of E-4, it was meant to allow for soldiers to advance through the pay grades, but not have the burden or responsibility of an NCO.  It may be time to look at bringing this advancement of the SPC rank back, that way we are not pushing individuals not qualified into NCO positions.  This doesn't mean that the individuals are not worth retaining in the military, most can do their job well, but fall short in leadership ability and skills.  I went through PLDC, graduated, and was promoted to SGT in May 2005 within Utah's Medical Command (MedCom).  I was hesitant going to this unit, it is purely medical and "top" heavy.  That just means there is many officers, seems most medical units are like this.  Medical professionals have rank handed to them, even if they com in off the street.  This is another topic I touch briefly on in my book, Combat Support; The True Burden Of Sacrifice.  As unfair as it seems, it is hard to get and retain physicians and physician assistants, the demand of their civilian jobs are exceedingly keeping those in provider positions from joining the military ranks.  I am one of those individuals now, and I can honestly say, we are treated different than basic branch officers.  I can save that story for another blog post.

I transitioned into MedCom without issues. Found a home as part of the Screening and Immunizations team.  During the time I transitioned to MedCom, the state of Utah was deploying soldiers to both Afghanistan and Iraq at a rapid pace.  Seems like all we did during my early days there was have Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP) events multiple times a month.  It was a pace that would slow, but never completely stop while I was a member of the Utah Army National Guard.  Eventually it would be my turn to attend an SRP, but before that, I had a job to do in MedCom, and another promotion awaiting me before I ever saw an SRP.  The job would take me to Fort Bragg for the first time to help the demobilization process for one of the Army National Guard's Special Forces Groups.  Then it would lead me to a very rewarding 2 week humanitarian mission deep into the countryside of Nicaragua to witness 3rd country living at a level greater than what I saw in the countryside of Korea.  It was a good time, with some great people, it was the beginning of my career as an NCO, as a SGT, a rank I had finally achieved and was grateful to have.  And I was ready to lead from the front.


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