Choose a level of NCOES
Page Information

 Published: Nov 1, 2007

 Updated: Dec 20, 2008
SMA Outlines Changes to Army Education during Visit to Europe

Nov 01, 2007
BY David Melancon

HEIDELBERG, Germany (Army News Service, Nov. 1, 2007) - Junior Soldiers are now taking on more responsibilities, so the Army's Education System is adapting, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston said while on a nine-day visit with troops across Europe.

"Because of how we operate, we are putting more and more responsibilities on younger Soldiers," SMA Preston told 24 military police from the 529th MP Company Oct. 26 in Heidelberg. "So our training models need to change, too."

The Army's top NCO said Soldiers must learn more leadership and warrior skills earlier in their careers in order to successfully continue the fight against global terrorism.

Basic Training Extended

Basic training is now increasing from nine to 10 weeks, SMA Preston said, so new Soldiers can spend more time in simulated operational environments. Soldiers carry their weapons longer -- starting from their third day in basic -- and develop marksmanship skills in a more combat-like setting and during simulated convoy operations.

New troops will get "a lot more time in the field with more warrior tasks and a lot more emphasis on using your weapon as you would in combat," he said.

Advanced individual training has also become more combat-focused, Preston said. Soldiers are undergoing more warrior drills, instead of focusing only on their technical skills, and the Warrior Leader Course is emphasizing more hands-on leadership training he said.

NCO Courses Changing Names

This year, the Army's Basic Noncommissioned Officer course is changing to the Advanced Leader Course and the Advanced NCO course is changing to the Senior Leader Course. The redesigned curriculum will incorporate skills formerly taught in higher-level courses, he said.

Battle-tested Soldiers are attending these courses and those Soldiers are filling positions traditionally held by their seniors, he said. These new and longer courses will give these leaders the skills that they need to complete their missions.

"You have sergeants first class stepping up and filling first sergeant positions; you have staff sergeants serving in platoon sergeant positions; you have sergeants serving as squad leaders," Preston told the MPs. "You have privates first class serving as team leaders."

SMA Fields Questions

Preston fielded several questions on topics ranging from recruiting standards to new small-arms weapons systems to the roles of civilian employees and contractors in the Army.

Preston said the Army is looking at its structure and swapping Soldiers for civilians "where it makes sense." More civilians are working in jobs once filled by Soldiers, freeing more troops to serve in the operational Army, filling more units and saving money in recruiting, health care and retirement costs.

Preston reminded the MPs that the Army is built upon standards and NCO leaders at all levels who enforce and exemplify the Army's standards. It is a matter of safety and discipline, he said.

"We are a standards-based organization," he said. "We empower our leaders -- noncommissioned officers -- to enforce the standards. Any time a Soldier is killed in training or something bad happens, it is usually because of a failure to enforce standards." 

Trip Spans Germany, Balkans, Italy

Following a whirlwind nine-day itinerary, Preston has visited with U.S. Army Europe Soldiers and Families in the Benelux; at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, and in Heidelberg, Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl, Germany. He is visiting Vicenza, Italy and Darmstadt, Germany as well. 

SMA Preston has shared a variety of activities with Soldiers during his visit, including several meals; physical training sessions, and open forums and town hall meetings. He also took part in the signing of the Army Family Covenant in Heidelberg Oct. 26.

During a visit to the Joint Multinational Training Command Oct. 28, SMA
Preston began his day talking with Warrior Leader Course students at the 7th Army NCO Academy. Then he toured the ranges and had an opportunity to observe members of 1st Armored Division's 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry taking part in a Mission Readiness Exercise. 

SMA Explains Modularity

Following the range visit, it was on to Vilseck, where Preston addressed members of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment's rear detachment. Preston spoke about how the Army is striving to be more modular in design.

"What this means is, we want an MP company in Heidelberg, Germany, to look just like an MP Company from the reserves based out of Baltimore, and that company should look just like a unit from the Kentucky National Guard," he said.

"Like units -- whether it be Reserve, Active, or National Guard -- we want them all to be the same."

The concept of the modular redesign began in January of 2004, the sergeant major said. At that time there were 33 brigade combat teams. Since then, the Army has grown, and should be at 44 brigade combat teams by October 2008.

Preston explained that units are being redesigned to make the Army a stronger and larger fighting force, saying brigades are being broken down and rebuilt to create more brigades to help combat the need for back-to-back deployments.

"This is the biggest transformation the Army has seen since World War II," SMA Preston said.

(David Melancon serves with the U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg Public Affairs Office. A dispatch from Spc. Gerald Wilson of the Joint Multinational Training Command Public Affairs Office also contributed to this article.)

If you notice information on this page which needs to be updated, please tell us about it.  Information can change often and if we are not aware of the changes, we cannot update the pages to reflect the most up to date information.  Submitting updated information is easy, just click the button above to contact the Editor.  Please enter detailed information about the changes which should be made to help ensure that the information on the page is as accurate and relevant as possible.
We have the following quick links available to help you find the information that you need faster.  The links will take you to the appropriate section of the site.
Provides info about the U.S. Army Warrior Leader Courses.
Provides info about the U.S. Army Advanced Leader Course (ALC)  which was formerly called BNCOC.
Provides information about the U.S. Army Senior Leader Course (SLC) which was formerly called ANCOC.
Provides information about the U.S. Army First Sergeant Course which is attended by SFC and above slotted in a 1SG position.
Provides information about the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course conducted at USASMA, Fort Bliss, Texas.
The Mission:
Our mission is to provide accurate information about the various Army NCOES Courses.  We rely heavily on NCO Submitted input about the courses to provide you information from the boots on the ground.
We provide unclassified information about courses and will not provide information that will aid in integrity violations.
Quick Access:
Get Quick access to the information you need by going directly to that NCOES Course at one of the links below.
We are not a DoD site: and the associated domains listed to the left are not Department of Defense websites.  Do not contact us requesting information about your status in a course or anything else regarding a personal nature.  We will delete any emails that contain requests that should have been pushed through official channels.
If you would like to submit information to be added to this site or updates to information already listed on this site, please contact us.
© 2008 - Contact Us - This is not an official U.S. Government or DoD Site. See the Disclaimer, TOU and Privacy Policy