News: Combined efforts bring leadership course to deployed soldiers
Story by Sgt. Angela Parady
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - “I have never [before] received the support that U.S. Army Europe has provided us, in my career,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Doug Gilliam. “They gave me the chance to graduate 158 soldiers from their basic noncommissioned officer leadership institutionalized training. That is huge, and will only help us improve our combat readiness for anything that comes next.”
The 158 U.S. National Guard soldiers deployed as part of Multinational Battle Group- East in support of NATO’s Kosovo Force celebrated the completion of the Warrior Leadership Course March 23 at Camp Bondsteel.
Gilliam, command sergeant major for MNBG-E worked with U.S. Army Europe Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport and the 7th Army noncommissioned officer academy commandant, Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Sellers, to get his soldiers access to the school while deployed to Kosovo.
Davenport said that the Army is making a deliberate effort to develop and educate young leaders. A major issue has been getting soldiers to school, so the training centers have been underutilized.
“We are making leader development a priority. We are seeing where the need is, and where to allocate our resources to address that need,” said Davenport. When Gilliam brought us numbers of soldiers that were eligible, some overdue for this school, it made more sense to send instructors from the academy to Camp Bondsteel and conduct the course there.
Sgt. Robert W. Carlisle, a network operations noncommissioned officer deployed with the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, was assigned to the first class offered here. During the 17-day course, they covered how to conduct training, leadership and tactical skills. Some of the tasks included Army writing assignments like how to write an award and a memorandum. Taking care of soldiers and learning to manage a squad were also a major focus of the course.
“WLC is important because it gives you a solid foundation that can be used across the board to help develop our Army,” said Carlisle. “We need to continue to develop our junior NCO’s so we can continue to set the example for the future and continue to grow as an army.”
Carlisle said that the instructors for the course really set the example. They balanced the strict style of a basic leadership training, with a higher level of professionalism.
“The instructors were extremely helpful,” he said. “They were not rushed, but covered all of the material, and I felt like they really cared about what they were doing here.”
The course instructors, five in total, came from the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy in Germany to instruct the course. Some soldiers were concerned about balancing their responsibilities as soldiers, with their responsibilities as a students. Carlisle wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but he said he was happy to have had the opportunity, and his leadership helped him along the way.
Gilliam said that the professional image of the instructors helped enforce his ideal image of a leader. He said that two key things to keep in a leaders mind going forward are performance and image.
“How you perform is going to set your image,” he said. “Everyone has seen good soldiers and bad soldiers. You can pick them out after having seen them for 10 minutes, based on their performance. That sets their image. If soldiers see you perform, that builds your image as a leader.”
Pride and responsibility in yourself, your soldiers, and having a strong esprit de corps also helps build the foundation for becoming a better leader, he said.
Davenport said that leader development is multifaceted. There is the institutional learning that happens in the academies and by certified instructors. Then at the organizational level, the units continue to work on professional development with training and assignments aimed at developing and shaping junior noncommissioned officers into senior noncommissioned officers.
“The last step, is that of the soldier,” said Davenport. “The soldiers have a responsibility to be committed to lifelong learning. I am not just talking about civilian education; I am talking about structured self development, Army courses. That is becoming a focus in our Army. The Army is going back to the standard of select, train and promote.”
Davenport advised this next generation of leaders to continue to keep moving forward. “Don’t get complacent,” he said. “You all should be striving for the next level. It is about always getting better. As an NCO corps, we have to always develop. I travel to a lot of different countries, and see their NCO corps, and they are catching up to us. They have the hunger, they have the passion. These leaders that we train and graduate this rotation, they have to continue to seek out opportunities to continue to learn.”
Carlisle, who lives in Summerville, S.C., summed up his definition of a leader.
“A leader is someone you can look up to, a role model,” he said. “Someone that can motivate you and someone that is going to push you to be your best.”