Army Announces 2009 Will Be “Year Of NCO”

October 8, 2008

They are the backbone of the Army, an invaluable wealth of information, knowledge and experience. They are the main cog in the wheel that allows the Army to operate at a time when limits are stretched, while fighting wars on two separate fronts. They are one of the most effective tools that a commander has at his or her disposal, to ensure that their Soldiers are mission ready. They often have more time in the Army then the commanders in charge of them and don’t hesitate to take a new commander under their wing, to guide them and help them learn the idiosyncrasies of the unit that they command. They are the first-line supervisors in the Army, the ones who know each of the Soldiers in their unit, their strengths and weaknesses. They are sometimes a teacher, ensuring that the Soldiers underneath them receive the appropriate training and that they are mission ready. They don’t seek accolades and often don’t get credit for the important work that they do. Who are they? They are the Army’s Noncommissioned Officers of the United States Army.

On Monday, recognizing the importance and value of it’s enlisted leaders, the Army announced that it will proclaim 2009 as the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer. Army Secretary Pete Geren made the announcement during his keynote address at the beginning of the 2008 Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting and exposition held in Washington D.C.

“At the front of every Army mission in the United States or overseas, you’ll find a noncommissioned officer,” he said. “They know their mission, they know their equipment, but most importantly, they know their Soldiers.”1

Over the next year, the Army will develop new programs that will help to enhance the training opportunities, educational opportunities and the capability of the NCO Corps. This is a great step forward for the Army, as they recognize the importance of the NCO’s and the wealth of experience that they bring to the table. The NCO is often the person, who takes a brand new company commander, under their wing and teaches them the ropes, so that they can operate effectively in their role as commander. The NCOs know their jobs as well as the jobs of others. They know the equipment they use and they know the Soldiers they lead. They’re able to recognize developing problems and take action to ensure that little problems don’t escalate into something much worse.

“Today’s NCO operates autonomously and always with confidence and competence,” Geren said. “Our NCOs are empowered and trusted like no other NCO in the world, and most advanced armies in the world today are going to school on our model.”2

NCOs operate mostly in the background, to ensure that the day to day operations of their company run smoothly. They work side by side with their Soldiers, setting a good example and ensuring that those Soldiers that they’re in charge of are the best that they can be. Like a supervisor in the civilian world, they may be tasked to deal with things outside the scope of their expertise. They adept at locating the resources they need to address these types of difficulties. They’re able to adapt and overcome barriers and teach those skills to those they lead. They wear many hats during the course of their duties. To the Soldiers they lead, they serve as mentor, father or mother figure, teacher, disciplinarian and friend. To their leaders they’re the expert, the advisor, the sounding board, the teacher and mentor.

It’s great that the Army has recognized the importance of their NCO Corps and are willing to do so publicly. Working as closely with the Army as I do, I’m able to see firsthand the effectiveness that a good NCO has on the operations of their entire unit. I’m glad that they’re receiving the recognition that they’ve so long deserved.

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