Program to boost senior noncoms' skills
WASHINGTON — Credibility, understanding, relationships and exposure are the four foundations needed to build joint leaders, and the Joint Staff is looking at a program to build joint senior enlisted leaders.
“The U.S. military excels at building [noncommissioned officers] that can take mission command and extend the commander’s reach,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Shane Pilgrim, the Joint Staff’s Chief of Joint Enlisted Leader Development. “We are an officer led, NCO-driven organization.”
Building the lethality that Defense Secretary James N. Mattis wants in the military requires a more-educated NCO, able to handle the intricacies of a technologically and politically complex world, Pilgrim said. He has been working closely with Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
One of only a few hundred enlisted personnel on the Joint Staff, Pilgrim is basing the program on an Army officer internship program. In that program, post-company-command captains come to Washington to study for a year at Georgetown University, then serve a year on the Joint Staff, followed by a year in
broadening assignments in other areas.
The program – with about 10 entrants per year – would also be small enough to tailor courses to individual developmental needs, the chief said. The course will be open to senior NCOs, and it will build on previous education and experiences.
Key to the program will be exchanges with the State Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and others. This would give the NCOs the exposure “outside their tribe,” Pilgrim said.
The program falls into the continuum of NCO Joint Professional Military Education, Pilgrim said. He envisions that the service senior enlisted leaders will choose candidates for the program and that the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman will make the final selections.
The chief said the services have bought into the program, and the State Department and USAID are very interested in having the senior enlisted perspective.