NEWS | Nov. 15, 2018

U.S. Army Central Noncommissioned Officers Academy

By Sgt. Fatima Konteh U.S. Army Central

As a Specialist in the U.S. Army your ultimate goal is to get promoted to a Sergeant and finally leave the “E-4 mafia" behind. The U.S. Army Basic Leadership Course is the only thing standing between many promotable specialists and pinning the Sergeant rank on their chests.

Current Specialists and Sergeants enrolled in the redesigned BLC should expect more emphasis on the six leader core competencies: readiness, leadership, training management, communications, operations, and program management.

"Several changes have been made to BLC," said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Ortiz, the commandant of the U.S. Army Central Noncommissioned Officer Academy. "Not only to what is being taught but how it's being taught. The Army is transitioning from instructors to facilitators who can utilize the experiential learning model of education.”

The U.S. Army Central NCOA graduated 157 out of 160 students after completing the first iteration of the new BLC.

“To have zero academic drops and very few initial exam failures, lets us know that the course-ware is effective because the students are getting the information and retaining it,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Valentine, small group leader with the U.S. Army Central NCOA. “The scores are higher for our students as a whole than they ever have been in the past; making commandants list very competitive.”

Since the development of the Primary Leadership Course in the late 1970s, training potential junior leaders was focused around the instructors giving step-by-step instructions rather than teaching Soldiers how to apply leadership skills. The previous 4-week course included a situational training exercise and land navigation course.

Now students are given the opportunity to improve on writing, communication, and the responsibility of being a leader.

“There will be more interaction in the classroom where Soldiers are encouraged to seek peer-to-peer help by asking each other for assistance,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Matthew Sharp, the deputy commandant and first sergeant of the U.S. Army Central NCOA.

The U.S. Army Central NCOA is currently in a hiatus and will tentatively resume classes in March 2019.

There are many more changes to come while the new BLC is still within its beginning stages and they will be part of the Army's NCO 2020 initiative. According to Army Training and Doctrine Command, NCO 2020 is a revolutionary initiative; to develop a deliberate, data-driven process to assess the needs of tomorrow's NCO professionals.

“Regardless of the changes to course, the NCOA will not change the way they conduct physical training or the standards the students are held to,” said Sharp.