NCOs the past, present, and future

Photo By Danielle ODonnell | Picture previously taken- Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin Jones, command sergeant major of the U.S. Army Pacific Command speaks to the Class 70 students of the Sergeants Major Academy, Jan. 29. During his brief, Jones spoke to the importance of readiness by ensuring a combat credible force and shared words of advice to the students.
April 06, 2020

FORT BLISS, Texas — As the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence and the U.S. Army deal with times of uncertainty, the NCO Corps continues to remain steadfast. Built from the experience and lessons learned from NCO professionals across history, to create the NCO Professional of today is the backbone of the Army.

The NCOLCoE believes the knowledge garnered from NCO history is vital and created an NCO History website, through the Office of the Historian.

The website is created to receive written or recorded contributions from all service members, past and present, to tell their NCO story.

“History is dynamic, whether we believe it or not,” Dr. Everett Dague, Command Historian, NCOLCoE expressed. “History is the study of the past, but it is also the backbone of all academic and intellectual activities.”

Dague added, “history is ultimately about who we are and what our identity is.”

The website helps create the linkage to see the NCO as a professional.

“The idea that NCOs are professionals, or that being an NCO is a profession by itself, is a comparatively new one,” he said. “A professional NCO is educated to lead and to act as an asset in understanding, communicating, and executing mission objectives and the commander’s intent.”

Future NCOs will learn valuable lessons obtained from experience that goes beyond the Military Occupation Specialty, through this website.

Dague explains the three objectives of the NCO Corps History website.

“First, it provides a platform for NCOs to record their experiences, challenges, and solutions as NCOs, rather than as a member of a unit or as a MOS,” he said.

Soldiers get to see their career path beyond their technical MOS proficiency.

“Second, it provides a place for NCOs and other Soldiers to see how the NCO Corps career path advances, which creates a better universal understanding of what the NCO profession is all about throughout the entire Army.”

The website is a resource to not only help the NCOs of the future but to tell the NCO story continuously.

“Lastly, it provides an archival record for researchers looking to develop scholarship on the NCO profession a collection of primary sources and material, which in turn supports the understanding of the NCOs identity, role, function, and profession,” he said.

Dr. Dague speaks to the changes in the NCO educational system, and the evolution of the NCO Corps.

“I am currently working on a project comparing the NCO Corps of the Korean War, Vietnam, and the first Gulf War,” he said. “There are several profound differences between all three, but the major one – and the one I am most interested in looking at – is education and the concept of the NCO as a professional.”

Dague said the Gulf War NCO is the product of decades of the NCOES and rethinking what an NCO was and what they did.

“The result,” he said, “the Gulf War NCO was much better prepared and a much stronger asset on the battlefield, which affected overall Army performance on and off the battlefield.”

The website creates a path for NCOs to know where they came from and the nature of their profession.

“Providing professionals – any professional,” he said. “NCO, officer or otherwise – with a critical, systematic, academically sound examination of their past lays the foundation for understanding who these professionals are.”

The NCOLCoE presents the experiences of the past to help create holistically fit, disciplined, well-educated professionals capable of meeting the challenges of large-scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment.

Dague added, “the mission of the historian in the age of the NCOLCoE is to show the NCO as less Sgt. Rock and more Command Sgt. Major Sellers [the NCOLCoE commandant] and how they got that way.”

Soldiers who submit their experience to the website will have their entry scanned for operational security, and upon approval, posted to the site.

“One thing we do is maintain a record of what and how the information is submitted,” Dague said. “For example, we can accept videos, and it does not have to be a written submission. We also look for trends in thought and issues, which could suggest future research venues.”

Dague explains, “ideally, the contributor has a best practices story, a unique take on the NCO experience, or an account of something that prompted a better understanding of themselves as an NCO professional.”