[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                               December 12, 2008
Training

Pre Command Course instructors implement creative learning

By, Master Sgt. Christina Steiner, The Real McCoy Contributor

FORT MCCOY, Wis. — Instructors and writers for the Army Reserve’s two Pre Command Courses have implemented some creative learning initiatives in the past year to make the courses more relevant, current and interactive for student commanders.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Carissa Lelonek, a military technician instructor with the 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment, participates as a student in a Pre Command Course. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)
Staff Sgt. Carissa Lelonek, a military technician instructor with the 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment, participates as a student in a Pre Command Course. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)

Cadre and faculty staff for the Company Detachment Pre Command Course (CDPCC), which is taught monthly at Fort McCoy, have introduced teaching techniques from their critical task selection board (CTSB) in fall 2007. Student feedback overall has been positive. The Battalion Brigade Pre Command Course (BBPCC) finished its CTSB this summer, and cadre and faculty have begun implementing those changes.

Most notable changes include: introducing adult-learning techniques to the classroom — less lecture, more student oriented with practical exercises and dialog; and mandatory attendance by command sergeants major (CSM) in the BBPCC, according to 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment Commander Maj. Christopher Perner. The 2nd, 339th falls under the 84th Training Command (Leader Readiness), Fort McCoy, and manages and instructs three leadership courses — two are Pre Command Courses.

Other changes include: A new battalion Web site via AKO at: https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/561901, which links into the course presentations and operations. Master Sgt. Teddy Grace, the battalion acting CSM and BBPCC course NCOIC, designed the site. 

Also, according to Perner, new equipment is on order — microphones, a sound mixer board, projectors, screens, copiers, printers, and student computers. New classes will center on: the commanders’ role as leaders, ethics, critical thinking and self-awareness. There are 45 tasks to examine to determine to what extent these tasks are covered in existing classes or whether separate classes are needed.

Both Pre Command Courses center upon human relations, personnel, finance and training management topics, as well as Web tools to manage Army Reserve units.

Photo: Maj. Christopher Perner (center), instructor, answers maintenance questions from students Capt. Frank Perez, 560th Transportation Detachment, Springfield, Mo., and 1st Lt. Marjorie Eastman, 321st Military Intelligence Battalion, Austin, Texas. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)
Maj. Christopher Perner (center), instructor, answers maintenance questions from students Capt. Frank Perez, 560th Transportation Detachment, Springfield, Mo., and 1st Lt. Marjorie Eastman, 321st Military Intelligence Battalion, Austin, Texas. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christina Steiner)

"Also, the BBPCC site has changed over the past year (from Forts Knox and McCoy) to Atlanta, and a bigger push to make this a requirement for sergeant majors to attend," explained course director Jim Davis, also an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel. "We will continue to involve spouses. The BFRR (Battle Focus Readiness Review) class was newly added." The faculty encourages spouses to attend the first two days alongside their student sponsors. Spouses receive invitational orders from their home commands.

"As we continue to stay longer in Atlanta, we’re getting great USARC (U.S. Army Reserve Command) support," Davis continued. "We recently had the CTSB and determined that we need to continue to make this course more relevant to what the commanders need. They need to be successful for this GWOT (Global War on Terror) time. We want more free space, more bonding, more practical exercises.

"We’re considering Louisville-Fort Knox due to the USARC BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Act), possibly Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But as it stands, Atlanta is the official location. We’re also going to reduce our student cap. Now it’s at 100 students and only once did we come close to that. The USARC G-7 (training) is considering lowering student load to 80 and adding one more course from five to six a year."

"Some ongoing challenges are students cancelling at the last minute, Internet connectivity, and behind-the-scenes operational issues," he said. "The cadre is super. Everyone supports this course, whether it’s the Fort McCoy staff, the hotel, the USARC G-2/G-6 (security and technology) staff.

"Our BBPCC of five years ago is not that course anymore. We’ve evolved to meet the needs of commanders."

Grace elaborated: "(In) the past year, (BBPCC) has taken on a lot of new staff comprised of a wide range of experience. The new experience of Soldiers and civilians opens the door to creative thinking. At the same time, we have transformed and merged with the former Leadership Development Directorate (LDD) adding more continuity, leadership, knowledge, and professional strength to our ranks."

"In our (BBPCC), we highly encourage commanders to bring their spouses during the first two days of the course. We offer a variety of classes for the spouses that will be invaluable resources for them when they return home," Grace said. "The families help fill the ranks of our units in the form of support as much as our Soldiers do. This is the reason we highly encourage spouses to attend. We offer child care for the first two days at no expense to the Soldiers or spouses so that they can attend."

"Our goal is to foster a team concept and an understanding of leadership. Historically, commanders would come to the course without their CSMs," Grace said. " … attendance has always been very low for many different reasons, funding being one of them. That has all changed now, and it is vitally imperative that CSMs attend the Battalion Brigade Course with their commanders. We offer a command team the opportunity to build on their relationship as a team at our course."

For the most part, student feedback over the past year has been positive. "All my experiences have prepared me for command, but the Pre Command Course has given me a framework," said Lt. Col. Alex Fink, a February 2008 BBPCC student.

"The way the course was laid out was by staff sections," Fink said. "I kept my notes handy. When I go to my own staff meetings, the notes have helped me ask relevant questions … the tools, Web site references … ITRS (Individual Training and Readiness System) … I’ve used the lessons quite a bit ... the one thing is I didn’t make a lot of connections with students. I might suggest (the staff) introduce more social events to connect students." Fink is the commander of 2nd Battalion, 383rd Regiment, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. As a civilian he is a marketing manager for DuPont in Des Moines, Iowa.

The 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment team manages three leadership courses. Prospective students may look up course prerequisites in the Army Training Requirements and Resources Systems (ATRRS). School code is 921A.

The Battalion Brigade Pre Command Course is course number: 921-933; Company Detachment Pre Command Course is course number: 921-932; and Company Team Leader Development Course (CTLDC) is course number: 921A-932.

BBPCC courses average six a year in Atlanta; CDPCC courses average one a month at Fort McCoy; while the CTLDC averages two courses a month as a mobile training team that travels to major subordinate commands.

For more information about any of the three courses, contact Grace at (608) 388-7443 or Steiner at (608) 388-2292.

(Steiner is the course manager and instructor for the CDPCC at Fort McCoy. She is with the 2nd Battalion, 339th Regiment, 1st Brigade (Schools), 70th Division, 84th Training Command (Leader Readiness.))

 

 

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