Army Major Broadening Assignments For Aviation

FORT KNOX, Kentucky (June 1, 2015) – When the Department of Defense published DA Pam. 600-3 in December 2014, it provided Soldiers of all ranks a new perspective and guiding light for building career paths to leadership in the Army of 2025.

The emphasis for re-shaping the Army in the years ahead will focus on growing agile, flexible and widely experienced leaders at all levels and across all components and ranks, said Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, Commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

“The last 13 years have impacted the Army’s expectations, with a generation of leaders and commanders defined by our wartime missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we are in a different environment now and need to meet the evolving challenges of a world in constant change,” he said.

DA Pam. 600-3 defines broadening as “a purposeful expansion of a leader’s capabilities and understanding provided through opportunities internal and external to the Army . . . through experiences and education in different organizational cultures and environments.”

Mustion said there are various factors operating in development of each individual Soldier that will determine their specific broadening assignments. With the guidance and support of evolving leadership, Soldiers need to balance and blend their needs for career satisfaction, personal preferences, family dynamics and their personal relationships with their leaders to hit on the right path to his or her goals.

“It’s a process of self-selection determined or defined by matters of performance and the potential for leadership each Soldier displays,” Mustion said. “The way for every officer, warrant or enlisted Soldier is different. There is no model path or program that fits all.”

Broadening opportunities may vary in scope, responsibility and developmental outcomes, and typically fall into one of four major categories: functional, academic, joint and interagency.

Functional or institutional assignments provide developmental experiences usually not directly related to a Soldier’s branch or functional area, fostering a deeper understanding of how the Army operates.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Smith, Command Chief Warrant Officer with U.S. Army Human Resources Command, cited an aviation warrant officer being assigned as an Observer-Controller to one of the Army’s National Training Centers as an example.

NTC prepares Soldiers deployments and complex operations within a simulated wartime environment. Aviation officers acting as OCs learn a great deal about how orders and missions take place on the battlefield. This constitutes a broadening experience for them as they conduct overfly missions and monitor control and command of the battle between airframes, said Smith.

“Although they are in their specific MOS, they are looking and assisting a unit to get better at completing their task. They get an idea of what the unit is up against so they can provide expert knowledge to assist them,” he said.

A wide range of academic and civilian enterprise opportunities provide Soldiers broadening assignments with civilian industry or in an institution of higher learning. The goal is to stimulate the Soldier’s growth via new perspectives, and by acquiring skills and abilities not traditionally associated with organic Army experiences, training and education.

One such option is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Service Chiefs Internship Program. Two officers are selected quarterly for the assignment, said Joel Strout, program manager, HRC’s Advanced Education Programs Branch.

“They get the insight of what DARPA is doing, all the latest technological developments. For example, it is a temporary duty and return program for majors (promotable) and lieutenant colonels. It is 90 days and return to their unit,” Strout said.

Joint or multinational broadening assignments provide Soldiers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Army from the perspective of partner nation military organizations at the operational and strategic level. One such assignment would be with NATO.

“Overall, within NATO, there are around 1,000 to 1,100 positions; 750 of them would be international type, U.S. Army billets, which would be considered the broadening assignments,” said Michelle Cox, plans officer with HRC G3 and previously a NATO liaison officer within HRC.

Assignments vary in length, though most are 36-month, accompanied tours, though there are exceptions. For instance, an assignment to Turkey is presently a 12-month, dependent-restricted tour, “though for most positons, they are trying to get that changed so the officers and NCOs can take their families,” she said.

“Most of the officer positions are major, lieutenant colonel, some captains, some 06s,” but the majority are for O4s and 05s, she said. There is no language requirement for selection, since English is the official language of NATO.

“They request officers with combat experience, so they come with something to give. It is not necessarily anything in their record, though there could be something to an assignment manager to indicate if an officer would be a good candidate. But the indicators for me as a liaison, and for the brigade commander as a support position, is someone who wants to be there, someone who wants the challenge, is hungry for the challenge,” she said.

Interagency and intergovernmental assignments provide similar opportunities for professional growth while serving with government agencies outside the Department of Defense, or with governmental agencies of partner nations. Opportunities for warrant officers vary, said Smith, pointing to one senior warrant with an AG background who is about to begin an assignment with the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison.

“I think this is an opportunity to broaden an officer who has been doing great things in that community,” said Smith. “Mentorship has absolutely everything to do with your MOS, but it also has something to do with professionalism.”

The diversity of broadening opportunities available across all ranks reflects the importance these assignments will play in shaping the Army of the future, Smith said.

“Broadening has now become a major focus. Whereas it was centrally focused on the officers before, it is now the full gambit: officer, warrant officer, NCO, civilian, and that is the Chief of Staff of the Army’s guidance. Everybody is diligently working at broadening and trying to define it for their cohorts,” he said.

Whichever category they select, Soldiers in all three components will prosper and advance by developing their own career maps and pathways to reach their goals. That navigation will include taking advantage of the most rewarding developmental experiences at each juncture of a career.

“Broadening is an approach to talent management geared toward delivering a generation of Army leadership at all levels capable of leading Army, Joint, interagency and multinational enterprises to victory in complex and constantly evolving security environments,” said Mustion.

Photo Credit: (U.S. Army photo)

Tags: Building individual career paths to leadership in Army 2025, NCO, Soldier leadership through broadening assignments

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, Jan. 21, 2016) -- Warrant officers told Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, commander of the Combined Arms Center, and other senior leaders that it's hit or miss when it comes to broadening assignments, depending on the branch and command.

The venue was the first-ever, chief of staff of the Army-sponsored Warrant Officer Solarium, held at the Command and General Staff College, Jan. 15.

WHAT'S BROADENING?

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Sargent said there are different types of broadening for Soldiers. For example, professional military education is considered broadening, since it's outside military occupational specialty training.

Then there's unit broadening, like during exercises and combat training center rotations. And, he said, there's self-development broadening such as pursuing a college degree when off duty.

The focus of discussion here, he said, are broadening opportunities relating to assignments with joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational partners, or JIIM, broadening assignments with an Army branch outside one's own, and broadening assignments in the form of fellowships and scholarships.

WHY BROADEN?

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Justin Seimet, who works in aviation safety at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said a broadening assignment to a JIIM partner or another branch helps make warrants "more innovative and adaptive" when it comes to winning in a complex environment.

He was quoting from the draft document, "Warrant Officer 2025," which has similar wording to the "Army Operating Concept," U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet 525-3-1.

Someone who is not used to working with someone from a different service or military is going to have a much harder time adjusting and coordinating planning and movements when it comes to a combat operation where there will almost certainly be JIIM partners, he said.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Zach Keough said broadening assignments are eye-opening experiences that give warrants "exposure to departments outside the branch but within the organization so they see how their little piece contributes to the entire organization." He said these experiences should be made available to "highly qualified" Soldiers.

WHO'S BEING BROADENED?

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nick Koeppen said he's fortunate, with regard to JIIM broadening, since he frequents Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, training with Marines on gunnery, naval gunfire and ship deck landings.

Others in the aviation branch are not as fortunate, he said. Since aviation is a high-demand asset, particularly in-theater, there's often no time for that and the focus is keeping the aircraft up and flying to move people and equipment around.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lori Mickelson, who is in human resources, said her branch is ripe with broadening opportunities for all the ranks. She said the same opportunities should be available in every branch, as well as across the three components.

For broadening to be effective, she said those assignments should be linked to career tracks and timelines, and be updated periodically in a user-friendly format.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Luis Martinez said "there's a lack of transparency on broadening assignment availability, no published prerequisites for broadening assignments and ambiguity in the selection process."

He suggested that the process be more transparent and clearly communicated. Otherwise, "people don't know what's available."

The selection criteria also need to be more transparent, he said. Now, if someone applies and doesn't get selected, they don't know why. It seems like "a good old boy network," of who gets selected.

Koeppen said broadening opportunity information is out there, but it's in so many different publications and websites. It needs to be consolidated to one site or one publication.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Neal Vaught suggested that one career manager at Human Resources Command be in charge of all warrant officer broadening assignments, with branch managers and senior warrant advisors providing input to that person.

INPUT FROM THE GENERAL

Brown said there's an expense involved in broadening opportunities, both in time and money, "but we can do this better."

A lot of other topics were covered at the Solarium. A few of them follow.

The general added that the warrant officers' input during Solarium was invaluable. "We're too far removed from the problem, but you can solve it and tell us what you need."

MANDATORY TRAINING

Keough said there's too much mandatory training that is not related to leadership, technical skills and warfighting. Much of that training is redundant and the same mandatory training topics come up much too frequently. Also, mandatory training is conducted and tracked on multiple online sites, making it cumbersome to access.

"Army readiness is gauged by mandatory training, not METL proficiency. It should be the other way around," he said. METL stands for mission essential task list."

Brown said he agreed with that assessment. "We've been fighting this since I was a captain. [Mandatory training] is for valid and important reasons, but winning the nation's war should be the first priority. We're working hard on this. There's better ways to do it, but it involves policy decisions. METL is not our focus when everything is our focus.

"We're not a business that loses money," when poor decisions are made, he continued. Instead, "we lose lives."

MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS

Sargent said some units have mentorship programs and others don't. It's all over the map.

Brown agreed that having mentors is important. He said he's had his own mentors as he progressed through his career.

Other warrants said they too had mentors and some of them didn't even know that they were mentors.

Brown cautioned not to make having mentorships mandatory. The Air Force tried it and it failed, he said.

COMMON EDUCATION

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Heath Stamm said a study was done a few years ago saying that warrant officer education needs to be better integrated with officer education.

"There are commonalities between a lot of officer education and warrant officer education," he said. "We should identify where we can train together. Otherwise we are duplicating.

For example, there are commonalities that exist at the Warrant Office Intermediate Level Education and the Command and General Staff Officers Course level.

The problem now is warrant officer courses are at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and officer courses are at Fort Leavenworth, he noted, recommending that the warrant courses migrate to Fort Leavenworth. "I've never heard a warrant officer say that's a bad idea. The facilities and resources are here."

Brown said he agreed with that assessment, noting that the SHARP Academy decided to locate at Fort Leavenworth and the Army Management Service Staff College for Army civilians moved here from Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

(Editor's note: This is the third and final article in a series of Warrant Officer Solarium articles.)

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