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My Curious Month – Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education

It’s important, but is it accessible?

This month was all about the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO), as the professional military education (PME) network blew-up with discussion on all things SNCO. In particular we saw broad acknowledgement on the importance of SNCOs having an intellectual edge, and that across the globe militaries have ‘wheels in motion’ constructing training continuums and developing resources dedicated to SNCO development. Whilst this is exciting, the question still remains – what’s out there now across the network targeting SNCO development?  I’m glad you asked!

The Association of the United States Army shared a ripper article just recently called ‘Getting Back to The Basics of Leadership’ written by U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) George Horvath. This piece re-enforced the importance of a current and relevant NCO and their role within a command team.

From the Green Notebook shared an article written by two U.S. Army NCOs who are passionate about what NCOs have to say. The article is called ‘8 Reasons Why NCOs Should Write and Publish’ and really honed in on inspiring NCOs to put pen-to-paper in order to share their knowledge and experience. In addition, they provide a fantastic list of online tools to assist with writing, and then finish with suggested military blogs/websites that can publish your work.

Our friends at The Cove released an article written by an NCO from the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment on a technical and tactical task that traditionally falls to the SNCO– The Battlefield Clearance Team (BCT). The article addresses the lack of doctrine and offers some tips on how to train units for this task. I particularly like the concept of having the JNCO tasked to execute and command the BCT, leaving the SNCO and the Commander (the command team) controlling the main effort in the fight.

But if you really want to get after a limitless supply of high quality SNCO PME content you’ve got to engage with social media.

Since the article ‘The Intellectual Senior Non-Commissioned Officer’ was launched, a non –stop flow of digital PME resources have lit up on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms will serve you well; and also help open up other more formal gateways that exist within your organisation. Here are just a few handles to follow to get you started, or that you may have missed.

  • @Twitter/Facebook
    • @pptsapper / The Angry Staff Officer
      • Has great content on military history, and blog posts on foreign policy, current geo-politics and strategy. The kicker is you can also access ‘The NCO Club’ where you can also find articles that are focused on NCO development.
    • @NCOJournal / Army University Press
      • This is a fantastic journal that targets NCO development and education. The work here has transnational appeal.
    • @Monty’s Batman / The Warrant Officer
      • A great insight into Military History with the ‘War Talks’ series.

Finally, if you’re also keen to stay up-to-date with current affairs, geopolitics and trending global news that will arm you with the current and relevant knowledge to build the intellectual edge in your command team, here are some suggestions:

  • @ASPI_org / The Australian Strategic Policy Institute
    • Provides access to PME articles from ASPI’s blog The Strategist as well as other international resources.
  • @LowyInstitute / The Lowy Institute
    • Focusing on international policy; when you subscribe you receive a regular list of current articles and blogs generated by the policy think-tank to your email.
  • @StrategyBin / The Strategy Bin
    • A defence and foreign affairs journal based out of the U.K. that shares current and trending military related articles from all over the globe.

It’s never been about getting a PhD (although I acknowledge that many NCOs have a PhD), it’s about being relevant and current by providing credible knowledge and feedback to subordinates, junior officers and commanders. Having the intellectual edge gives you and your command team the knowledge needed to increase survivability in today’s complex battle space and getting there is just a click of the mouse away; this curious month. 

About the Author: Chris Sharp is a Squadron Sergeant Major at the Officer Training College with in the Australian Defence Force Academy. He has been an Associate Editor with Grounded Curiosity since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter via the handle @SHARP_CR.