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NEWS | Sept. 2, 2014

'Starting Strong:' Every career in the Army starts with TRADOC

By TRADOC Public Affairs TRADOC Public Affairs

Through U.S. Army Recruiting Command, U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training and U.S. Army Cadet Command, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command serves as the foundation for the "Start Strong" phase of every Soldier's career.

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, known as TRADOC, transforms civilians into Soldiers and provides them the pathway into the noble profession of Soldiers, past and present.

For over 40 years, TRADOC has provided millions of Soldiers not only with the skills to become professionals in their field, but also the expertise and experience to successfully transition out of the Army upon completion of service.

"Starting Strong" is critical to the individual success of U.S. Army Soldiers and officers and fundamental to the Army's role in defending the nation.


It's a challenging mission to find only the best, brightest and most qualified young men and women to become Soldiers to serve in the Army, but it's one that recruiters assigned to U.S. Army Recruiting Command, or USAREC, do with passion.

Master Sgt. Steve McCartney, USAREC senior policy non-commissioned officer, who's worked in recruiting in some capacity since 1996, said USAREC has some tough competition.

"We're trying to recruit the same students that all the colleges and universities are trying to recruit. In addition to being physically fit, we want those individuals who have clean police records, who don't do drugs, who make good grades, and who are leaders involved in community and student organizations; because young people who are assets to their community will be assets to the Army."

The Army is well-known for its success in mentoring young people to become responsible adults. This mentoring process, a critical element of the Army Profession, begins once the future Soldier signs on the dotted line.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Crane, with 1st Recruiting Brigade, said some future Soldiers need help with physical training, leadership development or in simply negotiating a challenging final year of high school. Others need help socially or spiritually. They may come from broken or volatile homes where walking through the front door is the greatest challenge of each day. They turn to their recruiter, who mentors them just like he or she would active-duty Soldiers.

"The Army asks ordinary people to do extraordinary things," Crane explained. "The ability to overcome adversity and challenges is a key part to making that possible for future Soldiers."

"Recruiters have the immense responsibility of getting future Soldiers ready to be Soldiers physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. We're really the first step in building the resilience of a Soldier," said Crane.

Recruiters also help set up future Soldiers for success by guiding them through the formal Future Soldier Training Program, or FSTP, which all future Soldiers are required to complete.

This program includes the Basic Training Task List, or BTTL, is a list of tasks critical to success in the future Soldier's transition into the Army and completion of initial military training.

The BTTL includes Army Values and history, customs and courtesies, rank recognition, basic first-aid skills, basic land navigation, the use of military time and basic communication skills, and the memorization of the phonetic alphabet and general orders.

Future Soldiers are also required to complete monthly diagnostic Army Physical Fitness Tests. To prepare for this test, recruiters familiarize future Soldiers with physical training, which will condition their bodies for the rigors of Basic Combat Training. Just as in operational Army units, the physical training sessions develop and foster camaraderie and teamwork among future Soldiers.

The FSTP also helps shape future Soldier values through training and education programs such as the U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program, and equal opportunity awareness.

Recruiters are also well-versed in talent management, or matching the talent and desires of future Soldiers with the right military occupational specialty, referred to as an MOS, explained McCartney.

"I always told young men and women to pick a job based on their wants, needs and desires, and most importantly, one that fits their personality," said McCartney. "I'd ask them to think about what they'd really like to be doing five years down the road and then work with them to develop a plan to help them achieve that goal."

Once future Soldiers raise their right hand and depart for basic training, they are officially no longer the recruiter's responsibility, but the relationship between recruiter and future Soldier often lasts for years, said Crane.

NCOs speak proudly of Soldiers they recruited and mentored as future Soldiers, and of subsequent successful careers they have watched unfold.

"We sit in their living rooms, meet the parents, family, friends, and we really do get to know them personally. This personal, and yet professional, relationship is key to the development of the future Soldier. We see ourselves in them. We recognize the scrawny boy looking for a purpose, or we recognize the shy girl looking for independence, and we accept the personal challenge to prepare them for training, because at the heart of everything we are -- as NCOs -- is a desire to mentor."


Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of staff and recruiters at USAREC, future Soldiers arrive well-prepared for the rigors of the Army's initial military training.

The U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, or USACIMT, is TRADOC's lead for transforming civilian volunteers into Soldiers, who are ready for their first unit of assignment. Drill sergeants and advanced individual training, known as AIT, platoon sergeants comprise the core of extended excellence at USACIMT. Approximately 2,200 drill sergeants and 600 AIT platoon sergeants transform nearly 120,000 civilian volunteers into aspiring professionals annually.

"Our drill sergeants and AIT platoon sergeants are disciplined, confident and inspirational leaders," said Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis J. Woods, USACIMT senior enlisted adviser. "If that new Soldier feels compelled to say and think, 'I want to be just like you,' then that's our mark on this path we call the Army Profession."

This is also where the new Soldier meets the very model of the Army Profession for the first time -- face to face. Facial features set like steel, encircled by the brim of a drill sergeant hat, and a voice that carries a timbre of motivation -- it's a visual that transports any Soldier back to the start of their Army career.

These trademarks of the drill sergeant inspire civilian volunteers to believe they are capable of serving honorably as Soldiers.

It's in BCT, or One Station Unit Training, known as OSUT, where BCT and AIT are combined into one school, where Soldiers learn Army culture during three phases over 10 weeks, referred to as red, white and blue phases. This training takes place at four locations: Fort Jackson, South Carolina (BCT); Fort Sill, Oklahoma (BCT); Fort Benning, Georgia (BCT and OSUT); and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri (BCT and OSUT).

Each phase builds upon the previous, emphasizing values and ethos as well as mastery of the Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, which are the skills needed to survive in combat. Warrior Tasks are individual Soldier skills, critical to survival; Battle Drills are team skills designed to ensure a unit correctly reacts and survives in combat.

After graduating BCT, Soldiers attend AIT at one of 22 installations across the United States, to learn the technical skills of their job. Depending on the MOS, the length of AIT ranges from four to 48 weeks.

At AIT, it's the platoon sergeant who carries on the mission of mentoring. He or she reinforces values and ethos, while the Soldier learns the technical skills to perform within his or her specialty. AIT platoon sergeants set the tone for Soldiers' first unit of assignment.

Drill sergeants, AIT platoon sergeants and cadre use the Army Learning Model, an outcomes-based learning approach, to build Soldier confidence. Outcomes-based training focuses on critical thinking so that new Soldiers can understand the process of problem solving -- "how" to think, not just "what" to think. This approach develops Soldiers who can adapt to changing tactical and strategic environments.

"Throughout history, the Army has adapted to changing battlefields," Woods said. "Our new Soldiers must come out of the IMT (initial military training) gate already adaptive -- they are tomorrow's leaders."

TRADOC's IMT provides Soldiers to first units of assignments who are agile, adaptive and competent; who are confident and capable of serving honorably as a Soldier and as a trusted member of a team; and who identify professionally with others selflessly serving in the profession of arms.


In parallel to USACIMT, TRADOC's U.S. Army Cadet Command leads the mission to forge the world's finest commissioned Army officers. These officers are trained and educated to become critical thinkers and decision-makers, who inspire strength in others. They learn how to negotiate demanding missions while ensuring the welfare, morale and professional development of the Soldiers entrusted to them.

The primary path for commissioning as an officer in the Army is through the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps program. The ROTC program includes recruiting, developing and commissioning individuals who exhibit character, commitment and competence -- the foundation of the Army Profession.

Available at 275 host universities and more than 1,000 affiliated campuses, ROTC offers leadership experience, education and training valuable in military and post-military professions. Upon graduation, ROTC cadets may receive a commission as an Army second lieutenant on active duty, in the Army Reserve or in the Army National Guard. After commissioning, these new officers receive specialized, branch-specific training.

Producing more than 70 percent of all commissioned officers, Army ROTC has been the largest source of officer accessions since World War II.

"The operational environment, technology and the learning sciences have all changed since Cadet Command stood up, in 1986," explained Brig. Gen. Peggy C. Combs, commanding general of Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky. "The Army's senior ROTC program is critical to acquiring the talent and developing adaptive officers who can effectively lead their Soldiers in complex environments, while understanding the implications of their decisions and how it impacts the mission."

Acquiring the right talent means Cadet Command will focus on more "precision recruiting" of potential cadets, based on Army requirements. Recruiting -- and Army ROTC's roughly $250 million annual scholarship budget -- will target science, technology, engineering and mathematics majors, nurses, and those with specific language skills.

As to the ROTC program itself, USACC has implemented a number of initiatives, to include revising the curriculum in an initiative called Basic Officer Leader Development, or BOLD, Transformation. The BOLD initiative supports the Army Leader Development Strategy in developing adaptive junior leaders who can operate and succeed in the complex environments the Army will face in the future.

This new Army ROTC curriculum has been researched, tested and refined to ensure new second lieutenants start their Army careers with the skills and ability needed to execute basic officer leader tasks. The curriculum has also been redesigned to improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and will offer a broader portfolio of summer internships, language training and other specialty training.

Finally, USACC has added more mandatory university/college-conducted classes as an essential part of every cadet's education. This new curriculum is expected to be integrated into ROTC college classrooms in academic year 2014-15.

The BOLD Transformation encompasses more than curriculum changes. This summer, Cadet Command is consolidating the Leader's Training Course and Leader Development and Assessment Course, or LDAC, at Fort Knox. Among its many benefits, this consolidation will create opportunities for older cadets to lead and train underclass cadets during summer training, under the supervision of cadre.

In 2016, a new Cadet Initial Entry Training course will be required for all ROTC cadets. LDAC will transform and become the Cadet Leaders Course, providing multi-echelon squad- and platoon-level training events for all cadets, following their junior year.

In the end, TRADOC's oversight of and USACC's focus on recruiting, developing and commissioning officers of character, capable of thriving in a variety of operational environments, will ensure our Army is led by the very best.


"Starting Strong" is the Army's way of selecting and providing initial training and education for the one percent of the American population who will serve.

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's focus on selecting the very best enlisted and officers and investing wisely in their training and education, benefits not just the Army, but also every individual who travels this pathway of professionalism.

Helping Soldiers "Start Strong" provides a solid base of values and knowledge that will help ensure success throughout and after military service.