Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps has traditionally been important in the armed forces of the U.S. Provision of training and mentoring to the general rank soldiers and effective assistance to second lieutenants has been the traditional responsibility of NCOs. The NCOs are technicians and team leaders as well. The role has significance in the future as well. After successfully participating in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, NCO Corps is planned to go through a 'consolidation' phase in which non-performing senior NCOs will be retired early. Junior and mid-grade NCOs will be retrained to meet the requirements ofirregular warfare contingencies and in-rank counseling.
Future of Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps
The Noncommissioned (NCO) Corps is an important link between the officer ranks and the general rank of the U.S. army. The role and responsibilities of NCO Crops have remained extensive and thorough during the entire existence of NCO Corps. An increased focus of NCO Corps, after was in Afghanistan and Iraq, has increased training and development of NCOs. In the future, the NCO Corps will be consolidated through training and development of existing human resource of the corps. Low performing senior NCOs will be retired early and junior as well as mid-grade NCOs will be retrained to match the needs of the role of in-rank counselors and effective combat troops, perfectly capable to replace brigade combat teams (BCTs).
The paper will consist of following segments.
Introduction: In this part the reader will be introduced with the formation of NCO Corps and the role it plays in army.
A critical Link: This segment will highlight the effective role play that NCO Corps plays in linking up army high command and the general rank.
Past and present: An analysis of role and responsibilities of NCO Corps to inform the reader about potential future of NCOs.
Future after 9/11: This segment will highlight how the roles and responsibilities of NCO Corps have reassumed their importance after 9/11 and the future outlook of NCO Corps.
The Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Corps is termed as the backbone of the U.S. Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. The NCO Corps being 'the backbone of the army' are assigned with important roles and responsibilities that these noncommissioned officers perform during war and peace time. Having performed roles of technical experts, trainers, small unit leaders, and foot warriors of the army, the NCOs have remained the keepers of army's high performance tradition (Fisher, 1994). The assumption of roles and responsibilities of American NCO has incorporated input from respective roles of NCOs in English, Russian, and French armies. However, the evolution of American NCOs has been one of its kinds as their future is potentially bright in the U.S. The main roles that today's NCO in the U.S. army assumes are Sergeant Major, first sergeant, corporal, and quartermaster sergeant. While remaining a timeless strength in the U.S. army deployments, home and abroad, the future of NCOs is highly debated currently. Although, NCO Corps was increasingly questioned over its importance in today's automated warfare environment, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have once again got the importance of NCO Corps realized. The following section will highlight how NCO Corps is placed to remain important in the coming decades in their role as 'the backbone of the army'.
A critical link
The U.S., prior to 9/11 had visibly changed its tactics of anticipating war situations. With much reliance being shifted on machine intelligence and neglecting of critical role of a human link between foot soldiers and their officers, the role of NCO Corps was made limited. However, after a ground presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary, the U.S. Army again recognized the importance of junior and senior NCOs. Essentially, the NCOs provide a link between the foot soldiers and the officer corps of the army. This holds true on a vice-versa basis as well. While performing the role of trainers and mentors, these NCOs also perform as administrators and motivators for the lower ranks. This multiplicity of their roles provides the NCO Corps with the most important collaborative and coordination related responsibility in army. Without such a link, there may be a total lack of effective communication and dissemination of information.
The past and present
To help understand the future of NCO Corps, one has to look at the past and present of this corps. The traditional roles and responsibilities and current status of NCOs will indicate that whether there has been a radical departure from war tactics by the army or not. If not, the role of these NCO ranks is also firmly poised for the future growth. May it be the U.S. Or the Canadian Army, the land army law requires the NCOs to provide a link between officer and soldiers. Translating the directives of officers into action through the soldiers is an essential responsibility that NCO Corps have performed. The NCO Corps has been responsible for daily operations of army units, from welfare of the junior staff to the effective implementation of orders from the officers (Horn, 2002).
The morale and motivation of general rank is also managed as well as assessed by the senior NCOs. This is the most vital responsibility during both peace and war time scenarios.
The senior NCOs have also been termed as the 'eyes, ears, and the conscience' of general rank soldiers. This implies that these NCOs are the physical watchmen links performing monitoring responsibility. Being ears of the general rank imply that NCOs are vital for information collection from the general rank soldiers. Being conscience implies their important role as 'motivation and morale' assessor during wartime activities. A dual role is always performed by the NCO Corps, provide information to higher rank officers and manage the human resources in lower and general cadre ranks. The U.S. Army Human Resource Command (HRC) is kept informed through the senior NCOs regarding performance and other matters of general rank soldiers as well as junior NCOs. Since the NCOs have progressed their way up in the army chain of command, these NCOs are the most experienced human resource on the entire army. While officers receive superior training and development exercises, they lack experience on the ground. The officers are introduced, guided, and provided with a liaison link by the NCOs. This role and responsibility has been traditionally performed by the NCOs and continue to be so. The deployments in new regions, ground operations by the combat units, and rescue and search operations, all are effectively assisted by the junior and senior NCOs. The availability of good sergeants for preparing the troops for the wartime is essential (Horn, 2002).
Training is another aspect of historical role of NCO Corps that will continue in the future. The NCOs perform training exercises and introduce and inculcate soldier's way of life in the general rank. The training was provided by the NCOs for both survival and combat purposes. This trend continues and shall remain so in the future as the role demands physical endurance and experience of managing human resources, the general rank soldiers being recruited. The vitality of a senior NCO is vital in orientating Second Lieutenants, the newly joined junior officers. The senior NCOs are assigned the task to assist the Second Lieutenants in gearing up for the wartime. NCOs are assigned the responsibility of helping 2nd Lieutenants by providing advices, mentoring, and providing with feedback and information. Thus, NCOs not only guide the soldiers in acquiring the survival and combat skills, they also provide assistance to their platoon leader to enable him to lead the platoon effectively. NCOs are therefore experienced member in their units and platoons to whom soldiers look forward…