This week in episode #16 of the NCO Guide podcast I host Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Ken Graham, the incoming command sergeant major for the 20th CBRNE Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. In this episode we speak about broadening assignments for noncommissioned officers, and talk about a few things to consider in how to get selected, and ways to adjust to the changed environment. Nontraditional assignments can be rewarding and provide a unique perspective, and offer back to the force a more diverse leader with new tasks and skills.
CSM Dan Elder, USA, Retired
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Our thanks to CSM Graham for participating in this discussion and wish him continued success. Statements here are personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of the US Army or DoD, participation in our interview sessions does not equal endorsement of any type. The NCO Guide is an unofficial news outlet of professional commentary and guided self-development from current and former Soldiers with the desire to share their expertise and experience and can be read at http://www.NCOGuide.net.
About our guest:
Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth M. Graham
A native of Warren, Ohio, Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth M. Graham enlisted in the U.S. Army on December 3, 1987, as
a Chemical Operations Specialist. After basic and advanced training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, he was assigned to
the 44th Chemical Company at Fort Hood, Texas.
Graham has served in every leadership position from squad leader to command sergeant major, with his most recent
assignment as Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, on April 24, 2014. Other
assignments include reconnaissance team leader, 68th Chemical Company, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood; Chemical/
Biological/Radiological/Nuclear (CBRN) Non-Commissioned Officer, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 39th Field Artillery
Regiment (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina; CBRN Non-Commissioned Officer, 258th Military Police Company,
Fort Polk, Louisiana; Platoon Sergeant, 87th Chemical Company, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk; Drill
Sergeant, 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry, Fort Knox, Kentucky; CBRN Non-Commissioned Officer, 94th MP Battalion,
South Korea; Division Chemical Operations Sergeant and Division Chemical Sergeant Major, 82nd Airborne Division,
Fort Bragg; First Sergeant, 21st Chemical Company, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg; CBRN Sergeant Major, 13th
Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood; Sergeant Major for the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland; Command Sergeant Major, 23rd Chemical Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McCord,
Washington; Command Sergeant Major, 48th Chemical Brigade, Fort Hood; and Commandant, III Corps and Fort Hood
Non-Commissioned Officers Academy.
His overseas assignments include Operation Desert Shield/Storm (Kuwait/Iraq), Operation Joint Endeavor (BosniaHerzegovina),
and three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Graham has a Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College. His military education includes U.S. Army
Sergeants Major Academy (Class 56), Advanced and Basic Noncommissioned Officer Courses, Primary Leadership
Development Course, Technical Escort, Mass Casualty Medical Responder Course, CBRN Fox Reconnaissance, Drill
Sergeant School, Jumpmaster, Air Assault, Battle Staff, Hazardous Waste Management, Combat Lifesaver School, and
Modern Army Combatives Level I.
Graham’s awards and decorations include Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (2 oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service
Medal (3 oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (9 oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement Medal (8 oak leaf
clusters), Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Superior Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal (7 oak leaf clusters),
National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, South West Asia
Service Medal with bronze star, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on
Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Saudi ArabiaKuwait
Liberation Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Master Parachutist Badge,
Canadian Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and the Drill Sergeant Badge. He is also a member of the Sergeant
Audie Murphy Club and a recipient of the Chemical Corps Honorable Order of the Dragon.
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Dan is a leadership coach, management consultant, and change agent who has mentored hundreds of leaders at all levels. A retired Command Sergeant Major with more than 26-years serving soldiers and their families, he has deployments to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq. Dan's culminating assignment was as the senior enlisted advisor of a major Army Command (USAMC) and as the Army's senior enlisted sustainer. He served on the Sergeant Major of the Army's Board of Directors and is author, editor or advisor to a number of soldier-related books and articles. Working as an independent consultant and small-business owner in Killeen TX, Dan continues to serve soldiers as a Blogger, Podcaster and Speaker. He was selected as the first enlisted Senior Fellow for the Association of the United States Army and was inducted to the US Army Sergeants Major Academy Wall of Fame, and the US Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame
One of the initiatives I am working on for our enlisted Soldiers is talent management. Broadening comes up in almost every conversation I have with Soldiers and leaders when I talk with them about managing talent in our force.
‘Broadening’ is a term that we use all the time in these conversations, but I find Soldiers and leaders use the term to mean all kinds of assignments, duty positions, education, and fellowships. You name it and ‘broadening’ is probably used to categorize it.
All these conversations intrigued me, and led me to consider how the Army truly defines broadening. In ADRP 6-22, “Broadening consists of those education and training opportunities, assignments, and experiences that provide exposure outside the leader’s branch or functional area competencies.” This definition explains why broadening means all kinds of things to Soldiers and leaders. My first thought was, we need to refine this definition so our Soldiers and leaders will be properly aligned with where the Army is headed by identifying knowledge, skills, and attributes or KSAs.
The future Army will manage talent better by assigning and selecting Soldiers for opportunities using a holistic approach including KSAs. Broadening opportunities are crucial in developing leaders with a wider range of experiences and skills who can operate in ever-changing global environments. Officers refined their perspective of broadening for their cohort in DA PAM 600-3, Commissioned Officer Professional Development and Career Management. I think it’s time to update the broadening concept for enlisted Soldiers in DA PAM 600-25, U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Guide.
Here’s the definition we have developed for broadening, “the purposeful expansion of a NCO’s core MOS proficiency and leadership, provided through developmental assignments, education, training, and other opportunities both within and outside their career management field, resulting in agile and adaptive leaders capable of operating in complex environments.” Examples of developmental assignments are Joint, NATO, Drill Sergeant, Recruiter, AIT Platoon Sergeant, Instructor, ROTC, and IG. Fellowships with degree completion, attending other DOD leadership academies, and professional reading are examples of the education component to broadening. Training with industry, credentialed functional training, and training in joint and multinational environments broadens Soldiers.
Other opportunities for broadening are experiences working in Joint Interagency Intergovernmental and Multinational environments, working as a Defense Attaché, the White House Transportation Agency, selection or working with Special Operations forces, and any other future opportunities not currently available. The four components (developmental assignments, education, training, and other opportunities) all lead toward agile and adaptive leaders capable of operating anywhere in the world.
Your talents and attributes are the most important combat multiplier our Army and nation can rely on. It is imperative we identify your talents, develop them, and optimize them for our nation’s national security, the future of our force, and for the future of our society as you become veterans employing your talents in the civilian workforce.
Check out this link on HRC’s site that has more information about broadening opportunities. Be sure to click on the program catalog with descriptions about 21 different broadening opportunities including a White House Fellowship and Training with Industry opportunities.
Victory Starts Here!
– CSM D
Tags: Army, Broadening, INCOPD, NCO, NCO 2020, Soldier, Soldiers, TRADOC, TRADOC CSM, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command