By Dawn Arden

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Dec. 13, 2018) — The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officer Academy’s Basic Leader Course has undergone a new design, which is scheduled to be fully implemented with the start of BLC Class 003-19 in January.

According to the NCO Leadership Center of Excellence, changes have been made to alleviate the “Death by PowerPoint” method of instruction, changing instead to having students learn by the Experiential Learning Method. The changes are being made at NCO academies across the Army.

The new course is built around the six leader competency areas, which are Communications, Leadership, Operations (Army and Joint), Program Management, Readiness and Training Management. With the redesign, Soldiers will attend training six days a week. The 22-day course consists of 169 course facilitation hours, which are broken down as follows:
◾Readiness, 37 hours
◾Leadership, 42 hours
◾Training Management, 22 hours
◾Operations, 14 hours
◾Communication, 47 hours
◾Program Management, 7 hours

First Sgt. Michael McCabe, MSCoE Basic Leader Course first sergeant, said the focus has shifted to teach Soldiers to implement a plan, train and evaluate the training event.

“The new course has increased rigor in the content by adding written assessments and taking away the multiple choice exams,” McCabe said. “Written assessments require more research, fostering creative and critical thinking skills while also teaching the NCOs proper use of time management.”

McCabe said assessments in the new course content are based on demonstrated abilities and learning outcomes under the Experiential Learning Model, helping to enhance the Soldiers’ ability to exercise practical applications once they return to their unit.

“The new course design is allowing BLC students the ability to enhance their ability to think — not what to think,” he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Washington, small group leader, agrees.

“That sense of ownership and responsibility, whether as a leader or as a learner, is incorporated from day one. The learner centric environment spurs curiosity that ignites a passion that allows the leader in the learner to release,” he said. “The changing world and enemy demands critical and creative thinkers to collaborate and solve problems, complete missions and develop leaders. Empowering Soldiers to think critically based on theoretical and doctrinal knowledge is powerful beyond means and that is what this course enables.”

Soldiers attending the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officer Academy’s Basic Leader Course stand in formation. The Army’s redesigned course will be fully implemented in January. Photo by Staff Sgt. Joaguin Suero