June 15, 2011
By Rob McIlvaine
ARLINGTON, Va. — The new “One Army School System,” made up of active and reserve component schools will take the teachers to the students when and where they need the training — rather than when the Army can give it.
“Right now, each component of the Army — the Army Reserve, the National Guard, and the active component — has their own school system,” said Sgt. Maj. Robin Bercaw, of the Army’s Directorate of Training.
“This is incredibly inefficient. So, what we’re doing with One Army School System, or OASS, is the concept of centralized missioning so we can get the right Soldier to the right course at the right time, making it more responsive to the Soldier as opposed to making the Soldier have to flex for the training,” Bercaw said.
OASS fits well with the Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN, model, he said.
“For years, the Army’s training systems were very static. Soldiers had to go back to the brick and mortar school house, and we found this is not very conducive with an Army working out of the ARFORGEN cycle,” Bercaw said.
It’s more efficient, he said, to send a mobile training team of five or six to teach 120 Soldiers at an installation, than it would be to send those 120 back to the schoolhouse.
“It forces us to ensure our training is equal across the board,” Bercaw said. “We don’t expect that the delivery of the training will be the same for everyone. It might be a blended course where you might have some distributive learning and a resident phase. However, we’re looking to have the training outcome the same for all Soldiers.”
Under the old system, Bercaw said, the Army couldn’t guarantee the same outcome for every Soldier. Not so now.
“This will truly guarantee one Army, one fight,” he said. “We train together, live together and fight together.”
The One Army School System, he said, will be something that no one will even give a second thought to five or 10 years from now, because it will be ingrained in the culture, he said.
“Down the road, Soldiers aren’t going to care whether they go to an active component school or a reserve component school because they know, regardless, the education training they get is the best ever.”
Bercaw said the Army owes the best education possible to Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers, as well as the American people.
“They’ve entrusted us with their sons and daughters that we give them the best training, the most relevant and realistic training we can to ensure that they have the right skills, whether they’re in combat or in garrison,” Bercaw said.
In 2007, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command conducted a feasibility study which recommended synchronization of the three Army component school systems. OASS is based on a centralized training load inclusive of course content, design, delivery, and quality assurance.
Another element of OASS is creation of multi-component noncommissioned officer academies to improve the integration of the active and Reserve component training systems by standardizing training, leveraging resources, and incorporating lessons learned from 10 years of persistent conflict.
The Multi-Component NCO Academy initiative, which started at Fort Carson, Colo., will be implemented in other places where it makes sense, Bercaw said. Two sites being considered include Fort Polk and Camp Cook — both in Louisiana.
Bercaw also said the Army is discussing with the National Guard the possibility of opening the planned Guard NCO academy at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a multi-component facility.
The Institute of NCO Professional Development, run by retired TRADOC Command Sgt. Maj. John Sparks, will merge and monitor education and career moves for all noncommissioned officers in the Army into a single system.
“Sparks and his team went out to academia, to the American Council of Education, partnered with colleges and universities, and got their courses accredited to ensure that all our training in the Army is recognized and we get college credit for it,” Bercaw said, adding that a Soldier could have an associate’s degree by the time they are a sergeant first class.
Being implemented now, OASS is creating new opportunities for Soldiers to go to school.
“It’s a slow moving train with a lot of energy behind it,” Bercaw said. “In the past, we had some proponents out there who didn’t want their Soldiers to be taught by reserve component instructors. We have broken that paradigm, but it took us awhile to get there.
“I can’t give a firm date on total implementation, because I think this is a work in progress,” Bercaw said. “Just like everything else we do in the Army, this concept will grow to what we need it to be.”