CAMP HOVEY, Republic of Korea — Sitting in a camping chair next to the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled Howitzer, Staff Sgt. Dakota Sullivan, with a binder open on his lap, briefs the day’s training to the five junior Soldiers gathered around him, all dressed in full body armor and listening intently to their section leader.
This is Sergeant’s Time Training for Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Greywolf,” 1st Cavalry Division. It is when noncommissioned officers return to the basics and teach, through repetition, individual skills required of each Soldier to function as a team.
According to the Army Noncommissioned Officer’s Guide, “Sergeant’s Time Training is hands-on, practical training for Soldiers given by their NCOs. It provides NCOs with resources and the authority to bring training publications or technical manuals to life and to develop the trust between leaders and led to ensure success in combat.”
For NCOs in the Greywolf Brigade, it also provides opportunities that platoon or company-level training does not.
“It gives me a chance to get one-on-one with my section,” Sullivan said.
Once his briefing is complete, Sullivan pulls out the technical manual for the Paladin and hands it to a Soldier. The Soldier begins to read the step-by-step process for disassembling the breach as two other Soldiers inside the Paladin execute the process.
“If there were more people trying to train on this in a round robin type of setting, like how I’ve seen Sergeant’s Time Training done at other units, not all of these guys would get the chance to do it,” Sullivan said. “This way each one of my team will get to do it maybe three or four times.”
Repetition is key to executing collective tasks required of a unit according to Capt. Wayland Griffin, commander of Troop B, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment.
“At every level, no matter how complex the mission essential task list or collective task is, it all boils down to a series of individual tasks executed to standard,” Griffin said.
Sergeant’s Time Training also helps the NCO understand how to develop effective training management by using the Eight Step Training Model.
Each NCO in the brigade is expected to identify the training they want to conduct and then plan it using Army doctrine. The NCO will then execute the training for the command team who will either validate it or provide additional guidance.
“It gives the chief of the section an opportunity to organize training so that Soldiers are getting precise training using task, conditions and standards,” Sgt. 1st Class Manning Hilton, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, Btry. C, said. “It is actually the standard and not a hip shoot of ‘what I know and what my experience has been.’ It is actually by the book and the Soldiers know that it’s going to be the same across the board.”
It is also a good refresher for a lot of the NCOs.
“There’s lots of moving parts to being on a gun crew, whether the vehicle or the crew itself,” Sullivan said. “Anytime we can actually go back to doctrine and bring it into the training, it just makes me better at my job.”
For Sgt. Anthony Robbins, Troop B, Sergeants Time Training has another positive effect during operations.
“I can teach my Soldiers these tasks that help get the command post up and running, which frees me to accomplish the tasks I need to do or to support something the commander might need,” he said.
For the NCOs of the Greywolf Brigade it is about mastering the fundamentals, and that starts with not just picking up the book, but doing it by the book.
“That’s one of the brigade commander’s priorities: platoons executing battle drills builds lethality at every echelon,” Griffin said. “In order to do that, this is where we make our money — here — the individual tasks. We have to keep working at them until they become habit.”