Like the sign outside the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy says: “Leaders are Training Leaders.” Since 2008, its cadre has topped Europe-wide competitions and U.S. Army Best Warrior competitions making them the cream of the crop.
The 7th Army NCOA at Grafenwoehr, Germany is the oldest and largest NCO Academy in the U.S. Army. The NCOA has been developing leaders for the U.S. Army in Europe for more than 60 years.
“From the day they (Warrior Leader Course Soldiers) step foot on the grounds of the NCO Academy they are under your charge,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Serrano, a former senior small group leader at 7th Army NCOA and recent Sgt. Maj. Larry L. Strickland Educational Leadership Award recipient. “You teach, coach, mentor and mold them to achieve success and be successful leaders.”
Although he is no longer working at the academy, Serrano spends his extra time mentoring others as an active member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and the Sergeant Morales Club.
The 7th Army NCOA trains prospective and newly promoted sergeants with a focus on developing leader self-discipline and professional ethics. Students also learn about disciplining and developing Soldiers; planning, executing and evaluating individual and team training; planning and executing missions and tasks assigned to team-sized units; and caring for Soldiers and families.
“Cycle after cycle you get junior NCOs that are going to be the future of the Army, and it’s inspiring and very rewarding to see them grow,” said Serrano.
Just this year, members of the 7th Army NCOA cadre received honors during Army competitions, Staff Sgt. Matthew Senna, another NCOA instructor won the Army’s Best Warrior Competition at Fort Lee, Va., where he competed against NCOs Army-wide to earn bragging rights.
“The best part about it is, we all learn from each other,” said Serrano. “We constantly push each other to be the very best that we can be.”
Soldiers going through the NCOA have great instructors to look up to and those instructors not only challenge their Soldiers, but themselves and other instructors, to be the best Soldiers they can be.
“We all come from completely different backgrounds,” said Senna “We all have different MOSs (military occupational specialties) and points we have been in the Army. It gives us a well-rounded scope to be able to go, compete and win the competition.”
Both Senna and Serrano say training “the best Soldiers in the Army” means providing WLC graduates with realistic training, up-to-date standards and regulations.
When a Soldier attends Europe’s WLC, they also have the unique opportunity to train with foreign military students, who attend the course in small numbers. There are 20 seats per course available to European partner nations.
“The best Soldiers and NCOs come out of these courses because of the quality of instruction and also the resources that are available here,” said Capt. Aleksandr Farberou, operations officer at the Joint Multinational Training Command.
The JMTC continues to transform its training facilities, ranges and resources to ensure Soldiers have the most up-to-date assets available.
“We have multiple MOSs here … any type of MOSs you can think of,” said Sgt. 1st Class Antwan Garner, chief instructor at Company B, 7th Army NCOA. “They come together and work together as a team. You have all the tools and everything you need to get the job done.”
Garner said, producing the best Soldiers is part talent and resources, but the NCOA also focuses on developing leaders and Army values.
“By understanding standards, discipline, care for equipment and themselves,” said Senna, “noncommissioned officers learn to care for Soldiers, which means understanding them, communicating with them, knowing they are not a uniform, but a person.”
For more about the history of the 7th Army NCOA, visit http://www.eur.army.mil/jmtc/Organization/NCO_Academy/NCOA_history.html.