Issue Date: September 13, 2004
Going from blue to green
Drill sergeants to train sailors, airmen to be soldiers
By Jim Tice
Times staff writer
FORT KNOX, Ky. — Normally a unit specializing in converting civilians into soldiers, 1st Armor Training Brigade has the mission of teaching sailors and airmen a thing or two about the Army.
The brigade, which conducts basic combat training and one-station unit training for tankers, armor scouts and mechanics, has added the Warrior Transition Course to its curriculum of entry-level instruction. The four-week course is a building block of Operation Blue to Green, the campaign for bringing Navy and Air Force volunteers into the Army.
Both those services launched major force reductions, while the Army is growing by 30,000 soldiers over the next two years.
Col. James Greer, commander of the seven-battalion training brigade, said the goal of the Warrior Transition Course “is to build on the skills these people already have and focus on ground combat and techniques.”
Former enlisted members of the Navy and Air Force will be joined in the training by former soldiers and Marines returning to active duty after a break in service.
The course, which kicked off Sept. 3, will be required of new enlisted soldiers, regardless of military background, who do not require basic training.
Officials here expect most former sailors and airmen will attend military occupational specialty training after the Warrior Transition Course.
“Basic training programs for the U.S. armed services differ, although all of them have what we call soldierization,” Greer said. “Soldierization brings a person into the military culture.
“We don’t have to go through a lot of that upfront piece, but we will focus on those individual skills that really relate to ground combat,” he said.
The fact that the M16 rifle is a standard weapon for the U.S. military is a time-saver for Army trainers.
“We don’t need to start at ground zero,” Greer said. “We can concentrate on qualification and the level of skill we want every soldier to have when they go to combat.”
Drill sergeants will conduct the course, but they will concentrate on instruction, rather than discipline and soldierization.
“We are using drill sergeants as instructors because they already have the knowledge and experience to train all the tasks that will be presented in the course,” Greer said.
Training officials expect transition-course companies will average 150 to 200 students, with most in the grades of E-1 through E-5.
“The companies will have their own student chain of command, and their own control of the barracks,” Greer said. “Effectively, when they are not training, they will be off duty, similar to soldiers who are brought here for the Basic NCO Course.”
Officials anticipate E-5s and senior E-4s will serve as company commanders and first sergeants; E-3s and E-4s as platoon leaders and platoon sergeants, and E-1s through E-3s as squad and team leaders.
“This experience will serve them well when they go out into the field army,” Greer said. “Part of what we’re doing is giving them practice as junior leaders.”
At press time, training officials were finalizing graduation requirements for the course. They shape up as follows:
•Complete the three-event Army Physical Fitness Test with at least 50 points in each event (push-ups, sit-ups and two-mile run).
•Qualify with the M16A2 rifle.
•Complete bayonet and pugil stick training.
•Complete hand-to-hand combat training.
•Throw two live grenades.
•Complete protective mask confidence exercise.
•Complete foot marches.
•Complete tactical field training and field training exercises.
•Demonstrate a willingness to live by the Army’s core values and the Warrior Ethos.
•Demonstrate the ability to operate effectively as a team member.
Issue Date: September 13, 2004
Army seeks sailors, airmen to fill warrant officer ranks
By Jim Tice
Times staff writer
FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Warrant Officer Corps needs some fresh faces, particularly if they belong to enlisted service members with military intelligence skills.
While Army noncommissioned officers are the primary focus of warrant officer recruitment efforts, in-service transfer options are available to sailors, airmen and Marines. With the Navy and Air Force preparing for major drawdowns, the Army has included a warrant officer component to Operation Blue to Green, the embryonic branch-transfer program.
“There are two ways to become a warrant officer on active duty,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jack L. Bailey, chief of the Army’s warrant officer recruiting branch.
“The first is an enlistment option for people who want to become pilots. They come from the civilian sector. The second is the in-service program for enlisted soldiers and members of the sister services. We have more than 700 requirements [annually] for the in-service program,” he said.
The Army hoped to appoint 991 new warrant officers for the active component this fiscal year but likely will miss that goal by about 30.
“We’ll make the mission in the private-sector track with no problem,” Bailey said. Although the in-service campaign, which targets 40 aviation and technical specialties, “is much better than last year, we’re well off where we want to be.”
Twelve of the 40 warrant officer specialties are in the military intelligence branch, Bailey said, “and because of the global war on terrorism, they are high-priority.”
The Navy and Air Force have large military intelligence communities with specialties similar to the Army’s enlisted and warrant officer military occupational specialty inventories, he said.
A description of the warrant officer program, along with application requirements and selection board schedules, is available at http://www.usarec.army.mil/hq/warrant/.
Warrant officer accession boards meet every other month at Recruiting Command headquarters. Schedules and specialty requirements for fiscal 2005 will be posted on the Web site in late September.
Successful applicants will attend the six-week, four-day Warrant Officer Candidate Course at Fort Rucker, Ala. Candidates then will be temporarily appointed as W-1s. They will attend a branch basic course for technical certification. These courses vary in length from several weeks to several months.
Two of the corps’ major selling points are advanced educational opportunities and the large differential in pay and promotion opportunities between the NCO and warrant officer ranks.
“If you are within 18 months of completing a college degree, the Army can send you to school full time, with pay, to get that degree,” Bailey said.
Financial incentives are considerable for NCOs who join the Warrant Officer Corps. For example, an E-5 who converts at eight years of service would increase monthly basic pay by $677, and an E-6 with 10 years of service, $443.
Chief warrant officer promotion rates have hit record highs in recent years: 99 percent for W-2, 96 percent (aviation) and 91 percent (tech services) for W-3, and 95 percent (aviation) and 98 percent (tech services) for W-4.
The only problem with Blue to Green is I wasn't forced out so I don't qualify and I'd loose E-5 with a regular enlistment.
Oh ya, the Navy still has M-14's on ships.