The graduates of Master Leader Course 05-16 made history when they walked across the stage at the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Monday. The 11 sergeants first class and master sergeant represented the first class to graduate from Fort Bragg’s MLC.
The Army-wide program was developed to bridge the gap for sergeants first class and master sergeants between other NCO courses, explained Master Sgt. Renan Martinez, course facilitator. Over 14 continuous days, MLC students engage in a rigorous course of study covering four competency areas: communications, leadership, management and operations.
The Army identified these as areas that senior NCOs may be deficient in and need to learn before advancing in their career, Martinez said. The program uses the Experiential Learning Model, where students engage and interact with course facilitators to learn the topic.
Before entering the course, students must complete a three to five page paper as a prerequisite. While in class, they are assigned a topic for an additional research paper that they must translate into an informational brief later in the program.
One student said he had his reservations about the need for MLC before attending the course.
“What I found out that it does is definitely fill a gap that’s out there,” said Sgt. 1st Class Gerrit Milbert, business transformational team, Pennsylvania National Guard. “It is definitely a more rigorous course than any others I’ve taken in the Army, at least mentally. I think in retrospect, the place that it’s going to take the senior noncommissioned officers from the sergeant first class to the master sergeant level is it’s not just what you’re learning, it’s how you’re learning it.”
Martinez agreed and said the most important aspect of MLC is students learning the Army’s expectations of master sergeants and the specific subjects they must master to excel in the position.
“The overall goal of this course is to get master sergeants that are relevant in the Army, and at the very end of the course is a master sergeant that is able to be trusted by senior NCOs and officers in the decision-making process,” he said. “It’s rigorous … this is not throwaway knowledge.”
Sergeants first class and master sergeants can volunteer for the program and are currently slotted for the course by Human Resources Command. MLC will be a required course for all promotable sergeants first class on the Army’s next master sergeants’ promotion list in fiscal year 2018.
The newly-minted MLC graduates received several key pieces of advice from U.S. Armed Forces Command’s top NCO during the Fort Bragg ceremony, Monday.
Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Grinston, command sergeant major, FORSCOM, emphasized the importance of trust, setting an example and sharing the risk as a senior NCO.
“You have to know what your Soldiers are doing,” he said. “Get out of your office, look people in the eye and say ‘what is going on?’ Don’t ever forget that … you’ve got to have that spark. They’re going to follow your lead.”
For more information on the MLC, visit http://usasma.armylive.dodlive.mil/master-leader-course-mlc.