Two hundred and seventy-seven Soldiers graduated Aug. 24  from a new 22-day Basic Leadership course (BLC) on the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg NCO Academy parade field.

“These Soldiers have undergone extensive training in the necessary fundamentals to become leaders in our Army,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Kirkpatrick, NCO Academy. “They are now prepared to accept the challenges inherent in the duties of noncommissioned officers (NCOs).”

This course consisted of 169 academic hours that sharpened the skills of NCOs through basic administration, land navigation and other techniques to lead future Soldiers in their endeavors.

Under the revamped course, there is more focus on six leader core competencies including leadership, communications, operations, readiness, training management, and program management.

“It’s a big shift in the way our NCO professional development (course) is being ran,” said 1st Sgt. Ernest Wentworth, first sergeant, XVIII Abn. Corps and Fort Bragg NCO Academy. “We shifted from teaching these guys skill level one tasks that they already knew or should know, to teaching them how to teach those tasks and to teach them skill level 2 tasks.”

Spc. Oneil Grandison, Company B, 1st Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade , was recognized as a top Soldier during the course for his essay that was written about what he learned.

“I wrote an article about conflict management and team building,” said Grandison. It’s what I got from the course and (the) important topics to me.”

Grandison said the essay focused on the importance of program management and the tools needed to manage conflict more effectively in an organization.

The following Soldiers received awards at the ceremony for their outstanding achievement  during this year’s course:

Spc. Christian Wirlo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade, distinguished honor graduate and had the  highest GPA in the course.

Spc. Brice W. Wilson, Company C, 249th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, leadership awardee.

Spc Lolita E. Galdones, Company M, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, iron warrior awardee.

Spc. Marcel D. Boatwright, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, iron warrior awardee.

Staff Sgt.. Silas O. Bwire, instructor, NCO Academy, small group leader of the cycle.

In order for Soldiers to attend this course, they were selected by their unit as having the potential to serve as a sergeant and a leader in the Army. After being chosen, they go to their units boards and once selected as  promotable, they attend the NCO Academy to further their leadership and development education.

A graduate of the program, Spc. Daniel Burnell from Joint Special Operations Command, reflects on the information he learned from this year’s course.

Burnell said he really enjoyed going through the Basic Leader Course. Some of his peers went through the old course, so he was able to compare it to the new one, which he prefers.

The revamped course seemed more discussion-based, he said. It was more focused on learning from peers, with instructors leading discussion versus the traditional memorization and slide show.

Wentworth’s advice to all the graduates: “Go back to your units; share what you have learned; take care of your Soldiers and lead from the front.”