The Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Leadership Center of Excellence (NCOLCoE) is the backbone of NCO Army military education.
The NCOLCoE, located in Fort Bliss, Texas, was founded in 1972, under the name the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy. In 2018, the institution changed its name to represent a more diversified curriculum with courses and programs available to all NCO levels.
The NCOLCoE, which celebrates its 50th anniversary, has become the premier institution driving innovative development for U.S. Army’s enlisted leaders (ELs), providing professional military education that fosters ELs to meet the challenges of today’s complex world.
Today, the NCOLCoE is a recognized international institution, which trains NCOs of all U.S. military forces and global partner nations.
“Our mission is to deliver all levels of professional military education to NCOs to develop them to be holistically fit, disciplined, well trained, and able to meet the demands of large scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment,” said U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Jason Schmidt, NCOLCoE commandant. “NCOLCoE touches about 390,000 to 400,000 students per year in our Army and our international outreach.”
The NCOLCoE fully became an NCO organization in 2009 when it was able to be commanded, staffed, administered, and run entirely by NCOs.
The NCOLCoE is an accredited academic institution and is aligned under Army University and the Combined Arms Command, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, with additional reporting to Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Eustis, Virginia.
The NCOLCoE is responsible for developing, maintaining, teaching, and distributing five levels of Enlisted Professional Military Education and numerous other programs, such as the Battle Staff NCO Course, Commandants Pre-Command Course, Spouse Leadership Development Course, SGM-A Fellowship program, Staff and Faculty Development, the Soldier’s Guide, and NCO Guide.
In 1975, the institution opened its doors to international students from partner nations worldwide. The center’s classrooms have seen NCOs from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Poland, Rwanda, Serbia, and Ukraine, among others, exchanging military experiences with their U.S. counterparts.
“The environment here provides the opportunity to learn about military culture in general. It helps to learn about the values and doctrine of the army, we can share different things among the partner nations and it facilitates our experience in the battlefield, for example, when we need to join together for an exercise,” said Guyana Defense Force Warrant Officer Class 1 Sherlock Rigby, who is currently attends the NCOLCoE’s Sergeant Major Academy Class No. 72.
“The most important lesson for me I believe would be the knowledge on leadership. This course is all about leadership because you’re expected to return to your country and be a leader,” added Warrant Officer Class 1 Rigby. “As a student, there is a big value for me and for my country; the U.S. Army is a larger military force and organization and it gives me the opportunity to take the knowledge back and to lead my force as the most senior NCO.”
The NCOLCoE not only has international students, but also instructors from partner nations. For Brazilian Army Sergeant Major Clayton Dos Santos, NCOLCoE instructor at the Department of Army Operations, “the diversity of our students in the classroom has been extraordinary as we share with military students from different countries and with U.S. soldiers as well. We build new knowledge in the classroom.”
Sgt. Maj. Dos Santos added that in addition to learning about the U.S. culture and language, studying the U.S. military doctrine has been important as “their approach to solving problems is a little different from the way we do [things] in Brazil. I can share my Brazilian Army experience here and get knowledge and information to take back to Brazil to be able to help my soldiers over there.”
Worldwide NCO institution
“The Center allows U.S. military and foreign military partners to share the same values and thought processes making the mission more complete, because everyone is speaking the same military language,” said Quentin Gerard Cormier, NCOLCoE International Military Student Office director. “Our international partner nations want every piece of training that ties into what we call our NCO education. There is not one course that our international partners do not want. All of our international partners must attend the resident course.”
Cormier emphasized that NCOLCoE is an accredited military and civilian organization, with international recognition as the world’s premiere institution for NCO education. As such, he added, their international students can experience high level of academic programs, as well as immerse in the U.S. culture with numerous field studies programs at the local, state, and federal level.
“We are helping to improve foreign military relationship. Everyone speaks the same language. It makes all missions very capable of being completed. It helps when, for example, a Colombian student leaves from here and meets with other former students again in the training atmosphere or on the battlefield in support of the NATO alliance or whatever they are going to do, they understand each other, they understand the cultures, they understand the way of doing army business.”