Backbone of the Army: Non-commissioned Officers in the Future Army

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Douglas L. Bland
School of Policy Studies, Queen's University, 2000 - Technology & Engineering - 126 pages
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Throughout history non-commissioned officers (NCO) have played a central role in armies as "disciplinarians", closely associated with the welfare of the troops and discipline in the ranks. Although at low levels of command officers and NCOs were allies, a strong divide existed between them. Officers, who held formal command authority, were educated to different standards and controlled every aspect of army doctrine and policy. The NCO corps remained, figuratively, in the barracks, separate from decisions effecting the employment and development of the army.As societies changed, subtle changes have also occurred in the officer/NCO relationship and in the expectations of NCOs themselves. The social gap between the ranks has narrowed and separation based on differences in education has become less distinct. Young soldiers are more aware of social, military, and international issues than ever before. Better educated soldiers and NCOs now expect to be involved in unit decisions and are less likely to routinely accept the idea that officers know best. The challenge for the army of today is to recognize the opportunities for positive change and to see that the army of the future takes them into account.Backbone of the Army, written by academics, officers, and non-commissioned officers, considers this challenge. The authors examine the historical role of NCOs as well as the factors influencing the future army and future NCO recruits. They discuss the implications for education, training, doctrine, and organization, offering comparative assessments from allied armies.

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