Earlier this year the Army made it mandatory for Soldiers to complete their respective Structured Self Development Courses before attending their corresponding level of Noncommissioned Officer Education System courses – SSD I before attending the Warrior Leader Course, SSD III before attending the Senior Leader Course, and SSD IV before attending the Sergeants Major Course.
Because of this mandate leaders across the Army are becoming more involved in the supervision of their Soldiers’ progress, or lack thereof, in SSD course completion. Many still are asking the question, “How do I track a Soldier’s progress within SSD?”
The answer is the Army Career Tracker – a web-based leadership tool developed by U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development, or INCOPD.
“The capabilities of the Army Career Tracker allow both first line supervisors and the command the ability to track SSD,” said Jeffery Colimon, chief of the Learning Integration Division, INCOPD at Fort Eustis, Va., and a retired sergeant major. “In more than one way the first line supervisor can track the progress of the individual Soldiers who are enrolled in SSD and the command, using the staff function, can aggregate the data and find out exactly how many people are enrolled in SSD and how many have graduated –all the way down to the individual Soldier level.”
While not mandatory for enrollment as of yet, the Army Career Tracker has more than 650,000 users, about 50 percent of the target population, which includes Army civilians, officers, enlisted and Reserve Component Soldiers. Colimon said that with the revision of Army Regulation 350-1, Army Training and Leader Development, due out early next year, all personnel will be required to have an Army Career Tracker account in order to access their individual development plan.
“One of the most dynamic things about the Army Career Tracker is that we have the capability to allow the proponent to place the career map in a section on the ACT called My Planner. In that section users are able to see the career maps of their current MOS (military occupational specialty) and grade, and also look across the [entire] career field to see what the recommendations are for key areas such as SSD, assignments, training, civilian education, and credentialing,” said Khadijah Sellers, a senior operations analyst with Enspyr, a contractor working with INCOPD to develop and maintain ACT. “All that can be selected by the users and can be added to the individual development plan within the ACT and is the only place where the IDP is contained. It also has been mandated to be used and will in an upcoming revision to AR 350-1 as a requirement.”
That requirement, Sellers said, mandates that within 30 days of an individual going to their first duty station and with the assistance of their leader they will start their IDP and it will be reviewed annually for the duration of their service.
“That is one of the forcing functions that we have,” Colimon said. “In addition to that, there are emerging regulations on sponsorship which also has some mandatory functions that are inside the Army Career Tracker for Soldiers, the sponsors and the key stakeholders. They will be required to go into ACT in support of the sponsorship of an individual.”
Cognos reporting system
While the ACT is a single point of entry for career and leadership development, it is also a powerful management tool which allows leaders at all levels to see what their Soldiers are doing as it relates to education and training and career management.
“One of the great things about Cognos and the staff role function is the command can [see] all the way down to the lowest UIC, company, detachment level and also is able to provide a by-name list out of that showing where the individual’s status is,” said Brian Lijana a training analyst with TMG Government a contractor supporting ACT. “We have a few different reports that track SSD. There’s an SSD report that gives straight forward facts of who is enrolled and who’s completed in each level regardless of rank, regardless of what schooling or NCOES courses they have taken. Then we also have our PME report. This report has been built in with logic to take into account the MEL/MES codes (the military education level and status codes) and match that with their SSD to show exactly what that Soldier needs – if they are required to enroll or complete WLC, or they need to complete SSD I, and that is based on their rank and their MLS code and SSD completion.”
Lijana added that with the Cognos reporting system, supervisors or first line leaders can look at a Soldier’s record and instantly see what that Soldier has done.
“When a supervisor, first line leader, looks at a Soldier’s record they see a thermometer. This thermometer is listed with the same PME structure SSD I, WLC, ALC, SSD III and so on all the way up to SSD V, and it can show what a Soldier has completed, if they are enrolled in a level and what their next level would be,” he said.
That kind of reporting ability allows for ACT to be a great tool for career counseling, Colimon added.
“This thing about tracking SSD and the first line supervisor to see this and that are collateral benefits that we have built into the system. None of them will be successful if in fact the individual doesn’t go in there, with the assistance of the first line supervisor, and manage their career,” Colimon said. “[Through ACT] the first line supervisor can actually coach, mentor and counsel an individual with a specific framework. They have a [map] to do that right in front of them. [The supervisor] can make recommendations on training and education opportunities as well as assignment opportunities, and the individual can see what is required of them to reach the next level.”
ACT levels the playing field
The ACT can manage a Soldier’s entire career, however short or long that may be, by allowing them to see what training, education, assignments, or certifications they might need in order to meet their goals. Because this is available to everyone, it establishes a level playing field, something that was not the case in the past when it came to career management.
“In the past, we had a lot of Soldiers that were equipped with good information from their leaders, their first line supervisor, and then we had Soldiers that were not equipped with that information,” said Master Sgt. Chadwick W. Wormer, ACT senior military analyst at INCOPD. “The ACT is leveling the playing field by giving every Soldier the same information and the same opportunities at their fingertips so they don’t have to base their career on good, or not so good, leadership.”
ACT has the ability to pull information from multiple systems in order to alleviate the need for an individual to go to different websites and portals to see their information, Colimon said.
“One of the things that is unique about the ACT is that all data is personalized within this cradle to grave, hire to retire, system,” he said. “What can I do within the current window of opportunity within my career to enhance my military education, civilian education, credentialing, and certifications, and also to become a better professional Soldier?”
Because of limited user licenses available for the Cognos reporting system, Wormer said that they are limiting the Staff Function report to the G3s at each post.
“We try to ensure access is given to the highest level G3 on the installation,” Wormer said. Once the access is given, it is asked that the user share with everyone on the installation. The report is in Excel, so it is easily sorted, filtered and further broken down by UIC.”
Installation G3s needing access to the Staff Function reporting must fill out INCOPD Form 1-R-E. To request a form email ACT.firstname.lastname@example.org.