INTERVIEWEE: CSM Tedd (Joe) Pritchard, Deputy Commandant, US Sergeants Major Academy; INTERVIEWER: CSM Dan Elder, US Army, Retired
This is one in our series of interviews with noncommissioned officers from the field, as well as those in key or strategic positions who are influencing the Army and the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. This interview is with CSM Joe Prtichard, who serves as the Deputy Commandant of the US Army Sergeants Major Academy. Below are his responses to our questions:
Q1. What were the things that surprised you the most after assuming your duties as the Deputy Commandant of the US Army Sergeants Major Academy?
First of all, serving as the Deputy Commandant at the USASMA is an honor, a very humbling experience and a rewarding opportunity, in the terms of serving our Nation, the Army and in terms of developing not only personally but, in the terms of developing our future strategic enlisted leaders in our Army. Most would not know that USASMA is responsible for the analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of 14 programs of instruction. The Sergeants Major Course (SMC) serves as a key responsibility in the delivery of the Noncommissioned officer Education System (NCOES) however, equally important is that our institution (USASMA) ensures that we train and educate all enlisted Soldiers in the professional military education (PME) process. USASMA is made up of numerous Sergeants Major and cadre consisting of contractors and civilian employees…all of whom served as enlisted men and women. What is not surprising is the level of knowledge, expertise and professionalism of our cadre…Dedicated men and women whom understand that the future is in the hands of those they train and they take responsibility very seriously. Serving as the Deputy Commandant alongside and with these great men and women on a daily basis is truly inspiring, rewarding and of great importance. USASMA is a very busy workplace that requires complete attention to detail and if there’s anything surprising, is that of the duties and responsibilities as applied to the magnitude, scope and scale of the Deputy Commandant. With that said, I would not trade it for the world…the opportunity to serve and give back to our Army and its future leaders.
Q2. Did you have prior experience in the institutional Army, and how would you rate your preparation throughout your career to allow you to be able to step in to the Deputy Commandant role?
The experience to serve in TRADOC as a drill sergeant, chief of the ADA BNCOC and the Commandant at the III Corps and Fort Hood NCO Academy provided great understanding of the processes and procedures here at USASMA and within TRADOC. While serving as a Commandant, I completed TRADOC’s senior trainer and education manager course (STEMC). STEMC provided a complete understanding of how TRADOC operates and the processes to design and develop a course from scratch. The first introduction to working with, rating and counseling civilian employees started at Fort Hood while serving as the Commandant. To better understand the civilian workforce, I attended the civilian personnel senior management course. Here at USASMA, we have several civilian employees and prior civilian employment training really placed me in an area of understanding. Also, and equally is important, is the balance between operating and generating assignments. Since 1999 I’ve served in each, one after the other with the exception of two operating assignments back to back. Serving as CSM at the BN, BDE, Commandant and nominative levels (to include the joint environment) prior to the Deputy Commandant position, greatly provided the experience and skill set required to serve as the USASMA Deputy Commandant.
Q3. What changes to the noncommissioned officer education system do you see taking place over the next 2-5 years, if any?
Change will occur – that’s inevitable and it’s good, in the sense of relevancy and that of the changing global environment we operate in. We must change to better prepare our leaders for the challenges ahead. The Army is not going out of business anytime soon as populations grow, resources diminish and economies struggle to support their people. To that end, USASMA will remain adaptive and committed providing the right skills and training to meet the challenges of an increasing uncertain and complex strategic operational environment. TRADOC and the Institute for Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development (INCOPD) is working hard to develop NCO 2020 initiatives, intent, objectives, analysis plans, and emerging trends/themes from ongoing surveys. We don’t know the outcome or outcomes yet however, we’re doing allot of work to determine the future of the NCO corps and that of enlisted leader development from ground up.
Q4. What is the most important change to happen in the Army since you first entered, and why is it important?
Q5. What bit of advice or wisdom would you share with up-and-coming NCOs on how to be successful?
Success is defined in numerous ways and is formed as an interpretation to many to include a magical way of making it to the top of the rank structure in our Army. Is it a chase for success in the terms of going after something, preparing for, choosing to do or a desire to lead successfully no matter what rank structure you currently serve and to whom you lead? I think that all too often, some think that success is being a Command Sergeant Major in the Army versus being successful at no matter what rank you serve. The bottom-line is that no matter where you are in your career, success is being the best you can be (A Leader) and caring for Soldiers and families every need. Off the soap box now – it’s important to learn and grasp every leadership opportunity and broadening assignment/special assignment to provide a wider perspective of leading. Listen to your leaders, learn from them, ask questions often as to how to be a better leader, read leadership books from the book store shelves, study Army manuals, attend NCOES as soon as possible and go to college. Success is foundational to the level of time someone places in learning the art of military leadership. It’s also defined by the Army values, warrior ethos and NCO creed. Succumb to the dedication of the profession of arms and give it 100% – live it, breath it and you will become a successful leader in our Army. The Army will recognize your talent as a successful leader.
Q6. What is one thing you want people to know about you?
I’ve given almost my entire adult life to the Army and others. When I pass away, I want to be recognized as a leader who gave it my all and tried my best to pass on the years of knowledge and expertise to others.
Q7. Who is your most admired person, and why?
No comment as this area is one in which I prefer to keep to myself.
Q8. What one or two things are top on your agenda to accomplish during your tenure as Deputy Commandant?
The Deputy Commandant position at USASMA serves as second in command as well as the Academy CSM and seemingly always has a full plate. From what may seem the simplest of tasks of working with and for hundreds of Soldiers, civilians and contractors…at the top of the agenda is maintaining the work force, communications flow, and the workforce daily tasks, IPRs, meetings, VTCs and functions. We’re working hard to improve our technology delivery methods and IT strategic plans for all levels of the NCOES. Improving operating efficiencies and saving dollars in the most effective way is definitely at the top of the agenda. As we work in an era of constrained resources and dollars, it’s important to maintain the pulse while ensuring that we deliver the best training (resident and DL) to thousands of customers each year.
Our thanks to CSM Pritchard for participating in this interview and wish him continued success. Statements here are personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of the US Army or DoD, participation in our interview sessions does not equal endorsement of any type. The NCO Guide is a news outlet of professional commentary and opinion from current and former Soldiers with the desire to share their expertise and experience and can be read at http://www.NCOGuide.net