Army senior leaders rely on the Adjutant General (AG) School commandant to prepare human re-sources (HR) Soldiers to support commanders throughout the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle. To improve this support, the commandant is implementing the concepts of Army Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet (TRADOC Pam) 525–8–2, The U.S. Army Learning Concept for 2015, which was published in June 2011.
TRADOC Pam 525–8–2 describes the new security environment as a challenge requiring U.S. Soldiers to learn faster and better than their future adversaries. The new learning concept emphasizes dynamic virtual environments and online gaming to ensure readiness. This article will explain the investments made by the Army's senior HR leaders to significantly improve the training of HR professionals.
HR Training Simulator
Leaders continually aspire to provide realistic, challenging training. Frequently the greatest challenge to providing that caliber of training is resource availability.
In fiscal year 2011, Army HR leaders allocated funds to the AG School to construct a robust HR systems training simulator that incorporated required lesson plans. This investment provides students with simulated HR training systems across the full spectrum of the Officer Education System (OES), the Warrant Officer Education System (WOES), the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES), and Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
These simulations replicate field conditions that HR Soldiers will experience in brigade and battalion S–1 sections. This investment in HR training system simulations provides Soldiers across the training spectrum with an enormous opportunity for professional growth, comprehension, and practical application in operating HR systems.
eMILPO Training Simulator
Before the spring of 2011, the electronic Military Personnel Office (eMILPO) simulator training database contained fewer than 100 personnel files and lacked the full functionality of the production system. Instruction on the use of eMILPO included only Microsoft PowerPoint screen-shot slides and practical exercises focused on system capabilities rather than hands-on systems execution. One AIT instructor likened this to training with a rubber M16; it was a recognizable facsimile but extremely limited in practical application.
Developing quality HR system training was essential in order to achieve the AG School commandant's intent of better preparing HR Soldiers to support commanders throughout the ARFORGEN cycle. Quality training emulates the field environment, allows time for repetitive use and practice, and increases the students' critical thinking capabilities. The previous eMILPO simulator did not provide these capabilities. To bridge the gap, a major training database upgrade was required.
Recognizing the constraints of the previous simulator, the AG School solicited support from the Adjutant General of the Army to develop a new eMILPO simulator. Simultaneously, the AG School developed new hands-on lesson plans and practical exercises. The new eMILPO simulator, fielded in the spring of 2011, contains a full brigade combat team's complement of personnel and associated personnel data, amounting to more than 4,000 notional Soldiers. Every capability and functionality within the Army's live database of record (eMILPO) is available in the simulator (with the exception of digital signatures).
New Training Process
The new lesson plans and associated practical exercises emphasize experiential learning rather than PowerPoint lectures. The new training system also supports the AG School commandant's implementation plan for TRADOC's Army Learning Concept for 2015 "learner centric" environment. Using eMILPO, students now gather and analyze data and develop real-world solutions to Army HR and personnel issues. This requires their full engagement and thereby dramatically expands their comprehension and knowledge.
The program of instruction for initial military training students was significantly remapped to incorporate capabilities with the new eMILPO simulator. Personnel systems instruction for AIT Soldiers, warrant officers, and lieutenants expanded by 16 to 20 hours to include more time for hands-on practical exercises. The culminating exercise was restructured and a new staff exercise (STAFFEX) was developed for the AG Warrant Officer Basic Course (WOBC) and AG Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC).
The new eMILPO simulator allows Soldiers to practice functions required to execute two of the HR core competencies stated in Field Manual 1–0, Human Resources Support: man the force and provide HR services. The simulator provides WOBC and BOLC students with opportunities for data analysis in order to assist in accomplishing the two remaining core competencies: coordinate personnel support and conduct HR planning and operations.
AG WOBC and BOLC students use the eMILPO simulator extensively during the AG School STAF-FEX to focus on unit personnel readiness and HR operational planning conducted during the predeployment phase of the ARFORGEN cycle.
During a recent after-action review, one student compared the STAFFEX to an "eMILPO qualification range." Overall response from students and instructors alike is positive; students appreciate the challenging training, and instructors know they are providing the students and the Army with a quality product. Most importantly, the eMILPO learning curve is significantly reduced at the Soldier's first unit of assignment and HR Soldiers make an immediate positive impact for their commanders and Soldiers upon arrival.
Following the STAFFEX, students participate in the culminating exercise, which focuses on HR support in a deployed contemporary operating environment. During the AG School culminating exercise, the eMILPO simulator is linked to the Joint Deployed Logistics Model (JDLM) simulation system to provide a virtual HR battlespace and much more realistic training for students. The battalion- or brigade-level S–1 team includes AIT, Noncommissioned Officer Academy, and WOBC or BOLC students. Students focus on casualty reporting and tracking, personnel accountability, strength reporting, awards, evaluation requirements, records updates, and daily battle update briefs. Students also regularly conduct eMILPO queries to prepare their notional commands for congressional delegations or distinguished visitors and identify personnel eligible for upcoming centralized promotion boards.
The culminating exercise reinforces previous classroom training and practical exercises in a deployed field environment, similar to the HR environment seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. It builds Soldiers' confidence by increasing their comprehension and skill sets. After several hours of hands-on practical exercises in the classroom followed by the culminating exercise reinforcement, students develop "muscle memory" and internalize HR techniques and procedures.
Commanders and HR professionals can now expect reduced time to integrate new Soldiers into the unit's HR staff section, coupled with increased productivity. Graduates arrive better prepared to contribute to the unit mission and more capable of taking care of the Army's most precious resource: Soldiers. Soldiers leave the AG School and join their units with the foundation required to confidently proclaim themselves "trained and proficient . . . an expert . . . a professional," in accordance with the Soldier's Creed.
Plans for the Future
Building on the success of the new eMILPO simulator, the AG School commandant, in coordination with the Human Resources Command, intends to expand the scope of HR systems training simulation in fiscal year 2012. Systems that will have new training programs include the Enlisted Distribution and Assignments System, the Total Officer Personnel Management System, the Deployed Casualty Information Processing System–Casualty Reporting, the Deployed Theater Accountability Software, and the integrated Personnel Management System. These upgrades will further replicate real-world conditions and prepare AG and HR graduates for rapid assimilation into their gaining commands, providing them with the capability to impact their unit's HR mission positively and immediately.
One of the defining characteristics of HR professionals is their technical expertise. The foundation for building this expertise begins during initial military technical training by developing the right skill sets and attributes. Those skills are then honed as Soldiers continue self-development, organizational training, and professional military education. The new eMILPO simulator and revised HR training allow AG Soldiers to develop the required expertise expected by operational commanders. Providing quality, relevant training is just one more way HR and sustainment professionals are meeting the force's challenges in today's contemporary operating environment.