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Third Quarter 2004

Third Quarter 2004
Gonsalves’ “Homes for Our Troops” Assists Disabled Soldiers
Building a home is an expensive venture, but building a home to accommodate a person with a disability is even more expensive, both monetarily and time-wise. Luckily for America’s Soldiers, John Gonsalves came on the scene.

One year ago, John Gonsalves, a construction supervisor from Wareham, Massachusetts, saw a television news report about a humvee driver who lost his legs in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Without legs, the driver would no doubt be using a wheelchair and encountering a life of inaccessible sinks, narrow doorways and impassable stairs. Gonsalves decided to help make a difference by volunteering his time to an organization that constructed homes for disabled troops. But he quickly ran into a problem: there was no organization that built homes for disabled troops. Instead of admitting defeat, Gonsalves started his own nonprofit organization: Homes for Our Troops.

Homes for Our Troops has been collecting donations to help build special disabled-accessible homes for Soldiers. The first project is to build a home for SGT Peter Damon, a Massachusetts National Guardsman who lost his right arm and his left hand from an accidental Black Hawk helicopter tire explosion in Iraq. The organization has raised more than $200,000 in cash and $50,000 worth of labor and building materials since it first started collecting on 6 March 2004. Gonsalves is expecting to break ground for SGT Damon’s home sometime this summer.

“All Americans need to help fight this war on terrorism,” says Gonsalves. “It doesn’t exist just in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m just trying to do my part.”

For more information on Homes for Our Troops, visit

Elections: Register to Vote Now
To be eligible for absentee voting in the 2004 elections, you must be registered to vote. To register, complete a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) and mail to the state where you vote.

To get the FPCA, contact your unit Voting Assistance Officer or download it from

The deadline to mail your FPCA is 15 August 2004.

Should you change your address before the election, you must submit a new FPCA.

Army Knowledge Online (AKO) asks that you do not contact its Help Desk for Voter Assistance. Contact your unit Voting Assistance Officer. The deadline to mail in your Absentee Ballot is October 11, 2004.

AAFES: Making Moving (and Life) a Little Easier
The Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) is now offering access to a new Military Moving Center service at This new service is available to all military and authorized customer households.

Servicemembers moving into or residing at any address within the United States can log on to the AAFES web site to compare and purchase utilities, telephone, video, Internet access or other essential household services.

The Military Moving Center, developed and operated by QCorps, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It saves servicemembers time by presenting multiple purchasing options in one place. QCorps says the site also saves military customers money with guaranteed best prices from each service provider and special deals available only to the military and military families.

For more information, log on to or call your local AAFES location.

AUSA: What It Means for NCOs
The Association of the United States Army has released a new CD-ROM that highlights AUSA’s efforts in fighting for “our Soldiers’ well-being by providing our men and women in uniform with the best arms, equipment and technology available—and for an improved quality of life for our Soldiers and their families,” an AUSA official said.

“Today, while you are out there putting your life on the line in defense of this great nation and fighting to protect those who value freedom, the Association of the United States Army is fighting hard for the resources you need to effectively do your job,” the CD-ROM tells its viewers.

Produced by the Association’s Institute of Land Warfare, the CD-ROM shares information on the work AUSA is doing on behalf of Soldiers and their families as they face uncertain times while the nations fights the Global War on Terrorism.

To receive a free copy of this CD-ROM, contact ILW Publications at 800-336-4570, ext. 630; or by e-mail at

Still Looking for Warrant Officers
Less than 3 percent of the active duty force comprises warrant officers, and the Army would like to see that percentage increase. The Army is still looking for more NCOs to fill all 45 warrant officer specialties and accept the increase in pay.

Soldiers with less than 12 years of active federal service are encouraged to apply.

For more information, contact the Warrant Officer Recruiting Team at

Changes to SSG Retention Control Point
Military Personnel Message 04-109 changes the retention control point (RCP) of staff sergeants from 20 to 22 years in service.

This change is due to a need for more Soldiers with experience and a desire to increase endstrength.

The endstrength increase is not permanent, so contact your commanding officer to find out if your MOS qualifies for an RCP extension. (From NCO Journal.)

CSA Retiree Council Fights for Better Health Care, Higher SBP Return
The Army Chief of Staff’s Retiree Council concluded its 44th meeting with a report to the Army Chief of Staff citing health care and education of retirees as the council’s two primary concerns.

The council, comprising seven retired officers and seven retired NCOs, addressed 14 issues concerning health care at its most recent annual meeting.

The council also urged the CSA to support efforts to eliminate the Social Security offset to the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and eliminate the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation offset to SBP. It also asks to support retirees who have paid SBP premiums for 30 years or more by accelerating the date for the paid-up provision of SBP from 2008 to 2004.

The council asked the Chief to support concurrent receipt of military retired pay and disability compensation; receipt of reserve retired pay before age 60 based on the number of years of service beyond 20; and authorization for retirees to purchase all items sold in Military Clothing Sales stores.

The council presented these and other ideas before the CSA. Council representatives will continually meet with the CSA during the year to discuss the progress on these issues. (From CSA Retiree Council.)

New Face of War Gives Birth to a New Face of Training
The new face of war has reshaped the way Americans live their day-to-day lives; it has most certainly changed the way America trains its Soldiers. And it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The days are gone when the Army could train its Soldiers in the fundamentals at the schoolhouse, assuming they would complete their education after reaching their units. Today, with 300,000 Soldiers deployed worldwide—including 138,000 in Iraq and 11,000 in Afghanistan—every Soldier must be fully prepared to face combat.

The modern battlefield has no clear-cut distinctions between the front lines and the rear or secure areas. This makes the essentials of being a Soldier more important than it has been for decades.

These new challenges are putting new demands on the Army’s training programs.

Beginning with initial entry into the military, Soldiers are getting more rigorous training with more emphasis on soldiering skills. In addition, it is imperative they be psychologically prepared for the mission to come.

At more senior levels, training focuses on teaching leaders to think on their feet and adapt to changes on the battlefield. In addition to confronting an unpredictable adversary, today’s NCOs must be able to operate fully in a wartime environment that incorporates members of other military services, other government agencies and other nations’ militaries.

To keep pace with these changes, the Army’s school-houses and combat training centers are duplicating conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan in their training sce-narios. The training centers feature realistic villages and urban environments, as well as tunnels and cave complexes. Schoolhouses teaching tactics, techniques and procedures have already proved their value in Southwest Asia.

Within a week after U.S. forces found Saddam Hussein hiding in a spider hole in Iraq, the Army combat training centers had introduced similar holes at their facilities.

Similarly, training scenarios introduce the complex nature of the battlefield with the myriad players involved. The National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, incorporates up to 1,700 civilian role players into its scenarios, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, has introduced some 200 Arab speakers to increase the realism of its training.

Meanwhile, students at the training centers encounter one of the biggest complexities of the Global War on Terrorism: the overlapping of phases of the operation, particularly combat and stabilization missions.

As Soldiers complete their overseas deployments and rotate back through the training centers, Army leaders recognize that a new phenomenon will soon begin: many students will have more combat experience than their instructors. By tapping into this homeward-bound knowledge and quickly incorporating lessons learned on the battlefield into its training programs, the Army will ensure the key to its future success. (From

Operation Purple
The National Military Family Association and Sears, Roebuck and Co. are teaming up to create Operation Purple, a program that gives military children a chance to attend summer camp.

The program is designed to allow children of all military branches to interact with and learn from one another how to deal with deployment-related stress.

The 12 camps are located in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Guam. For more information on attendance or volunteering, visit

DoD Employment Simplified
The Department of Defense has opened its web site dedicated to the new National Security Personnel System (NSPS). The site will introduce changes in the way DoD hires, pays, promotes, disciplines and discharges employees.

Congress authorized NSPS as part of the Fiscal Year 2004 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing the Defense Department new authority to develop new human resources, labor-management relations and employee appeals systems.

The new web site offers an overview of what DoD employees can expect from the new personnel system, information regarding issues of labor-management and employee unions, and links to NSPS-related websites.

The site is laid out to enable quick browsing and includes a job search function for those wishing to work for DoD - perfect for those leaving the service who wish to stay in the defense business.

NSPS realizes that every website has room for improvement and openly accepts comments and suggestions from the casual browser.

To access the web site, visit

Free Child Care for Soldiers
Soldiers coming home for rest and recuperation leave from Iraq or Afghanistan are eligible for free child care through two new initiatives: one by the Army and another by a volunteer organization.

The Army will offer 10 hours of child care to Soldiers home on R&R leave, granting Soldiers time to go on a date with their spouse or take care of family or legal business. It will be provided through child development centers, family child care providers and 4-H chapters.

Families can contact their children and youth service office on post or call 800-464-8107. Army One Source also proves information at

Operation Child Care is a nationwide program provided by 3,000 civilian child care providers who have volunteered free child care to National Guard and Reserve members returning for R&R. Operation Child Care is offering at least four hours of free services per family. To obtain free child care, National Guard members and Reservists can call their hotline: 800-424-2246. A military ID is required.

Not all Guard members and Reservists will be able to receive complimentary child care, but Operation Child Care will do everything in its power to try to link families with a willing care provider. (From Army Times.)

NCO Academy Links Updated!
Are you growing tired of dead links to the NCO Academy websites? Human Resources Command has recently released an updated homepages. Visit to view the list. (From Human Resources Command.)

Revamping NCOES
The Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) is currently being reformulated to support the Global War on Terrorism and Unit Focused Stabilization. Mass unit scheduling will soon be the norm for Soldiers to attend their respective NCOES courses; individual scheduling will continue on a smaller basis.

Currently, the Army Training Requirements and Resource System (ATRRS) contractor ASM Research is reprogramming the current Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) Automated Reservation System (BARS) to align with the high-tempo state of the Army.

Human Resources Command Training Division, per Army guidance, will provide priority scheduling Unit Identification Codes (UICs) and timelines to ASMR to program the BARS logic for scheduling. UICs will be sequenced by priority defined by the Army G-3.

The BARS logic, still operating on a quarterly basis, will search for BNCOC-eligible Soldiers in the identified priority UICs for scheduling based on their eligibility time-line to attend an NCOES course. BARS will select Soldiers in identified priority UICs with precedence going to staff sergeant and then sergeant promotable based on promotion points.

Upon completion of the priority UIC BARS run, the remaining Army-eligible population will fill quotas based on the current BARS logic. The 4th quarter fiscal year 2004 BARS will initiate the release of this new format.

All reservations are now being processed through ATRRS Portals. A major advantage of abandoning the Legacy System and transforming to the Interim System is the automated Army Knowledge Online (AKO) e-mail Soldiers receive when they are scheduled.

The company First Sergeant will now receive an AKO e-mail notification if a Soldier in the command has been scheduled for an NCOES course.

Upon the release of BARS, reports are received that indicate which Soldiers don’t have valid AKO e-mails. However, it is the responsibility of the Soldier to properly establish an AKO account. Soldiers can also access their Assignment Satisfaction Key (ASK) account, which displays information pertaining to any ATRRS reservation. (From

The Army Ten-Miler: Celebrating Its 200th Mile
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Army Ten-Miler as the Army’s premier athletic event. Again, the Association of the United States Army and BearingPoint will be the race’s lead sponsors.

This Army-wide race, hosted by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, continues to be the largest ten-mile run in America and is now the second largest ten-mile run in the world.

Attracting thousands of military and civilian runners from the United States, Europe, Korea, Japan, Canada, Panama and Mexico, this year’s Army Ten-Miler will begin at 8 a.m., Sunday, 24 October, at the Pentagon, the day before the opening of the Association’s 50th Annual Meeting and Exposition.

As a special 20th anniversary feature, the runners’ field for this year’s race is capped at 20,000 runners—up from last year’s 18,000.

“Although we have increased the cap to 20,000 runners in celebration of our 20th year and the tremendous growth we have experienced, I urge everyone to register as soon as possible so you will be guaranteed a place in our great race,” said race director Jim Vandak.

At press time, race officials said that more than 8,000 athletes had already signed up.

Last year, officials said, “88 percent of our runners registered online at”

An early runner registration fee of $30 continues through 31 July. After that date the fee is $35. The entry deadline is 5 p.m., EDT, 17 September, or when the race reaches its 20,000-runner cap.

No additional fee will be charged for a team entry. Late registrations will not be honored. There will not be a race-day packet pickup. Teams will consist of no more than eight and no fewer than four runners. A team’s time will be based on the combined average of the team’s four best running times.

Children kindergarten through 8th grade can race in the one-kilometer Army Ten-Miler Kids Run. T-shirts and special finishers’ medals will be given to all Kids Run participants. The registration fee is $8.

For more information, visit

Multilingual Soldiers and Civilians Important to American Growth
The United States is engaged in the Global War on Terrorism, and how a foe thinks and acts may be more important than what weapons he has. Knowledge of the languages and customs of the various countries may be key to success.

The National Language Conference, sponsored by the Defense Department and the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, is an attempt to create a more language-competent society for the United States. The conference is not to deal with short-term issues, officials said, but rather to look at longer-term steps that would improve the U.S. ability to protect its interests in today’s global village.

David Chu, Defense Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness, said more Americans must be able to speak foreign languages. “How does the country get people to want to study foreign languages?” asked Chu.

Out of the conference will come a White Paper detailing long-range plans for increasing the number of Americans who speak foreign languages. The conference is not limited to the government. In an era of globalization, it is equally important for private industry to embrace this effort.

“We are a nation that has brought all peoples, languages and cultures into the great melting pot for the purpose of creating a single unified nation,” Chu said. “In that national experience, English has been a unifying element, and the standard of a single language for the country has been one of the ways that we have brought cohesion out of the rich diversities of cultures that make up America,” he said.

But now the United States has “grown up,” Chu said. In the past, new immigrants insisted their children learn only English to survive in the United States and adapt to the new culture. “As the country has grown more educated, we can move beyond just getting English right to also nurturing interest in other languages,” he added.

The need for language skills and cultural knowledge is not new and is now seen as a prime Army and national security concern.

How a country and its people react to the United States is important. How the United States treats it allies and friends is important. Doing so with a firm knowledge of the culture and language is an essential part of the process. The country—and specifically the Army—needs people who can relate to all those areas and more. (From

HIV Testing Becomes Standardized
According to new Department of Defense policy, all members of the Army now are required to be tested for HIV every two years, a policy that has been recommended by the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board.

Medical studies indicate few people with HIV show physical signs of the disease within the first two years of infection. Therefore, if an individual tests positive early in their sickness, he or she would better benefit from the antiviral drugs currently available. Of course, the best treatment for HIV is prevention. (From

Operation Hero: Helping Military Children
Moving—from house to house, state to state, country to country—has a large, lasting effect on a military child, sometimes leading to social or academic issues.

Created in 1995, Operation Hero targets military children ages 6–12 who are displaying temporary difficulty in school. It offers after-school tutoring and mentoring to aid students find the “hero” inside themselves.

Now Operation Hero serves more than a dozen military installations throughout the United States; certified teachers and trained child-care professionals ensure students in small groups get individual attention. For information, visit

Army First Sergeants Course
The Chief of Staff has approved a policy that all active component first-time first sergeants will attend the First Sergeants Course (FSC) conducted at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), Fort Bliss, Texas, prior to assumption of duties. Commanders at every level will support this policy to the fullest to ensure the CSA’s intent is realized.

All Soldiers selected to fill first sergeant positions both within and outside the continental United States will attend FSC. In the event emergency requirements preclude sending a soldier to FSC prior to assumption of first sergeant duties, the soldier must attend FSC within six months of assuming such duties. Waiver authority for this deferred school attendance is delegated to the first general officer in the soldier’s chain of command.

Short-tour areas, while not exempt from the first-time policy, will be given considerable latitude in complying with the policy for those first sergeant positions affected by a tour of 13 months or less. Soldiers on short tours of 13 months or less who are not school trained when selected to fill a valid position will not be required to attend FSC while in the short-tour area. Every effort will be made by Human Resources Command to provide a sufficient number of FSC-qualified Soldiers to short-tour commands.

Further details on the First Sergeants Course can be found at or by contacting SFC Covey at 703-325-4587 or DSN 221-4587. (From Human Resources Command.)

Congratulations to the 2004 Drill Sergeants and Recruiters of the Year

Army Drill Sergeant of the Year
SSG Jason W. Maynard

Army Reserve Drill Sergeant of the Year
SFC Jennifer R. Fowler

Army Recruiter of the Year
SFC Jeremy M. Smelser

Army Reserve Recruiter of the Year
SFC Michael S. Luff

Army National Guard Recruiter of the Year
SFC Corey J. Gilman

Letters to the Editor. . .
NCO Update would like to hear from you. We want to know your opinions and possibly publish them in future issues. Please send your letters to Editor, NCO Update, AUSA, 2425 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201. Letters are also accepted via e-mail at with the subject line “Letters to the Editor.”

In the 2nd Quarter NCO Update article “Senior NCO Promotion Boards,” information about master sergeant and sergeant first class promotion boards was incorrect. Visit for updates on enlisted personnel promotion information.

In the 2nd Quarter article “Speeding Up the Citizenship Process,” Executive Order 13269 was incorrectly described. It does not allow faster citizenship for armed forces family members. For a copy of the Executive Order, visit