FORT SILL, Okla. — The Army is changing the way it trains its newest second lieutenants by merging two basic courses and having officers from the same branches train together from the onset of their careers.
The Basic Officer Leadership Course B, or BOLC B, is about to begin at installations Armywide. Field Artillery BOLC B began Tuesday, when 150 Soldiers start the new training at Fort Sill.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said BOLC B officer-in-charge CPT Mike Ernst, of the 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, 428th Field Artillery Brigade. “It’s refocusing what we need to do at the level for junior officers for initial training. It builds that cohesion factor starting with the basics and graduating to higher-level training.”The 18-and-a half, 5-week BOLC B is a consolidation of the seven-week BOLC Phase II and the 15-week BOLC Phase III, said MAJ Celester Thomas, executive officer of the 1-30th FA.
BOLC II covered 55 Soldier skills, such as land navigation, and its officers were from a variety of branches. Some of those tasks could be better learned at other points in the officers’ initial training, said GEN Martin Dempsey, commanding general of the Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va.
Of the 55 functional skills, some if done once, the Soldiers had the skill down pat, Dempsey said. Other tasks required repetitive learning and still other skills atrophied so quickly that even if learned in BOLC II, would have to be relearned at the officer’s first assignment. So now those skills are being spread out over the new officers’ training, he said.
Upon graduation from BOLC II Soldiers would go their separate ways on to BOLC III, whose curriculum was branch specific, for example, field artillery, medical, adjutant general, air defense artillery. Dempsey said there will be benefits from BOLC B over BOLC II and III.
“It allows us to make better use of resources, and it reduces backlog because we were experiencing some significant (second lieutenant) backlogs,” he said.