FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas: Becoming a non-commissioned officer was always a goal for Sgt. Patrick Hering as he progressed through a career as a Combat Medic with the 1st Medical Brigade. However, like many of his medic peers, Hering has had a diverse career leading him from being a line medic to serving in an administrative role within the 1st Medical Brigade headquarters. Hering’s path is similar to many regardless of military occupation, as everyday Soldiers enter the non-commissioned officer ranks feeling unprepared due to the lack of opportunity in deployments or training. After 20 years of executing contingency operations overseas supporting the Global War on Terrorism, the Army’s training and administrative enablers have also matched the Army’s new readiness posture, decreasing once available opportunities. To bridge the current capacity gap, the 1st Medical Brigade developed the School of the Strong Knight.
“First and foremost, School of the Strong Knights is a leadership development and certification program,” said Col. Roger Giraud, Commander of the 1st Medical Brigade. “It’s aimed at teaching our junior leaders, specifically Staff Sergeants and Sergeants , the fundamentals of our craft in the Army profession,” continued Giraud.
The School of the Strong Knights is conducted in partnership with the 4th Battalion, 3rd Security Forces Assistance Brigade on Fort Hood (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas. The School of the Strong Knight lasts ten days, putting the non-commissioned officers through convoy operations, battle drills, and reviewing their organization’s standard operating procedures (SOP) and tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP). “My background is mostly in a clinical environment. This program has given me a wide breadth of invaluable information about my organization,” said Staff Sgt. David Ash, a Senior Radiology Technician.
Before completing the School of the Strong Knights, all non-commissioned officers must qualify with their assigned weapon, lead and pass an Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), and pass a driver’s training management program. “This class gives me a great base for my Army leadership rucksack; this foundation will help give me the necessary tools to serve my Soldiers better,” said Hering.
The School of the Strong Knights approach is also unique by having the non-commission officers understand the subject material drive the pace of the class. “We find that non-commissioned officer explaining to their peers in a non-judgment environment mitigates knowledge gaps and increases confidence,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Divine, the Operation Non-Commissioned Officer responsible for running the School of the Strong Knight.
“We just ran the second iteration and brought Sergeants and trainers from every post that the Silver Knight Brigade has a unit. Under the supervision of the Hospital Centers’ Command Sergeants Major, Forts Carson, Bliss, and Polk will implement the program to build Strong Sergeants,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Jackson II, the 1st Medical Brigade Command Sergeant Major.
The 1st Medical Brigade intends to conduct a pilot course of the School of the Strong Knight for pre-command Officers in the 1st Quarter, FY 2022 for future company and detachment commanders to ensure they are ready to face the rigor of command.
“The teams, squads, and sections are the basic unit-level…they are at the point of contact. These units will encounter the patients first, these units will execute the basic mission sets, and these levels of leaders work day in and day out with their Soldiers. If we build Strong Sergeants at this level, trust will be built between leaders and their subordinates…this is putting People First,” said Giraud.