Story by Maj. Jamie Delk
EASTOVER, S.C. – For junior officers, the Army follows a structured career development path that builds leadership skills, as well as tactical proficiencies. Leader development for the Army’s company grade officers includes a combination of formal education, mentoring from non-commissioned officers and senior officers, and solid leadership positions.
Before taking company command, which is a crucial time in a young officer’s career, the South Carolina National Guard provides formal training to help develop skills necessary to lead in that capacity with the Pre-Command Course (PCC). PCC is a three-day block of instruction held in August every year designed to help future company commanders and first sergeants prepare for command. This year’s course was held Aug. 19-21 at McCrady Training Center in Eastover, South Carolina.
“The purpose of the Pre-Command Course is to provide necessary tools for the officers to succeed,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marion Bulwinkle, 4th Battalion, 218th Regiment (Leadership) commander. “The instructors provide knowledge about a variety of topics such as leadership, equal opportunity, unit readiness and more.”
Over the course of the three days, the future leaders receive information on a wide range of subjects that will help them in their command positions, as well listen to key messages from senior leaders within the South Carolina National Guard. Spouses are also invited to attend the course with the officers and first sergeants and participate in their own breakout sessions that emphasize the importance of family support for Soldiers in the National Guard.
“The Pre-Command Course also offers valuable insight from former company commanders and current state directorates,” added Bulwinkle. “Instructors share experiences and successes, and will also talk about pitfalls and mistakes of new commanders.”
U.S. Army Capt. Greg Harris, 1st Battalion, 118th Infantry Regiment communications officer and PCC attendee, explained how the course provided insight on what it will be like to be a commander and some of the issues new commanders may face.
“It gave us the traditional Soldier view on how to manage a company,” added Harris.
Not all officers in attendance for PCC are slotted for a command position, but it is still a beneficial resource for young officers and new first sergeants to attend.
“When the course is complete, the officers should have a good understanding of who to reach out to for direction, information and guidance on a wide variety of topics,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Brett Belinski, 4th Battalion, 218th Regiment (Leadership) chief instructor. “This course isn’t designed to throw our officers for a loop, this course is designed to expose new commanders to the inner workings of the South Carolina National Guard and the systems behind them.”