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Training First, Then Medal for New Joint Staffers

By Staff Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 8, 1996 – Newly assigned members to the Joint Chiefs of Staff must now earn the right to wear the Joint Staff Identification Badge on their uniforms. Beginning June 4, completion of the Joint Staff Training Program is a badge prerequisite.

The program's four half-day classes are designed to provide students the "basic survival skills" required to operate in a joint work environment structured heavily around office automation and computer products. Instructors provide security and office automation training on top of a brief introduction to the Joint Staff. In addition, students are scheduled for quality classes.

The Joint Staff badges are issued to students at graduation.

Navy Capt. Dave Duffie, chief of Actions Division and program team leader, said staff action officers suggested the training. Staff action officers are the personnel who provide commanders basic information and technical advice for their use in making decisions.

Duffie said action officers have wanted training on how to process action packages before reporting for duty. "It makes sense," he said. "You don't put a pilot in the cockpit or a commander on a ship without training. You are a liability to an organization when you don't know what you are doing."

Officials expect the classes to impact Joint Staff operations immediately. It is estimated that more than 400 people will attend the course this summer alone.

Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Richard Cashman, Joint Staff superintendent of training, said morning and afternoon classes will allow the staff to train 30 students per week through Labor Day, Sept. 2.

To be ready for the onslaught of students, the instructors conducted two half-day trial classes in late May for 26 members of the Joint Staff. The students provided feedback on the quality of the computer support, the curriculum and even instructor performance.

Cashman said there were some technical problems, but the staff plans to develop checklists to prevent a repeat of the problems. He said the critiques were positive and useful. "One guy asked for a glossary of acronyms, which I thought was on the money," he said. "After all, these are new members of the Joint Staff. There was constructive criticism, but no one really slammed us."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Cheryl Morris, a student in a trial class, said, "It gave me good insight of computer systems, and it facilitates how I can do my job."

Another student, Air Force Maj. Mike Carey, said learning the processes helps him with staff actions. He said other parts of the course were also valuable. "Learning the basic programs like Microsoft Mail and Schedule Plus is like money in the bank," he said.

Duffie said he was disappointed that there were glitches running the trial classes, but vows the staff is "able to take care of any problems. The instruction was great, and there aren't a lot of things that need changing as far as the course is concerned."

"I'm pretty excited about this. I think without a doubt that this is one of the best things that the Joint Staff has done for the action officer," Duffie said. "This is going to make officers and enlisted members better qualified to do the job before sitting down at the desk. That's the goal of any organization."

Duffie said every staff member from O-6 to E-1 will receive training. In addition, general and flag officers on the Joint Staff have the option to receive deskside training from course instructors.

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