The Tactical Operation Center, or TOC, is the central point where all sections of the Army share all information and collaborate to make battlefield decisions. The TOC supports the soldiers on the ground, and keeps them up-to-date with real-time information. Officers and NCO’s both staff the TOC, and communicate not only with soldiers on the battlefield, but also with commanders. It is imperative that NCO’s are well prepared to function as flawlessly as possible as integral members of the TOC operations, and the Army Battle Staff NCO Course (BSNCOC) provides the essential training to do just that.
BSNCOC originated in 1988 as a course for reservists; however, it soon expanded to include all NCO’s. The BSNCOC provides NCO’s with the same type of training that is provided to officers, and is for all NCO’s assigned to battalion or higher staff positions. They work very closely with officers in the TOC, and need to know what they know to fully contribute. Resident instructors provide all BSNCOC at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA) at Fort Bliss, Fort Indiantown Gap, Camp Williams, and Fort McCoy. NCO’s can also access the BSNCOC training by video from anywhere in the world. NCO’s are awarded the “2S” skill identifier once they successfully complete the course.
The BSNCOC used to be divided into two phases, with the first phase being a correspondence course, completed by the NCO at his home station. The second phase was either at one of the USASMA locations or completed by video. The two phases have been combined into a single-phase training, with attendance by video tele-training (VTT) still an option.
The NCO Promotion Board describes BSNCOC as an “intense, fast paced, performance-oriented program.” Here are some BSNCOC tips for success:
- Familiarize yourself with the climate in the location where you will train. For instance, Fort Bliss is hot and dry, so be prepared.
- BSNCOC consists of 159 academic hours that are taught over 22 days of instruction.
- Keep in mind that you will have to meet height and weight requirements, as well as pass an Army Physical Fitness Test to enroll in the course. Those who attend by VTT will be screened by assistant instructors or at the soldier’s home post NCO academy.
- There is a heavy emphasis on map reading and overlays. Review Army graphics and symbols before the course.
- You must have decent computer skills, so if yours are shaky, brush up now. You will also need a laptop.
- BSNCOC is a small group instruction program; be prepared to present an oral briefing and a portion of the instruction to your group.
- Time management skills will be critical for success.
- The course concludes with a Command Post Exercise.
The move to offer the course via VTT made it possible to train more soldiers at one time without increasing the cost. The convenience speaks for itself. The course work is the same regardless of the format, consisting of six testable instructional tracks.
To enroll in BSNCOC, NCOs apply for BSNCOC through their unit’s NCO Academy or Army Training Requirements and Resources System manager. The resident course at Fort Bliss has 64 slots available through ATRRS, which can be increased to 80 slots if needed.
BSNCOC increases an NCO’s value, making them direct counterparts to their officers. It is considered an excellent opportunity to continue professional development after completing the coursework through NCO Education System. For more information, visit the USASMA website.
I am sure a number of you have completed the BSNCOC, and it would be great if you could share your experiences, and any other tips you would offer those thinking about attending or preparing to attend. You can leave them in the comments below.