There are few things more exciting than career progression. A huge step for any Soldier is their first promotion into the NCO Corps. One essential piece to this promotion is the completion of Warrior Leader Course, which marks the beginning of Non-Commissioned Officer Education System (NCOES). What should you know to prepare for WLC? What do you even do at WLC? After a brief overview, I will share four tips for preparing for WLC.
WLC used to be called Primary Leadership Development Course. It involves training and evaluation in these areas: Land Navigation, Leadership, Training Management, Map Reading, Drill and Ceremony, and Warfighting. You will also take an APFT and be evaluated on conducting PRT. It is typical to any schoolhouse, where you are evaluated on being in leadership positions and written, and practical tests. WLC is MOS immaterial, and everyone must attend this school if they wish to move up the ranks. Every NCOES course that you pass, you will receive the NCO Professional Development Ribbon, with numerals for each subsequent course passed.
Tip 1: Be Physically Fit!
I don’t know why this needs to be said, but somehow I think it always needs to be reiterated. Any school you go to, you should not be just barely passing the APFT. You should be more than comfortably passing, if not excelling. This will allow for any change in altitude (for example, Oregonians living in the Willamette Valley frequently notice a difference in their run time when they go to Camp Williams, UT). Plus, you as either a newly promoted NCO or a SPC aspiring to become one should be setting the standard for others to follow. You should also be practicing PRT, especially since we don’t really do this in the ARNG. Ask your leadership for a chance to lead a PT session at drill and use PRT. That is the best way to get familiar.
Tip 2: Warrior Tasks – Level 1 Skill proficiency (Previously known as CTT)
You should be an expert in all basic skills. Going to WLC should not be your opportunity to learn them, but to be able to teach them to others. How can you be an NCO if you can’t teach these basic skills to your Soldiers and train them?
Tip 3: Land Nav deserves its own category for preparation
Land Navigation is in a majority of Army schools – from OCS, to BOLC, to NCOES, and of course – it starts at Basic Training. However, it’s a very perishable skill. I haven’t personally trained on it since OCS back in 2010 (our class at BOLC in 2011 was very basic and brief), so I know that I would need to sit through a refresher class before going through any lanes, just to resharpen my skills. If this is you, and for most of you, it is, you should volunteer to teach a Land Nav class at drill. This will ensure you prepare yourself for the class, which will be better than sitting through it yourself.
Tip 4: Know your Drill and Ceremony
We don’t use Drill and Ceremony very much at drill, so it is another skill like Land Nav that may need attention before going in front of others to do it for evaluation purposes. It should be something that comes second nature, you shouldn’t feel nervous or worried about being called to take a formation (whether it is running or marching). Take a little time and practice, so you don’t feel strange when you actually are at WLC.
A lot of the skills at WLC are things we have known since we were Privates. We just need to take the time to brush up on these skills and review them before we report to school. What are your experiences with WLC? Any tips not mentioned here? Share in the comments below.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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