How Can I Stay Technically and Tactically Proficient as a Part-Time Soldier?

Here’s a question I got via email the other day: “how can I stay technically and tactically proficient as a part-time Soldier?”  I would define that as a million dollar question.  My immediate answer is that you can’t stay technically and tactically proficient as a part-time Soldier.  I honestly believe that no one can remain totally tactically and technically proficient training just 2-3 days a month and a couple of weeks a year.

Now I understand that some people will disagree with me.  And I’m perfectly fine with that.  Rather than explain WHY you can’t stay technically and tactically proficient as a part-time Soldier (the major reason is the time constraint) I would like to share eight things to help you increase your technical and tactical expertise.

  1. Read Field Manuals 15-20 minutes a day – Make it a point to read at least 15-20 minutes each day, every day.  Print out all the manuals related to your MOS or branch and read them.  This alone will increase your technical and tactical knowledge at least 10 fold.
  2. Join Your Branch Association – Join your branch association.  Attend meetings and read the monthly publication.
  3. Read the Army’s Lessons Learned – The Army does a great job publishing their lessons learned.  Print these out, read them and file them away for future reference.
  4. Do Collective/Tactical Training Every Drill Weekend – Every drill weekend, do some type of collective training.  Do something operational and get out of the armory.
  5. Attend One Military School Per Year – Make it a point to attend at least one military school per year in addition to your NCOES or OES.  If you can’t attend a physical location, consider doing your training via correspondence or distance learning.
  6. Stay On Top of Your Military Education – Complete your military education requirements as quickly as possible.
  7. Volunteer for a Deployment – You can learn more during a one-year deployment than you would probably learn in 5-7 years doing one weekend a month.  If you can and want to deploy, volunteer.  It will make you a better leader.
  8. Try to Learn Something Every Day – Make it a point to learn something new each day.  Read a publication, interview a retired person, talk with your mentor, visit our website, or anything else you can do to improve your knowledge.

I believe these are the best eight ways to increase your technical and tactical expertise.  I encourage all part-time Soldiers to be ‘students of their business’ and do what they can to increase their technical and tactical expertise whenever they can.  If you deploy, you will get some extra time at the MOB Station to brush up on your skills, but it’s still a wise idea to be proactive and do what you can to be the best leader and Soldier you can be.

Do you have any added tips? Do you have any questions? Just post any, and all below. Thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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3 thoughts on “How Can I Stay Technically and Tactically Proficient as a Part-Time Soldier?”

  1. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, the main takeaway from this is that it is up to us to determine how much effort we want to put in between drills. Just like we can’t force our Soldiers to do PT between IDT weekends, we also can’t force them to read or do anything else. I think that the ones who do take personal pride in their performance will see that regular reading and the like, on top of their PT program, is a natural part of their day.

  2. Faith A. Coleman

    It looks like being a part-time can’t really be maintained by part-time effort. I note your suggestion to read everyday, along with the other advice you give. It puts a different perspective on the time and commitment that’s necessary for soldiers in the reserves to really be up to speed in whatever their particular roles. That’s another reason to be appreciative of reservists, they’re willing to go another mile to fulfill their duty.

    1. Thanks for the comment. It’s tough to stay proficient in your MOS when you only train a couple days a month. That’s why you need a game-plan and the discipline to do whatever it takes to keep your skills sharp.

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