The Army is rolling out a new Web tool designed to help junior leaders build better teams as part of the service's "Not in my Squad" campaign.
The new website, designed by the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, was unveiled at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting Oct. 12-14 in Washington, D.C.
It can be found at http://cape.army.mil/nims.
The "Not in my Squad" assessment tool is "a resource that's Web-based to help squad leaders, team leaders, section leader, crew leaders, just about any level of leadership, help their squad strengthen things that they're really good at, and then maybe improve on things they're not so good at," said Sgt. Maj. David Stewart, the senior enlisted soldier at CAPE.
"Not in My Squad. Not in Our Army. We Are Trusted Professionals" started off as the Army's sweeping campaign to fight sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.
Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, a career infantryman who became the Army's top enlisted soldier Jan. 30, came up with the "Not in my Squad" concept. The idea is to put first-line leaders directly into the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment, issues that are among the top priorities for senior Army leaders.
The campaign has since expanded to include more than sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention, Stewart said.
"It's really about who we are as a profession," he said.
This spring, Dailey brought 32 squad leaders from across the Army to Washington, D.C., to brainstorm ideas and recommendations on how to not just fight sexual assault but also tackle issues such as morale, training, discipline, standards and education.
"We have some problems in the Army," Dailey said at the time, adding that some of those problems detract from the Army's mission to "fight and win our nation's wars."
"We don't steal from each other," he said. "And I mean that about everything. We don't steal pride, trust, an individual's wellbeing, or it could be their iPod. We're all on the same team."
But those problems can be overcome with strong leadership, Dailey said.
"It's easy for me to make a program for the Army, but that doesn't build success," he said. "We are a people organization. If we give you the responsibility to lead nine soldiers outside the wire in Afghanistan or Iraq, you have the same trust, honor and prestige to do that in garrison."
The idea behind the "Not in my Squad" Web tool is to help junior leaders work on their own teams, Stewart said. It is not mandatory, nor is it designed to become yet another individual training requirement for soldiers, he said.
The website also does not record any personal or identifying or unit information, Stewart said.
"It is a resource to assist team leaders and squad leaders to assess the state of mutual trust and cohesion in their teams," he said. "It's a grassroots thing, which means it's a self-starting event, not something driven from the Army telling you to do something. The SMA wants to empower junior leaders to improve upon what we do as an Army."
Here's how it works.
Junior leaders who visit the website will be asked to rate 24 statements about the state of their teams or squads.
The statements cover topics such as trust, standards and discipline, and esprit de corps.
For example, they'll be ask to agree or disagree that their squad members trust each other to do what's right. Or whether the team takes pride in striving for excellence or if team members care about each other's morale and well-being.
After completing all 24 statements, "it's going to spit out results that are then directed to education and training material that either reinforces strengths the squad has or it gives you areas you can work on that may be a weakness or a concern," Stewart said.
The training material could include videos, written case studies and a facilitation guide to help the leader conduct training for the team. There also will be a separate page on the website for leaders who want to conduct a "Not in my Squad" workshop on their own installation similar to the one led by SMA this spring.
"You've heard the SMA say 'I thought I was the best squad leader in the Army,'" Stewart said. "The catchword here that I want to use is 'Are you the best squad leader in the Army? And have you taken the assessment?'"
Not only does the Web tool provide leaders with training resources and ideas, it also will show them how their unit did compared with others who have taken the assessment, Stewart said.
"It takes all the previous folks who have taken it and actually shows you how well your squad did," he said. "It's a little way where a squad leader can see, 'how am I doing?'"
Stewart stressed that the Web tool is not meant to be another piece of mandatory individual training. Squad leaders are not supposed to make each of their soldiers take the assessment, he said.
A squad leader can take the assessment and pick up ideas for training, or he can have each member of the team take the assessment before coming together to share and discuss the findings, Stewart said. Another option would be for the whole team to take the assessment together, he said.
"It's about the squad, the team, the section, the crew," he said. "It's not about individual training. It's not going to be an [executive order] that comes down from the Army and it becomes mandatory."
Good squad leaders should want to use the Web tool, he said.
"Only the best squad leaders and team leaders and section leaders in the Army are going to want to be better, and in order to do that, they need to see how well they're doing in building mutual trust and a cohesive team," Stewart said.
Michelle Tan is the editor of Army Times and Air Force Times. She has covered the military for Military Times since 2005, and has embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Haiti, Gabon and the Horn of Africa.