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Non commissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) is the first leadership course non-commissioned officers attend during their career. It's designed to teach troopers, from Private First Class, Specialists, and newly-promoted Corporals the fundamentals of leading small groups of Troopers. The two-session course teaches students the roles and responsibilities of Squad Leaders in the Right to Rebel Division.

They should teach the soldiers of their squads how to dress with a soldier-like air, how to clean their arms, accoutrements, etc and how to mount and dismount their firelocks.

- Instructions for the Sergeant and Corporal, von Steuben's 1779 "Blue Book"



One of the earliest mentions of educating non-commissioned officers outside the unit was during the early days of the Continental Army. When Prussian officer Friedrich von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge he recognized many problems, particularly in discipline, supply, and training. As he set out to restore discipline, Steuben developed tactics using a simple form of manual of arms. In March 1778 General George Washington ordered an additional 100 men to the Commander in Chief’s Guard to serve as participants in Steuben’s experiment, the development of a new Continental Army. Steuben began by drilling one squad, then allowed sub inspectors to drill other squads under his supervision. Officers distanced themselves from the soldiers in the British tradition, but Steuben encouraged them to use sergeants to pass instructions to the drilling troops. Washington was so impressed with the results that he directed that all drilling stop under the current system and that Steuben’s simple methods be used. Though later the officers applied Steuben’s techniques to train the soldiers of their troops and regiments, this is probably one of the earliest examples of a specially designed “school” to train both non-commissioned officers and officers outside the unit.


It would take the casualties of war to answer the need for non-commissioned officer schools. By the early summer of 1918 the United States had been at war in Europe for over a year. Training camps and recruit depots were established to develop replacements for the force overseas and American NCOs were seen as half-trained and unsophisticated by allied noncoms. Detachments of troops were shipped off to Europe as soon as they could be inducted, clothed, equipped and minimally trained. There was no reserve of soldiers and NCOs for which to draw from and no method to rapidly develop replacement non commissioned officers for Gen. John J. Pershing’s American Expeditionary Force. Because of a shortage of NCOs the Army Staff recalled 648 retired men to serve as recruit trainers. These older noncoms at the training centers were needed to educate the replacements, so non-commissioned officers were selected and designated from within the ranks. Initially there were no non-commissioned officer training schools and unless the company officers could find the time for additional instruction these new NCOs only received basic instructions for the infantry soldier.

The unacceptable results were evident in the high casualty lists of all ranks. Pershing called out that "more stress be laid upon the responsibility in the training of sergeants. They will be imbibed with the habit of command and will be given schooling and prestige to enable them to replace officers once casualties." The Secretary of War directed that "their [noncoms’] duties and responsibilities will be thoroughly represented to them, by means of school courses and official interaction with their immediate commanding officer." The War Department responded by issuing a directive that required out of each detachment of replacements that a “sufficient number of men be selected, segregated, and especially trained as non-commissioned officers.” This would insure the development of eleven hundred corporals and sergeants within every thirty-day period of training.

This method of training replacement NCOs would be adopted for a different war in a different time, but for this period it served as the “next best” means to secure large numbers of trained non-commissioned officers Raw, untrained men were handpicked from among their fellow soldiers and put through a coordinated and standardized program of instruction. This was conducted and supervised by specially selected officers trained for this purpose. Though these graduates were only slightly more competent than their peers who had only completed basic military training, they were an improvement over the alternative. The results far exceeded expectations and the centralized training program spread to other replacement camps. In 1919 the 25th Infantry establish such a school and they recognized a higher standing of efficiency among their non-commissioned officers. Although a call for continuation of this non-commissioned officer training program through a regimental non-commissioned officer school went out, it would not be until many years later that specialty NCO schools would return. Pershing's expedient would not survive demobilization. But the selection and training of non-commissioned officers would continue as a subject of much debate.

In Right to Rebel

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