A student attending Army University’s Pre-Command Course asks Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville about challenges he’s seen faced by Army Reserve officers taking command, during a brief McConville gave to PCC students, July 16 at the Lewis and Clark Center at Fort Leavenworth. PCC prepares active and Reserve soldiers slated to assume battalion and brigade command and command sergeants major positions. Photo by Maj. Orlandon Howard/Combined Arms Center

Maj. Orlandon Howard | Combined Arms Center Public Affairs

Army University resumed some of its professional military education courses in July, hosting several courses for general officers taking command, future battalion and brigade command teams, and military planners at Fort Leavenworth.

Senior Army leaders designated several resident courses that Army University hosts as critical to the Army’s mission and readiness. The Combined Arms Center has had to develop
plans to host the courses while limiting the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“We are looking at the long game,” Army Chief Of Staff Gen. James McConville said in a media interview about Army plans to continue training. “We are not waiting for COVID-19 to go away. We are putting the right procedures in place so we can protect the force that will train and operate under a COVID-19 environment.”

Army University’s Pre-Command Course was designated a priority. PCC prepares active and Reserve component soldiers slated to assume battalion and brigade command and command sergeants major positions. July’s PCC of 400 students was a testbed to demonstrate Army University’s ability to safely host resident courses with substantial class sizes.

CAC, Army University’s higher headquarters, coordinated a multi-pronged, team approach to put numerous measures in place to ensure students could travel to Fort Leavenworth and participate in the courses safely.

PCC’s student body was split into two groups of 200 students attending each week.
Munson Army Health Center tested PCC students for COVID-19 when they arrived at the installation as an extra measure. Army University also implemented in-class social distancing and contact-tracing and sanitizing response procedures. The Fort Leavenworth Garrison and IHG hotel designated living spaces for quarantine and isolation in case of infections. 

“This effort has been a collaboration between the Combined Arms Center, School for Command Preparation, Garrison, IHG and many others,” said Col. Garrick Cramer, MAHC commander.
Army University also conducted the Army Strategic Education Program Course alongside PCC in July. The ASEP-C is a developmental course for one- and two-star general officers assuming command assignments. The students received their instruction in conference rooms where social distancing was practiced.

Similarly, Army University began another iteration of the Advanced Military Studies Program at the School of Advanced Military Studies in early July, less than two months after graduating the last SAMS class. About 20 students started the graduate-level education program, designed to develop military planners who aid senior leaders.

Hosting these courses accelerated CAC’s adaption of its operations to the COVID-19 environ- ment. Lessons learned from the courses will prove valuable to the success of CAC’s next major task — hosting its largest and longest student population of Command and General Staff Officer Course students set to begin in September.

“Currently, 854 CGSOC students are expected to arrive on Fort Leavenworth in the coming weeks,” said Col. Harry Hung, Fort Leavenworth Garrison commander.

CAC’s leaders made it clear they’ll maintain a vigilant approach to reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, while continuing the mission to develop the leaders attending their courses.
“There is a reason why Fort Leavenworth is still at (Health Protection Condition) Charlie, and we have never gone below that,” said CAC Chief of Staff Col. Thomas Bolen. “We have not loosened our standards, and the expectation is that those who live and work here don’t relax their standards either.”

“Much like a combat zone, becoming complacent in a pandemic could have catastrophic implications,” said Col. Matthew Fandre, CAC command surgeon.


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