A vastly underutilized planning strategy for training within the Army is the 8 step training model. I wasn't introduced to this model until after being an NCO for a few years. I had completed concept of operations (CONOP) sheets before and thought that was a perfectly adequate form of preparing for an event. It wasn't until I started interacting with the HHC commander more while preparing for battalion level events that I was introduced to the 8 step training model.
Prior to this point, most of the events that I planned were platoon or lower level so we didn't have to brief much. The events we worked were usually within our own footprint and didn't have to resource or coordinate much of anything from an outside source. As we started planning larger events for the whole platoon that had direct affects on the battalion and required coordination with several outside entities, the need for something more than a CONOP changed. Our commander, at this point, instructed us to submit both a CONOP and 8 step training model. The event we were planning for was a platoon competition which required many resources outside of the unit footprint and blocked off the schedule for several battalion assets for a few days.
This provided a much greater need for additional planning and coordination for the event. In comes the 8 step training model. I was given a template slide to use for briefing the model and set off to follow the steps. This model provides a great step by step process to follow to plan, execute, and assess an event. Here are the steps:
Ft. Benning Slide 1 (army.mil)
You can see here that there are several questions or considerations to address in each step to prepare you adequately for the upcoming event. Download this template below.
The 8 step training model is referenced in FM 7-0 Train to Win in a Complex World. Though it doesn't have a graphic and checklist like seen above, the field manual discusses each step and how it works within Army processes. Even if you don't use the 8 Step training model, you probably follow most of the steps in your own way. In my experience, the most commonly missed steps are train the trainers, evaluate, and retrain.
When preparing for our competition, the commander asked me "how did you certify your trainers?" this confused me. We were doing a competition that used tasks from our MOS and basic Soldier skills to assess point and rank teams. What kind of certification did we need? He continued to ask though. "What makes your personnel certified to grade or assess others in this task?" By completing AIT and being certified as a Soldier and MOS qualified, I thought.
The conversation kept going round this topic until we settled on two ways of confirming the certification for the NCOs who would be grading the tasks. Have the NCOs run through the entire lane themselves and complete it to standard to ensure that they are certified to assess and train others. Does that process sound familiar? That's the way badge competitions certify their cadre. The other way is by using people who had the MOS specific badge or certification from a course that covers the tasks they were assigned.
This revelation had a large impact on the way I prepared for events from that point forward. How would it make you feel to have a physically subpar NCO who can't perform to standard physically grading your physical event in a competition? When I get frustrated I start to think "You can't even do this, how are you supposed to assess me? Do you even know how this is supposed to be done? Have you ever done this correctly?". From that point on, I made it a priority to certify people or make sure they were capable of doing the event before assessing others.
Evaluating the training, specifically conducting an AAR, is a largely underperformed critical event. Many times, we get caught up in preparing for the event, getting it done, and getting cleaned up so we can go home. Frequently we fail to perform the AAR that allows the group to address the shortcomings and sustain the positive aspects of the event. How do we make the event flow better next time? Should we resource that item from TSC that increase stress and realism into the event? Is the grading scale or time standard appropriate for the event? A few examples of things that could be fixed for future events if identified in an AAR.
Retraining. How often do we skip the opportunity to conduct retraining with the Soldier because we want to go home or get cleaned up? Competitive events usually have tasks that support much larger and important METL tasks or battle drills. Why not have the run those specific areas again to increase their tactical proficiency.
The 8 Step Training Model is not applicable to everything you plan and prepare for and it is likely that you already conduct different aspects of this in your own way or your own order. When it comes to preparing for a training event, this tool is a great one to use that will allow for you to prepare and brief your status and event with confidence. Be the change you want to see. Spearhead the change trailblazer.