The U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral & Social Sciences (ARI) mission is to maximize performance of existing and future forces through advances in the behavioral and social sciences. With a mission to “drive scientific innovation and enhance personnel readiness,” ARI’s roots trace back to the first World War and were formalized at the outset of WWII as the Committee on Selection and Classification of Military Personnel. Of their applied research units (RU) the Fort Hood Research unit’s focus areas is concentrated on leader development and training, it still remains the only RU collocated with operational forces.Its NCO Team is exclusively dedicated to noncommissioned leader development research.
The Enlisted Leader Research Group (ELRG) was formed as a think tank when Topsarge Business Solutions (TBS) entered into a three-year Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral Social Sciences (ARI) in July 2019 to conduct in-depth, long-term research in support of professional development of junior noncommissioned officers (NCO). Research that focuses on the value of experience, tenure, and productivity of junior NCOs and how that affects performance as a leader and a soldier includes leadership challenges for junior NCOs in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO); recommendations to leverage findings from ecological systems theory research; recommendations to reduce impact of requirements and taskings on the ability of NCOs to lead; train, and take care of soldiers and develop their own training and leadership skills; recommendations for design and development of exemplar training, training resources, and job aids; and findings from evaluation of exemplar training, training resources, and job aids.
Led by the cooperative agreement manger Dr. Jeffery Fite, and in a supporting role the principal investigator CSM (Ret.) Dan Elder, the ELRG team began an information blitz in March 2020 and briefed senior enlisted leaders across the force. Many were not deeply familiar with the applied research units (RU) and ARIs focus areas, or of the leader development and training concentration of the Fort Hood Research unit. It still remains the only RU collocated with operational forces. Many senior NCOs through the briefings learned of the two ARI research teams on Fort Hood, and that the NCO Team is exclusively dedicated to noncommissioned leader development research.
To date many key positional NCO’s and nominative senior enlisted leaders have volunteered to join us in our research. Those enlisted leaders are trailblazers themselves and continue to share and exchange information with the research community, and each has been receptive to participating with the ELRG. The ELRG Alliance is comprised of behavioral scientists and academics (ARI); industry partners and contract Army subject matter experts (SMEs); and senior enlisted leaders from all three components. This “trident” is focused together with a goal to conduct research to improve the readiness of operational Army units through unit-focused behavioral science research in order to improve NCO leader development, collective training, and performance measurements.