Photo Gallery | Third Army Welcomes Lebanese Army For An Information Exchange
Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier, Third Army/ARCENT senior enlisted leader, and members of Third Army/ARCENT’s International Military Affairs team hosted a noncommissioned officer information exchange with infantry and armor NCOs from the Lebanese army at Fort Jackson, S.C. and Fort Benning, Ga., July 16 through July 27.
Lebanese army NCOs toured the U.S. Army basic training facilities, the U.S. Army Recruiting and Retention School, the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School and a Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Jackson. They also visited the Maneuver Center of Excellence that includes the U.S. Army Infantry, Armor, Airborne and Ranger schools at Fort Benning.
“We wanted to show them how our noncommissioned officers are professionals and how they really influence the life cycle of a Soldier,” said Frennier, a Whitehouse, Texas native. “We showed them that it’s possible for sergeants to train sergeants and for sergeants to train Soldiers from the recruiting aspect of finding qualified young men and women willing to serve and then turning them into Soldiers at basic training to training career counselors for retention and the continued training of the force by maneuvering in a combat environment.”
The Lebanese NCOs were truly impressed with the detail that goes into the life cycle of a Soldier and NCO in the U.S. Army.
“I was amazed. I never thought the U.S. was so professional in the recruiting process. I was also impressed with the drill sergeant concept of sergeant training sergeant at the drill sergeant academy,” said Sgt. Maj. Dany Mansour, Lebanese army. “This will improve the quality of people we bring into the army by applying some of the things we saw here. We will definitely tell our superiors about what we saw here.”
Helping the Lebanese army build a strong NCO corps is one of the main goals of the information exchange, but it takes time, said Frennier.
“No matter where you go, other countries want our noncommissioned officers corps, but to want is easy, to get is much harder because it takes years of development and everybody has to be on board to allow those noncommissioned officers to grow professionally and be responsible for leading,” said Frennier.
“They still have a lot of officers who have the function of training. We show them that it can be possible for a professional noncommissioned officer corps to take the responsibility to train,” he said. “We want to export professionalism one unit at a time, one NCO at a time, one leader at a time.”
It’s not just the Lebanese NCOs learning things. Frennier said he’s learned a few things about their army and the way they do things as well.
“It was a great event for both of us, because they learned how we do things, but also we learned how they do things,” said Frennier. “They have a very robust NCO school. It takes them three years, which really surprised me that an individual serving in the Lebanese army has to go to school for three years to be an NCO,” said Frennier.
The first year of school for aspiring NCOs in the Lebanese army is common training, second year is more detailed oriented and the third year is focused on their specialty like armor, infantry, administration or communication with numerous exams and tests, after they graduate that they become a sergeant.
“That is the first time I have ever heard of a three-year training program for NCOs,” said Frennier.
Frennier also learned their soldiers have contracts with their army similar to the U.S. Army.
“They have an all-volunteer force just like we do. There initial enlistment is for five years and then they have to renegotiate their contracts just like we do,” he said. “That’s why I think it was important that we showed them how we do things with career counselors. They were very interested in that.”
The Lebanese NCOs said they learned a lot from the exchange and felt it was important, because they can take this new information and improve their army.
“I have a better look at the way our army needs to be after being here,” said Mansour. “We’re learning from the best Army in the world. It’s a world-wide accepted fact that the U.S. Army is the best Army in the world. We take the information you have provided here and tell our superiors. We can also apply some of the information to our own company and soldiers. It will make our Army stronger.”