The Army is consolidating Soldier education under "one roof" as part of the "Army University" concept, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey said.
The Army University, officially abbreviated "ArmyU" for short, is administered by the Combined Arms Center, or CAC, on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
While not a "brick and mortar" university, ArmyU will maximize the educational experience, which Soldiers are already getting in the Army through the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC. The plan for ArmyU is to organize the Army's professional military education programs into a university system to increase academic rigor, create greater opportunities for accreditation, and enhance the quality of the force, according to CAC leaders.
ArmyU will integrate the education already provided in the Army for enlisted Soldiers, officers, warrant officers and Army civilians of all components.
Included in ArmyU are all the Army "centers of excellence": aviation, cyber, fires, intelligence, maneuver, maneuver support, mission command and sustainment.
ArmyU also includes the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Defense Language Institute, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Army Management Staff College, Warrant Officer Career College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the Army Press.
"We will work with them, and we are looking at how we can make the instructors better, and make the curriculum as relevant and as current as possible, plus meeting the need of the operating force," said Col. Michael J. Harlan, with the CAC.
While not part of ArmyU, the new university will coordinate with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, the U.S. Army War College, Cadet Command, initial military training, U.S. Army Reserve Schools, Army National Guard Schools, Army Medical Department Center and School, Judge Advocate General Legal Center and School, and the Special Warfare Center and School.
Dailey said ArmyU will be nationally accredited, and will eventually provide a "universal transcript" to make it easier for civilian colleges and universities to understand the education and training Soldiers have received in the Army, and help them build a degree program.
Right now what the Army and other military services offer is a Joint Services Transcript, which provides to civilian universities a description of military schooling and work history in civilian language. Dailey said the JST will not be eliminated, but will be augmented with a transcript from Army University.
"Our goal is to have the Army transcript have the same value as any other university in America," Dailey said. "It's long overdue. The Soldiers are excited about this too."
Harlan said a universal transcript, along with ArmyU accreditation, will mean that many, though not all of the types of training Soldiers receive in the Army will be able to convert into civilian education credits.
One of the goals of ArmyU is to ensure that the training provided across the Army meets the rigor required in the civilian academic world. This will make it easier for ArmyU to provide accredited courses, which in turn means it can provide universal transcripts of Soldier education that document coursework credits that civilian universities will be more willing to accept. When that happens, the education Soldiers complete in the Army will save them both time and money when they transition out of service.
"When they walk in to that school, they have this universal transcript from the ArmyU that shows legitimate accredited credits, and they can take those and apply them towards a degree program of their choosing," Harlan said. "It'll save them money ideally if that Soldier, now a civilian, doesn't have to pay a second time for training they already possess. The other thing is it may get them a degree faster because they don't have to take as many classes, because they have already gotten that training and experience and the civilian university will acknowledge it."
Harlan also described what he called a "degree engine," which would be part of ArmyU. The degree engine would use the universal transcript and compare it to the requirement for getting a particular degree at a particular university, and could help Soldiers determine what other courses they would need to take to achieve that degree, and even possibly the cost of attaining that degree.
"It's a tool to help that Soldier understand how close they are to getting a degree they want from an institution they want," Harlan said.
CREDENTIALS FOR A CAREER
Another goal of ArmyU is to find ways for Soldiers to earn private-sector equivalent credentialing for the work they do in the Army, so they don't need to be re-credentialed when they go look for private-sector work.
Soldiers, who may serve in the Army now as drivers, electricians, metal workers, plumbers, or even medical workers, will first need to be credentialed first before they can move their skills to a paying job in the private sector. The goal of ArmyU is to provide credentialing for every military occupational specialty, or MOS.
Helping those Soldiers get credentialed in their skill set is important to both the Soldier and the Army because it proves "an individual is an expert in their particular area," Harlan said.
Dailey said the Army has already been partnering with industry at places like Fort Polk, Louisiana, Fort Hood, Texas and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, to help transitioning Soldiers get the right training and credentialing to move into work in the private sector.
As an example, he said, "they bring in their equipment and materials and they are certifying them on a technical trades, including HVAC, pipefitting and welding."
Dailey said that credentialing transitioning Soldiers to work in the private sector on the same jobs they held in the Army is difficult, because credentialing requirements vary from state to state. Sometimes, he said, requirements vary within regions within the same state.
He said the Army is working with state governments to help make things easier for Soldiers. ArmyU will be a part of that.
In a tri-signed letter by Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, and Dailey, Army leadership said the creation of ArmyU is the next "logical step" in the continued professionalization of the Army.
"Understanding the historical importance of this effort, we are committed to transforming one of the largest academic systems in the United States into a premier university system that harnesses the tremendous energy, experience, and intellectual capacity in our Army to produce the professionals that the nation will need for a complex and uncertain world tomorrow," Army leaders said.