Introducing The New Army Empowerment Project
The three-week Central Change Agents Course is part of the Army Empowerment project and trains personnel to become Central Change Agents. It takes place at The Army Innovation Centre in Luffenham and is delivered in conjunction with a civilian business consultancy firm. Attendees on the course are trained as consultants and taught how to diagnose problem areas in units and regiments and how to implement the changes needed.
These can include cultural and efficiency changes that seek to minimise the time and resources spent on tasks with the key objective being to ensure the Army are ‘protecting their people and their time’. During the course, Agents are trained on various computer-based programmes and platforms (Information Management Systems) and present their findings to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel of military and civilian experts. The Army has embraced social media as a crucial component of the incentive and SSgt James Rochester, Central Change Agent is also the force behind the Twitter handle, ‘Empowered_Soldier @Empowrd_Soldier.
‘Empowrd Soldier’ explains what the Empowerment team does, how it functions and listens to soldier’s complaints and their ideas for improving how the Army can operate. Rochester said:
“When we go to a unit as a Change Agent we’re not trying to save 10 million pounds, we’re trying to save 10,000 man hours.”
“Junior soldiers are using social media and seeing what’s happening on Twitter and what we’re trying to achieve is cut out all the policy. It’s important junior soldiers are now being heard and that what they’re saying is now being actioned.”
The intense course is made up of specially selected Army personnel (Sgt-Major rank range) and enables them to go out to the wider Field Army units and regiments to implement new ways of working, that will effectively streamline daily working practices of the Force. Some of the issues currently in the process of being resolved are the various forms of driver training and licenses that military personnel are expected to undertake, many of which ‘double up’ on what they already hold. For bigger issues that require a policy change, a Military Judgement Panel sits to consider and ratify them, before they are sent for approval by the Executive Committee of the Army Board.
Paul Carney, Field Army Command Sergeant Major, describes the concept as a way of bringing the Army into the modern era.
“We’re giving junior soldiers a voice and allowing them to share their ideas. We’re improving working patterns to ensure a better work-life balance.”
He believes that by reducing some of the red tape and extra training that is currently in place for certain areas of the military and giving more time and freedom to section commanders it will in turn improve soldier’s physical and mental health. The training programme is currently in its third formation and is due to run until December 2020.