Battle Command Knowledge System


Battle Command Knowledge System

The Battle Command Knowledge System (BCKS) is the change agent for implementing knowledge management (KM) capabilities into the training and military operations of the United States Army. BCKS is headquartered at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth KS. People, processes, and technology are the three components to KM. BCKS is responsible for developing the dynamic operational and social processes for transferring relevant
knowledge from those who know to those who need to know.

BCKS Mission Statement

The BCKS mission is to support the generation, application, management, and exploitation of Army knowledge to foster
collaboration among Soldiers and Units in order to share expertise and experience; facilitate leader development and
intuitive decision making; and support the development of organizations and teams.

BCKS objectives include

* Enhance Battle Command
* Facilitate Exchange of Knowledge
* Foster Leader Development
* Support Doctrine Development
* Support Lessons Learned
* Support Training
* Enhance Professional Education


=Effects of Battle Command Knowledge Management=

* Improved situational understanding
* Improved Common Operational Picture
* Faster transition cycles between units
* Quickens transfer of expertise and experience
* Improved decision making process
* Provide reach back capability
* Ensure knowledge is captured, stored and shared
* Share lessons learned and TTP’s across enterprise
* Break knowledge “stovepipes”
* Influence doctrine development cycle
* Produces agile and adaptive Leaders & Soldiers

BCKS current initiatives include

# KM Forums
# KM Training
# KM Doctrine
# Multi-repository search engine
# Digital Storytelling and Interactive Video Development

KM Forums

BCKS provides a social network of facilitated professional forums that provide a foundation for knowledge transfer. Army Soldiers and civilians connect to share explicit and tacit knowledge to solve problems, share best practices and develop their professional skills. Leaders and staff members have access to others with similar duty positions and challenges. Functional specialists and those interested in a particular specialized domain gather virtually in focused forums.

Army Professional Forums were informally implemented by passionate volunteers who wanted to share their knowledge and
experience with their peers in order to improve their profession. CompanyCommand.com and Platoon Leader were formally adopted by the U. S. Army in 2002. The Battle Command Knowledge System Professional Forums were formed in September 2004 to provide structure to this innovative knowledge sharing process. Later, the NCOTeam.org was also supported and adopted by BCKS.

By September 2004, there were four formal U. S. Army Professional Forums with approximately 20,000 members. Since that time, the U. S. Army has grown their Professional Forums into one of the premier collaboration instruments in the U. S. Government with 46 Professional Forums supporting Active and Reserve forces as well as the National Guard. The Professional Forums support Soldiers around the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These collaboration tools have been widely accepted across the entire enterprise structure, with membership ranging from General Officer to Private, all being able to share their unique knowledge and experience with others on the Professional Forum without regard to rank or position. Army Professional Forums currently have over 75,600 members and are growing at a rate of approximately 1,900 new members per month mainly by word of mouth through a grass-roots effort.

By the Numbers

* 90 BCKS Forums with 110,000 accounts
* 4 West Point Forums with 9,600 accounts
* 46 BCKS Forums with 75,600 accounts and growth of approximately
* BCKS Growth = 1,500 per month
* West Point Growth = 400 per month
* Total Growth = 1,900 per month
* 33,000 unique visitors per month
* 1,000 unique visitors per day

Noncommissioned Officers Professional Forum

NCO Net is one of the BCKS professional forums (PFs) and a fundamental component of BCKS Leadership and Leader Development Knowledge Network. It is a place where all Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) can share their thoughts, ideas and, most of all, their knowledge and experience. [http://www.armystudyguide.com/content/bm~doc/a-short-history-of-the-us.pdf NCOs] engage in ongoing professional conversations about improving leadership skills, sharing Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs), assisting in the Noncommissioned Officers Education System (NCOES), and reducing the learning curve in the Army's high pace environment. Members, organizations, and agencies are using NCO Net as a connecting layer to collaborate and share knowledge and their expertise with others in their profession around the global in real time.

NCO Net maintains the most current knowledge deemed important to our NCOs by our NCOs. It links NCOs with experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and those that are preparing for deployment. This transfer of knowledge builds combat ready teams, improves Army units, raises the effectiveness of NCOs in their current and future positions, and advances the Army collaboration process. When the knowledge is not available on a particular topic, members simply post a question in the appropriate discussion area to engage their colleagues and start the knowledge sharing process. This exchange of knowledge flows between the highest ranking officers to the lowest ranking NCOs across the operating and generating force in the total active, Reserve, and National Guard Army.

NCO Net uses the digital story (i.e.; Trouble at Checkpoint 4) philosophy that everyone is a teacher and learner. As members view this digital story and provide input, Soldiers and leaders contribute their perspective of training requirements and teachable points of view to improve NCO leadership, Soldier, and civilian relationships. This digital story is a change in the type of training aids provided for Soldiers and their leaders. It stimulates dialogue, debate, and self awareness.

In response to the highly dynamic and interactive vignette, “Trouble at Checkpoint 4,” NCOs of all ranks shared their insights and recommendations confronting the young NCO (SGT Ash) in the avatar based video. This vignette prompted over 6,000 hits from 6 continents in the first 48 hours and generated 300 substantive comments received from Sergeants to Sergeants Majors located in four continents. NCOs identified:
## training and leadership shortcomings exhibited by SGT Ash
## violation of sound tactical doctrine at the Traffic Control Post (TCP)
## the importance of cultural awareness in dealing with Iraqis.

Junior NCOs made most of these recommendations, demonstrating the maturity and professionalism of the [http://www.army.mil/leaders/SMA/creed.htm Army’s NCO Corps.]

NCO NET an Integral Cornerstone in the BCKS Network of Networks

NCO Net expands its reach beyond its community of professional NCOs to the entire Army as a member of the Leadership and Leadership Development Knowledge Network (LLDKN) of the BCKS. The LLDKN contains several Professional Forums including Company Command, Platoon Leader Net, Warrant Officer Net, Family Readiness Group Net, and S3-XO Net. By passing relevant knowledge and discussions between the forums in the network, each community reaps the benefits of the collective knowledge of the others. As one of the Army’s first Professional Forums and one of its most active, the NCO Net community plays a pivotal role in shaping the knowledge shared in the LLDKN.

NCO Net Wins Army Knowledge Award 2007

Recently NCO Net won the Army Knowledge Award for the Knowledge Transformation Initiative category at the Army’s 2007 LandWarNet Conference in Fort Lauderdale FL. The Army’s Chief Information Office/G6 selected NCO Net for its capabilities in enhancing collaborative processes that improve warfighter or organizational decision-decision-making, learning and development as well as incorporate the use of technology and re-engineering to achieve process transformation, like improving operational effectiveness and the flow of products, services and knowledge for the user in real time. See [http://www.ftleavenworthlamp.com/articles/2007/08/16/news/news3.prt The Fort Leavenworth Lamp] for more details.

NCO Net Current Discussion Topics

NCO Net provides advice and guidance for new platoon sergeants, first sergeants, Sergeants Major (SGM) and Command Sergeants Major (CSMs) in their new positions. Iraq and Afghanistan experienced NCOs share the most current and relevant insights, experiences, and lessons quickly through the forum discussions.

NCOs recently discussed “Virtual Manual – A Good Idea.” They talked about why virtual field manuals (FMs) and other documents would be extremely useful. These kinds of conversations are the voice of the Soldiers to doctrine writers and Army leaders as they develop processes and procedures.

NCO Net impacts current Army operations. “Battle Focused Combat and Deployment” is a topic area where Corporals to Command Sergeants Major ask questions, make comments, or find answers to their questions about combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This discussion area on NCO Net is available 24/7 and 365 days to NCO Net members stationed around the world. Combat operation topics exhibiting the rapid transfer and viral effects of professional forums include:

* Training materials for convoy security
* Foreign Internal Defense in Afghanistan OEF
* The Infantry Scout Platoon Role in Iraq
* Training Support Packages (TSP) on room clearing
* Center For Army Lessons Learned (CALL)’s Handbook 07-21 “Escalation of Force”
* Lessons learned from commanders and NCOs returning from Iraq
* Platoon RAIDs being conducted in Iraq
* Field Artillery in Iraq
* Senior Iraqi Perspectives
* Deployment issues
* Medical training in Iraq
* “Must Haves” in Iraq and Sniper Operations
* Current uniform policies in theater

NCO Site History

NCO Net origins began in the early 1990s with [http://www.ncohistory.com/bio.html CSM Dan Elder] exploring his personal computer and modem with friends. They were dabbling with PCs and the new telecommunication capability – Bulletin Boards Systems (BBS's). With a dial up modem hosted in his house and a single phone line, NCOs could log onto the “The Old Soldiers BBS” with a local Ft. Knox KY number. In the earliest days, only one person at a time could connect to the BBS - an era before the internet, before Google, and before military documents were easily accessed. It was also a time where long distance costs were charged. But once dialed in, the NCO would find relevant files and time saver programs for Soldiers, many of them provided by the Command and Control Microcomputer Users Group (C2MUG) at Ft Leavenworth, KS. Users could also log on daily to read and respond to postings in the threaded discussions. The NCO site was the manual Yahoo search engine for Army NCOs.

By 1997 the BBS went away. CSM Elder continued to explore technology and began building the first NCO website on Geocities. Here the focus began to expand with how the internet could help Soldiers in their day to day productivity. His buddies gave feedback on what would be beneficial. The site began to host Soldier related programs. NCOs would go to the site to share Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) or Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs). But a percentage of them stayed and interactively participated in the discussions. [https://www.bliss.army.mil/usasma/Journal/publications/2003/2003_winter_point.pdf | At squad-leader.com it's not just a Job, its a Web Site] These highly motivated and interested NCOs became the Peer Mentors who helped other NCOs. The Peer Mentors seldom met in person. The Peer Mentors became a family, they argued, laughed and most of all learned from each other. They would physically call other NCOs to help them solve their problems. The Peer Mentors were all volunteers who just wanted to make things better for the other NCOs. Later the site moved which required the purchase of an URL and software registrations. CSM Elder purchased this software out of his pocket. Anything that would help NCOs of today to stay relevant was provided by CSM Elder and his "merry band" of misfits.

CSM Elder emphasized that there was a gap in knowledge among the enlisted ranks. He created the NCO site to fill this void. The NCO site provided tools and discussions on how to use them, how to find what they needed, and how to digest it all. It was all about what to do and how to do your job. As friends told friends, the site became popular. At one point, the NCO site was used by many NCOs in the Army. Dedicated and passionate volunteers gave their personal time and resources to develop, grow, and make the NCO site relevant. Each NCO had a full time day job. It was a team effort with many unsung heroes. See comments about the usefulness of the [http://www.topsarge.com/comment.htm NCO Site] . On August 28, 2003, Cmd Sgt Maj. Dan Elder was awarded the first-ever [http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=5193 AKM Pioneer Award] by the US Army Chief Information Officer. [http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=5193 | Chief Information officer presents awards based on knowledge]

In October 2005 the NCO site migrated at the [https://www.bliss.army.mil/usasma/usasma.asp US Army Sergeants Major Academy] into the Battle Command Knowledge System. [https://www.bliss.army.mil/usasma/publications/current/nco_net.pdf | NCOs Share Ideas, Exeperiences] Today the NCO Net is a composite of all its very successful predecessors. NCO Net has evolved into a global system of professional forums, knowledge centers, and supporting toolkits for sharing information and experiences, problems solving, improving operational performance and support of the Noncommissioned Officers Education System (NCOES). Most of the original Peer Mentors continue to volunteer and make NCO Net work. For more details of the history of the NCO sites please go to NCO [http://www.topsarge.com/history.html history] and [http://www.topsarge.com/aboutsites.htm timeline] .

In addition to platform and leadership changes, NCO Net has two professional forum facilitators who coordinated the transition of the NCO Team site into the NCO Net, brought the volunteer NCO Team Facilitators (formally known as the Peer Mentors) on-board, integrated the NCO Net into the U.S. Army Sergeant Major Academy (USASMA) courses, and consistently espoused the benefits of NCO Net to the Senior NCO Leadership of the Army. Given the inheritance of the NCO team and the leadership, persistence and hard work, NCO Net continues to provide a collaborative capability allowing NCOs from across the Army to rapidly get answers to questions and provide peer to peer discussions of important issues to the Army and the NCO Corps.

KM Training

BCKS has developed curriculum for the Army’s newly developing knowledge management cells at the brigade and division levels. This curriculum provides the training and education necessary for the Battle Command Knowledge Management (BCKM ) cell to understand and practice the employment of KM-BCKM activities, principles, processes, techniques, and tools.

This 18-20 hour training curriculum consists of the following modules:
* BCKM
* Knowledge Management (KM)
* Content Management (CM)
* The BCKM Cell
* Software and Hardware

KM Doctrine

Doctrine is sound military advice prepared in advance. Army doctrine provides a common framework of operations from which plans can be developed and successfully executed. Doctrine provides a common language and defines the terms used in the profession. Doctrine presents the fundamental principles that guide the employment of forces and facilitates organizing forces tailoring for specific operation.

BCKS helped develop the first Army KM doctrine. Working in partnership with the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate [http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/CADD/index.asp (CADD),] BCKS wrote a field manual interim (FMI) 6-01.1 “The Battle Command Knowledge Management Cell”. This collaborative effort included direct input from Soldiers in the field. FMI 6-01.1 will serve as the Army’s authoritative source for the Battle Command Knowledge Management Cell (BCKM). It will serve as the standard reference for understanding the role of knowledge management in operations. Although the FMI 6-01.1 focuses on the modular division BCKM cell, it will be applicable from brigade to corps level. FMI 6-01.1 will have an effective lifespan of two years from publication at which time a regular FM is planned to supersede it. BCKS is the primary coordinator and author of the initial draft of this FMI.

Topics included in the FMI are: Definitions, types of knowledge, KM principles, spectrum of KM strategy, knowledge lifecycles, and relationship of KM with Battle Command, KM in ARFORGEN, BCKM cell functions, duties, and responsibilities, KM processes, case studies, and examples.

KM Multi-Repository Search Engine

With the explosion of databases and portals of knowledge artifacts throughout the United States Department of Defense, as well as access restrictions placed on them by community/ forums leaders, it is difficult for Soldiers to quickly find and apply relevant information in support of their combat mission. The Battle Command Knowledge System (BCKS) has provided the resources and leadership to implement the Warrior Knowledge base (WKB), an online repository of data assets/artifacts and platform for conducting federated searches across domains. The BCKS vision is to make it easy for Soldiers to find trusted data assets from portals and domains throughout the Army and the DoD, so information can be captured, repurposed and shared within minutes. Most repositories are not structured to support semantic searches of their content, only searches of indexed information, which hinders discovery. They cannot provide the real-time linkage between the data asset and the forum where it is being discussed and validated. The BCKS leadership and vision brings industry-leading search and content management technology to Soldiers worldwide.

Digital Storytelling and Interactive Video

Narrative engineering is the KM discipline that applies storytelling to the purposes of the organization. The NCO Net pilot is the cornerstone of Army narrative engineering, and is designed to bring storytelling to bear for: knowledge creation, sharing and exploitation; building and integrating individual, team and organizational expertise; leader development and
leadership; a “springboard” for change; and situational awareness, as a way to organize and articulate perception, interpretation and actionable prediction in an operational environment. The NCO Net is a foundational Army community of practice, but the narrative engineering pilot has implications across the entire breadth and depth of military operations,
learning, and innovation. The NCO Net pilot focuses on a road to competency in actionable cultural awareness using digital stories and face-to-face stories, both supported by a Narrative Wizard.

Results

NCO Net posted a 3D animated video clip “Trouble at Checkpoint 4” showing a set of problems unfolding at a checkpoint in Iraq. The online NCO facilitator led discussion with context specific thought questions on how the Soldiers could handle the situation. Over 220 comments from junior to senior ranks were posted within first 48 hours. This video and comments have been viewed over 6,000 times in US, Europe, and Iraq. Some of the comments received were:
* Good leadership training
* Many discussions concerning how Soldier should have reacted
* Good cultural awareness training
* Amateurs talk about TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures - 'How to books'),professionals talk about people and cultures

Read more about Check Point 4 in the May 2007 issue, [http://www.ausa.org/webpub/DeptArmyMagazine.nsf/byid/KHYL-72ELJW Army Magazine]

ee also

Link to [http://usacac.army.mil/CAC/bcks/index.asp BCKS public webpage]

(AKO users only) Link to [https://bcks.army.mil/default.aspx BCKS sign-in webpage]

References

Work the WWW, MSG Dan Elder, NCO Journal, Fall 1997, p. 10-14. https://www.bliss.army.mil/usasma/journal/publications/1997/97fall.pdf


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