How to get there from here:
the importance of critical task/site-selection boards

by Catherine Collins

The Army’s peacetime mission is to prepare for war. The Army must be trained and ready in peacetime to deter war, to fight and control wars that do start, and to terminate wars on terms favorable to the United States and its allied interests. As recent events have illustrated, our nation’s ability to deter attack or act decisively to contain and de-escalate a crisis demands an essentially instantaneous transition from peace to war preparedness. This requires that all Army leaders understand, attain, sustain and enforce high standards of combat readiness through tough, realistic, multiechelon combined-arms training.

Combined-arms training is designed to challenge and develop individuals, leaders and units. This requires that training be task-based, performance-oriented, horizontally and vertically aligned, and as realistic as possible to achieve combat-level standards. One way this is achieved is through an effective critical task/site-selection board.

Individual training develops soldiers who are proficient in battlefield skills and who are disciplined, physically tough and highly motivated. Individual training is training of individuals to prepare them to perform critical tasks to standard and accomplish their missions. Critical tasks must be trained, but they can be trained in either the resident schoolhouse or in the unit.

The ultimate output of the individual-training development process is a soldier trained to perform individual critical tasks to task-performance standard. We must train the way we intend to fight because our historical experiences demonstrate the direct correlation between realistic training and success on the battlefield.

The Army can’t achieve and sustain proficiency on every task it’s responsible for, so tasks essential to accomplishing the organization’s wartime mission must be identified and trained.

CT/SSBs are held to determine what individual tasks are critical and need to be trained. A CT/SSB is a management device which serves as a quality-control function when determining what are critical tasks and where these critical tasks will be trained (site selection): in the resident schoolhouse or in the unit. CT/SSB members review the total task inventory and job-performance data and recommend tasks for approval to the appropriate authority as critical tasks.

Once CT/SSB members identify critical tasks for their particular military-occupation specialty or area of concentration, the supporting conditions and standard statements must be developed. Developing conditions and standard statements results in a training objective. The training objective (the conditions and standard that relate to a task) provides a clear statement of the expected training performance. A properly presented and practiced training objective is accurate, well-structured, efficient, realistic, safe and effective.

The CT/SSB process begins with job analysis. At some point you may be called upon to conduct or provide job-analysis data for your MOS or AOC. The expertise, experience and "know how" you can provide as a subject-matter expert for your particular MOS or AOC is very important to the CT/SSB process. As an SME you bring knowledge and skills to the table others can’t provide.

Job analysis is the process used to identify individual tasks a job incumbent must perform to successfully accomplish his/her mission and duties, as well as to survive on the battlefield. These individual tasks are the critical tasks for that job. Job analysis begins when a needs analysis identifies a training-development requirement to create a new job, restructure an existing job, merge or consolidate jobs, or divide a job into two or more jobs.

CT/SSB members are responsible for recommending/nominating individual tasks for approval as critical tasks. Convening a CT/SSB is the culmination of the job-analysis phase of training development. The job-analysis data collected from surveys, interviews and site visits is used to establish critical tasks for the MOS, AOC, branch code or functional area being developed.

Job analysis is complete when individual critical tasks are identified and approved by the training proponent commandant/agency commander or the commander’s designated representative.

Critical-task analysis occurs throughout the life of training; it doesn’t end after trained soldiers are produced. Evaluation and change impact and drive critical-task analysis.

Training quality is mostly monitored through external evaluation. Analysis, design, development and implementation processes are monitored primarily through internal evaluation. Deficiencies noted during an evaluation may indicate a need to relook the analysis. Analysis is a dynamic process, and the job of maintaining the total task inventory is a continuing one. In addition to periodic updates, proponents should perform a total review of the mission, job and task analyses every three to five years.

Analysis can be a resource-intensive process. However, if you maximize your effort on obtaining the most efficient or optimum use of the Systems Approach to Training processes, analysis is obtainable even with serious resource constraints.

Analysis is a team effort and requires objective input from SMEs, Reserve Component people, instructors, task performers and their supervisors. This combination of team expertise assures accuracy and quality control. It’s important that training developers maintain a close association with other SMEs – both to obtain the benefit of their knowledge of what’s happening in the field and to use them to review analysis products.

Although training developers should lead the effort in the analysis process, every member of the analysis team is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the critical-task inventory of the MOS, AOC, BC or FA being developed. The entire analysis team is responsible for ensuring the analysis is thorough, complies with Training and Doctrine Command’s training-development guidance and policy, is technically correct, and applies quality-control measures.

External and internal evaluations are done to ensure training complies with regulatory requirements. Evaluations are the quality-control check for training. Evaluation of training measures the demonstrated ability of soldiers, leaders and units to perform against specified Army training standards. Evaluation is an integral part of the training process.

Every soldier in the U.S. Army can potentially be called upon to serve as a CT/SSB member for his or her particular MOS or AOC. If called upon to serve on a CT/SSB, soldiers should keep in mind the importance of the CT/SSB and job-analysis process. Soldiers will have to live with the results of a CT/SSB for at least 18 months – and in most cases, longer – so it’s imperative CT/SSB members develop the most accurate, most descriptive task inventory for the MOS or AOC being reviewed.

Remember soldiers are the SMEs, soldiers are the ones in the field actually performing these critical wartime tasks. Being a CT/SSB member is the soldier’s opportunity to ensure tasks identified as critical are actually critical for his particular MOS or AOC.

Ms. Collins is the Signal Center’s CT/SSB program manager and distance-learning project officer. She works in the individual-training branch, training-management division, Regimental Directorate of Training. Collins holds a master of education degree in adult and vocational education.

Acronym QuickScan
AOC – area of concentration
BC – branch code
CT/SSB – critical task/site-selection board
FA – functional area
MOS – military-occupation specialty
SME – subject-matter expert

dividing rule

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