CSM Daniel Elders Wins Army Knowledge Pioneer Award

In a world where you can find information quickly on any subject just by going online, the challenge has become to how to identify quality websites. Command Sergeant Major Daniel Elder, Command Sergeant Major for the 13th Corps Support Command at Fort Hood, Texas was awarded the Army Knowledge Pioneer Award on August 14 for leading grass roots gains initiatives supporting soldiers with his work over the years on two such web sites FirstSergeant.com and Squad-leader.com. Elders accepted the award at the 3rd Annual Army Knowledge Symposium held in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. Both FirstSergeant.com and Squad-leader.com are hub sites for suites of web communities for soldiers.

Elder began work on FirstSergeant.com on April 26, 1997 as part of a course requirement. It went on line on May 1, 1997 as a directory for sites of interest for US Army NCOs. It expanded from a directory to a forum for NCOs to share items of interest, topics of discussion, and a place to ask questions. As a companion to the web site, the NCO Zone, an email discussion group, was developed. According to Elder over 400 NCOs participate in this discussion forum. The site also includes a bulletin board to post questions or discussion on the web, links to hundreds of sites and a directory of recent additions. The Squad-Leader.com is an outgrowth of FirstSergeant.com. It expands the information from the directory and makes important information available to soldiers of all ranks.

Elder estimates he currently spends about ten hours a week working on the web sites. This includes time spent changing links, updating information and editing the sites. Additionally, in order to keep the discussions professional Elder polices the sites with the help of twenty-five volunteers from all across the Army.

According to Elder, at the height of their usage these web sites had over 4500 separate visitors a day. The number of visitors has decreased recently due to the increased overseas deployments. Elder explained .com portals are often blocked overseas due to limited bandwidth availability that combined with the more limited access to the web and the operational tempo have decreased the number of visitors. Both of FirstSergeant.com and Squad-leader.com are in the process of being donated to the Army. Once this process is complete they will be embedded into the Army Knowledge Online Website and will become NCO.mil.

"These sites were developed for NCOs and are run by NCOs from all across the Army. Where you have soldiers there is someone participating in this site. These sites provide an additional powerful tool in the leadership tool box" Said Elder.