Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by USNA DAD 2014, Apr 26, 2011.
What are proboards?
Ah proboards. Such a good time. For my plebe year ending in 2005, proboards were the culmination of the year long "proknowledge." Proknowledge, or Professional Knowledge, consists of a book that has weekly subjects. The subjects range from classes of submarines and Marine Corps Organization to the UN and Air Force platforms.
You begin each new week's topic on Monday. Your Youngsters are responsible for helping you with the subjects the first couple days. The next couple days your 2nd Class take you and really quiz you on the subjects. On about Friday you're tested again on the bulkhead by your squad leader-Firstie, and then you take a written test on the subject on the weekend. Ours were usually Sundays.
The way Proknowledge quizing through the week really depends on your upperclass. I remember having our firstie promise us that he'd just give us a quick quiz because 2 of us were varsity athletes and he could see on this particular day that we were exhausted by the time this 2100 quiz time came around....and he held us there on the bulhead at attention for an hour quizzing us.
The proboard is when you're gone through all your proknowledge by the end of the year and you're quizzed on everything you learned. You go and sit before a panel of upperclass who ask you questions based on the proknowledge. If you fail the Battalion level board you go to a regimental remedial board, then on to a brigade board. I don't remember what the repurcussions were of failing that board...but it wasn't good. Sorry for the long response. Hope it answered your question.
Ditto on 08Marine's explanation. The "so what" is...
The purpose behind the Professional Boards are two-fold. One, to determine if Plebe's have acquired the basic military/professional knowledge throughout the year. Two, to "prepare" MIDN for the atmosphere of oral board environments during their time as MIDN (striper boards, interviews for awards, scholarships, etc) and beyond. Grading is normally based off the knowledge, professionalism (i.e. uniform inspection, appearance, etc), and delivery (i.e. being concise, not guessing on information, eye contact, etc). Based on our year, it was actually possible not to fair well on the knowledge part but still pass based on the other grading areas. The Pro-Knowledge and Board are one factor that is used to determine Aptitude for Commissioning Rankings and Grades, which factors into the Military QPR.
From a Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) perspective, this is just an apetizer -- the SWO board could cover a wide range of topics from Joint topics to other communities in the Navy (subs, air, etc). There are many other boards within the Navy suich as Aircraft Commander, Submarine Dolphins, etc. that have a similar atmosphere.
My only hope is that the training program at USNA has expanded to include graduated professional knowledge/training among each class (and I don't necessarily mean etiquette training, Saturday Morning Training, etc.). The Fourth Class training plan seems to be doing just fine (maybe a few tweaks) but there really wasn't a training plan for the other classes and within the military, there is always room for learning AT ALL RANKS.
From the Marine perspective, I strongly agree with Jadler03 on the need for greater professional training through the rest of the years. Youngsters just kind of hang out after plebe year, as if a tough first year warrants a year devoid of professional development. Too many continue with that mentality for the following (2) years as well.
It has and it hasn't. Youngsters do their own SMT, but (in my experience) the training staff is usually too busy trying to get stuff done with the plebes to make it worthwhile. Planning good 4/C SMTs can be enough of a battle as it is. Ways we've found to try and make it worth something was by having the youngsters help run and plan SMTs for the plebes as a way to prep them for the things they'll be doing 2/C year.
Last year, they added an MQS ("Midshipman Qualification Standard") for each class. Last year it was mandatory to complete and kind of a joke because you could just find a firstie who'd checked out mentally to sign things off and the card included some ridiculous items: "qualify standing CMOD." "Pass the PRT." Well, duh.
This year it was expanded to more of a pro-knowledge format that took up an entire packet, sort of like the plebe pro-book. Items were more based on knowledge broken down by community and there was some really good stuff in there. It was put out as mando for first semester, then that changed and now I think it's at the Battalion Officer's discretion whether it's mandatory or not.
The MQS is good in theory but really hard to put into effect. I think the idea is that after plebe year midshipmen should be suitably motivated to further their professional knowledge and keep learning without oversight or hand-holding from the administration. Of course, in practice this is true for maybe a third of mids. It's pretty disappointing because there's a lot of GREAT opportunities to learn about and experience different communities on your own time. I've also never met an officer (worth talking to) here who wasn't willing to at least sit down with a mid and talk with them about their job and experiences.
On the note of proboards, there are no Batt/Reg boards anymore. A failure at the company level goes straight up to Brigade.
Wow. This is all new since my day. Fascinating stuff!
The key is the proper use of the chain-of-command, delegation, and collabaration. In my day, the CoC was not used efficiently (and my guess still isn't). In my view, 3/C and 2/C should plan SMT's and the 1/C provides guidance and oversees the process and gut checks the plan (sounds like this might be happening). Then he/she briefs the appropriate officers.
Sounds like this is heading in the right direction. What about brief presentations? I am pretty sure the Brigade Training Office can put out a variety of topics for each class and then the MIDN do research and present a brief to their class within the company (providing hard copy outline notes). Then the briefs are posted to the USNA intranet for any MIDN to view. Does it take work and time? Of course, that's why you have everyone do it. Plus, it enables briefing skills.
We had a similar (I think) PQS type system -- forget what it was called exactly -- but it contained practically the same items. I am not for a PQS system.
I would agree with your statement, each MIDN should want to learn more about their profession. I think this is somewhat a personal and leadership issue. As a rising 1/C, you have the ability to influence the other classes.
Others will notice your action -- including whether you care or not. I think this can start at tables -- such as discussion on hot issues. I would never hesitate to call on a plebe for a national/international article and then have a table discussion on those that we could have. My direction was to choose articles that enable discussions and highly encouraged military type articles. I never considered articles a "plebe rate" either as a plebe or upperclass. This is just one example.
I wouldn't expect anything less. These are the officers that should be ensuring you are being professionally developed on a company level. I, personally, wouldn't wait for a Batt-O to tell me how to make this happen. Some Company Officers will go above and beyond what is expected and other won't -- such as are the officers in the Fleet. MIDN run the companies, nothing is stopping the 1/C leadership from setting up programs to accomplish training. I can only speak on the SWO side, but your basic job as a DIVO is to ensure your division is manned, trained, and equipped.
Added: Also, there are plenty of subject matter experts on various Navy/Marine Corps topics -- they are also known as your Senior Enlisted Leaders.
That's usually how it's worked for us. Some of the 3/C really go above and beyond with helping us plan training, but it often ends up just being the training sergeants coming up with ideas and the training officer running around doing all the boring logistics to make it work.
The briefs thing is actually exactly how my company did MQS this year. We broke our classes down into people interested in the different topics and then had them present, i.e. those wanting USMC presented the USMC topics, etc. It ended up being a fairly efficient way of getting it done and people actually learned some stuff(!).
Good on those 3/C. It seems there is an authority problem...the Training Officer should be assigning, NOT asking, for help. In other words, an initial SMT list is published (signed by Company Commander/Officer) and has 1-2 3/C and 1-2 2/C each week, who are cognizant for that week's SMT. It isn't an option for them to plan it, they MUST. This is the military, sometimes authority needs to be used and sometimes things aren't an option.
This is what I mean by utilizing the chain-of-command, 1/C should generally be decision makers and oversee what goes on -- not the action officers (this should be 2/C and 3/C).
I passed mine
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