Warren P. Rucker served as the senior education advisor for Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA) from 1985 to 1991. For extended periods during those years, he served as acting Army Continuing Education System (ACES) director when there was no military director.
In 1988 and 1989, Rucker served as the only civilian on the Army’s Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Leader Development Task Force. During that time, he heavily influenced task force members in the development of a strategy and an action plan for improving the Army’s NCO leader development system. The task force formalized, in Army doctrine, the role of ACES in soldier self-development and established NCO leader development models for both the active and reserve components.
In addition, Rucker led the Army in developing and implementing joint-service contracting with academic institutions for delivery of educational programs and services outside the United States through the multi-year European Command Education Services Contract. Getting the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army to work together jointly to provide educational opportunities for service members in both Europe and Asia was an arduous task. Rucker guided the discussions on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and managed to get cooperation. It was decided that the Air Force would manage the contract for Asia, while the Army would manage the contract for Europe. Those agreements still stand today, eliminating much duplication and confusion.
Rucker also led ACES’ involvement in the planning and implementation of Military Installation Voluntary Education Review (MIVER). MIVER was created due to concerns about the quality of the Department of Defense’s education programs. MIVER established principles of good practices for the adult and continuing education programs offered on American military installations around the world. MIVER’s first visit occurred in April 1991 at Fort Carson, Colorado, under Rucker’s purview.
Rucker formalized in Army doctrine the role of adult and continuing education as core to soldiers’ self-development. He stimulated dialogue on ways to strengthen and improve reading levels of NCOs who were in or about to assume leadership positions within the U.S. Army.
In the 1980s, the Army confronted a problem with large numbers of soldiers not reading at adequate levels to understand the Army training manuals and other training materials. At the direction of the Commanding General, Training and Doctrine Command, the Leader Development Task Force met to resolve the issues confronting enlisted soldiers. Because of Rucker’s background in voluntary education and his ability to communicate the needs to senior noncommissioned officers and other members of the task force, he gained their attention and helped establish standards, which require soldiers in leadership positions to improve their reading prior to moving into positions of authority.
He brought into his HQDA staff the educational leadership needed to implement the role of education that he envisioned for self-development and to ensure quality. He set the model for other armies around the world to emulate.
Rucker has served as a mentor to numerous Army education leaders who followed him. He was especially supportive of women in their efforts to be promoted into higher-level positions. Even after retirement from federal service, he continued to serve as a mentor and friend to Army educators. His ability to pull people together to get a job done has allowed him to provide education support services to the Army education centers around the world.
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