GUEST POST BY: U.S. ARMY RETIRED KEITH CARAWAY AND THIS IS MY STORY
You must preserve the life of every person standing in front of you. You must ensure their basic needs are met so they can carry out their assigned tasks. If this place sucks, it is my fault. Make no mistake- the commander is in charge; however, I am the first number you call for remedy. I do not have to say a word. The way people behave in my presence immediately makes you curious of my position and purpose. My voice will serenade you as we take our minds off of miles we run. You want me to take your action to headquarters and you are glad I was the one who took it. This was literally every non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the late 90s.
No one said good job when you knew where all your people were. It was not worthy of a parade to check on your soldiers; you just checked, you unfolded it. You took them personally to the places they needed to go. When they were finished, you confided in your Platoon Sergeant. Platoon Sergeant were movie stars. If they had to talk to you it was life altering, every time. They knew things—
Sergeants are reduced to ashes by a simple facial expression from the Platoon Sergeant. Platoon Sergeants checked, quizzed, and administered atrocious corrective training for any infraction; they knew every subject about military knowledge and expected for you to learn, as well. Not knowing correct answers would transform them into the best personal trainer you never asked for. You avoided this person with every piece of wit you had.
Occasionally people with weird shapes on their Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs) pass and we salute them. The password is “Sir or Ma’am” when they get close. NCOs are not perfect. Hell- I was an idiot until I turned 30. The difference is there were always Senior Non-Commissioned Officers to “encourage change.” Some just beat you up. Where did we go wrong? We reduced the time spent to build a Sergeant.
Primary Leadership Development Course (PLDC) was the difference. You talked, walked, and came back with soul. EVERYONE GOT SOUL. You knew basic administrative functions. You could brief a map, march in time, and knew how to wear the uniform properly. It was 30 days, and you could fail. When you left, you understood you were the difference. You did not go home at night. You stayed and were engulfed in Army.
All Soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership. I will provide that leadership.NCO
This is written in the creed that we do not deserve anymore. PLDC no longer exists and that is a crucial time in development. The program now only runs for 2 weeks from 9-5 and you go home at night. The same communal challenges do not exist with the new program so there is no way for people to build the same communication skills or camaraderie.
Upon graduation, these sergeants will be in charge of your son’s or daughter’s life. No one else is checking up on them anymore. Be it skill or will, it does not matter. The end result will be more memorial ceremonies. If you have never heard the Story of SPC Mason Webber from FT HOOD you need to get informed. Every NCO should be uncomfortable and rightfully so when they killed more of our own Soldiers than ISIS.