Perpetuating the Cycle
So here I am. Another week gone by, another grain of sand passing through the hour-glass.
Only 3 months ago I became a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), Sergeant to be exact. Traditionally this is no small feat. Many soldiers work their asses off to get the chance to become a NCO. In my own defense I had to put forth a bit of effort to earn my "stripes" the three Chevrons of the Sergeant.
This is where the soldier begins his career as a leader of men. No longer is he taking orders consistantly. He is now giving them. Those orders must be obeyed and executed in an expedient and professional manner or the mission fails. In the military when the mission fails...people die.
Imagine that burden?
You are a 22 or 24 year old young man, still with a half-cocked alcohol glazed view of your little world. Now, you are responsible for the health, training, and morale of other young men who look to you to have ALL the answers. If you dont have those answers, you damn well better find them fast.
Throughout the military, no matter what the job. A supply NCO who doesnt order proper equipment for soldiers on patrol increases the chance of those soldiers dying in the field. A Motorpool Sergeant who doesnt properly train his crew on vehicle inspections, lets a vehicle go on a convoy that wont be able to maneuver properly. What happens if that convoy gets hit and the vehicle cant react in time to a RPG?
How do you know if someone is ready to shoulder that responsiblity?
My soldier and best friend is going to the Promotion Board tomorrow. He will stand before the Sergeant Major and other First Sergeants of the base and have to prove to them he is qualified to wear the stripes of the NCO.
He will knock on the door to the board room three times. He will hit that door so loud, that the entire base will think that we have rounds incoming. He will then say...
"Permission to Enter."
They will tell him to enter. He will march straight and true to the President of the Board, the Sergeant Major, salute, and say...
"Reporting to the Board as Ordered."
The senior NCO's there will then inspect him. Uniform, shave, boots, weapon, every aspect of this being will be critiqued in those few seconds. For them it will be hours. Trust me I know.
They will take him through facing movements. Left Face, Right Face, About Face, Forward March...all the while watching him for any flaw, hesitation, or lapse. When they are satisfied he will be ordered to take a seat in the only free chair in the room. Usually directly in front of the Sergeant Major, but far enough from the table to see all the senior NCO's.
He will then be ordered to give a brief biography of himself, but the board doesn't really care what he says, but how he says it. With confidence and strength.
From here he will most likely recite the Creed of the Non-Commissioned Offier...
"No one is More professional than I, I am a Non-Commisoned Officer, a leader of soldiers..."
It continues for about 50 more lines.
Now the NCO's will begin to ask him in turn, different questions relating to the Army. Its history, the schematics of weapons, camoflaging techniques, and everything else under the sun. He will be exepected to answer quickly and without hesitation. Hesistation is death on a board. Lack of confidence in oneself will result in a non-recomendation for promotion. He will have to wait till the next board for another shot.
I have no doubt he will succeed and make a fine NCO.
Our job is not easy. The pay is bad, the hours are long, and by the time the shit has rolled down hill to get to you...its pretty big. As subjective as I take the military, I do take pride in being a Non-Commissoned Officer. I do not buy into alot of what the Army sells, but I do know not everyone can do what we do.
But I know my soldier and friend can.
Good luck Cris, not that you'll need it.