Posted on Mar 31, 2015
Sgt Maintenance Supervisor
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I recently had an ethical dilemma, and would like some RP input on the situation.

Your unit is on liberty in a foreign country, where the legal age to consume alcohol is still 21. Your platoon checks out in several small groups, each with a “designated non-drinker”, as per the liberty policy. Later in the evening, when your groups start meeting back together, you discover that one of your subordinates is completely trashed (for lack of a better word). This NCO is both under 21, and was the designated non-drinker for their group of juniors. What do you do?

My chief concern here is not the underage drinking, as that has been discussed ad nauseum on other threads. Rather, that this NCO intentionally violated the trust of the junior SM’s that checked out with them. They voluntarily took on a position of responsibility, and completely abdicated that responsibility in order to get the Cirrhosis high score.

Other factors to consider:
- This country practices Sharia law, and all of the safety briefs that you would expect were provided.
- As the senior SM present, you know that you will be held accountable if this is discovered upon check-in.
- SM has had other Alcohol Related Incidents that have been “swept under the rug”.
- SM is the command nomination for NCO of the Quarter, and will very likely be meritoriously promoted to E-5.

Thank you in advance for your input.
Posted in these groups: Ethics logo Ethics140114202911 large Alcohol
Edited 7 y ago
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Responses: 9
CSM Michael J. Uhlig
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As leaders, we often tend to "rush to crush" our subordinates when they make mistakes like this Marine did - which I assume is a Cpl (Junior Enlisted Marine since you highlighted a potential meritorious promoted to Sgt). Is this the right answer for this scenario, maybe - but humor me and exercise a little tactical patience.

This Marine is not the only one to struggle with Alcohol. Before automatically yanking the rank, consider the issues this Marine is facing and get this individual needs he, get the help needed.

Medal of Honor recipient SSG Ty Carter had enormous struggles when he returned from Afghanistan and faced the real possibility of taking his own life. He turned to and severely abused alcohol (this is before he was awarded the Medal of Honor) as a coping mechanism. He attributed the actions of engaged leadership that was able to see what was "really going on" in his life and got him to the right support agencies to get him the lifesaving help he absolutely needed.

So, did this marine violate the trust of the group - sure, was it willful - sure it was. Do you escalate the infractions up the chain, maybe see what's going on with this Marine, let the command know what you are doing and give them a sitrep so they have some situational awareness. If you find it is a simple case of lack of discipline and surrounding issues maybe then you push forward and take some administrative action - just want to make sure you remember that as a leader, you don't always have to "rush to crush" your subordinates.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/10/06/suicide-mission/
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Sgt Maintenance Supervisor
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Thank you for your response, CSM. You did assume correctly about the SM's rank, I was just trying to make the scenario as service-neutral as I could.

In my personal opinion, I would not call it a mistake. If I think someone's shirt is purple and it's actually blue, I've made a mistake. In my opinion, this SM made a conscious decision, and should have to deal with the consequences of that decision.

I'm not saying that the SM needs to automatically be demoted, but that the command needs to be aware of the situation, for exactly the reasons that you mentioned. I worked as a Substance Abuse Control Officer for a pretty large unit, and I have seen where these issues lead... When people get the help that they want, instead of the help that they need.
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CSM Brigade Operations (S3) Sergeant Major
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Conduct unbecoming of a Noncommissioned Officer! Regardless of the "golden child" status of this NCO, he/she should be punished for not abiding by regulation/policy. Once leaders fail to set the example it opens the door for junior service members to do the same. This makes me sick to my stomach.
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LCDR District Chaplain
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I don't see the ethical dilemma in this situation. An NCO, responsible for the safety of his companions as the designated non-drinker, got drunk. The chain of command needs to be aware of the situation and the NCO needs to have an appointment with the SACO. His status as the potential NCO of the quarter should have no bearing on whether this is reported or not. The fact that he had other ARIs that have been swept under the rug had a huge bearing. This young man needs help and if that help comes with an NJP and possible loss of rank or loss of the chance at the meritorious promotion then that may be just the wake up call he needs to turn things around.
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Sgt Maintenance Supervisor
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Thank you for your response, Sir, and I agree. I suppose the dilemma has been with some of my peers, who feel we failed to "take care of a fellow Marine". In my opinion, it was more important that we get this individual the help that they need, as opposed to the help that they want.
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LCDR District Chaplain
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Sgt (Join to see), you just keep doing the right thing. I love your wording at the end there "the help that they need, as opposed to the help that they want." I will be using that one in the future. Full credit given of course. :)
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