Posted on Jun 22, 2014
1LT Shawn McCarthy
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Here is the situation...what would you do?
I was a freshly commissioned 2LT preparing for deployment. I had been assigned to a NG unit to fill a PL spot...I didn't know anyone.
I had only been with the group about 3 weeks (Pre-mobilization training) when I was walking past my barracks and my PSG was standing outside with 2 of our soldiers; one of whom was roughed up and bloodied.
I asked him what was going on and he said "NCO business sir, we got it."
A little while later I see both of the soldiers performing extra cleaning duty. I assumed that they had fought and were being punished, which I was ok with.
Later that evening another one of our soldiers approached me. He didn't think that the situation had been handled fairly.
He told me the details of the conflict:
Soldier 1 was a well liked guy, E4, been with the unit since basic (about 2 years). Had recently found himself in a little hot water because he pissed hot after coming back from emergency leave.
Soldier 2 was a decent soldier, PFC, but was cocky and didn't know when to shut up. He pissed off a lot of his peers. Had only been with the unit a few months, he had just completed basic.
The scene: Whole platoon is milling about in platoon bay. Most are loading magazines with blanks.
Soldier 1 had been discussing the finer points of rap music with some peers. Soldier 2 was sitting on the floor of the bay loading magazines with blanks for the coming exercise. Soldier 2 made a smart-assed remark to soldier 1.
Soldier 1 told him to shut his uneducated mouth (paraphrasing).
Soldier 2 suggested that soldier 1 go attempt self-procreation.
Soldier 1 walked up to soldier 2 and kicked him in the face.
Then soldier 1 jumped on him.
The other soldiers intervened to break it up, but not before soldier 1 took advantage of the situation and did some damage.
I addressed my concerns to me PSG and 1SG. They told me that it was just a fight. I suggested that being kicked in the face and sucker punched was more like being mugged than being in a fight.
They told me that soldier 2 had it coming.
I addressed my concerns to my commander.
He told me to stay out of it.

I'll leave the story there and get input.
To me, this wasn't a fight. This was an assault that potentially COULD have resulted in bodily injury.
I felt like punishing the 2 soldiers equally (which is exactly what the NCO decision was) was uncalled for.
I felt like it sent a bad message to the unit about who could get away with what.

What would you do? NCO and officer.
Posted in these groups: Esprit de corps logo Esprit de Corps5ccd6724 Morals
Edited >1 y ago
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Responses: 37
MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
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One of my tenants of being an officer is to know what "Sir/Ma'am, I got this" means. Took a while for me because I care about people but again, you are the manager, your NCOs are the supervisors. They are the first line of soldier defense and "nannying" (which would appear to be the case here)

I have always had, well, a not great feeling about the 2 chains of command - O & E working separately but together, but they are there for a reason and your example shows the reason. Sometimes you have to let soldiers be soldiers and your NCOs know that and give them the "observed" latitude to do that. It sounds like the NCOs were aware of and insuring the issue didn't get out of hand while allowing the drama to reach its supervised conclusion You as the manager care about having a productive and functioning platoon and this is your NCO's way of making it happen - sometimes you need to turn away.

Had this happen to me while deployed. One of my NCOs was detailed to stay in Kuwait for 2 months with our rear det, while we moved to Baghdad. The guy was a golden glove boxer with an attitude and during a disagreement in the barracks with a soldier from another unit, one thing led to another and you can guess what happened. My SNCO was on the case taking care of the issue through our 1SG and I was given the "Sir, I got it". Having been with my SNCO for several years, I knew business was being taken care of. An Article 15 was avoided, my NCO apologized to me and our commander when he did make it up to Baghdad - the NCOs arranged an extra 2 months of duty in Kuwait to cool him off.

Does this excuse you from keeping tabs on things, no. Should you know the status of your troops and your platoon overall at all times, yes. Do you need to know all the details - as in your case it sounds like your NCOs are doing their job - no. Walk softly on this one so long as your commander and NCOs are doing their job and your 6 is covered. Its one of those officer life lessons.
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
>1 y
Done my share of article 15 investigation, don't no more.
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MSG Titus Griffin
MSG Titus Griffin
>1 y
I appologize in advance because it's been a a day or so since I worn a uniform but since when is it a small thing for a fellow soldier to kick another in the face? More importantly, over a few words. Something should have happened!!! Command has now established a precedence that it is okay to kick your buddy in the face. How can you now punish the next incident? On what others will the rules be bent. Having rules is what makes the military a solid institution. You'll understand once you learn to function in the civilian world where rules are bent regularly. Maintain your discipline and honor the rules......it's what makes the military great.
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
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Very true, MSG Griffin. As I stated I feel there is some injustice in the outcome and I did not mention that in my initial comments.
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MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
MAJ Robert (Bob) Petrarca
>1 y
I think pretty much all are in agreement that the situation falls under NCO business. That being said, we as leaders at all levels are expected to treat our soldiers fairly and with dignity, If someone knew that 2 "had it coming" then an intervention, prior to the fight should have taken place and leadership taken action. I still say it was "controlled", but could have been handled differently. The CO, like I would have done believed it was NCO business, but should have taken more interest as to the fairness of what was allowed to happen. As MSG Griffin stated, if its allowed to happen this way once, what happens the next time.
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SFC Randy Purham
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In that situation, both would have been counseled and recommended for UCMJ action. Regardless of previous disposition of the Soldiers they were both wrong. Now, Soldier 1 would have gotten a more sever end of the punishment because he attacked first. The NCO was trying to keep it at the lowest level and handle it in house, no wrong in that, but in light of multiple witnesses; I agree should have been done differently, rather than just that way. From a Officer perspective, I would have counseled the NCO on appropriate actions to take in circumstances like that to alleviate the perception of favoritism. All in all, it is a delicate situation. NG units tend to take care of their own because of the tenure ship and longevity they have with each other. I would take that COA and hope it plays out for the best.
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SFC Randy Purham
SFC Randy Purham
>1 y
Sir, that would be Art. 117- Provoking speech and gesture(s). Assault can be rolled up in Art. 128 for Soldier 1.
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SGT Senior Mechanic
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>1 y
I disagree with all respect soldier2 ask him to come shut his mouth if you gentleman read it again. Now the action taken to accomplish the task is in question but still, we train to take orders and defeat the enemy! How do u judge enemy when we take a joining we say defeat enemies foreign and domestic! In a young soldiers mind that was the enemy at the time, he close in destroyed him! So the issue goes both was one had a past and the other was to new realize he was out match!
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MSG Floyd Williams
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Edited >1 y ago
1LT McCarthy....Soldier1 definitely should have been charge for assault on Soldier2 regardless if he made a comment that Soldier1 didn't like. Although Soldier2 was making provoking words, but it still wasn't a reason to fight. As a Senior NCO I would have push for Soldier1 for a Article 15, and Soldier2 would receive some kind of punishment probably extra duty for a week or two. I would have my subordinate NCO's come up with classroom training on "Conflict Resolution It is Okay To Agree To Disagree." It should make everyone more responsible to defuse a situation that is escalating, if they don't it is a strong possibility everybody will suffer the consequences. Something need to done about the NCO's attitude, the phrase "NCO's Business" isn't good enough action brings results.
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1LT Shawn McCarthy
1LT Shawn McCarthy
>1 y
MSG Floyd Williams
I wish we had NCO leaders like you in my unit at the time.
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MSG Floyd Williams
MSG Floyd Williams
>1 y
1LT McCarthy.....I hope someone come along to be a shaker and mover in your unit soon, if Senior Leaders don't come together how can they expect subordinate Soldiers to be professional teaching and experience starts from the top and filter down to the subordinates. If you want order and professionalism that means you have to step out and accept the challenge to be the bad guy, unfortunately that what it takes sometimes.
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