Posted on Oct 19, 2015
SGT(P) Horizontal Construction Engineer
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I'm seeing more and more soldiers just out of training not showing up. First I ask myself why. Second I ask why should it take 9 missed mutas to actually affect the soldier? Sure you can take their bonuses and GI Bill benefits but at the end of the day it's a general discharge. I think there needs to be stiffer penalties for those soldiers who waste the militaries time, money, and resources. Any other thoughts on this?
Posted in these groups: United_states_ar_seal.svg Army ReserveMilitary-men Discharge
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1SG Claims Assistant
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Edited 4 y ago
SGT(P) (Join to see), there is a personal and a political angle to this one. My answer will probably draw fire.

The personal angle is that it takes a lot of paperwork, done in sequence and within certain time frames to throw a Soldier out for UNSAT. This protects the Soldier's rights and ensures due process, but the weakness is that the commander and his UA at minimum must be fully engaged for the entire six month process - making sure everything goes where it is supposed to go when it is supposed to get there. That is a lot of time investment in a Soldier who will never do much for you, and many commanders figure that the juice isn't worth the squeeze. Those commanders don't realize the more subtle negative effects this has around the formation, as others who are unmotivated or disillusioned see there are no consequences and follow the example. And the cycle continues.

The political angle happens well above company level. The CAR is under a lot of pressure to show that the USAR is a good investment in an age where drawdowns are occurring. That boils down to strength and constructive attendance numbers. If he fails to convince Congress, the USAR gets cut. Non-Participants (or "ghosts", as we have colloquially called them) count as end strength, and could theoretically be activated if needed in the event of war. Now we all know what the numbers looked like when they tried to activate these cats during the dark days of Iraqi Freedom. Many of us can tell stories of how miserable these disgruntled Soldiers made our life if they did show up. That doesn't matter, because if the budget gets cut, it will not come back for a long time.
So intense pressure is placed on MACOMs to recover these Soldiers. I could tell many tales of being told to pay Soldiers just to keep them off the NONPAR list for questionable things like the GAT or AT Level 1. It is a very demoralizing place to be, when you work hard to enforce standards and are undercut by these political realities.

My personal opinion is that I only want Soldiers who want to be there, and I owe it to them to make their training relevant and interesting so that they want to be there. I have a responsibility for that as much as the Soldier does. How many just fade into the ether because they miss a drill and nobody calls? Nobody cares? In that regard, the higher CoC is exactly right that leaders should not just give up on people because they are too "busy" to find out what happened to them. The former CG of USACAPOC fired some commanders when he got packets on his desk saying that the Soldier was an UNSAT and couldn't be contacted and MG Jacobs (or his aide) was able to find them easily with facebook or a phone call. Respect, sir. That was money.
If leaders are engaged, UNSATs are pretty rare. I can proudly say that is six years as a First Sergeant, I can count on my fingers how many U's I issued. When a troop didn't show up, I went and found them. One time (and this is now legendary in my unit), I went and found the troop at church. I found him and quietly waited in the back as the service took place. During a break in the action for greetings, a number of people came up to me (I was in uniform) curious why I was there. I said I was trying to find Specialist Tentpeg because he did not report to drill and I was worried about him. The good people of the church did my work for me, and embarrassed, Tentpeg reports back to the unit and wasn't a problem again.
As a footnote, the Soldier did bellyache about me embarrassing him and how he hears all about it when he goes to church. Too bad.
Footnote 2: That church reached out to me years later when we deployed to Africa, even though Tentpeg was no longer in the Army, and very kindly sent several care packages to us.
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1SG Claims Assistant
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CPL (Join to see) - I don't make promises very often (rule one of being a Civil Affairs Soldier) but if you come to my unit, I will make you one: I will not waste your time.
If I don't have enough stuff that needs to be done - a rare occurance - I empower my NCOs to exercise initiative to accomplish what needs to be done or what they want to emphasize.
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SFC Military Retired Pay
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My unit has never had a problem getting rid of dead beat soldiers. If you don't want to be in, get out. I refuse to drive to a grown ups house. I never have and I never will. I just start the packet plain and simple. That post up above was crazy. Police and knocking on doors, all for what????? That's a waste of time.
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SGM Studying Computer Security
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SFC (Join to see), it's easy to dump on someone else for having to deal with a problem. I felt like you, that we should just process them out. But the Commander answers to his commander and up the chain of command if his unit drops before deployment capability.

1SG (Join to see) is an example of someone in a high-speed unit that has a waiting list of people who want in. In such a case, it's much easier to dump the chump. I spent about half my career on Airborne status, and never had a bit of trouble replacing ghosts with someone who wanted a slot.

But in units without a waiting list, it's harder to hold that line. In spite of your declaration, "That's a waste of time.", on the TWO occasions that it was used in my 38 year career, the result was good for the unit. Those who did show up and wanted to be in the unit saw that we didn't let slackers off scott free, which increased unit morale. And those on the verge of ghosting out, decided to at least complete their enlistments.

It's a mistake to judge actions without having considered the results.
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SFC Military Retired Pay
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I guess it all depends on the unit then. I'm in a drill sergeant unit and he's in a Civil Affairs unit. Two totally different animals.
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MAJ Attorney
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Edited 4 y ago
Its not that hard, just takes an aggressive S-1 and a command in favor of separation.

In my last company command (transportation company with 170 soldiers) I inherited 37 non-pars when I took command. Over the two years that I commanded the company I rehabilitated 21 of those non-pars. I actually called them personally and invited them to come to meet with the first sergeant and me for dinner the Friday evening before drill where we sat down, had dinner and discussed their reasons for not attending drill.

Of the 15 who showed up, one had serious family issues and didn't even consider the military as a resource to helping her through them, the others all talked about command climate issues. Those 15 soldiers all came off the non-par list and became productive and mostly content soldiers, as did six of their friends on hearing of the changes.

As for the 16 who did not rehabilitate their attendance, and 13 others who were continuous PT, height/weight or UPL flags, my personnel Sergeant with support from Battalion pushed the separation papers and within three months of filing they were off my books, with new soldiers from Retention and Recruiting taking their place.

It can be done, it just takes diligence.
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CPT Signal Officer
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Sir, you are rare and obviously highly intelligent and compassionate. You are what Soldiers need. Unfortunately, you can't be cloned to replace the mass of useless, selfish, bully Officers, who are the cause of military departure.
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MAJ Attorney
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CPT (Join to see) - Sadly its not that simple. It depends on support at BN and BDE level for a separation; to go through. I was lucky and had great command channels and even more importantly, a great NCO support channel that reached all the way from CO 1SG to BDE CSM, and full buy-in from the S1 folks at all levels.

We also, as a truck (M915) unit had some great training. Two truck rodeos, a regular real-world AT mission, and sister (PLS) company that we frequently joined with (cross licensing all drivers).

Shoot, move and communicate, the basics, is what we tried to train as often as possible, and at least in my experience working in one’s MOS is generally what soldiers like to do.

As I’ve moved up into staff positions I really miss getting my hands dirty, and really look forward to one day having BN command so I can again focus on training and leading soldiers to accomplish their mission, whatever that mission may be.
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CW3 Kevin Storm
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SOrry, Sir it is not that easy, numbers drive a lot of things, and as long as Snuffy is on a rooster you are stuck with him. The paperwork is endless, and there isn't enough time in a weekend to get it all done.
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COL Brigade Commander
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I agree with MAJ Fishkin, that it really is a 2-part process, the paperwork drill and yes you have to have a very competent S-1. Those packets have deadlines, certified mail requirements, attempts at actual contact, and sometimes they don’t survive legal review. So there is that process. When I commanded a Bn, I found the actual reach-out process was the most vital. On 2 occasions I actually discovered miscommunication and I recovered two soldiers. My experience is that most who are NPs/UNSATs are folks who mysteriously showed up on your books. Those folks are an easier call. Other times the soldier had a good career and a good record and all of a sudden are not coming to drill. YOU MUST reach out to those folks and find out what is going on. MAJ Fishkin is right that you need to be having a conversation with your 1SG and the CSM to see what to do.
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MAJ Graduate Student
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First ask "what made these soldiers decided to stop participating or why they decided to not show up to drill"?

As a TPU commander I too had these soldiers that did not show up for long periods of time.

I had to learn to get involved in these Soldiers lives. Some of these Soldiers hated all of the Manditory training and sitting around during drill. Others made comments to me that said First Line Leaders really did care if they showed up or not. And others just didn't have the money to come to drill

So as a commander I listen and did the best I could with the Help of the 1SG and Senior NCOs to change our drills. We still did our Manditory training but made sure that soldiers did less sitting around and more training. Set up car pool to help with soldier who had no money to come to drill.

I'm not saying it fixed everything but we did have less Soldiers missing drill, and the Soldier to First Line Leader relationship improved a lot

It's not hard to process a soldier out, but there is a reason why ther are not showing. These Soldiers committed to joining the army, got passed Basic and AIT. So it shows commitment.

I know there are some we just can't reach and processing them out is probably what is the best, but I remember being a Pvt. at my first unit, and getting too many U's because I was trying to do college and Army Reserves. An NCO gave me a second chance and encouraged me to come to drill and ask for help when I needed it. This was before cell phones and I lived 3 hrs from my drill unit. He did that and more because he was my Squad Leader. Now I'm an officer and 19yrs in. Thanks to him, I stayed and made sure I followed his examples. I hope this helps
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SPC Unit Supply Specialist
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Also, I said I "shouldn't" have to tell you, not I "do not" have to.
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SGT Project Engineer
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SPC (Join to see) - >You could never attend a single class and get along just fine as long as you're there for exams.

Maybe it works that way in your college. Not most stellar Universities.

>Also, I'm guessing that your units culture has something to do with why soldiers aren't showing up, and if that is the case, I can't say I'd blame them.

Yeah, see what you did there. You are assuming. You know what we say about assuming in the Army??

>Being unreliable in Garrison doesn't necessarily translate to unreliability in theatre (very different circumstances).

Absolutely. But to repeat myself, people that can't handle responsibilities in garrison - rarely steps up in theatre. We train like we fight, and if we train shitty or not at all.. you see where this is going. You don't know. You just trolling.
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MAJ Attorney
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I wish we had more commanders like you.
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SFC Senior Instructor/Writer
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Hello, I'm a SFC in the USAR and am considering starting a non-profit to help Active Duty, Transitioning Active Duty, and USAR soldiers to select accredited and excellent Universities at which to spend their Post 9/11 GI BILL and Montgomery GI BILL funds. I am sick of hearing about soldiers spending their well-earned monies at marginal colleges. I am currently writing my Masters Thesis at Harvard University. Veterans and USAR soldiers are a very underrepresented group. I will be helping veterans and USAR soldiers select colleges and universities which provide the best programs for their study areas of interest, helping them determine their study areas of interests based on career goals, as well as proofreading and offering advice on college applications and essays. Please let me know if this would be beneficial.
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