Posted on May 16, 2022
MAJ Norm Michaels
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This social experiment on soldiers was started in the late 1960s, and it mostly died away in the late 1980s, with the exception of SP4. Is a team leader SP4 any less of a leader than a corporal?
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SPC Kevin Ford
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Edited 2 y ago
It think the question isn't why their are still spec 4s, but instead why their are not still spec 5-9s. NCOs are leaders. Not everyone has the interest or quite frankly the capability to be a good leader. We are dealing with an increasingly technical needs in warfighting. In order to attract and keep the talent we need, we need to recognize that the need to keep senior technical people. This means they need to achieve higher ranks as they get more knowledgeable (including higher pay); either by higher enlisted ranks or by warrant officers (or more likely a by lot more of both).

A mistake a lot of organizations make is moving their best technical people to management when they don't have the capability for it or interest in it. Without an alternate career path, they just leave those organizations or sit unhappily when they reach their level of management incompetence.

I understand the question to some extent in the context of combat arms MOSes but as we watch Russia in Ukraine play out we understand what happens when we ignore the other parts of the force we need.
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SPC Michael Terrell
SPC Michael Terrell
3 mo
SSgt Former18thASMKadena83 Atkinson - I was 26T20. I left active duty after two years, because I got no respect, or cooperation to let me do my job. A lazy E-8 lifer who couldn't figure out how to schedule three people to provide seven day a week operation of an AFRTS TV station, so you worked two days, got three off, worked two more. The next week, you just worked the three days. This just used two of us, while the third did nothing . My MOS was Depot level, so I not only ran the station 50% of the time, I spent additional time keeping the station running. I averaged 140 hours, every two weeks yet that ass would volunteer me for additional duty on /my days off'.
I also had 'rank' try to tell me how to do my job, when they had never been to a TV station, let alone maintain one. The Base Information Officer informed me that I needed to 'polish the hand tools, and paint the inside of the tool cabinet'. I was to 'Keep the studio floor so shiny' that he could see his ugly face which wasn't allowed per our SOP.
I told him where to go when he tried to confiscate the equipment manuals which would only be issued 'if and when he deemed it necessary'. I told him that if he touched the, that I would break his fingernails all the way to his elbows, and ordered him to leave the restricted area which was off limits to everyone but the operator on duty. He called me a 'Insubordinate SOB', and called our General. He needed a mew ass when the General finished, and was told to stay out of my way.
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SP5 Wick Humble
SP5 Wick Humble
14 d
I was SPC 5,and was offered SPC 6 to re-up in 1970; but I wanted to return to college and got a little 'early out'. With a BA, I had gotten a CAS (civilian acquired skill) MOS of 81E20, which they were going to uprate to E30, the section SFC said. Getting drafted (didn't have a bone spur until I was 75!) wasn't too lucky, but that assignment sure was! A lot of GI-draftees coughed up another enlistment year to get it, and still wound up in 'Nam.
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SP5 Wick Humble
SP5 Wick Humble
14 d
In modern parlance, I guess sergeants are leaders, but... where were all the hard-five and above at our base Ft. Sam, when NCO roles were needed? I pulled Company CQ, Asst. Staff Duty NCO, Sgt of the Guard, and other mostly over-nite jobs numerous times in my six months as SPC-5. We were the pool of after-hours does and goers when all the officers and senior NCO's (and MFSS had a LOT!) were in the old rack!
What a bring down it was for the SPC-4's on guard duty when it was discovered that the Army had not bothered to equip SPC-5 Humble, J., with a GI driver's license! Those nights I was chauffeured! A little harder to catch a few winks, but... Only 55-years ago...
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SPC Edward Abney
SPC Edward Abney
13 d
Spot on, Specialist Ford! There is a critical need for retention of technical talent in the Army, and, insisting that enlisted in these MOS must go through all the requirements to become a NCO to progress up the ladder is pushing these enlisted out of the Army and into the civilian sector. Bring back the Specialist ranks, ASAP!
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SFC Retention Operations Nco
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It's because in the Army an E4 is not a team leader. An E5 is a team leader, E4 is a pay grade that is a natural progression from E1. That means that an E1 and E4 can hold the same exact position by grade and MTOE. Obviously you can't just make everyone a corporal once they make two years in service. It's kind of like why do we have 2LTs and 1LTs?

Why don't we get rid of that and make people earn E4 in the Army? Probably because E3s don't make anything, not that E4s make much more. An E3 with three years is making under $30,000 a year. It's hard to reenlist someone who feels broke and doesn't see their selves getting promoted.
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SFC Patrick Tipton
SFC Patrick Tipton
2 mo
SGT Robert Wager Correct you are. Hardest promotion to get is Corporal. Hardest tangible object for a Corporal to get...anyone....a unit coin. The Army and local leadership is the most stingy with those to things.
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SPC David OLin
SPC David OLin
2 mo
There was to much Old buddy things happening to get a promotion to E-5 for me.
If you didn't have the right NCO that liked you forget about being promoted.
So, I like the Air Force which my son is in, which you take a test to get promoted up to E-6. No board until after that.
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SP5 Wick Humble
SP5 Wick Humble
14 d
Only two things I was proud of 'accomplishing' in the Army: easily qualifying as Expert on the M-14, and making SPC 5 in the minimum amount of time in grade/time in service. The money helped (still under $300/mo in 1970) but also I got to avoid the chow line at the EM Mess, and eat in the officers -- which had table cloths and sometimes flowers on the table! Funny, it's almost impossible to find 'subdued' SPC 5 rank patches now. So long ago... !
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SPC Edward Abney
SPC Edward Abney
13 d
I totally disagree SFC! You don't seem to realize that you are messing with the E4 Mafia! Kidding aside, the Army should split off the war fighters, and the technicals, into two different lanes of rank progression. NCO's belong in combat organizations, Specialists in technical organizations. The Army is bleeding technical talent by forcing all to move up the NCO ladder.
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SFC Civil Affairs Specialist
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I'm totally for bringing back the Technical Ranks. The Army has a glaring blind spot in its philosophy toward NCO's. I'm not sure how something so obvious can be so blatantly overlooked, but the Army somehow automatically lumps together "Leader" and "Leadership". Those two words are related, but not mutually exclusive, nor does one automatically lead to the other.

A Leader is such, based on position, rank, social hierarchy, or some other form of placement. Leadership has many qualities, some subtle, some pretty obvious, but it's one of those things, that "you know it when you see it"... you either have it, or you learn it, but It should not be summarily attached to a rank, and it's it's reason why the NCO Corp struggles at times. Some guys are great worker bee's that there is nothing wrong with that. Placing them in a position they clearly have no desire for, nor the qualities to embrace it does every Soldier a disservice.

*rant complete
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SPC Michael Terrell
SPC Michael Terrell
3 mo
I tested out of the Army's hardest Electronics school in 1972, while in Basic. I was told that no one had ever done it, and never would. I scored over 93%. I was assigned to a TV station at Ft. Greely, with two men who had gone through that school. They had no hands on experience, but I had seven years, at just 20 years old. One of the two was a useless alcoholic, while the other struggled to do actual troubleshooting. I'm still in contact with him, and he still thanks me for teaching him mre than the Army school, or any other job that he's had in thee 50 years.
I was taught 'Logical troubleshooting' starting at 13 years old. Quickly find the real problem, and fix it properly the first time. Avoid temporary fixes, whenever possible.
The Station Manager wanted me court martialed 'for destruction of Government property' after I built a replacement TV tuner for a piece of test equipment. The OEM part was NLA, and a custom built part would cost more than the equipment was worth. By the time the dust settled, I was promoted to SP4, at just 18 months. I've newer played nicely with fools.
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SPC David OLin
SPC David OLin
2 mo
SGT (Join to see) - Cpl. should be removed altogether or SP4 should be removed. If the goal is to be an NCO then keep Cpl.
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CPT Bob Mason
CPT Bob Mason
16 d
SGT (Join to see) - I was on active duty in the early70’s when up-or-out was thrust on us. I personally knew an E-6 and an E-7 who loved their jobs and were exceptionally effective at it who left the Army becsuse they did not want the higher rank and responsibilities.
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SP5 Wick Humble
SP5 Wick Humble
14 d
On Okinawa in X Army, my dad wore three over one rocker, plus a 'T', but when promoted after the Japanese surrender, his patch was changed to three over two rockers, but was called "Technical Sergeant" as a rank title. Neither of these was 'Staff' or 'Sergeant First Class". Though he was in the fighting, he was assigned to a HQ Company in the Signal Corps. He died in 1958 -- as a result of a pack-a-day habit on unfiltered Lucky Strikes he'd picked up on Okie -- so I can't ask him to decipher it. Still have his Ike Jacket.
Better question: why is a low private rank E-3 called 'First Class' but the aforementioned senior rank E-7 called 'First Class' also? Quirky! I've had to try to explain that to a lot of civilian types. And then there are the Navy rank/rating!!
I was told in 1969 that the Army had Spec 4's just because they didn't want too many Corporals! BTW, lots of SP5's in 'Nam had command roles in combat, and never got 'hard stripes.' I was offered 'hard five' at Ft. Sam if I'd be barracks sergeant, however. Too close to ETS!
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