Posted on Apr 25, 2015
SGT Hector Rojas, AIGA, SHA
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Before joining the US Army, I was a member of the Chilean Air Force, recently, I've had the opportunity to serve alongside CURRENT Army soldiers who themselves were at one point, members of foreign Armed Forces (1 British Army, 2 German Army and 1 Royal New Zealand Navy).

The one thing we all have in common besides our current US Army service, is how baffled we are at the way the Army (US Military in general it seems) treats its personnel.

Between the 5 of us, we have 2 former Officers, 1 senior NCO and 2 NCOs, and upon entering the Army as enlisted, we couldn't get over how we (and everyone else for that matter) were treated like a little kid.

We had to check in with someone hourly, or we had to disclose every aspect of our private life, or the way we have to have permission from someone to get a loan, or even ask if we can ask for a loan, etc, etc.

You all know how it is. The list goes on and on. Micromanaging our soldiers and treating them as if they were kids instead of treating them like the volunteer adults that we all are.

All of us are married, older men, but yet, still have to ask a 20 something for permission to take our kids to a doctor appointment if our spouses can't, instead of simply stating it. Or having to go to what amounts to a jury trial because heaven forbid, there is an accident on the highway on our way to work so we'll be a few minutes late to formation...how dare you not prepare for the 1 in a million chance you might get stuck in transit, even when you give yourself 30minutes advance time, etc.

We were all previously in the military of our respective countries of origin, and believe me, military life is the same everywhere. Lot of work for lousy pay. Formations, reporting times and days, etc that is the same everywhere.

But the main difference is how we were treated if something came up that needed us to be humans/parents/people first.

Your kid is sick and wife cant help? Phone call or quick talk to your immediate supervisor and off you go. We'll do the paperwork later.

Unexpected expense that got you in trouble? Do you need an advance? Here it is. No counselings and no judgmental looks or comments or mandatory meetings with an MFLC.

Having trouble at home? Take care of it first so it doesn't become a problem at work. What we do here however, we directly/indirectly make the problem worse by not allowing our soldiers to take care of their problems first, etc.

All 5 of us (and I'm sure every other foreign person currently serving in the US Military) managed to move to the US (some including their families) without getting lost, yet, upon entering the US Military, were suddenly required to have an NCO take us to appointments, or walk us to the S1 shop, or set appointments for us, because you know, we are new.

In our previous military experiences, we were required to be where we needed to be, on time, just as we are required now. The difference is, we were expected to perform as the grown ups we all are.
Our private lives were ours, and we managed them as we saw fit. ONLY if it interfered it with military service it became an issue, and even then, you were expected to fix it first, on your own. No FRG endless emails, no dependa assumed ranks, no endless phone calls or text messages late at night wondering if we were doing OK and endless reminders of the formation times we already know, etc.

It's all coming out as I type it, so excuse me if it is a little convoluted. I am making a lot of personal references, but those are universal to every soldier.

Another post about a PFC asking for advice and some SSG ratting him out to his PSG got me a bit riled up.
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Edited >1 y ago
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1SG Eoc Ops Coordinator / Ga Certified Emergency Manager
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SGT Hector Rojas, AIGA, SHA Very Well Stated Sergeant. I retired in 1996, and honestly believe it was the right time for me. Since retirement I have worked for the Air Force and the Army in Europe and back here in the USA. My Army has gone through a great change since my retirement and In my opinion, "management has been placed above leadership" in many cases. However, I do not believe that it is this way across the Army.

I fully agree with your thought that the Army treats it's Soldiers like Children, and a lot of this i believe is forced from the higher eschlons of the Army's leadership on down thru the chains of command. As the Army transitions back from a war-fighting organization to a peace-time organization, leadership focus and priorities change.

Some Soldiers do some dumb things, DUI, not pay their bills, drugs, gangs, sexual harrassment, AWOL, fail to show up for work, lie about appointments, etc. Unfortunately, the solution has always been, mass mandatory training, annual training on the same thing year after year, or line up the entire chain of command for an ass chewing over something PVT Kunclehead did on his own. What should be 1st line supervisor authority to make decisions now have to be made by Platoon Sergeants and in many cases by the 1SG or go thru each level of succession before the young trooper can get an answer. That's BS!

For some reason (which I have never understood) it is believed that if the higher level of leadership is making the decision, then it's less likely something will happen; However, it some how has been missed that regardless of who the approving official is, it's still the same "KNUCKLEHEAD" and if he's going to do wrong, it doesn't matter who in the leadership chain made any decision at all.

I (1SG) recall standing in my battalion commander's office on a Monday morning with a SSG had been locked up over the weekend for DUI (my policy as 1SG, was if you get locked up over the weekend, you spend the weekend in jail). The Bn Cdr was ripping the SSG a new ass, and he looked at me and said, 1SG, where were you and his leadership when this happened.... I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Same damn place you were Sir, at home in my bed. This SSG is a grown ass man, and he alone is responsible for his actions, not his Plt leadership. If you honestly feel they are, then I am, CPT XXX is, and so are you, and the CSM. The CSM jumped in and said "Damn Right!"

Yet the Bn cdr was reacting to the call from the Bde Commander, because there had been 3 DUI's throughout the Bde over that weekend. Holding Soldiers to accountability for some reasons sounds as if more penetrating when "I want his/her entire chain of command in my office at 1730". Yet as a 1SG when a Soldier was getting an ART 15 read to him, I did not allow his leadership into the commander's off at the time of the reading of the ART 15 or when the cdr was getting ready to render punishment (if any). Why....only the Soldier (s) are accontable for their actions. His/her leaders were allowed the opportunity to say anything they wanted to me and/or the commander prior to the reading either in support of the Soldier or urge us to cut his head off...but the Soldier stood on his own in front of the commander. My reasoning, to teach them "they" alone are responsible and accountable for their actions as grown ass men/women. Did it work all the time, of course not....but it did 95% of the time. Bn/Bde Cdrs and their CSMs for the most part, would always bring in the entire chain of command and go down the line from the squad leader, section sergeant, platoon sergeant, platoon leader, 1SG, then commander hoping to embarrass a Soldier along with the rendering of punishment. I never agreed with it, but could on impact at the level at which I was in charge.

With the integrity, morals, and values of the American society taking a downward spiral over the last 10 yrs, so it does in the young men/women joining the military, as this is where they all come from. The only way that can be corrected and changed is hrough tsome damn strong and tough leadership and treating Soldiers as grown ass men/women, instead, the military, not just Army has also moved along the path of society and Political Correctness, touchy feely BS, and treating adults as children.

Add to that the ending of a decade of war fighting moving from one AOR to AOR, more or less on a constant adrenlene rush or utter boredom sitting on a FOB somewhere....we bring them back and the Military is told, OK, time to clean house, drawdown, got to cut military spending. Unfortuneately, it is always that way and then we begin to fall back to the old Zero defect mentality, no tolerance for mistakes or failure....which in reality takes away an effect learning tool for some. Sometimes these can be the most effective learning tools for Soldiers and no way in hell would they ever make the same mistake again.

The higher eschlons of the Army believe that thru centralized management that many issues can be controled, fixed and done away with. Well we know that's not so! But that's the policies in effect. The Army is not going to take a step backwards, that would admit to making a mistake.

Hopefully as you move forward in your career and get promoted, you will impact upon those you are in charge the style of leadership that will bring about a change in the way you see things today.

I once had a PSG call me and ask me, "1Sg, can I give PFC XXXX tomorrow off?" Without one second hesitation I said, "I don't know, go ask his squad leader, that's who he works for, not you or me!"

Soldiers, Squad leaders, Section Sergeant, Plt Sgts, 1SGs....should only have one supervisor. That does not take away authority from anyone as it moves thru the chain of command. Therefore, if PFC XXXXX needs some time or has an appointment, or his daughter needs to go to the doctor and the wife can't take her, then his damn squad leader should have the decision making authority to make that decision....everyone else must know for accountability; or only if the MISSION has to take priority ...and PFC XXXXX would know ahead of time, when not to ask for the time.

Common Sense Leadership is not Rocket Science, and it will always be a lot more effective than all the other policies, mass mandatory trainings, 1st line leader decisions being made 3-4 levels up the chain of command.

We join the Army as young Adults; Soldiers should be treated as Adults; punished as Adults and when they fail to remember they are adults....kick their ass like an Adult as a reminder. (yeah, I know, that one will never happen.....in the open).

Wishing you good luck and much success.
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SSgt Carpenter
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1SG (Join to see) I'd just keep clicking thumbs up if it'd let me top!
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1SG Eoc Ops Coordinator / Ga Certified Emergency Manager
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Thanks...as you climb each rung in the promotion ladder, you can drive and impact the role of leadership of Soldiers that are under your control and wiith each rung higher that you go, the more you impact. You'll never fix the Army....but you can sure fix the part you control by what you pass on to your subordinates and over time, a greater impact is achieved...Good luck.
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Capt Chief, 353 Sog Current Ops
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I really don't know yet. But I think it's really leader dependent (at least at the squadron/battalion level). A more or less related subject for example: when I first arrived at my ops unit from the training pipeline, our sq/cc was a very laid back individual who's basic philosophy on work was if you don't have anything you need to work on, don't waste your time spending it at the office. This was not to say he didn't want people to take initiative in their desk jobs, but that flying/training is the mission and everything else is secondary. And I think he recognized that when too much focus was put on our desk jobs, we ultimately created work for ourselves (which is great for your OPR, but ultimately accomplishes nothing but suck the life out of you).

Our current sq/cc however, is a "fast-burner" who's career is going places. He thinks it's very important to be in the office during duty hours, regardless of whether you have anything to do, because you never know when something could come up and you're suddenly needed. As such, you need explicit permission to be anywhere but your desk between 0730-1600, unless it's lunch, running a work errand, or your allotted 1.5 hours at the gym. And nevermind these 'somethings' that could/do come up are usually faux-emergencies unrelated to putting planes in the air, or they're "good-idea-fairies" some busybody FGO came up with, etc. This is not to say that I disagree outright with the idea of being at work, we are getting paid after all. But this busybody attitude which then percolates throughout the squadron results in a lot of people doing a lot of work which ultimately serves no purpose other than the grease the gears of the bureaucratic machine. And it also results in empowering the busybodies to police everyone else to make sure they too are doing their best to be a busybody, which leads to a culture of mistrust and resentment.

And it always seems to be that these busybodies are the types that get on career fast-tracks, and due to their attaining positions of power, then recognize the younger busybodies by putting THEM on career fast-tracks, and so on, thus filling up the military with micromanagers who are inherently skeptical of their people. But I would hope it wasn't always this way, or that every now and then a more pragmatic person gets through. I have yet to truly figure out "The Game" as it is played, so I don't really understand why things are the way they are. Maybe it's because OPR/EPRs are designed to reward "do-something" behavior. Sure, a bullet about how you abolished some redundant or wasteful process, saving x man-hours or dollars, is also good; but it seems like all the attention goes towards words like "implemented" or "spear-headed", or other words that imply creation (read: "cluttering") rather than simplifying. And so the busybodies prevail.
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CW2 Joseph Evans
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Zero tolerance policies...
Every rule that exists is because someone did something stupid that made the rule necessary. Unfortunately, promoting individual thought and initiative can be, and usually is, it's own worst enemy.
Before you can truly get away with a "fire and forget" order, there needs to be a solid trust in the capacity and character of the Soldier tasked. When leadership changes on a regular basis, we remember our mistaken trusts that burned us, more readily than the success of trusts that built the bridges in the first place.
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SGT Hector Rojas, AIGA, SHA
SGT Hector Rojas, AIGA, SHA
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While I do understand that there's a beginning for every rule, an originating case of sorts, I still don't understand why, given the fact that the same "idiots that ruin it for everyone else" do exist in other militaries around the world...they don't seem to react to those people/cases in the same way we do.

Again, don't get me wrong, there are rules and regulations just like in our military, do's and dont's, it's just that we seem to have a preference for mass punishment as opposed to individual punishment.

A preference for babysitting and micromanaging everyone, as opposed to dealing with individual cases of misconduct AFTER they happen, not assuming that everyone will at some point do the wrong thing.
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CW2 Joseph Evans
CW2 Joseph Evans
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I remember hearing a story from early in my career about two officers from a combined NATO assignment. These two officers were checking the perimeter to make sure everything was as it was supposed to be. They found one of the outposts occupied by a Soldier from each of their respective country/units who had fallen asleep on duty. The Turk immediately pulled out his sidearm and shot his Soldier for dereliction of duty. After which, the Turk offered his sidearm to the American Officer, who had to promptly explain that we didn't do things that way...

This is fairly common in most of the world's militaries... They shoot stupid early, we regulate it. Not saying one is better than the other, it simply is.
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CW2 Joseph Evans
CW2 Joseph Evans
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1LT John Martin,
Could you imagine, being on a NATO mission in the Sinai (or anywhere), doing a check on your area with your NATO counterpart as a PL, and realizing you were expected to shoot your Soldier for dereliction of duty? And KNOWING that your counterpart had that authority with his own troops?
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