I Would Suck

Posted on February 23, 2011


I would suck as a sergeant (or equivalent rank) of any branch of any military.

The Anniversary

Today, Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of the start of the ground war in Gulf War I, AKA Operation Desert Storm. I was there, along with many other people. Today, I’m thinking about them.


Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) are enlisted soldiers who have demonstrated the experience and leadership necessary for additional responsibility. They attend additional training in preparation for leadership positions, and are critical to the success and efficient operation of any modern military. In garrison, NCOs wake their people up, care for them, lead them through the work day, and put them to be again at night. In combat, they provide on-site, immediate, leadership. They direct their troops’ responses to enemy contact, and keep their officers informed of the situation.

Why I Would Suck

It’s a tough job being a lieutenant. Your platoon includes people with 12-15 years of experience in their field of expertise. You have training, and legally mandated authority, but none of the experience. I learned most of what I knew about tank maintenance from the four sergeants, two staff sergeants, and one platoon sergeant in my tank platoon. The enlisted guys taught me, too, but I checked their lessons with my NCOs.

Why would I suck, then? Well, let me rattle off some reasons.

  • Everything I know about tanks is 20 years old. Technology, techniques, and tactics have advanced since then.
  • I don’t have the same training as enlisted men. I didn’t go through basic training and AIT/OSUT.
  • I don’t have any of the mandatory training for NCOs.

So what’s the point?

One thing that I took away from my military days is that I strongly prefer to do the job before I have to supervise it. I don’t want to skip over anything. I have no illusions about my ignorance. Sure, I’m in my element when I get to train, evaluate, coach, and inspire other people. I’m still going to ask questions of other, more experienced, people.

I could make a good sergeant, but if the Army ever called me back, I’d have to start from scratch.