The culture shock of civilians entering the stratified and ritualized military world is well known. It is also the world of "chickenshit." As Paul Fussell put it:
If you are an enlisted man, you'll know you've been the victim of chickenshit if your sergeant assigns you to K.P. not because it's your turn but because you disagreed with him on a question of taste a few evenings ago. Or, you might find your pass to town canceled at the last moment because, you finally remember, a few days ago you asked a question during the sergeant's lecture on map-reading that he couldn't answer. - Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World war (new York: Oxford University press, 1989), quoted in Jonathan Shay, M.D., Ph.D., Achilles in Vietnam; Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, 1994
When you're first sergeant, you're a role model whether you know it or not. You're a role model for the guy that will be in your job. Not next month or next year, but ten years from now. Every day soldiers are watching you and deciding if you are the kind of first sergeant they want to be. - An Army First Sergeant, 1988
Soldiers do what they are told to do. It's leadership that's the key. Young men and women join the Army; if they're with competent, confident, capable leaders they turn into good soldiers. - Sergeant Major of the Army Robert E. Hall
Good NCOs are not just born-they are groomed and grown through a lot of hard work and strong leadership by senior NCOs. - Former Sergeant Major of the Army, William A. Connelly
When a soldier looks up on the battlefield he will not see his first sergeant, sergeant major, company commander, battalion commander .... he won't even see his platoon sergeant! He WILL see HIS sergeant .... the squad leader, crew chief, team leader, tank commander .... and this NCO will principally provide the leadership, advice, counsel, and firm and reassuring direction on that battlefield. - Gen. Paul F. Gorman (US Army)
The care and cleaning of lieutenants is NCO business. - General Frederick J. Kroesen, in "For NCO's: Leadership, Hard Work and TRAINING." ARMY, Oct 1980
As the CSM of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, one of my duties was to give a class to commanders and senior enlisted advisors in the Pre-Command Course, on the subject of officer/NCO relationships and the role of the 1SG/CSM. One of the things I would tell them includes this story:
"During the basic course for brand new lieutenants, the instructor presented them with a problem to solve. They were told that the mission was to erect a flag pole. They had one sergeant and three privates. The lieutenants were given 30 minutes to formulate a course of action, after which the instructor asked for solutions. Each lieutenant explained in detail how the job could best be accomplished. Finally the instructor gave them the right answer: 'Sergeant, I want the flag pole here; I'll be back in two hours to inspect.'" I think that story, true or not, tells us all we need to know about officer/NCO relationships. -CSM Jimmie W. Spencer, letter 1 Sep 1997
A new lieutenant is a precious thing.... Don't take advantage of him, but train him, correct him when he needs it (remembering that diplomacy is part of your job description), and be ready to tell the world proudly that he's yours. If you are ashamed of him, maybe it's because you've neglected him or failed to train him properly. Do something about it. Show a genuine concern that he's learning the right way instead of the easy way. But be careful not to undermine his authority or destroy his credibility. Remember that order and counter-order create disorder.... As the senior and most experienced NCO in the platoon, you must pass on the benefit of [your] wisdom and experience to your platoon leader as well as to the soldiers. - 1SG Jeffrey J. Mellinger, "Open Letters to Three NCOs." Infantry, May-Jun 1989
Hollywood knows there's something about a sergeant. When you see a television show or a movie, the camera may focus on the officers. You know the stereotypes: the rookie lieutenant, the aggressive colonel, the intellectual general. But I guarantee you, somewhere in that presentation will be a tough old sergeant, with hashmarks up to the elbow. He stands for experience, common sense, and wisdom. He's Gary Cooper in Sergeant York or James Earl Jones in Gardens of Stone. He is Lou Gossett in An Officer and a Gentleman, telling candidate Mayo that the service is not about flying airplanes, it's about character.... For America, the sergeant is the Army. -Gen Gordon R. Sullivan, address "America's Noncommissioned Officer Corps- into The 21st Century." Speech File Service, 2nd Quarter, Fiscal Year 1994
Soldiers' ability to sustain themselves and their fellow soldiers during periods of high stress is built upon rock-hard confidence in themselves and their leadership chain beginning with fire team leaders or the noncommissioned officer of their section.... What we have learned and relearned in our Army is that unit cohesion and teamwork are what give individual soldiers the confidence to use initiative, to be resourceful, and to be all they can be. - SMA Glen E. Morrell, "What Soldiering Is All About." ARMY, Oct 1986
Officers' orderlies are of very ancient origin. It would appear that Alexander the Great had his batman. I am surprised that nobody has yet written a history of batmen. It would probably contain an account of how Fernando, Duke of Almavir, during the siege of Toledo, ate his batman without salt. The duke himself has described the episode in his Memoirs and he adds that the flesh of his batman was tender, though rather stringy, and the taste of it was something between that of chicken and donkey.
Among the present generation of batmen there are few so self-sacrificing that they would let their masters eat them without salt. And there are cases where officers, engaged in a regular life-and-death struggle with the modern type of orderly, have to use all possible means to maintain their authority. Thus, in 1912, a captain was tried at Graz for kicking his batman to death. He was acquitted, however, because it was only the second time he had done such a thing. On the other hand, a batman sometimes manages to get into an officer's good graces, and then he becomes the terror of the battalion. All the N.C.O.'s try to bribe him. He has the last say about leave, and by putting in a good word for anyone who has been crimed he can get him off. During the war, it was such batmen as these who gained medals for bravery. I knew several in the 91st Regiment. There was one who got the large silver medal because he was an adept at roasting geese which he stole. And his master worded the proposal in support of the decoration as follows:
"He manifested exceptional bravery in the field, showing a complete disregard for his own life and not budging an inch from his officer while under the heavy fire of the advancing enemy."
Today these batman are scattered far and wide throughout our republic, and tell the tale of their heroic exploits. It was they who stormed Sokal, Dubno, Nish, the Piave. All of them are Napoleons: "So l up and tells our colonel as how he ought to telephone to brigade headquarters that it was high time to get a move on." - Jaroslav Hasek, The Good Soldier Schwiek, 1930
Some early signs by which officers and NCOs can spot men who are not wearing well are as follows:
a. Restlessness and sleeplessness.
b. Loss of appetite.
c. Irritability and jumpiness.
d. Deterioration in efficiency.
e. Increase in smoking or drinking.
f. Change of temperament -- e.g., unaccustomed elation or depression.
These are minor changes in men's normal behaviour, and should be spotted by good officers and NCOs who know their soldiers. Signs of fear (e.g., trembling, frequent emptying of the bladder and bowel) are due to normal bodily processes which occur in man, as in all animals threatened by danger; whilst there is nothing to be ashamed of in feeling fear, even in showing it, we cannot condone giving way to it. - Major-General F.M. Richardson, Fighting Spirit; A Study of Psychological Factors in War
A Platoon Commander who joins a platoon for the first time will normally have over 150 years experience among his Warrant Officers, Sergeants, Junior NCOs and men. Use them, seek and accept advice from them but remember one thing; it is you the Platoon Commander, the leader that must make the final decision. MWO G.R. Smith, CSMI Leadership Wing