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Leading By Example | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Leading By Example

“Do as I say, not as I do.” That has to be about the least inspiring thing any leader can say. If you’re not willing to follow the rules yourself, it’s unrealistic to expect your troops to do it – and if you try to make them, whatever respect they still have for you will evaporate in a hurry.

Unfortunately, not everyone who finds themselves in a position of authority handles it very well; and in a strictly hierarchical organization like an army, there are going to be some people who’ve been promoted to a position that they shouldn’t hold. Maybe they’re good at playing the system. Maybe they get an easy ride because they tick the right diversity boxes. Or maybe they’ve just changed over time and their attitude to regulations isn’t as good as it used to be. It doesn’t really matter why it happens; it’s bad when it does.

My own background is British military, and I know that our relaxed approach to uniform on operations often looks a bit strange to Americans. The US forces, outside of a few special operations units, applies a very high standard of uniformity (except with boots, which always made us pretty envious). The British are generally less bothered, as long as all your gear is the right camouflage pattern and you’re wearing your armor. It still works, of course, as long as the same rules apply to everyone. If the CO wears a Barbour jacket, but bans the troops from replacing their issued field jacket with a windproof smock, there are going to be issues; otherwise it’s usually fine.

CommanderThe real problem is when somebody near the top of the hierarchy enforces the rules on everyone else, but thinks they’ve risen too high to have to follow them personally. I’ve recently come across the story of a US Army SNCO who’s fallen into exactly that trap. I won’t identify the NCO by name here, but most of you probably know who I’m talking about. It’s enough to say that this soldier is an absolute disgrace. Their appearance is a total mess – not just relaxed or borderline, but bloody awful. And, from what I’ve read, this is a long-standing problem that nobody has sorted out.

This is where it gets really bad: This NCO apparently has a long history of ignoring regulations, questionable off-duty activities and – worst of all – abuse of power. There are many complaints about how they’ve used their position to retaliate against anyone who has criticized their appearance.

This is clearly someone who’s not fit to be a senior NCO. It couldn’t be much more obvious unless they actually stitched an ISIS flag to their uniform. So, why has the situation been allowed to continue for so long? When unsoldierly behavior is tolerated at brigade command level – which this has been – it’s inevitable that standards, and discipline, will decay from the top down. Even now, with the story all over social media, commanders are spending more time treating the symptoms and not the disease – the NCO has got away with expressing “regret” for the “distraction,” while everyone else in the unit is being sent on mandatory social media training.

Sure, poking fun at a sergeant-major on Facebook is against regulations. But who was it that taught the soldiers of that brigade that regulations are something you only have to follow if you feel like it? Well, that would be brigade command. It’s not their soldiers they need to be sorting out; it’s themselves.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Fergus Mason

Fergus Mason grew up in the west of Scotland. After attending university he spent 14 years in the British Army and served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq. Afterwards, he went to Afghanistan as a contractor, where he worked in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Camp Leatherneck. He now writes on a variety of topics including current affairs and military matters.
Fergus Mason

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