color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Guys Like Sgt. T

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Guys Like Sgt. T

Had a long conversation with my son yesterday morning. Hadn’t heard from him in almost 2 weeks (not even on Mother’s Day), so we were especially glad to hear from him. Due to the situation there (i.e., up tic in operations and recent casualties), there had been a communications blackout. He told me that he and V had been in on a number of the big weapons finds recently (HOOAH!) and then told me not to worry if we didn’t hear from him for a while – there was a chance that they might move out to a different AO in support of ongoing operations. Of course, he wouldn’t say where, but if you watch any news program these days, you know exactly where they might be heading. To a mother, it’s classified in your head as “small-medium-large” amounts of bullets…. And the possibility of his moving from his current “medium” area to the “large” area ratchets up my anxiety…

Sgt T
During this telephone conversation with my son and in another IM chat with another "son" in his unit, talk turned to a recent run-in with Sgt. T. Just the most recent in a long series of incidents with any number of soldiers in the company. Our son (and the other guys) mostly brush these off with a "no big deal" attitude and just suck it up... although some incidents have boiled over to shouting matches and once it got physical. I know that the senior NCOs have dealt with Sgt T on a few occasions, but he's still there.
I remind the guys that sometimes in the Army/Navy/Corps there is no right or wrong -- just rank. But V said, “That’s not true, mom… there is right and wrong and some of the stuff that happens... is wrong. and [soldier] isn't a bait eater... but the stuff he says... and stuff he does is just not right… he (soldier) holds up well through most of it, but sometimes that dam’s gotta break, mom. I was there and Sgt T is just asking for it… he’s provoking everyone… but especially [soldier]… it’s bad." The soldier in question is one of the smaller guys in the company but a good and dedicated soldier. He's a regular target of Sgt T... the guys think because he's the only guy smaller than the Sgt.

Everyone who has ever been in the military or worked at a job for longer than five days has worked for or with a Sgt. T. You know -- a bully with rank. As the guys tell it, Sgt T is regularly abusive and routinely oversteps the bounds. He can be mean to his soldiers and is a master at humiliating them for some imagined slight -- not because a soldier deserved it, but because Sgt T has the rank to do it.

Just to be clear, most of the soldiers here are good soldiers; they are not a bunch of whiney-asses. They have great respect for almost all of the other NCOs even if they're tough and demanding. I do not know the specifics of the most recent incident or incidents (soldiers don't tell). I don’t know who said what to whom about what, but the situation has gone on a long time and I can tell that morale is being affected. They tell me that 1SG and SFC are aware but that they don't care. No one is advocating a "touchy-feely" atmosphere... we're not naive to the military environment or the discipline or the sternness required to maintain order.
The whole Sgt T thing really troubles my husband because as an enlisted sailor he personally experienced the frustration of such a situation, and as an officer knows the effect the situation can have on the troops. He says any NCO or officer worth anything will find the way to teach, lead and support their men without such tactics because they get it back ten-fold in respect, loyalty and hard work… and you can’t lead if you can’t be respected (which he is clear to point out is different than being liked.) Currently he faults the senior enlisted for not dealing with an apparently immature NCO and for letting the situation continue as long as it has.

I learned early in my career and as a military wife that there are two types of people with power: those that wield it because they have to, and those that wield it simply because they can. The first are leaders, the others bullies. We know that there always have been guys in the military services like Sgt. T, but there should be no room in a professional Army for a bully with rank.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


At 5/11/2005 6:44 PM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

Sounds like somebody needs to teach Sgt. T a lesson. I sure hope he gets his...and soon. Sounds like he has got some self-esteem issues.
Yes, we all had a Sgt. T in our lives. What a bad situation. I know in the army it is kind of hard to teach him that lesson...that he so needs to learn.

At 5/11/2005 8:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bullies are the same on the school grounds or the military. Give it time and he will be booted or worse move up the chain. Tell your son to have patience and don't get in trouble. What goes around comes around. Just an old soldiers thoughts.
Garry n Texas
FYI: My nickname was Sergeant T but I wasn't anything like the one in the story.

At 5/12/2005 6:57 PM , Blogger StoicMom said...

I'll keep your soldier in my prayers. And I'll pray that Sgt T. gets to go elsewhere.

At 5/14/2005 2:24 PM , Blogger Shannon said...

I'm assuming SGT T is a Sergeant E-5. Just from the limited info you've provided, it sounds to me he lacks the integrity required to be a part of the NCO Corps and needs to either be demoted or (in my humble opinion), KICKED OUT of the Army for abusing his position and his soldiers. His JOB is to PROTECT and LEAD his soldiers and it sounds as though SGT T and his superiors are FAILING miserably...

Not that you asked for any advice, but here is my two cents. First, someone needs to give SGT T a copy of The NCO Creed. Maybe print off a copy and highlight all the areas the twit is failing. I assume the entire thing would need to be highlighted though.

Seriously though, my advice would be for several of the soldiers on the receiving end of this abuse to go visit the 1SG. My husband has an open door policy where soldiers can come talk to him every day from 5 pm on (after the duty day is over). They don't need their NCO to accompany them and don't even have to tell their immediate supervisors they are coming. If a soldier shows up after 5 asking if they can use the open door policy, my husband stops whatever he's doing, shuts his office door and gives the soldier his undivided attention.

If your son's 1SG has an open door policy, I'd suggest that they use it - even if they've used it before regarding this situation. Make sure they explain exactly what is going and that they don't leave anything out so the 1SG understands the magnitude of the situation. If the 1SG isn't aware this is still going on, he/she can't put an end to it. The soldiers may have told the 1SG, the 1SG counseled SGT T and since he heard nothing else, assumed that all had improved. Which, if this is the case, is still no excuse, the 1SG should have followed up but things happen and life is busy when they are deployed.

If that doesn't work, and the senior NCOs fail to fix this situation, then these soldiers have done what they were suppose to do (which is to go up the chain of command to get help). Once the senior leaders fail their soldiers, all bets are off. The soldiers should allow the poo to hit the fan and go straight to IG and file a complaint. THAT will get the leadership's attention and will FORCE THEM to put a stop to this bully.

I sure am sorry your son and his friends are having to go through this. They will be in my prayers.

At 5/14/2005 10:11 PM , Blogger THIRDWAVEDAVE said...

Guys like "T" end up being dealt with sooner or later. But, during times of operations, problems like these must be confronted ASAP. I hope it gets straightened out soon so the boys can focus on the important stuff.

At 5/15/2005 1:57 AM , Blogger Mustang 23 said...


Have your son keep a written log whenever SGT T abuses himor other soldiers unnecessarily. And it should mention when and if higher memebers of the chain of command have been informed of such actions.

If there is a log of the poor actions, it might help to get the chain of command to act.

As for what Shannon says, I don't know enough about the situation to warrent a demotion or kicking him out. But this very well could be the first time SGT T has been in a leadership position. I know by personal experience that you can learn to be a good leader by failing. If SGT T learns from this experience, he very well in the future become a good NCO.

I wish your son well.

At 5/15/2005 10:33 AM , Blogger Sue said...

I am sorry to hear your son and his troopmates are going through this. It saddens me that there are people who will abuse their power by belittling others.

My boyfriend's going through a very similar situation right now in his battalion. It's one of his chain of command. For him, it's very frustrating and energy-draining but he has been managing to turn the other cheek. He's since requested a transfer, after failing to get resolution any other way. I had hoped it wouldn't come to that, but it's something he feels is the only option.

I agree with M23's comments though. Keeping a log is always a good choice.

At 5/15/2005 6:38 PM , Blogger Shannon said...

M23, I agree that there are few details. However, this one detail stood out to me. It was enough for me to say that this guy has no business leading soldiers:

Our son (and the other guys) mostly brush these off with a "no big deal" attitude and just suck it up... although some incidents have boiled over to shouting matches and once it got physical.

That's enough info right there in my opinion. Once a NCO aggressively puts his/her hands on one of their soldiers, their career should be over. Drill Sergeants have been booted off the trail and lost their careers for less than this. Some power hungry E-5 should be no exception whether it's his first time leading or his 20th leadership position. He crossed that line of TRUST and broke it possibly for good with some of "his" soldiers. Once he did, he lost his chance to "learn to be a good leader by failing." If he can't handle the stress of the limited responsibilities he has as an E-5 without resorting to physical abuse of one of his soldiers, a good leader he has no chance of being. Ever.

That's just my opinion though ;).


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