Wednesday, July 27, 2005


It's been a good couple days, too bad it all comes to a screeching, screaming, glass-shattering crash in three days. I have always disliked the first day back at work after a week of leave. Even in my PSNCO days that first day back came with a bit of dread; dread at what might have happened while I was gone; dread over what didn't happen, but should have, etc etc. But this is different. This is my first time coming back from a week of leave in USAREC. And it's made me realize a couple things.

One. I don't hate recruiting. Or, well, I don't hate the act of going out to find someone to join the Army. I love the Army. If the most important thing the Army can think to have me do is go out and find people to join, so be it. I'll do it with a passion. I like talking to people, even people who don't want to talk to me (I get a smug sense of self-satisfaction knowing that I was the more polite person when a lead or lead's parent gets rude).

Two. I really dislike the "leadership" shown in USAREC. It's really very simple,at least from where my near-cherry eyes see it. A station commander has two modes "leave alone" and "punish". That's it. If you're a successful recruiter you get the "leave alone" treatment. If you're not successful you get "punish". The SC's like to call it "training" rather than "punishment", but when you take a recruiter to a shopping center 5 miles away, on a day where it's 110 degrees outside (no exaggeration) and ordering that recruiter to P3 (go out and meet people face-to-face for anyone who might read this and isn't in recruiting) their way back to the station, punishment. Maybe if the SC worked with that person during this 5-mile P3 session I could believe it was training, but they didn't so I don't.

In my humble opinion USAREC ruins NCOs. I had an instructor at PLDC who said that E5s and above were one of two things: A Sergeant or a Non-Commissioned Officer. Basically the difference (and she had this whole thing elaboratly thought out and well-described) was a Sergeant was the guy who simply did what was required to keep the pay grade. A block-checker. An NCO though was someone who did their job, did it with a passion, and all while trying to groom their subordinates to become better than the NCO themself. My description is not doing justice to the instructor's indea, but it's my blog and I'll garble-up ideas if I want to. USAREC can take a fine NCO and make them into a Sergeant.

It's the nature of their mission. The meat-and-potatos of USAREC is putting people in the Army, which is a mission of individual accomplishment. You, the individual, is solely responsible for your success of failure. You're not part of a team. You can't share credit. And all the policies and procedures are backed up by a culture which is very quick to threaten an 8, 10, 12, 17 year veteran's career (how effective these threats are is debatable, but they are made). It takes an exceptional leader to be successful in recruiting while retaining the skills and traits that make for a successful Soldier and NCO in the real Army.

I am told every day that USAREC is the real Army. Every time I hear that I die a little on the inside. A wise man, or a tee-shirt, once said that "If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs you don't know what's going on." That goes through my mind every time my SC tells me that. I have no doubt that my SC was at one time a fine NCO. He's friendly, personable, easy to approach, and takes a personal interest in the lives of his subordinates. However, a decade in recruiting has atrophied the skills he used to apply those traits to helping his subordinates excel. What he's left with to "lead" us with is a carrot-and-a-stick. Which wouldn't be that bad if the carrot was really a carrot. Instead it's just not being hit with the stick as much.

SFC SC has said , famously within my station, "We (the recruiters) are always quick to ask for a reward, but we never have a punishment in mind." He's referring to us asking to go home early when we meet our daily Mission Accomplishment Plan (MAP), or some other measure of success. What he's asking when he says that is we know what we want when we do what we're supposed to, but he wants to know what to do when we don't. We're already working a 12-hour day, regardless of how many contracts we've got in. We're already getting phone calls from the First Sergeant and Sergeant Major asking "when will you be putting someone in?" We're already in USAREC. They can't have us shot (I hope), so, our answer is the same: "We're in recruiting, you've already punished us as much as you can." He doesn't like that very much.

When I'd started this post I'd had this image in my head of a well-thought-out disertation on how... different... USAREC treated its charges. But it's devolved into more of a gripe session than anything. And I hate that. Oh well.

Oh, and I realized that I need to learn a bit more about HTML. I'd really like to add a comment thing that's different from the Blogger-internal one. I'd really like for more people to be able comment. Not that I think there are people who read what I write, but aren't able to comment because of the blogger-only setting I've selected. I'm not that delusional or vain. But I'd like for the possibility of such a thing to occur, even if it doesn't.


JACK ARMY said...

First, comments: get Haloscan comments. Easy to do and you can start by clicking the button in my sidebar. Just register and follow the simple instructions. Done.

Next, USAREC Leadership: I agree with you completely. I had the same experience as a recruiter and as a station commander. I tried hard to get away from the "left alone/punished" mode, but my recruiters were too ingrained into the old way that every time I offered another incentive or a real reward, they didn't believe me and refused to do what it took to earn it.

All I can say is hang in there. I know that sounds hollow and trite, but that's really all there is. USAREC is fundamentally broke but refuses to see it. There is too much nepotism and "good-ol-boy" networking going on. Those that gained their positions in that atmosphere will resist changing it because it means they lose power. Power to move up and power to pull their buddies up. The officer corps doesn't see it because they aren't here long enough, but the 79R side is rotten to the top.

SFC B said...

It doesn't sound hollow and trite. That's the advice I've gotten from all the people I respect who have escaped from USAREC.

I'm seeing the good-ol-boy thing up-close and personal now. My station has sucked, sucked huge, like 20-40% mission accomplishment for 10 months now. We can't even SEE boxing. Our SC, who has been here for most of this suckitude, is being promoted and sent to work @ USAREC. He just has the right connections. He's even said as much. Oh well. It will end eventually.

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