Today during police call at the land navigation site, SST xx stopped me and asked me why I was smoking a cigarette and walking in line. I had no excuse, I had forgotten I was smoking and was Just going through the motions. So, in response, I have prepared this essay outlining the problem, the regulation, and the solution. Smoking while walking presents a distinctly unprofessional appearance, however I could not find any specific regulation that covered this subject. I can only morally side with the idea that using tobacco products in uniform presents an unprofessional appearance.
Therefore, this should be avoided. My actions today were only wrong in the moral sense, not the legal. The United States Army enforces and upholds only the highest standards for its Soldiers, both on and off duty. Each post has its only rules and regulations which can only further restrict form the “Big Mother Army’s” rules and regulations. As Specialists, we are charged with teaching our Junior soldiers and leading by example. Leading by example meaner showing them “what right looks like” and displaying our morals and Integrity.
Presenting a professional appearance shows the American and foreign civilian population that the Army is a group of trained, disciplined professionals, upholding the highest standards and acting as a disciplined adult. This appearance can be degraded by actions such as: walking and smoking, drinking/eating while walking, utilizing a cell phone while walking, use of profanity, and improper uniform wear, Just to name a few. All of these cumulatively affect the civilian perspective on the Army and US Military as a whole.
The consequences of bringing a negative light onto the US Military and the US Army can be severe. They can range from a verbal counseling, negative counseling, all the way up to an Article 15, Just for presenting a negative image unto the military and placing discredit upon yourself, your team, your unit, and the United States Army. In order to lead being a leader and a role model does not end when donning civilian attire. Your duties as a leader continue by example, all written and a few unwritten regulations must be followed.
You must show your Soldiers that 24/7/365, professionalism and discipline are the only things tolerated. No shenanigans, no lee-falconry, no disobedience or unprofessional will be tolerated nor displayed. A Soldier committing an act that is considered unprofessional must be counseled and chastised immediately. Nipping the issue in the bud is essential to mission efficiency and effectiveness. For example, a Soldier walking about Battalion in uniform, talking to a friend on his cell phone. You notice this and stop him, asking “what are you doing? Have you never read AR 670-1?
Fix yourself. ” Doing so allows the Soldier to self-correct, maintaining a professional standpoint on your part and resenting a clear, non-threatening message to the Soldier in question. In order to avoid a “paper trail” and potentially damaging a Soldiers career over a single incident, the most effective methods of maintaining discipline are: verbal counseling (near-to-nearest, “ass-chewing”), unsocial extra-duty, corrective P (participating with your Soldier of course), and extra-curricular corrective action (writing essays, hourly, check-ins, etc. . These allow you, the Team leader, to maintain a clear line between right and wrong without involving command beyond your level. This builds trust, rapport, camaraderie, and unit cohesiveness when used properly. If used in excess, it will cause a degradation in all of the above and result in more incidents of miscommunication and resistance to open communication. In order to prevent violations such as mine, certain preventative measures can be taken. Maintaining a strict enforcement of standards and a clear “ROE” will help prevent most issues.
Maintaining the standard thru the above listed non-Judicial punishment is the next level up. After that, getting leadership involved at the lowest bevel (squad or platoon sergeant) keeps minor issues “in house” and gives the chain of command flexibility and proper opportunity to control an issue before it must go up the chain further. Getting your Platoon Leader involved will usually involve some form of paperwork for the individual in question, as this will not have been the first offense. This is most likely where the paper trail begins if the team or squad leader hasn’t initiated it.
From there, things can only go downhill and progressively increase till the Soldier is pushed out, all over repeated incidents of unprofessional and a minor action hat snowballed into a greater overall issue. In these times of the Army looking to weed out the ranks of all “non-hackers”, being the best you can be and maintaining the standard is crucial to your success. In this aspect, I’m am already rolling a “snowball” which must be stopped as soon as possible, and as professionally as possible. In return for violating an unwritten rule, you tasked me with writing an essay, therefore consuming precious free time and energy.
In effect, this gives me motivation to never, ever even think about lighting up a cigarette and not keeping en foot planted in place. It also lets me, as a Soldier, remember my place in the “Big Picture” and re-cook myself back into the outstanding soldier I can be. In summary, ANY act of unprofessional, from walking and smoking to cursing and drinking in uniform, can have an adverse effect on both our image in the civilians’ perspective, and in our careers. A Soldier is sworn to obey the lawful orders of the President of the United States and all Officers appointed above him.
We must continue to uphold the standards expected of us, and set an example for all the Soldiers yet to Join our ranks. In order to prevent this action in the future, I will adhere to the standards set forth by my leadership and smoke only in designated areas on personal time and when authorized by leadership. While smoking I will maintain adherence to the standards by not walking about or otherwise behaving unprofessionally. This incident has shown me that even after years and years of being held to the standard, anyone can fall prey to complacency and find themselves writing an essay to explain their actions and the regulations.