NCOs in the American Army, 1945-Present
The “Backbone of the Army” is the highlighted phrase in the NCO (noncommissioned officer) creed. In this day and age, the most famous passage among the military is that Noncoms or NCO is the backbone of the Army. NCO corps to a large extent is time-honored through the years. It is considerably the backbone given that it stemmed from the Continental Army in the year 1775. It is a blend of customs and principles organized by the militaries of France and England. In due course, NCO already established its own formation for other nations to follow.
Sad to hear, Kaplan (2005) stated that NCO corps have became the real workhorses of post-9/11 military and it is not from among the generals and colonels, or even the captains and lieutenants, but from the enlisted ranks of sergeants and corporals. These noncommissioned officers are the heart and soul of the U.S. military, the repository of its culture and traditions. They are a poorly paid, blue-collar corps, many of them just high school graduates (p.1). However during the occurrence of the Civil war, the duties and roles of the noncoms became more intricate and strenuous. For the duration of the combat, hold the unit colors. The role of the noncoms were quite difficult yet there is a big significance to the army since the carrying of unit colors enable army commanders to notify the spot of the units on the combat zone through surveillance of the site of the unit colors. After the Civil War, NCOs were charged with maintaining good order and discipline among the troops. This was difficult at times; the Army was moving west and living in some very challenging locations (Hiltner, 2003, p.1).
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According to the Army Training and Leader Development Panel Report released in 2002, the roles of noncommissioned officers or noncoms in military lingo are to provide training to soldiers and concentrate on a single soldier training. Another duty is to carry out the daily concern of the Army inside a recognized policy. In addition to that is to deal mostly with group leading and single soldier training. To guarantee that auxiliary teams, NCOs and soldiers are ready to perform as effective group members and unit is another duty of the NCO.
The historical account of the Army is perpetually bounded to the great heroic stories of military officials as well as noncommissioned officers. One of the famous heroes who was a noncommissioned officer was Edward A. Carter Jr. Son of a missionary Reverend E.A. Carter, this man participated the Chinese Nationalist Army when he was still a minor. His father learned about his whereabouts and told the authorities regarding his son’s age. Edward wanted to enter the US Army in Manila unluckily he winded up in Europe participating in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, volunteers from the United States who were anti-Franco and Nationalists. After more than three years in Spain, Carter joined the US army and was advanced to the rank of Staff Sergeant in a few months. His unit was sent to Europe and he was one of the first of the groups selected with the Seventh Army Provisional Infantry Company No.1 and assigned to the 56th Armored Infantry Battalion of the 12th Armored Division. An incident in the year 1945 occurred when riding on a Sherman tank near Germany, Carter’s detachment ran into heavy bazooka, he tried to lead a three-man group, however two of his men died, he alone killed 6 of the 8 enemy riflemen and captured the remaining two, after that event, he received the award of Distinguished Service Cross which was the second highest award for valor (Elder, 2003, p.9).
Another prominent noncommissioned officer was the King of Rock and Roll. Sergeant Elvis Aaron Presley worked with pride and honor in the 1st Medium Tank Battalion and 3d Armored Division situated in Friedburg, Germany. His rank was an assistant squad leader. On the late 1950’s Presley turned out to be a Private. He carried out his task and on the first month of the year 1960, he advanced to being a sergeant. At the climax of his military career, he received a Certificate of Achievement coming from Major Gen. Frederick Brown who was the Commander of the 3d Armored Division.
Another narrative showing heroism was the account of Roy Benavidez coming from a Mexican lineage. He lived a desolate life during his childhood days in Texas and became an orphan when he was seven. He entered the US army when he was twenty years old and succeeded on the struggles and order of life in the armed forces. He was first assigned to Vietnam in the year 1965 however Roy’s leg was sternly damaged in a land mine. Unexpectedly, he returned to Vietnam War after his six-month recovery at Brooke Medical Center in Texas. The fateful event happened when Roy was with the Detachment B56 of the 5th Special Forces Group. While hearing the action of a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team that was placed by helicopters in a forest area, Roy have known that the group had encountered adversary resistance and requested emergency assistance. After failure of three trials, Roy voluntarily rode a returning helicopter and upon coming to the site of the team, the members were either injured or dead and unable to move to the pickup zone, he carried the wounded team members to the aircraft despite getting painful injuries in the head, leg and face, he threw smoke canisters to direct the chopper to the unit’s location. As the adversary’s fire grew worse, he swiftly recover the body and classified documents on the dead team leader after that he alone provided ammunition and water to the wounded team. Enemy resistance started to increase so in turn Benavidez called for tactical air strikes (Elder, 2003, p.15). Though he was severely injured from the battle scene he assured that the classified documents had been gathered and also he was able to rescue the injured team members from death. In recognition of his heroism and bravery, noncommissioned officer Benavidez received the Distinguished Service Cross. After several years, it was learned that Benavidez should have gotten a higher award however he was praised by President Ronald Reagan in the White House.
Many outstanding accounts of present heroes were not known to many. Another historical narration of gallantry can be observed on the life of a noncommissioned officer Melvin C. Lervick. A Montana resident, Lervick attended the Army in the late 1960’s. He was presented with the opportunity to join the (OCS) or Officers Candidate School despite the fact that he was still partaking in the Washington training. After heading to Fort Benning, he realized that after the OCS graduation he will be dispatched to Vietnam and required to have an extra six-year responsibility in the Reserves. After learning this, it came to his mind that he was intended to be sent off to Vietnam. At the end of the training, he was transmitted to the said Asian country and was appointed the position of a squad leader. Lervick was hit by a sniper bullet near the left arm roughly almost in his heart after three weeks in Vietnam. He stayed for six months in the hospital located in Tacoma Washington and endured two major operations and also physical therapy. After recovery, he never went back to serve the army, he worked as an IT programmer in Washington.
The last story was about a noncommissioned officer who proved to be great inspite being a woman. Daughter of Reverend Willie, Mildred Kelly was a resident of Tennessee. After graduating from secondary school, she went to college and finished a degree in Mathematics and Chemistry at Knoxville College. After the completion of tertiary education, she studied at American and George Washington University to earn a masteral degree. Afterwards, she became a chemistry teacher in high school and when she turned at the age of 22, she pursued a military profession by joining the United States Army Women’s Army Corps situated in Virginia. Kelly, a woman of ambition tried to go in for her objective to be on the highest position and receive the rank of E-7. Fortunately, President Truman had released an executive order in the late 1940’s which stated fair and just treatment and uniform opportunity in the military and after six years, the Secretary of Defense made a declaration of stopping segregation issues in the military. Inspite of these, women in the Army should exclusively work for WAC. However, Jimmy Carter released another presidential order eradicating WAC as a separate corps. She was transmitted to Kentucky and she was bestowed the position of Personnel Clerk at the Finance Center of United States. In the mid-1950’s she was transported to an Asian country, Japan to work as a Personnel Sergeant and then headed back to Alabama. In the late 1950’s she gained a higher position of Management Specialist in Maryland. She again was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Apparently, she was among the first women who received huge promotions in the army, a good example is Carolyn James who was given the rank of E-8. In the year of 1974, Mildred became the first African American woman to hold the grade and position of Command Sergeant Major and served at a major Army headquarters at US Army Proving Ground (Moore, 1997, p.515). Kelly decided to start army retirement during the period of 1970’s and settled on working at the American Association of Dental Schools.
Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) is one of the significant things that built the strong image of NCO Corps nowadays. The Corps is the envy of every Army in the world. NCOES will remain a viable pillar of NCO Leader Development- a solid foundation to build the skills needed to lead and train the Army of all the tomorrow. It will no be at the same high standards as the past years, but leverage technology and distance learning where it makes sense it will serve the Army and the NCO Corps of the 21st Century well. The said education system will impart number of ways of guaranteeing the standard NCO’s continued involvement to an interminably modernizing Army. These training systems are more than simply some more schools; they are true educational institutions. The entire system available to the enlisted force continues to improve and is the prime catalyst in producing a more professional force (Hall, 2005, p.1).
The progress of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System commenced in the year 1947 along with the creation of the 2d Constabulary Brigade NCO School in Munich, Germany. Military principles for NCO schools were issued after several years and before the start of 1960’s, participants of NCO schools increased to more than a hundred thousand. During the period of 1970 to 1980 was the expansion of the Noncommissioned Officer Education System and presently there is an addition to the training which is the Primary Leadership Development Course and after this is the Sergeants Major Course.
Unlike before, the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) is coupled with advancement. The completion of each training stage is definitely a prerequisite in order to keep up the progress to the next level. The training provided by the NCO is vital to make soldiers triumphant during the actual war. NCO development is more than handing soldiers a study guide and telling them to get ready for the next promotion board. NCO instructs, guides, and advises on a daily basis. The soldiers observe the NCOs 24 hours a day. They see, know, and do what we demonstrate through our words and actions. When a soldier fails to meet the criterion at an NCOES training course, it certainly shows that an NCO will not succeed. A small number of soldiers do not pass an NCOES course due to intellectual intricacy. Soldiers more often than not do not pass the Army Physical Fitness Test or meet the height and weight standards. NCOs can thwart these letdowns if they take the time. Once you observed and become aware of the warning signs. You know the right thing to do. (Hiltner, 2003. p.2.)
The Rifle, 7.62mm, M14 series and Rifle, Cal. .30-06, M1, Garand were the weapons utilized by the NCO’s during the year 1957 and 1936, consecutively. Common frustration with the M14 series resulted to the creation of Rifle, 5.56mm, M16/M16A1 which is lighter than the previous artillery used. After the development of rifle 5.56mm was the Armalite AR-15 which was upon the approval of the Secretary of Defense got the name M16 rifle. The shotguns 12 gauge was the weapon used by NCO before and now is being carried by the US army as a special purpose weapon. This 12-gauge shotgun is used for guard duty, prisoner supervision, local security, riot control and any situation that might require the use of weapons of limited range and penetration but maximum stopping power (“12-gauge” 1999). The M1911A1 .45 Caliber Pistol was a semiautomatic pistol employed during the era of World War I, II and the Korean War. It was generally appreciated for its reliability and lethality by the officers and soldiers intended for individual protection and safety. The designer John Moses Browning manufactured the most widely used pistol in United States and in other countries. Presently, it is being carried by numerous law enforcement agencies as well as the Hostage Rescue Team of the NBI. The Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), M249 Light Machine Gun is considerably the squad leader’s weapon. The M249 SAW is used to engage dismounted infantry, crew-served weapons, antitank guided missile (ATOM) teams, and thin-skinned vehicles. The SAW has become the standard automatic rifle of the infantry squad and has proven useful with the changing of the M16 to a three round burst weapon (“Squad” 1999).
Noncommissioned Officer Corps provide important contributions in the American Army. The military should devote greatly on developing a strong Noncommissioned Officer Corps since the relation of both groups are highly intertwined and beneficial to one another.
12-gauge Shotgun.(1999, January 21). FAS. Retrieved May 30, 2008 from http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/12-gauge.htm.
Elder, D. (2003, April 30). Remarkable Sergeants: Ten Vignettes of Noteworthy NCOs. NCOhistory. Retrieved May 29, 2008 from http://www.ncohistory.com/files/RemarkableSgts.pdf.
Hall, R. (2005, June 20). Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES). NCO Matters, 1.
Hiltner, P. (2003, September). Backbone development – Regimental Command Sergeant Major. CML Army Chemical Review, 1-3.
Kaplan, R. (2005, October 24). In praise of the noncoms. Los Angeles Times, 1.
Moore, F. (1997). Women of the War. Connecticut: Elephant Books.
Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), M249 Light Machine Gun. (1999, January 20). FAS. Retrieved May 30, 2008 from http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m249.htm.