Last night I was reading in the Coffee Shop and when a national guard master sergeant walked over and talked to me. He is 57. He could see I am his age/generation and decided to be friendly by talking about "these kids today. . ." The subject on his mind was physical training. He said when his unit got activated they had a 31% pass rate on the fitness test (APFT). Right away I felt better. My unit had a 63% pass rate at the beginning of training--twice as good the Wisconson company. Right now we are at almost 90% overall and all but one soldier in the motor pool (Sergeant Rumpled if you remember him) has passed. I think his boys and girls haven't yet gotten to the level where we started.
I could quickly see we were not going to be friends. He did not think anyone should be doing PT in Iraq, especially running, and he, himself, thought PT was unnecessary at our age. He then told me he flunked his last PT test because he had to run at 4000 feet of altitude. (He needed to run two miles in 19:54!!!) Since the conversation was the standard old-guy lecture format of "I have an idea in my head just now and I am going to get it all out before I forget it" I mentioned that I do PT every day before he went any further.
He took a breath then said how he works very hard as a mechanic and then works at home and in his yard after his eight hours.
I told him I had to go to a meeting.
The Master Sergeant had no idea he is the problem. I listen to the old-school guys every day talking about how undisciplined the new generation is. But like master sergeant "world-revolves-around-me," the ones who see the younger generation as full of excuses are themselves shining example of excuse-makers. "These kids won't listen."
Are you kidding me? We are in Iraq. Where are they going to go? The trouble is that putting a soldier on extra duty means someone has to supervise it. Which is a huge pain in the butt for the NCO involved. But there is no problem doing it. People have extra duty for various infractions in our company because we have NCOs who are there to supervise it. Extra duty also has the great advantage of correcting conduct before the soldier screws up enough to get busted and have a permanent blot on their record. Extra duty is just that.
By the way, it's the 30-year-old NCOs in our unit--backed up by the first sergeant and commander--who keep discipline in the company as much as possible. In my world, the younger leaders are the clear about their duty. Some of the older ones, not so much.
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