Well, you done messed up, kid. You screwed up, everything is your fault, and there’s no way of wiggling out of it. You’ve just got to take it on the chin and carry on.
Unfortunately, genuine mistakes happen from time to time. We’re all human after all. But young troops, especially the good ones, take making a mistake a bit too hard. They’ve spent their entire training getting ready for the stringent task of being in the military only to find themselves on the wrong side of an as*chewing.
To these troops, that’s it. Their morale is now shattered because it feels like the world is collapsing down on them. Now, this isn’t to say that troops shouldn’t strive for perfection — because that’s what Uncle Sam demands — but small mishaps happen and will be quickly forgotten if improvements are made. If it’s truly a mistake that wasn’t done maliciously, just learn for next time.
After all, the primary role of a good NCO is to teach their younger troops to be better.
And never use the “I have diarrhea” excuse. Best case scenario, they don’t believe you. Worst case scenario, you’re being honest and they still don’t believe you.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Caila Arahood)
Showing up late to formation
Showing up at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform is paramount to maintaining good order and discipline in the military. But things do happen that prevent someone from meeting all three of these criteria. Just explain the situation and your superiors will (likely) forgive you.
Whatever you do, however, don’t make excuses. NCOs have a keen eye for detecting bullsh*t because they themselves have probably used the same excuse of, “I, uh, totally had, uh… car problems. That’s it. Car problems.” in their earlier years. If you have proof that you made an effort to be on time, it’ll be fine.
Just grab a battle buddy and have fun with it.
(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)
Low PT scores
Failing anything sucks, but failing something that goes down on your
sort of permanent record and having to spend your off time in remedial training is worse. That’s what happens when you fail a physical fitness test.
An unspoken truth about morning PT is that it isn’t really meant to improve troops physically, but rather to sustain the level of fitness they already have. The PT that’s led by the company is designed to keep troops at a manageable plateau of “good enough” rather than sculpt Greek gods out of marble. The only way to improve is to actually workout after hours, or deal with the command-directed remedial training.
A good coach can pinpoint exactly where your issues are just by looking at your shot grouping.
(U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Eben Boothby)
Not shooting ‘Expert’ at the range
This one stings more for combat arms troops, but it weighs down some gung-ho support guys as well. Units barely get enough range time as it is and the Sergeant’s Time Training, during which you have to balance the washer or dime on the end of a barrel, just doesn’t help as much as you’d think.
The only way to truly improve your shooting ability is with some one-on-one training at a range. Spend more time zeroing and getting advice on how to improve your sight picture and trigger squeeze and you’ll see your qualification score improve dramatically.
If it’s actually busted busted, just blame the lowest bidder.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alexander Mitchell)
Screwing up a piece of equipment
Breaking something on someone else’s hand receipt is a serious problem. Intentionally destroying government property is far worse. Messing something up that can easily be fixed if brought to the right person is not.
Let’s say you mess up a radio. If you politely ask the commo guy what’s wrong, they won’t ask questions, they’ll fix it. It’s their job. You may get a little salt poured on your wounds when you’re called an idiot, but that’s about it — no need to freak out.
Even your chain of command isn’t perfect.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachariah Grabill)
Genuinely not knowing an order that was just given
The military is an ever-changing beast. Commands flow down from The Pentagon to the branches which are then adapted by the divisions which are then modified at the brigade level, twisted by the battalion level, and then changed entirely at the company level. This is what is called “sh*t rolling down hill.”
Somewhere along all those links in the long chain of command, you might find a contradiction. One officer may say, “Dress uniforms only on CQ/Staff Duty” and you may not have gotten that memo. As long as your immediate superior hasn’t directly said it to you, you’ll do alright.
Never take the fall for a blue falcon. They won’t ever do the same for you.
Associating with sh*tbag troops
No matter which branch you serve in, everyone always harps on accountability of your peers. Unfortunately, not all of your peers are going to be the sane, functional people like you. It’s inevitable: You’ll run into that one dirtbag who just can’t get right, but you’ll still end up being the “good guy” who tries to save them.
Don’t take it personal and don’t be a dick about it, but do yourself a favor and distance yourself from them. This doesn’t mean you should rat them out to the NCOs — unless it’s a serious offense that would result in jail time for you by not taking it to the MPs. Just sidestep the problem before the chain of command thinks you’re also a part of it.