Troops are a direct reflection of their NCO. A good NCO will always try to impart whatever bits of information they can whenever possible. Now, this doesn’t mean they need to be constantly teaching their troops the benefits of proper sight alignment (even though this is important). Sometimes, troops benefit from the little, practical lessons, like “it’s a bad idea to drink heavily the night before a ruck march.” Other times, troops learn best by example.
Whatever the teaching style, this is what troops can learn from a good NCO.
1. Get a head start on the right schools.
The military is ever changing — new equipment gets fielded daily and old techniques are retired. There’s always something new to learn.
If an NCO is trying to pick up a skill later in their career, chances are it’ll be important to a younger troop, too. Take note.
If they’re trying for a physical school — go for it. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)
2. Don’t request a duty station your NCO hated.
The old saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side” applies to every single military base. Your current unit is usually seen as sub-par, your last duty station is the best, and the next one will be better. If anyone thinks any differently, that’s an immediate red flag.
If your NCO hated their last duty station, they’re speaking from experience. You’ll probably hate it, too.
3. What’s actually needed on a packing list.
Packing lists in the military are pointless. If the packing list says to bring seven pairs of underwear for a three-day field op, you can probably leave a few at home.
NCOs have been on more field ops than the average Joe, so, if you see them bringing something else, it’ll probably be a good idea to bring it along yourself.
4. Don’t go where they won’t go off-post.
It’s almost always a joke when an NCOs tell their troops, “have a good weekend, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” But seriously, if you have a by-the-books NCO, they’ll hem your ass up for doing dumb sh*t.
Down-to-Earth NCOs, however, will probably show you some leniency if you get caught up doing something stupid that they’ve already done dozens of times before.
5. Pay attention to who is most “useful” in the unit.
Let’s be completely real for a moment: There are idiots in the service. But, as stupid as they are, you still have to treat them with courtesy deserving of their rank.
NCOs who need to get things done will professionally avoid the troops that probably needed an ASVAB waiver and go straight to the ones that can help them out in a snap. Remember who your NCO trusts.
If they sigh because it’s that guy working the armory that day, you won’t be out of there by 1700. (Photo by Sgt. Emily Greene)
6. Don’t fake stories they can fact check.
There’s a huge difference between embellishing and outright lying. You can easily spot the outrageous stories — like someone claiming they fired two AT-4s at the same time. But no one bats an eye if you claim that summers on the deployment are a little hotter than they actually are.
NCOs impart great knowledge through stories from previous deployments — but even their stories aren’t free from embellishment. Read between the lines and use common sense as a filter and you’ll quickly learn the difference between an insightful story and a complete fabrication.
7. If they can get away with something, know how and why.
Nobody is perfect and corners get cut. It all comes down to figuring out why you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff.
For example; if an NCO knows that they can be late to something by a few minutes, you probably can, too, but don’t overdo it.