The United States Army is one of the most powerful militaries on the planet. It has been said that Non-Commissioned Officers are the backbone of the United States Army. Respect for the non-commissioned officers is integral for any Army mission. Respect is an Army value and as such, should influence a soldier’s actions daily. Throughout this paper I will first define and describe respect in the United States Army, then outline the role of respect in a military environment, how respect empowers non-commissioned officers to lead soldiers and how showing respect to superiors and subordinates builds habits that will save lives in a deployed environment. Finally I will outline the role and responsibilities of a non commissioned officer in the United States Army. These subjects are part of the reason that I and other soldiers respect non-commissioned officers in the United States Army. According to Merriam-Webster, respect is a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation, an act of giving particular attention or consideration to, giving high or special regard or esteem to, the quality or state of being esteemed and the expressions of high or special regard or deference.
In the United States Military, furthermore the Army, respect should be given without personal biased or towards race, religion, ethnicity, age, or gender. There are two aspects of respect in the United States Army. Respect for the person; which can be earned and lost as in the civilian world. Further, respect for rank; which will be given regardless of personal views and/or biases. In a military environment orders have to be issued and communicated in a moment’s notice. Respect is key in this process. If there is even a slight delay in this process anywhere from commander to soldier; then efficiency and discipline are forfeit. Say that a non-commissioned officer receives the orders from the commander and when he or she in turn issues the orders to his or her soldiers and the soldiers do not respect him: then the orders will not be received well and the tasks will not be completed with any efficiency or any certain quality.
A military cannot function without this foundational respect. Essentially, giving respect is a choice. Whether the respect is given to superiors or given to subordinates. Generally the Army policy demands respect is given to superiors. Regardless it is still the choice of the person to show that respect. Showing respect to non commissioned officers empowers them to lead soldiers. A non-commissioned officer can issue orders and demand tasks be completed all day long but it is the soldiers choice of respecting that non-commissioned officer that enables efficiency. Not to say the soldier holds power of any non-commissioned officer; just to imply that there need be an environment of teamwork and mutual trust. My father once said “It is easy to see if you are good leader. Just turn around and see if anyone is following.” This captures the relationship of confidence and trust that is created upon the foundation of the Army value of respect. A soldier needs to have the utmost confidence in his leadership.
A scene from Star Wars: Episode I, Qui Gon Gin told Anakin Skywalker to drop suddenly. Unbeknownst to Anakin; a speeder bike was about to crush him. Anakin, without hesitation, dropped to the floor to safety. This is a perfect example of how respect can save a life. It starts with respect! Respect will not create the relationship of confidence that saved Anakin’s life. Mutual respect, although, is a core foundation for the confidence and the trust that can save lives. It is building the habit of utilizing respect at a simple garrison environment that, when in a deployed environment, will perpetuate the efficiency that, in turn, saves lives. A non commissioned officer has, through his or hers experience, been placed in a position to lead, supervise and train soldiers. Through real “hands on” experiences, and progression through the enlisted ranks, the non commissioned officer should be in a position of self confidence and esteem, that their position alone should demand respect from both enlisted soldiers and officers.
The non commissioned officer represents the United States Army. Their very existence allows the officers to plan, organize, lead, and direct Army operations. The non commissioned officer is responsible for the preparation, training, and readiness of soldiers. This is a non commissioned officer leadership role, not the role of an officer. Basic soldier skills (rifle marksmanship, first aid, navigation, law of land warfare, small unit tactics, CBRN) should be the skills mastered by a non commissioned officer. Non commissioned officers have proven themselves in combat since the Revolutionary War. In the absence of commissioned officers, non commissioned officers have been commissioned on the battlefield to continue the mission, and lead our soldiers. Respecting non commissioned officers shows a soldier’s pride in his or her unit and the United States Army. Less than 30% of the population of the United States are eligible to serve in the military and less than 1% actually serve.
There is a sense of pride of not only being eligible but willing to serve in the United States Military. The United States Army and its units have a proud history. The non commissioned officer corps has a great history within the Army’s. As soldiers, we are not only showing respect to the current non commissioned officers, but the past non commissioned officers as well. In conclusion, these subjects are part of the reason that I and other soldiers respect non-commissioned officers in the United States Army. Throughout this paper I have first defined and described respect in the United States Army, then outlined the role of respect in a military environment, how respect empowers non-commissioned officers to lead soldiers and how showing respect to superiors and subordinates builds habits that will save lives in a deployed environment. Finally I have outlined the role and responsibilities of a non commissioned officer in the United States Army. Respect for the non-commissioned officers (the backbone of the Army) is integral for any Army mission.