Biggest Challenges for Army, ARNG and USAR NCOs

Post Compiled from Reader Comments

About a week ago, I sent out an email asking “what are the biggest challenges for today’s part-time Army NCOs?” Listed below are the responses I received.  I thought you might find it interesting to hear what other NCOs had to say.  If there was a typo I fixed it.  Also, I removed the duplicates.  I tried not to change any of the responses, in order to maximize the impact.  If there are a few grammatical errors, please ignore them.  These are responses from current NCOs in the ARNG and USAR:

  • Time Management: look at where you’re focusing your attention – is it about making improvements or are you just putting out fires?
  • Developing quality Officers – hold them accountable to emulate what true professionalism looks like.
  • Leave it at work – don’t treat your family like your junior enlisted…they do NOT work for you.
  • Making sure information is flowing in the proper direction, from a senior NCO through me to my subordinates, or the reverse, if information needs to flow upward.
  • Enforcing the standard when my superiors and battle buddies don’t enforce the standard.
  • Reporting substandard practices to the proper personnel when my superiors fail to care about the standard after it’s brought to their attention that per X regulation, they are in the wrong.
  • Making the Hard right and not taking short cuts – If you take short cuts or make an exception you might be expected to do it again or you will be called on it. Do it the right way and you can’t get called on it. If you do make a short cut, be prepared to have a good explanation. Don’t blow smoke. If you don’t have an explanation, admit you were wrong and that the mistake will never happen again. This gives you a cleaner slate than blowing smoke up someone else in order to cover yours.
  • Quality Control – Young Joe’s like to get things done fast. If the day is coming close to an end the decision should be “Do I start or finish the task properly and stay late or can it wait until tomorrow?” If you ask “How can I get it done faster so I can leave on time and not have to worry about it later?” you leave a lot of room for mistakes and may have to do it again, which will waste your time and your Joe’s time. Haste makes waste.
  • Telling Joe that he won’t be getting what he was promised. It seems to be the norm to enlist a Soldier and promise them a bonus or student loan repayment. There have been numerous times where the person that enlisted the Soldier didn’t get the form filled out correctly and the contract becomes void. Or they lead Joe to believe that ALL of the loans will be paid. That is not the case. Up to 15% or $500, whichever is greater, will be paid annually on the loan. Not to mention you need to keep it in good standing and make your monthly payments or the guard won’t pay the loan.  It’s not just with enlistments. It’s anything that was created for morale and publicized and then fails to happen. Gifts for Soldiers who deploy based on how many deployments, getting released from drill early, having an awesome FRG event, or making sure things are done in a timely manner for paper work.  When those things are promised to the Soldiers, I absolutely hate being the one that tells them they won’t be getting whatever reason it is that they aren’t getting. This makes my top 3 because it happens too often. Then the military wonders why we have a problem maintaining our numbers.
  • That as a leader you are taking care of your Soldiers.
  • Making sure you stay proficient in your MOS.
  • Making sure subordinates under you follow the standard.
  • Holding the newly promoted NCO’s responsible to their elected position (this is not just a pay increase).
  • Proper counseling, utilizing DA 2166-8-1.
  • Understanding Army Regulations (to many Soldiers complain using the IG as a crutch).
  • Complete all NCOES requirements before getting promoted.
  • Taking on the hard assignments.
  • Getting NCO to take owner ship of the task assign to them
  • Communicating information from officer to NCO
  • Keeping NCO Motivated and focused.
  • Training Soldiers to survive in combat
  • Training Soldiers to survive after combat

I’m really trying to add to this list of biggest challenges for Army, ARNG and USAR NCOs.  If you know of a common problem, please share it with the rest of our community by leaving a comment below. If you have any questions we may be able to answer, you can leave them here too.  Thanks.

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5 thoughts on “Biggest Challenges for Army, ARNG and USAR NCOs”

  1. I think the biggest issue is the time issue. Doing all of the things that need to be done in just one weekend a month is next to impossible.

  2. Bravo on this one: Leave it at work – don’t treat your family like your junior enlisted…they do NOT work for you.

    I remember a friend’s father’s treatment of her and her siblings sometimes as if they were in the military. Some of the actions such as insisting on cleanliness, neatness, and time management were good for them, but insisting that they do 100 pushups at ages 5, 7, and 9 as punishment for taking a few bites of an apple and putting it back in the refrigerator was unreasonable and physically abusive. I think he was fraught with worry that his kids would grow to be lazy adults. He was an NCO and a man who told exciting stories to us and took us for fun piggyback rides, but he was scary when it came to punishment.

  3. NCOs have an incredible amount of responsibilities as cited in the article. With Army enlisted and Officers often looking first to NCOs for assistance, I imagine it must be an extremely difficult challenge to not “bring home” the stress and rigor of Army life. To that end, I strongly suggest NCOs seek guidance from counselors with whom they can vent frustrations from Army life. There is no shame in asking for help dealing with stress. In fact, it shows courage doing so.

    1. That’s a great point, Neil. Consulting with professional counselors and mentors is a great way to relieve stress and learn new skills. While counseling was one time looked down upon in the military, it is more accepted now. If a Soldier needs professional help, they should seek it out.

  4. Leave it at work is a huge one in my opinion. This is so hard to do in almost any avenue of work, and I could imagine it can be exponentially harder in that line of work. It is crucial though, just to maintain sanity.

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