Lesson # 9 from Starship Troopers

Today, we’re going to cover the ninth lesson from the book Starship Troopers.  This is the ninth lesson in the mini-series.  If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.

Lesson # 9: NCOs are the backbone of the Army!

Quote: “There never have has been an outfit in which officers and men were more dependent on each other than they are in the M.I., and sergeants are the glue that holds us together.  Never forget it.”

starship troopers bookMy Take: Both officers and NCOs have a very important role in combat.  They must work together to achieve success and lead the troops.  That being said, the NCOs really are the backbone of the Army.  They are the glue that keeps things together.  They provide the experience, discipline and experience to successfully guide the unit. They run the day-to-day operations in the military and provide the stability. 

That doesn’t mean the officer’s job isn’t important.  It is.  In combat, a good officer is worth their weight in gold.  But to think that the officer is the key to success, I would have to disagree.  The NCO is really the key to success.  The officer needs the NCO, just like the Soldiers do.  A good NCO can make a bad officer okay, a good officer great and an excellent officer, superb!  And they can do it without the officer even realizing that it is happening.

Another point I get from this quote is about the brotherhood in the infantry.  In the infantry things are different than in non-combat arms units.  In infantry units,there is an extremely close brotherhood between the Soldiers, NCOs and Officers.  They know that when the bullets start flying they will have to rely on each other to survive.  In the infantry, there is no “I” in team.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.

8 thoughts on “Lesson # 9 from Starship Troopers”

  1. Ironically, it's the best NCOs who are the least likely to get recognition because they would never claim credit for keeping the unit running. When they create a superb officer, the best NCOs would never tell the officer that s/he was the real source of success. In fact, they'd be embarrassed to take credit. It reminds me of how medical systems work. More doctors need to appreciate their nursing staff; it's the nurses keeping it together. Even for the docs who aren't inclined to give credit to nurses, you'd think they would do so for business reasons. Even if officers can't give public recognition to their NCOs, I hope they're doing so privately.

    1. The bottom line is that if you have people working for you, you need to take the time to recognize them publicly or privately. Let them know that you appreciate their efforts and contributions and that what they do has a positive impact on the organization. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

  2. All sorts of adverse conditions can create a cohesive unit that realizes the importance of having one another’s back, but I doubt there’s anything quite so adverse as combats and live bullets firing all around. That being said, my experience has been much like your own – it’s the folks that create the bridge between soldiers and officers that make all the difference in the world when it comes to making a unit work together and achieve a long line of successes.

  3. There are a lot more NCOs than officers, which gives us the opportunity to have more impact on our units. We take direction from our officers and then make things happen–we don’t sit on our thumbs and wait for micromanagement. The NCO Creed reminds us, “Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine.” And one of my favorite lines from the Creed is “I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders.”

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