Why NCOs Need Their Officers

We spend a lot of time hearing about why officers need their NCOs. I am the FIRST person to say this! I believe that if an officer doesn’t think they need their NCOs, they are due for a mutiny. I do think that NCOs need their officers, too. Why is this? I have three very important reasons that overshadow just about everything else.

1. Stuff Rolls Downhill – Don’t you have a job to do? Wouldn’t dealing with politics and higher echelon drama impede your execution of orders and training of Soldiers? Yes, I think so too. If you are a PSG, your PL can and should protect you as much as they can from the stuff coming down from higher, if necessary. Some things can be filtered to where the PL takes the brunt of it and the Soldiers barely feel the effects. THIS is the officer’s job, to protect their Soldiers from unnecessary burdens.  Why should a PSG have to take a butt chewing from a higher ranking officer? One example I can think of is during a colleague’s deployment – he was a 2LT, but a scrolled out Ranger tabbed stud from his enlisted days. His NCOs were running a PSD detail, and a MAJ was giving them some kind of hell. Instead of taking it, they excused themselves, went and got their LT, who came back and handled the situation. It was much more appropriate for the LT to talk to the MAJ, since that officer was not listening to the NCO (even though the LT and NCO were saying the same exact things).

2. Planning – That kind of goes without saying. However, NCOs are used to always being around, and doing everything – we all know you can do what needs to be done so the mission can get completed successfully.  You know what it is like when your PL is gone to school, or if they aren’t upholding their duties. As my husband put it, “It’s just so much better when the officer can do their job and I can do mine, it is how the Army is supposed to function.” Nobody is disputing that you can handle everything, but isn’t it better when your officers are there and engaged in what is happening? Who really wants to sit in planning meetings, write OPORDs and the like? I don’t know any NCO that wants to be engaged with those tasks more than what they are supposed to be doing. Otherwise, they would become officers.

3.  The Commander’s Authority is What Upholds UCMJ – Hear me out. Corrective training is a big favorite of mine. I think that NCOs have a great task to mold and mentor their Soldiers, and corrective training is one way to help them. However, if things get serious, and you need to enforce discipline onto a Soldier beyond informal corrective training (I’m talking UCMJ), you need the commander’s support, or it goes nowhere. You can make recommendations, but if you don’t have a commander that supports your objectives, it doesn’t matter.  If you have big training goals for your platoon, and it involves Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP), and your commander doesn’t support that – your plan will go nowhere. It is best to sit down and make sure your commander is on the same page as you with any kind of corrective training or punishment for not upholding standards (failed APFT, for example). If you have a strict plan, but no follow through, your Soldiers will see that. With your commander’s support, you will have bite behind your bark, so to speak.

Final Thoughts: I think it is easy to see that NCOs need officers, just like officers need NCOs. We need each other, nobody can really do it alone. We need to support each other, and ensure we are on the same page. Soldiers should see unity, that is the bottom line.

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

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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10 thoughts on “Why NCOs Need Their Officers”

  1. I have to believe that every position serves a greater purpose. Of course NCOs and officers need each other and being able to play nice and get things done is a sign of a great team because they’ve mastered communication, delegation and common goals. Ever watch that movie Drumline? There’s a part where every section says they’re the most important but in truth every position is required.

  2. Candace Ginestar

    I agree, and comparing it to a sports team is a great analogy. I definitely think we all need each other, at the very least, efficiency will be much better if all the slots are filled. We do need to know how to fill in if someone is absent, though.

    1. I have heard this has become a huge problem in today’s Army. I speak of all the slots being filled. With all the cuts, it seems that many vacancies are left forcing others to pick up the job responsibilities. Hopefully, some of the government officials that have proposed and instituted those cuts will realize how they are putting soldiers at risk, and making the system very hard to manage. I commend all who are picking up the responsibilities that need to be done.

  3. this is very well put together post Candace. It comes down to the fact that the Army is one big team. The team goes nowhere when even the lowest of players is missing. It really goes nowhere when there high up player is missing. The whole team needs each other. One person cannot do it all, even if they think they can. Yes NCOs need Officers and vice versa. Just as a Quarterback needs the line coach, and of course the defensive coordinator needs the Quarterback.I too hope the ones who read this choose the 98% also.

  4. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, I completely agree. It is a team, and we need each other to win. I can’t do my job and be successful without my NCOs and Soldiers. I know this. I have met a lot of NCOs that hate officers, and I have been able to win them over. Their reasons for hating officers vary, but a lot of times they really just want to feel supported by their officers – they want to have backup, essentially. Nothing feels worse to an NCO than an officer that undermines them (just as it feels bad when an NCO undermines the commander). NCOs have a lot of hands on with the Soldiers, and if an officer doesn’t enable them to do their job, everyone suffers.

    1. Good point, Candace. It is a bit of a double edged sword. I will tell you that a good Officer is worth their weight in gold, especially in combat. At the end of the day, Officers and NCOs should work together, know their job, and stay in their lane. Of course, that’s much easier said than done!

  5. Great post, Candace.

    I’ve never met an officer who said they didn’t need their NCOs, but I’ve met lots of NCOs who said they would be fine without an officer.

    And I think that’s a shame.

    The only reason an NCO would ever say that is because (1) they hate officers, (2) their officer is a derelict, or (3) they don’t understand the officer’s job.

    If officers are reading this post, I want you to know this. Your primary job is MISSION PLANNING, future ops, leader development and collective training.

    If NCOs are reading this, your job is Soldier development, current operations, discipline and individual training,

    As you can see, officers and NCOs have very different jobs. Both are equally important.

    In many cases, the NCO has do to their own job, plus the officer’s job. This happens because the officer doesn’t know what their job is, or they aren’t doing it right.

    I can’t let all the NCOs off the hook either. You have to stop trying to do everything yourself and let your officer do their job!

    If every NCO and Officer working together would sit down and talk about what their roles are (what I just mentioned) 98% of these issues would go away.

    Hopefully, the people who read this will choose to be part of the 98 percent.


    1. I think some of the cases of NCO’s hating Officers comes from being in the company of terrible officers. They become prejudice and think every officer is the same. In some cases, I believe NCO’s just get on a “power trip” and cannot get off. There needs to be a system that puts anyone who is stepping beyond their bounds to be set back in place. I do hope both NCOs and officers read this post and take a moment to reflect on it.

      1. Insubordination is never tolerated. If an officer was to catch one of their NCOs talking badly about them, they could use UCMJ. Other than that, I’m not sure what you could do.

      2. Candace Ginestar

        Greg, from what I have observed, there have been units that have had officer vacancies for awhile. So, the NCO gets used to doing their duties on top of what the officer would be doing – they get a false sense of ‘I can do it all’, so when an officer actually does fill the vacancy, the NCO doesn’t think they need them.

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