Best Defense

Should NCOs be required to write better?

An Australian regimental sergeant major thinks they should up their literary game.

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An Australian regimental sergeant major thinks they should up their literary game.

Of course, that goes against the tradition that non-comissioned officers are competent soldiers but not necessarily readers and writers. Reading maps and writing orders historically was the job of officers.

I’m of two minds. I’ve been discussing the issue with the Best Defense Council of the Former Enlisted. One good point is that times are changing: Enlisted are better writers than they were 200 years ago, while officers are far worse. Indeed, some officers are virtually illiterate, and depend on PowerPoint, which to my mind is like trying to ride a tricycle in a bicycle race.

Another member of the Council asks, If enlisted have to have all the enlisted skills (like fluency with multiple radios), and now need officer skills, why maintain the distinction between officers and enlisted?

Photo credit: Tom Woodward/Flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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