Military retirement (II): And a few more words about the role of NCOs
Here are a few words that follow on yesterday’s comments by Bob Goldich. By Col. Robert Killebrew, U.S. Army (ret.) Best Defense guest columnist I might reinforce the thought that NCOs are the jewel in the crown of the armed services; one old petty officer once said that it’s harder to be a good NCO ...
Here are a few words that follow on yesterday's comments by Bob Goldich.
Here are a few words that follow on yesterday’s comments by Bob Goldich.
By Col. Robert Killebrew, U.S. Army (ret.)
Best Defense guest columnist
I might reinforce the thought that NCOs are the jewel in the crown of the armed services; one old petty officer once said that it’s harder to be a good NCO than it is to be a good officer, and that’s true. Within the services, they are an entirely different class of people; less well paid than officers, but aware of their specialness, tougher on each other than officers are on one another, and masters of their trade.
In my experience in the Army, a command sergeant major exemplifies what the NCO corps is. He or she is expected to be the expert on all things relating to the training and leadership of young soldiers; in my battalion, he "advised" on all assignments of enlisted personnel and officers — I mean he made them and I agreed — and he ran the lives and careers of First Sergeants and Platoon Sergeants with tact toward the company commanders and other officers. (He also, behind closed doors, gave me NCO perspectives on the development of my junior officers). First Sergeants have the same relationships with company commanders. The world would be a much better place if we had more retired CSMs and fewer retired colonels.
Years ago, when I was a major and we lived in Fayetteville, I took my lawnmower to a small engine repair shop. The place was run by a retired Master Sergeant who had gotten a Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star and half a dozen Purple Hearts in Vietnam. His body was a mess. Between his retirement pay, disability and medical benefits and his repair shop, he and his Vietnamese wife were doing okay (I think his kid was then an NCO in the 82nd, but can’t be sure).
These are the guys the retirement system has to serve, and you can bet the younger soldiers notice.
More from Foreign Policy
A New Multilateralism
How the United States can rejuvenate the global institutions it created.
America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want
Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.
The Endless Frustration of Chinese Diplomacy
Beijing’s representatives are always scared they could be the next to vanish.
The End of America’s Middle East
The region’s four major countries have all forfeited Washington’s trust.