From the 104th Command Sergeant Major

11/19/2019  |  By CSM William C. Phipps Commanding, 104th Training Division (LT)
From the 104th Command Sergeant Major
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Greetings Timberwolves,

This year’s summer missions have closed and with great success. I want to thank you all again for your participation in what I think was the most successful Cadet Summer Training event so far. Our team at Task Force Wolf, the Trainers and Drill Sergeants did a great job this year. I would also like to thank our team at West Point for their continued success and outstanding professionalism. I want to thank our Soldiers at the Merchant Marine Academy mission, even though it goes away after this year, great job by the team in leaving a lasting ARMY impression on them.

Thank all the SROTC instructors and Cadre that work crazy Battle Assemblies and help mentor and develop young cadets outside of CST. Last but surely not least, all our Civilians, AGRs, TPU Staff and Command Teams for what you do daily in order to make our organization and our Soldiers successful. Remember everyone, your leadership and professionalism represents more than just your unit and the Division. You represent the entire Army Reserve when you are out there in front of those cadets. This is the same representation you have with our active duty Soldiers (COMPO 1). I tell Soldiers everywhere I go, you are an Ambassador for the entire Army. Don’t forget that when you are in public especially. You represent the entire Army in America’s eyes. I am not telling you to do any different in private, but everyone is watching you in public. Think before you act. I sound like my mother I know, but there is so much truth to that. Think about the potential second and third order effect of what you are about to do or say.

I want to take a moment to talk about something that I feel is lacking in our formations and we need help from every Soldier wearing a uniform. I just read an article from the Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) and it talks about the lack of discipline in our ranks. CIMT talks about new Soldiers in our formations. FUA is First Unit Assignment. This was a survey distributed across all ranks from Private to Colonel. Here is a couple highlights from the 2019 survey:

  • 2019 marks the 7th consecutive year that Leaders identified “discipline” as the most important New Soldier characteristic.
  • Of all potential IET (Initial Entry Training) outcomes, discipline is, by far, the most desired: First Unit Assignment Leaders value New Soldier discipline more twice as much as Physical Fitness (the #4 ranked quality), and 21 times as much as Warrior Task and Battle Drill proficiency (the #13 ranked quality). Leaders describe discipline primarily in terms of military courtesy and bearing, professionalism, work ethic, and obedience to lawful orders.
  • As in previous years, the discipline “problem” was NOT described in terms of criminal behavior, recklessness, excessive alcohol consumption/drug use, or sexual or physical violence. Rather, FUA Leaders cite (their observations of) New Soldiers’ sense of entitlement, preoccupation with duty hours vs. completing tasks to standard, carelessness, tardiness, digital device fixation, and poor bearing/courtesy as evidence of indiscipline.

The survey talks about Soldiers acting like they are “back on the block”, poorly groomed, “me first” attitude and the Army “owes” them something as well as questioning, debating and “blowing off” lawful orders. Ironically, I had just discussed some of these challenges with the CG a week ago. This is not only an issue in the U.S. Army, but you can understand the challenges of having the majority of our Soldiers on a Battle Assembly and a couple weeks in the summer. As I travel around and visit Soldiers, so many act like they forgot what custom and courtesies are. Don’t get me wrong, some Soldiers are still doing the right thing, but many are not. This is a huge concern of the majority of leaders. Discipline = survivability on the battlefield. I am asking all leaders at every level to do the right thing. Correct Soldiers, don’t turn away and pretend you didn’t see it. I ask you to do that in the right, professional manner. “Praise in public, criticize in private.” Private doesn’t mean you have to find a private room. Pull them off to the side and have a conversation. However, if you are a leader that is afraid of offending someone, lack of ability to set your personal feelings aside when making decisions and genuinely don’t care about standards and discipline, maybe you should rethink your position. Customs and courtesies are evidence of a well-disciplined unit and Soldier. For those that are doing the right thing, continue to drive that train. Your professionalism across your span of influence will be remembered as your legacy when you are gone. By the way, for clarity, DISCIPLINE is taking care of Soldiers. In closing on discipline, as a leader, remember the principles: “Be, Know, Do”.

As the holidays are coming up, pay special attention to your battle buddies. This is a time of year when we seem to lose more Soldiers to suicide. Take a moment to reach out, sometimes it’s all it takes to let someone you know that you care. You are not alone, life is difficult and hurdles always seem to appear in our road in life. There is help out there. I encourage you to reach out and ask for it. There is no shame as we all handle things in a different manner. We all have had similar situations: divorce, relationship problems and breakups, loss of a loved one, financial hardships, PTSD, health problems, depression, loneliness and the list could go on and on. The point is, someone in your chain of command has been there. Let us know how we can help. Give us a chance to help you before you decide to give up. I can assure you that time changes everything and your thoughts aren’t the same as time passes.

As I close on this article, remember to stay humble and treat people with dignity and respect. I would like to recognize both of our BDE CSMs for all the work, time and effort that you put into making us a better organization. I am honored to serve with such dedicated individuals who constantly push me to be better. Thank you. This truly goes out to everyone that keeps me motivated to stay in the fight after 31+ years. Keep doing the right thing out there and let’s make this a better place than it was when we got here. For those Timberwolves that left, thank you for what you have done for our Soldiers and hopefully you carry that on. For those that retired, thank you for your sacrifice and service. You will always be part of an elite team of Americans. Be safe out there and enjoy your family and friends this holiday season. Keep communicating. I will hopefully see you soon. Timberwolf 7 out.

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