Year of the NCO: Wagonmaster leaders sit down to talk

By Staff Sgt. Rob Strain
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas — More than 100 junior leaders gathered Feb. 2 at the 15th Sustainment Brigade’s Phantom Dome training area for a session of leader development aimed at creating better noncommissioned officers and leaders.

The training, a part of the Army’s Year of the NCO, brought together the brigade’s first-line supervisors to discuss the duties and responsibilities of the NCO.

According to Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr., the brigade’s senior noncommissioned officer, every NCO is being watched by his Soldiers.

“Everything that you do is either going to be a success for our Soldiers, or a failure for our Soldiers,” Bartee said.

Bartee told the leaders that in order to be an effective leader, they needed to keep their integrity and make sure their lives are “right” before telling a Soldier how to live.

“The only way you can tell a Soldier what to do, is if you’re right yourself,” Bartee said.

He went on to explain that a leader cannot counsel his Soldiers on their personal finances if the NCO is in financial trouble himself.

Bartee also talked to the Soldiers about their education, challenging each and every Soldier within the brigade to attain their Associate Degree, and being busy is no excuse.

“Never say you’re too busy,” Bartee said, explaining to the leaders that he has been working late nights on his Master’s Degree.

He suggested that Soldiers make time for what is important to them, whether it be college, family or doing extra physical training, instead of going out to the club or doing other activities.

“We’re always busy until it’s something we want to do,” Bartee said. “It’s all about the balance.”

Leaders need to be balanced between work, family and other things, he continued.

“You are in a profession that asks you to do a lot of things,” he said. “I challenge you that everything you put your hands on, you should try to make it better.”

He explained that NCOs should want to make their Soldiers better as well.

Col. Larry Phelps, the brigade’s commander and former NCO, spoke to leaders about what he expects from his NCOs.

“I judge NCOs by a different set of criteria than most officers,” Phelps said. “Our goal is for all of you to do as much as you have the potential to do.”

Not all Soldiers will retire from the Army as a command sergeant major, some Soldiers will do other things, he explained.

Phelps said there is an old saying in the Army, “rank has its privileges,” but it doesn’t apply in the 15th SB. Instead, in the 15th, “rank has its responsibilities.”

“The only privilege is that you have a better opportunity to serve, support and develop Soldiers,” Phelps said.

He reiterated to the leaders that the NCO Creed is more than something they just memorize and recite; it’s a way of life, and NCOs need to have the courage to do what they know is right.

“Know you’re right, and do the right thing,” Phelps said.

 

Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr.
Command Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Bartee Sr., the senior noncommissioned officer for the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (expeditionary), talks to NCOs during a junior leader professional development session Feb. 2 at the brigade's Phantom Dome training area. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Rob Strain, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)