BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Soldiers have a wide array of reasons for joining the Army from wanting to travel the world to earning money for college. Once they have seen exotic, foreign lands and earned their money for school however, what drives a soldier to want to continue waking up at 4:30 a.m., conduct physical training five days a week, give up their weekends to pull 24-hour guard, and put on the same green, digital pattern uniform day after day?
What drives a soldier to continue serving?
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Moore, Special Troops Battalion, Task Force Durable, who has served for 27 years, coaching, teaching and mentoring are some of the tenets that keep a command sergeant major serving.
“I believe you can’t train experience, but we can train our soldiers and instil a sense of pride and discipline that is required in our Army,” said the Pittsburgh native.
Moore said when he joined at the age of 19 he never intended to make the Army a career; however, when he did make the choice to stay in, he put forth every effort to become the best leader possible.
“First, you have to make a decision in your life and buy into the holistic concept of being a soldier,” said Moore, who has deployed six times and is currently deployed to Afghanistan. “Without doing this, the pathway is rocky and dark.”
Moore said he tells soldiers who intend on making the military a career to maximize the opportunities that are available, such as education, training and mentoring.
The same command sergeant major who expects soldiers at the promotion board to recite the noncommissioned officer creed while doing push ups can be found cooking steaks, sausages and potatoes for his troops every week.
“He holds high standards for us and expects us to perform above the average,” said Spc. Larry Wills, heavy-wheeled vehicle driver, STB, TF Durable. “He also takes care of soldiers and will go out of his way to make sure each one is taken care of and getting what they need out here.”
A soldier’s career and leadership style stems from what they have learned from past experiences and previous leaders, both good and bad. It is up to the individual soldier to emulate the positive leadership styles they encountered throughout their career and break the chain of toxic leadership.
Moore added, “My experiences as a junior soldier vary greatly. I served with some remarkable men and women who influenced me in all aspects of the Army, ranging from “I won’t ever be that way” to “he is a leader I can emulate.” In reality, we pick and choose attributes from each leader we meet in our travels, good and bad.”
In addition to the influence leaders have, soldiers also develop their techniques and leadership styles from their fellow soldiers.
“When I was a newly-minted staff sergeant, my eyes were opened by watching my peers as they went about their business as NCOs and observing the results,” said Moore, who describes himself as outgoing and loyal. “Actually being an example does more to grow a leader than words do.”
“CSM Moore is exactly what you think a CSM should be,” said Maj. Daniel Galloway, executive officer, STB, TF Durable. “Not a day goes by that he isn’t working a soldier’s problem, mentoring a soldier, junior NCO or a senior NCO. He knows the Army of today, but he incorporates Army traditions and knows its history. They don’t come any better.”
With a career dedicated to selfless service such as the military, the rewards come from various perspectives to include watching loved ones follow in the same footsteps as well as working with soldiers who epitomize the Army values.
Moore said he has several fond memories which stick out in his mind.
“I had the opportunity to watch my daughter get commissioned and offer her first salute,” said the father of three. “I also had the opportunity to serve with my son while we were both deployed.”
“I trained with many different soldiers from around the world,” he said. “I’ve visited over 40 percent of the world’s countries and seen some of the achievements our soldiers created when faced with tremendous challenges.”
Moore added, “As we grow in the Army we create mental models of what a leader is, what a leader should be and what to infer. I challenge every soldier to break those mental models and re-evaluate where they have been and look forward to the future.”
This work, Why we serve: CSM Thomas Moore, by SSG V. Michelle Woods, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.