FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, AFGHANISTAN
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (March 8, 2014) – A ceremony welcoming the newest sergeants into the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officers’ ranks was held in the early afternoon March 8, 2014, at the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, at Forward Operating Base Shank.
The ceremony is meant to mark the newly promoted sergeants’ departure from the junior ranks, symbolizing the need for them to remember they are no longer just followers of orders but leaders, with all of the responsibilities and accountability that come with the job.
The Spartan NCO’s of the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, continued a 200-year tradition, going back to the time of Frederick the Great, the Prussian king remembered for his innovative military drills and tactics.
The guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Lewis, the command sergeant major of the Combined Joint Task Force-10 and 10th Mountain Division, used a soldier’s vehicle tool kit as an analogy to illustrate the skills new leaders must acquire.
“When you come through that arch, you’re going to get that canvas bag, and it’s only got one tool in it; It’s a hammer. That’s it. That’s what the sergeant has,” said Lewis. “So when that sergeant looks at his squad or his fire team, every problem he sees is a nail. You’re not going to be successful when you start whacking every problem you come across, so you are charged as a sergeant to start filling that tool kit.”
Lewis admonished the newest inductees to continuously increase their knowledge, learn the different types of leadership and when to apply them. Then, he addressed the senior NCOs and charged them with helping the newest members of their ranks to grow their leadership skills.
“Your leadership style has to adjust based on the soldiers you are dealing with and the problems that you find. To the leaders in this room not being inducted today, your challenge and your charge is to assist the young NCOs in filling up that tool kit,” said Lewis.
The ceremony started with a brief history of the induction ceremony and the NCO Corps. The first sergeants from each of the six companies then proceeded in pairs to a wood block statue of the letters “n,” “c” and “o,” representing the acronym for non-commissioned officer, where three candles, one for each letter, had been placed.
The three candles, red, white and blue, each had their own significance. U.S. Army 1st. Sgt.s Timothy Toppin and William Collins lit the red candle representing valor. U.S. Army 1st Sgt.s Fernando Gonzalez and Donald Lindley lit the white candle representing honesty and integrity. Finally, U.S. Army 1st Sgt.s Angela Morton-Bey and Daniel Bryan lit the blue candle, signifying vigilance and the field of honor in which an NCO serves.
One by one, the new NCOs stood up from their seats and walked through a camouflage netting-covered, wooden arch, emblazoned with the images of all seven of the U.S. Army’s NCO ranks, followed by another arch made by two sabers, held by senior NCOs.
As the soldiers proceeded through the arches, they were announced by their company first sergeants. The soldiers received their certificates and were congratulated by Lewis, U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hamm, the battalion command sergeant major, and their respective first sergeants before proceeding back to their seats.
The ceremony ended with the reading of the “Charge of the Non-Commissioned Officer” and the “Creed of the Non-Commissioned Officer” as well as a brief, informal huddle of newly appointed NCOs by the Spartan brigade Commander, U.S. Army Col. Sam Whitehurst. where he shared some lessons and congratulated them on their success.
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This work, Spartan leaders conduct NCO induction ceremony, by SGT Javier Amador, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.