GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - What are the differences between working as a dining facilities manager and a platoon sergeant of a military police unit? There aren't as many as one might think. For Army Sgt. 1st Class Don Chandler, transferring from a dinning facility manager at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., to a platoon sergeant with Joint Task Force Guantanamo's 525th Military Police Battalion was an assignment that he was prepared and qualified for.
"This is a unique situation," said Chandler. "A platoon sergeant is not military occupation specialty specific. It's about leading, training and mentoring Soldiers."
Chandler was originally deployed here to fill a food service slot with the modification table organization and equipment unit. However, food services are contracted out. It was at this point that directorate of operations non-commissioned officer-in-charge Army 1st Sgt. Mark Provost, a co-worker at the Fort, decided that he could better utilize Chandler as a platoon sergeant with the 525th.
"I was impressed by his professionalism and work ethic," said Provost. "I knew he could easily take on the role of a platoon sergeant."
Provost continued, "I wanted him here [with the 525th]. He made a good addition to the company."
According to Chandler, this change from a DFAC manager to a platoon sergeant was not too drastic an adjustment. A platoon sergeant's main requirements are to have the leadership skills and the ability to effectively lead and train Soldiers – a role that all non-commissioned officers fulfill for their subordinate Soldiers.
"My role as platoon sergeant is to mentor junior non-commissioned officers on how to take care of their Soldiers and accomplish the mission," said Chandler. "Also to pass along the knowledge I have gained over my Military career to them."
Chandler's work ethic and professionalism comes from previous assignments as a recruiter and a drill sergeant. He also had prior platoon sergeant experience working for the headquarters platoon leading Soldiers in the food service, supply and administration areas while stationed at Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia.
"Chandler is very professional in dealing with people," said Provost. "I've seen that he won't stop until the mission at hand is complete."
Since coming here in May, Chandler has demonstrated that taking care of his Soldiers is his primary mission. That doesn't go unnoticed by others in the unit.
Chandler leaves anyone who plans on becoming an NCO with this parting thought:
"Regardless of what your MOS is, once you become a non-commissioned officer, it's about effectively leading Soldiers."