News: Soldiers gain experience, confidence during board
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
FORT CARSON, Colo. - Thousands of soldiers throughout the rank and file compete to prove their knowledge and stand out from among their peers during military boards every month.
The door rattled on its hinges as Cpl. Christopher McLeod, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to Forward Support Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, waited for admission.
At the command of “report,” the soldier confidently strode into the room, his marksmanship badge and citations gleaming on the chest of his freshly-pressed dress uniform. He snapped to attention in front of Command Sgt. Maj. Lauro Obeada, his battalion’s senior enlisted leader, and saluted.
“Cpl. McLeod reporting,” the junior NCO said, holding his salute until Obeada returned it.
For the next 15 minutes, Obeada and a panel of senior noncommissioned officers tested McLeod’s military bearing and knowledge, directing him to conduct marching maneuvers and asking him multiple questions on subjects ranging from the proper wear of a military uniform to lifesaving medical techniques.
After reviewing McLeod’s answers and performance, and those of his competitors, the members of the board declared McLeod the 4th Engineer Battalion noncommissioned officer of the quarter. The board members also recognized Pfc. Iris Galo, a human resources specialist assigned to Forward Support Company, as the 4th Engineer Battalion soldier of the month, a competition reserved for junior enlisted soldiers.
Thousands of soldiers throughout the rank and file compete to prove their knowledge and stand out from among their peers during military boards every month.
Soldiers who participate in military boards gain an incentive to learn information that could set them up for success further on in their career, said Galo.
“There is a lot of stuff we should know as soldiers,” she said. “The board puts us up in front of the sergeant major, so it forces us to learn, because no one wants to look unprepared in front of him.”
McLeod said the board encourages soldiers to become more rounded war fighters.
He said sitting in the “hot seat,” answering difficult questions from multiple senior NCOs, helps soldiers learn how to maintain an air of confidence and self-assurance while under pressure.
“The most important thing I think I got out of the board is to practice public speaking,” said McLeod. “I would like to attend [Officer Candidate School], and speaking in a high-pressure public setting was the biggest thing for me,because I will probably have to do that later in my career as an officer.”
“It is scary to be put in the spotlight,” said Galo. “You don’t report to your first sergeant every day and you are in front of the sergeant major. It can be a little nerve-racking, but this is definitely a great way to overcome that fear.”
From a professional standpoint, one of the biggest benefits of a monthly board is that it prepares junior soldiers to stand before the promotion board, a key necessity to gaining the ranks of sergeant and staff sergeant, said board member 1st Sgt. Tommy Cabanting, senior enlisted leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Engineer Battalion.
“The majority of the soldiers that we saw today were pretty nervous, and the monthly board gives us a chance to watch them and help them improve,” Cabanting said. “When it comes down to it, some soldiers are not board material. They can soldier all day long, they can be great at their jobs, but they can’t compete in the board. By pushing them during the monthly board and showing them what right needs to look like, we can prepare them for the tougher challenges at the promotion board down the road.”
By conquering the monthly board, Galo and McLeod gained eligibility to participate in the battalion’s soldier and NCO of the quarter competitions slated for early January. The winners of each quarterly board will face off against one another during the 4th Engineer Battalion soldier and NCO of the year competitions, where the top competitors will be selected to compete against soldiers from units across the Mountain Post during the Fort Carson soldier and NCO of the year competitions.