By Sgt. Tanjie Patterson
3rd Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan—As the U.S. Army downsizes, many leaders agree that in order for Soldiers’ careers to steer away from the chopping block, troops need to stay competitive and stand out amongst their peers. One Soldier making strides to stay ahead of the pack is Spc. Rohan Malcolm, a signal support systems specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and native of Miramar, Fla.
Malcolm, who was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, moved to Miramar when he was 14-year-old. He completed high school there and then attended college at the University of Dubuque in Iowa on a partial football scholarship. Malcolm achieved his bachelor’s degree in business administration, and it was at Dubuque where the first thought of joining the U.S. military came to Malcolm’s mind.
“I never thought about a career in the military until a (fraternity) brother of mine told me about the Army,” said Malcolm, who is now 25-years-old. “I then did some research and decided that I would give the Army a try.”
Malcolm, who is the only member of his family to ever serve in the military, said that he didn’t know what to expect because he heard so many myths about the organization. But now that he’s joined, he says that he loves the Army and wants to make service to his country his career.
For Malcolm, setting himself apart from his peers is something he has been doing since basic combat training. There, at Fort Jackson, S.C., he was recognized as the Soldier of the Cycle and earned his first Army Achievement Medal in November 2010.
“It felt good to have been recognized and awarded by the general of Fort Jackson,” said Malcolm. “All I kept saying to myself was ‘Wow, I’m getting a chance to meet important people at such an early start in my career.’”
After completing basic combat training, Malcolm then went on to advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., followed by his first duty station in Korea. Malcolm, whose home-station is now at Fort Stewart, Ga., is currently serving his first combat tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
While on this deployment, Malcolm not only fulfills his duties as a signal support systems specialist, but he also serves as the communications specialist on his command team’s personal security detachment. Malcolm said he’s worked in other positions outside of his military occupational specialty, to include a gunner while travelling along some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous routes. He said he’d do any job that supports the team and the mission.
When not at work, Malcolm is busy bettering himself as a Soldier by completing structured self-development and correspondence courses. His off-duty studies helped him to a new title—Battalion Soldier of the Month.
“I didn’t think I was going to win because I had been laying cable 30 minutes prior to the board, so I was all dirty,” said Malcolm. “I arrived at the board and looked at my opponent who was all clean and creased up and I thought to myself ‘Man this guy is squared away; he’s going to win this for sure.’ But once I cleaned myself up, I went in and just went at it.”
Although Malcolm competed against only one other Soldier at the 87th CSSB board, he says his feat, no matter how great, was due to his consistent dedication and hard work.
“I guess when everyone else found out I was going to the board they got scared and backed out,” joked Malcolm.
Malcolm said that despite his win, he doesn’t plan on stopping at this level. If time permits, he said, he will attend as many boards as he can.
“Being number one is a good feeling and not winning is just not an option,” he said.
So when Malcolm isn’t on-the-job or studying, you can most likely find him in the gym, working to improve his already above-average Army Physical Fitness Test score, or out on a 5-kilometer morale-run.
“They give out certificates of achievement and Army Achievement medals for winning (events like) fun-runs and I plan on leaving this deployment with as many awards as I can,” he said.
Malcolm said his next step toward success is to attend the promotion board in May. Although achieving the rank of sergeant is his short term goal, Malcolm is also looking to earn his commission.
“My long term goal is to elevate my career, and for me, I think that I can achieve that by moving to the next level, which is to become an officer,” he said, adding that either way, enlisted Soldiers and commissioned officers need to stay competitive to succeed in the Army.
Malcolm, who is a newlywed with no children currently, said he is happy with all that he has accomplished in his 32 months of service. He says he won’t stop working hard and seeking self-improvement.
“My advice for my peers is that you have to separate yourself from your peers,” he said. “You have to sit down with yourself and decide what it is that you really want while serving in the military, and once you figure that out, you need to go and get it. You can’t care about what others think about you, you have to do what you know is right for yourself and your family.”