FORT STEWART, Ga. -- “Take pride in yourself, take pride in your unit, take pride in your job,” said Staff Sgt. Bryan Roberts, a native of Stow, Ohio.
These were just some of the words of wisdom Roberts, a squad leader for Company C, 2-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion “Titans”, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Spartans”, 3rd Infantry Division, had for those Soldiers who aspire for success.
Roberts’ advice comes on the heels of achievement, as he was just awarded the mantle of the 3rd Infantry Division Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter for his performance at the division board here, Oct. 16.
Roberts story does not start at the division board however, but much earlier, during his last deployment to Afghanistan when he was preparing for his promotion board.
A military board is when an individual comes before a panel of higher ranking leaders, and is put to the test to determine a number of things. What the board is attempting to determine depends on the type of board it is, explained Command Sgt. Maj. Jefferson Moser, a native of Dearborn, Mich., and the senior enlisted leader of the 2nd ABCT.
All military boards require a great deal of preparation and dedication, yet there are some fundamental differences between the different types of boards.
According to Moser, the promotion board of the type that Roberts was preparing for is designed to ensure an upcoming leader’s knowledge base, confidence and overall military bearing.
“It’s not really about necessarily answering all the questions correctly, it’s about how the Soldier’s demeanor and military bearing is,” Moser said.
To prepare for this board, Roberts had had to practice by going to mock boards to see if he was ready. According to Roberts, he failed his first mock board, but that only provided him with the scope of the task he had at hand, and the drive to succeed.
“It really got to me; I didn’t feel I had performed to my full potential, I didn’t feel I had done my best,” Roberts said. “So I sat down, I prepared myself, I studied and I told myself that I’m going to get this promotion.”
Since then there has been no looking back. Roberts won a number of mock boards, and when he finally did go to the promotion board he aced that one as well. After doing so well, his 1st Sergeant asked if he would be interested in competing in a competitive board.
“Right then and there I knew that my confidence and potential had been noticed,” said Roberts.
Competitive boards are different from promotion boards in that they are often more demanding in what is needed to perform well. While the promotion board is designed to show a leaders knowledge base, confidence and bearing, a competitive board is designed to show that one individual has more of these three things than the rest of the people there that that individual is competing against.
“These boards really put the Soldier in the spotlight above their peers. They promote competition, which allows individuals to excel and achieve higher goals,” said Moser.
Ever since being asked if he was interested in competing, Roberts has won many boards all the way up through the brigade, and continues working at being the best to this day, as he has many goals he has not yet reached.
“I want to win the Audie Murphy board. I want to be a member of that elite group of noncommissioned officers,” Roberts said.
Roberts has many other goals other than winning boards however.
He looks forward to continuing to be a role model as well as a mentor to those who need it. Ever since gaining success at military boards, Roberts has been helping those who want help, to prepare for the board. Every Monday he hosts a study group for just that reason which many soldiers attend, regardless of what company, or even brigade they are in. He also tries to pass on the keys of success to his own soldiers, and grooms them for growth in the Army.
“I teach my soldiers that they need to stand out amongst their peers, if you want to get promoted, you have to stand out, you can’t sit in the back of the formation and expect it,” Roberts said.
After winning the Division NCO of the Quarter board, there is no doubt that Roberts is a role model for other soldiers to look up to, but according to Moser, being a mentor is different than being a role model.
“Mentorship is about educating and passing along wisdom, instilling good character and steering someone straight,” said Moser. “What Staff Sgt. Roberts is doing, in my eyes, that is a form of mentorship that the Army needs.”
In the end though the highlight of the event was Roberts performance at the board itself, and his ability to rise above his peers and prove to be the best. No one can attest to his performance better than Moser, who was one of the members on the board’s panel.
“It’s not just about what I saw in Staff Sgt. Roberts, there were six other sergeant majors sitting on the board with me…but for my part what I saw in Staff Sgt. Roberts was a very competent, well prepared, noncommissioned officer,” Moser said.
Moser went even further and described the experience of witnessing Roberts compete.
“After seeing Staff Sgt. Roberts Performance, it was a breath of fresh air to see that our future leaders are still hungry, still wanting to learn, to be reassured we are not going to loose this fight, we are going to continue getting better as a force,” said Moser.