Sgt. Maj. Timothy Farmer
18th Medical Command (Deployment Support)
Throughout our Army and within our ranks we often hear the phrase, “We have to get back to the basics.”
However, many Soldiers fail to grasp the concept of the phrase.
I have often heard Soldiers refer to this as reverting back to how the Army functioned in the previous 15-20 years.
The Army is going through a transition period as a result of the last 10 years of war; the Army now has Soldiers who are highly trained warfighters. But as wartime operations decrease, the Army has more Soldiers operating in a garrison environment.
Upon returning from the battlefield, Soldiers are challenged with reintegrating military customs and courtesies, personnel appearance and counseling back into the garrison. These areas are critical to maintaining the professional Army image.
The 18th MEDCOM has started a Junior Enlisted Professional Development program that focuses on training topics that will help get our Soldiers back to the basics.
Getting back to the basics means getting back to standards that are outlined in Army doctrine. We have to retrain our Soldiers on military customs, such as the proper way to render a salute. Even though this gesture is simple, it’s a dignified way of showing respect and pride.
For example, Soldiers wearing civilian attire must know if they should put their right hand over their heart or salute when the national anthem is played. Knowing which is just one of the traditions of military courtesy that noncommissioned officers must teach and instill in Soldiers to foster an esprit de corps.
Another key focus in our unit is proper military personal appearance of our junior Soldiers. In accordance with Army Regulation 670-1, “Wear and Appearance of Uniforms and Insignia,” Soldiers are required to conform to the grooming and appearance standards as published.
We must train our Soldiers to understand that their appearance represents discipline and professionalism. Maintenance of our uniforms demonstrates the degree of respect and honor we hold to the military way of life.
Leaders at all levels need to invest time into counseling their Soldiers. Leaders must lead them from the front and not only set the example, but also be the example. Standards must be established. Standards come in the form of Army regulations, field manuals, training circulars, pamphlets and verbal orders by superiors.
NCOs need to take ownership of their profession and train junior leaders on how to enforce those same standards through counseling sessions. These standards are the basics.