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Relationship between a Senior NCO and a Junior Officer

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by mko1991, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. mko1991

    mko1991 Member

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    So I was watching Generation Kill the other night and I was wondering: Do Senior NCO's such as a Sergeant Major have to "bow down" (lack of a better term) to a Junior Officer or (other way around?) or is there more of a special relationship between the two?
     
  2. flieger83

    flieger83 Moderator

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    Not sure what you're trying to say here but I "think" you're asking whether or not a "Senior NCO" has any special "say" in the daily activities when dealing with a junior officer? Is there "senior NCO" status sort of an "equalizer" in grades?

    The answer is no.

    In a hierarchical system, "grade/position/rank" is all determining. A 2LT/Ensign outranks EVERY NCO: period. If a "butter bar" is placed "in charge/in command/over" a "Master Chief", AF "CMSGT", a Marine "Sergeant Major", etc., they ARE IN CHARGE. If they make a decision and direct their NCO to carry it out, that NCO will do just that.

    Now, that is NOT to say that a senior NCO's "advice, counsel, suggestions" won't carry any weight.

    WOE UNTO that junior officer that comes into service with the belief that that gold bar made them brilliant. That senior NCO earned that grade/rate based upon skills, knowledge, experience, maturity, etc., and is most likely pretty talented and wise and HIGHLY skilled in their profession. Their counsel is a VALUABLE asset to any officer, junior or senior. The difference is, typically, the senior officer has learned this either by painful error, or by wise experience. (Hopefully the latter!)

    In a generic comment "The Service" can actually survive with a "shortage" of officers if the NCO ranks are full and competent. "The Service" can't survive with a plethora of officers and a shortage of NCO's.

    And that's not me "sucking up" to NCO's, it's just an observation after almost 30 years of service.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  3. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    A good senior NCO, or as we would say in the sea services, senior enlisted, like a chief, senior chief, or master chief, allows a junior officer to make decisions as they should based on their rank, while guiding them along the way, because of their knowledge and experience.

    I didn't do everything right on my first ship, in fact I may have done many things wrong, but there where a few senior enlisted, including a BMC and FSC, that I would talk to for advice.

    Doesn't mean they had the final say. No one was bowing to anyone. But I trusted and appreciated their advice. Many times I would do what they suggested, sometimes I didn't.

    You certainly shouldn't go around throwing your 'bars' at the crew, but you should allow yourself to be stepped all over either (some initial "steppage" is to be expected when you first get there.).
     
  4. tpg

    tpg USMC (RET)

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    Generation Kill is a Hollywood sensationalist HBO Mini-series that was designed to gather a large viewership and nothing else. I personally know many a Marine that was attached to THE Unit that is portrayed in that damn thing and I was attached to the MAGTF that they fell under. In a few letters, Generation Kill is pure BS!

    Now to follow on with Steve above, any lowly 2nd LT who just got commissioned at Quantico this past weekend OUTRANKS any 30 year SGTMAJ and OUTRANKS any person in the Warrant Officer Ranks.

    As Steve noted though, it is the wise Junior (and Senior) Officer who listens to the counsel of his/her most Senior SNCO. They achieved that rank based upon their experience, knowledge, competence and professionalism. Those Senior NCO’s in the grade E-8 and E-9 Are highly sought after people. They often counsel people who OUTRANK you as a new 2nd LT.

    A good NCO will allow you, as a new officer to make mistakes, especially in training. Many NCO’s are very proud of the Officers they helped train. It is almost like a competition amongst them. To a degree, it is part of their Job to make you, the Junior officer look very good.

    Now do not confuse “allowing mistakes” in training as being the same as allowing them in actual combat. They will find a way to correct that if they can. I used to call it self-preservation. As an Infantry NCO, I had no problem “Dying” in simulated combat but I did (and still do) have a problem of dying in actual combat. I will avoid that at all cost.

    Now to touch on something that you did not ask, but I brought up-Warrant Officers.

    They come from the NCO ranks. There are five ranks within the Warrant Officer Field. The lowest is WO-1 and the highest is CWO-5. WO-1’s receive their authority from a “warrant” received from their service’s Secretary (Secretary of the Army, Sec. of the Navy, ect). CWO-2 through CWO-5 actually receives their authority from a Commission from the President of the United States just as a Commissioned Officer does.

    In the Marine Corps, they fulfill duties that require commissioned officers. Usually these are technical billets where their years of experience and knowledge are essential to the mission. They can and do command units, detachments, boats ect. As a result, their relationship with Junior officers can be a bit different. For example, I once commanded a Weapons Company where I directed 1st Lt’s in combat. That does not mean that I outranked them, it just meant that I had the experience that they did not and the Regimental CO (a full COL) decided that he wanted me to command that unit until he could find a person of suitable rank and experience to fill that position.

    To give you an idea of how “high” up the food chain a Warrant Officers and Senior NCO opinion can go. I have had my direct “Supervisor” so to speak be a Lt. Gen. Look into any large command decks. You will find a very High Ranking Officer and a Senior NCO there.

    Best advice I can give any Junior Officer is to seek council from your Senior NCO’s and Warrant Officers. They want you to succeed. They want the best from you and are willing to help you achieve that. Be mindful that they can and will help you receive the best evaluations that will benefit you for Promotions. But that does not mean for you to allow them to walk over you.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    In addition to what tpg just said, extra info for USCG specifically...


    The Coast Guard does not have the rank of W-1 or CWO5...just CWO2-CWO4.

    If you want to see CWOs uncomfortable, head to a Chief initiation...

    If you are a JO this will most likely be an uncomfortable, but rewarding and generally "fun" experience as well. :wink:
     
  6. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    My father (retired Master Sgt)always tells me about how important an SNCO's advice is. Most of the time the advice given is not bad, but that doesnt mean always do what the SNCO advices because then your not the one "leading" parsay. Is that what you mean by "not allowing them to walk all over you"?
     
  7. mko1991

    mko1991 Member

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    whoa.. I wonder how many years total experience there is in this Thread. I just feel an aura of awsomeness coming from these answeres :biggrin: I appreciate them and I hope everybody here had a great Independence Day! :thumb:
     
  8. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    prob enough to make a field manual :p
     
  9. tpg

    tpg USMC (RET)

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    Sorry that I have not answered sooner. I just missed seeing this. To answer you question....kinda! :yllol: Big help isn't it. Well here is some other insight that may be of help. I must admit that I am very tired tonight and this may not make sense....

    Being a junior officer with no experience does not relieve you of your responsibility. I should not have said, “Do not allow them to walk over you”, I should have taken the time to point out that decisions are made based upon sound judgment and experience. When you are a 22 year old 2nd LT, you may lack experience, but it has been determined that you have sound judgment. They expect you to use it.

    When a decision has to be made at your level in the chain of command, it is YOUR job to make that decision. It is your Senior NCO’s job to give you sound advice based upon his experience. It is his job to keep you apprised about the feeling of the enlisted men in your unit. It is NOT is job to TELL YOU WHAT TO DO!

    I used to tell people that there was always a time for me to give the order, SGTMAJ-take charge of the Marines….Then there are times when I MUST TAKE CHARGE of MY MARINES….Sound Judgment. I have found that if I paid attention to my Marines, I go to know them…their strengths and weaknesses, then I could use that knowledge and my sound judgment to know when to tell the SGTMAJ to take charge and when I NEEDED to take charge.
     
  10. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    The SNCO/JO relationship is without a doubt extremely unique and probably the military is the only place it exists.

    Just one observation. Any time that the chain of command gives the impression that they are not totally supporting the JO and holding him fully accountable and responsible, it will destroy the integrity of the unit. It might even ruin a young junior officer or perhaps even a young up and coming SNCO.
     
  11. The Commissioner

    The Commissioner Retired Staff Member

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    A very similar relationship exists in the private sector, particularly in capital intensive sectors like heavy manufacturing, railroads, mining, etc. where newly minted graduates are hired for entry level (2LT?) professional positions where they must rely on seasoned foreman (SGT?) to get anything done. Those foreman take the same pride in the green supervisors they trained who climbed the corporate ladder. The best young supervisiors, just like the best young JO's, utililize their foreman's experience and talent while not being intimidated by them.
     
  12. C2014

    C2014 Member

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    That helps a lot more!! thnx
     
  13. dannumber01

    dannumber01 New Member

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    "The SNCO/JO relationship is without a doubt extremely unique and probably the military is the only place it exists."

    Not quite the only place. A similar relationship exists in the civilian world and I use this comparison all the time. A Senior NCO/ Officer relationship is like the relationship between the general manager of a restaurant and the owner. The GM is responsible for making sure everything is done right to get results- in that case money. The owner can decide to do whatever he wants but will in the end own the failure.
     
  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Is this a new record? A 3 year old thread revived. :smile:
     
  15. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

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    Holy cow quite the bump! But still a good thread for those on this forum wanting to lead troops someday.
     
  16. Pkirk618

    Pkirk618 Retired Army

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    Junior officers are taught that without their nco support channels, their leadership can be ineffective. Since many senior NCOs are rated by officers, you'd find 2LTs would refrain from overstepping their authority unless absolutely necessary. Behind many good officers are NCOs and many times vv.

    As for me, as as SNCO, I'd respect the rank and handle disagreements, if any, with tact and professionalism.

    ...and I just noticed I replied to an old thread. Oops.
     

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