In 2005 when I was a little over half way through my one year tour in Iraq, I got slightly injured. I wish I could say the injury was from something exciting and all, but it was only a strained back from falling on my ass in a Marine Am-Trak when the driver did a very hard turn.
So I was back in Baghdad and the doctor told me to stay on light duty for at least a few weeks. Since there was a shortage of experienced NCOs who were doing my type of work (mess kit repair) they had to find a replacement for me. One of my old buddies who I had deployed to Bosnia with was stuck in the Operations Management Team office, and he asked if he could take over my team for awhile. I was glad to have him do it and the boss approved it.
But I was soon to learn that the office I was taking over as the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer in Charge) was more than dysfunctional. Not screwed up because of my friend, but some of the junior officers they had stuck in the office to keep from doing too much damage. They had replaced (fired) at least 3 officers and I was there with the worst. The worst turned out to be pregnant and got sent home after only being in Iraq for 3 weeks!!! WTF? Oh well, it was best for all she went home.
So who did they send in to be the OIC (Officer in Charge)? A really great WO 3 (Warrant Officer 3) who had been doing our business for many years and was extremely good at it.
The WO 3, whom I called “Chief” was very laid back, but he was an expert. If ever I didn’t know what to do, I could ask him and he ALWAYS had the right answer.
One day, one of the teams who went out into Baghdad 5-6 days a week had returned to camp. The team leader was very upset and so were some of the others. I noticed the team leader get out of his Humvee and start kicking the tires and he looked very mad. I let him vent for a bit, then walked up to him and asked what was wrong.
He told me about the dumbass gunner and what he’d done that day. (The gunner was mentally challenged and did something stupid on a daily basis.) I asked the team leader if he wanted to take care of the discipline or he wanted me to do it. He said: “I’m an NCO now, I will take care of it, but can you give me some advice on what I can and cannot do?”
Sure. Don’t kill him or beat him where it shows.
The problem was taken care of in a professional manner at the lowest level. Later that night, the Chief (who knew everything that went on) asked me if he needed to do anything. I told him: “Chief, it’s NCO business….all taken care of.”
He said: “Good, that’s what NCOs are supposed to do.”
He knew exactly what the problem with the dumbass gunner had been and he had even figured out how the team leader had corrected the problem and was good with it.
(in this case, the gunner had to dismount and cover the team on a foot movement. However, the gunner had gotten too damn fat and couldn’t keep up with the team –only walking a few Klicks…so the team leader took fatass out every morning and ran with him until he was back in shape.)
In this case, the team leader did good, the Chief did good and the problem was fixed without it going on the gunner’s record.