Sergeant; the first mentor, leader of Soldiers
May 5, 2014
From the day Soldiers are whisked off to basic training, they are surrounded by leaders that have direct influences on who they become in the Army. When Soldiers arrive at their units, most often the sergeant is the one who they first meet, and often have the most contact. A sergeant in the Army, is junior in the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, but is still charged to put the welfare of Soldiers first while completing mission.
The 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, hosted a Junior Leadership Development Program Seminar for all Soldiers in the rank of sergeant across the brigade, April 30, at the Community Activity Center on Camp Humphreys, South Korea.
The day long seminar was intended to equip junior NCOs with the tools to be better leaders, and help improve professional development. First Sgt. Ulrich Sanders, Company E, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion senior enlisted advisor, facilitated the events for the day, and shared his experience as being a leader.
"Have pride in the Army and what you are doing," said Sanders, a native of Wilmington, N.C. "Once you pin on stripes, you have to always keep progressing and motivating Soldiers to reach their potential. Don't get complacent with where you are at."
The day began with a motivating Physical Readiness Training session by two of the groups peers. Sgt. James Barrett, a small arms artillery repairer and Sgt. Justin Cloyes, a power generation mechanic equipment repairer, both of Co. E, 3-2 GSAB were chosen to give a challenging PRT session to their fellow NCOs.
"I felt a great sense of pride in leading my battle buddies in PRT," said Barrett, from Hampton, Va. "I love motivating Soldiers, and I hope that I was able to motivate my peers to do the same for their Soldiers."
After a physically draining hour-and-a-half, the group headed to the Talon Café, the brigade's dining facility, to learn how to prepare to be a staff sergeant, or even a sergeant major in the Army.
Senior enlisted advisor to the 2nd CAB commander, Command Sgt. Maj. Lourdes Berrios-Powell, described her experiences mentoring Soldiers and NCOs, since joining the Army 27 years ago.
"You are going to be challenged as a leader, said San Juan, Puerto Rico native, Berrios-Powell. "One way to combat that is to keep yourself updated on regulations. Get prepared for the hard questions and situations that may arise."
The remainder of the training included discussions on Suicide Prevention and Awareness, Sexual Harassment /Assault Response and Prevention, NCO authority and the Army Substance Abuse Program.
Staff Sgt. Apryl Johnson, brigade victim advocate, and native of Houston, spoke with the sergeants about their role in preventing sexual harassment and assaults. Victim advocates within the brigade acted out various scenarios for junior leaders of problematic situations Soldiers may face. The scenarios were designed to evoke discussion within the group. The sergeants were given whistles to halt scenarios and review what happened.
"It is our job to educate Soldiers especially when they are new to the Army," said Johnson. "It's all about prevention. We must make sure to communicate with Soldiers and make sure they know the rules. As an NCO, we are never off duty and have a responsibility to take care of our Soldiers."
As the seminar wrapped up, the sergeants were left with a few points to keep in mind as they continue their journey through the ranks of the NCO Corps.
The junior leaders were urged to take advantage of the various opportunities to lead Soldiers, and to always be a good example. They were also reminded that sergeants are the most influential role models to Soldiers, and that Soldiers will follow them, if they are a good leader.
"I find communicating with Soldiers a big factor in leading them," said Altus, Okla. native, Sgt. Patrick Hawkey, an aviation operations specialist, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 2nd Bn. (Assault), 2nd Avn. Regiment. "As a newly promoted sergeant, I found the training very helpful. It was good to hear other NCOs talk about their experiences, and it gave me an idea of what to expect as I progress in the Army."