By Mr. Stephen Baack (IMCOM)July 18, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany (July 18, 2014) -- Since his arrival to Ansbach eight months ago, Spc. Jeromy Sisk has hit the ground running.
Sisk, a military police Soldier fresh out of One-Station Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, is assigned to the U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach Provost Marshal's Office at Bismarck Kaserne.
Now a little more than a year after he first raised his right hand, Sisk has accomplished more than he had first envisioned.
His string of successes started in March when Sisk's leaders, having identified his leadership potential, singled him out to compete in the Franconia Military Community Best Warrior Competition. Sisk took first place among his junior-enlisted peers at the FMC competition. Soon thereafter, he moved up to the Installation Management Command Europe level, where he won again.
Five days later Sisk was on a plane to Texas where he competed again at the IMCOM level, where he earned third place.
Although his Best Warrior Competition run has been a success, Sisk said he was a bit unsure of himself when he first saw who and what he was up against.
Before even picking up a study guide, he began by watching online videos of past competitions that showed challenges including urban warfighting, obstacle courses, Army combatives, team reaction drills, marksmanship exercises under stressful conditions, tactical communications, day and night land navigation, first aid tests, boards, timed ruck marches and physical fitness tests.
"You see all this stuff that they're doing and you say, 'Holy cow. I don't know if I can do all that,' but I think after the first competition I realized, 'Hey, I'm out here to train more than I am to compete,' I think," Sisk said. "If I treat it like that, it's the greatest experience ever."
Just as Sisk treated the competitions as opportunities to train, he soon realized the challenge of going head to head against more senior Soldiers was also an indispensible opportunity to learn.
"I try to absorb as much as I can from my peers because I think you learn more from them than you do in a classroom setting," he said. "Especially in the Army, if you're not able to listen and learn from others, you're not going to reach your full potential.
"They're challenging," he said of the competitions, "especially for someone who's competing against those who have been in the Army for three to five years, who've been downrange, who've gone through more experiences and challenges than I have," said Sisk. "It's a humbling experience to be able to be at their level, even, or trying to compete at their level -- because I know they've done so much more than I have, and I want to get to where they're at."
In June -- only a week after he returned to Ansbach -- Sisk's leaders sent him to the Warrior Leader Course, where he made the Commandant's List with an almost perfect score. As luck would have it, upon his return Sisk managed to meet Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, who presented him with a coin for his accomplishments.
Despite his personal aptitude for all things Army, Sisk gives credit to his two families for motivating him and supporting him: his Army family, including his noncommissioned officers, supervisors and senior supervisors; and his family and friends back in Peru, Indiana, including his mom, dad, grandparents and girlfriend. He said every bit of motivation and support helps -- mentioning, as an example, simple acts of kindness he's experienced like Col. Christopher M. Benson, USAG Ansbach commander, congratulating him.
"All that plays a huge factor in wanting to do better for myself and push me more every day, knowing that they want me to do the best that I can so I push myself because of them," he said.
Separately, Sisk said the training value inherent in Best Warrior Competitions also fuel his desire to do well because it is impossible for a Soldier to know when and how their skills will be put to the test in combat.
"We don't know what's going to happen in the future," he said. "Any opportunity to train and sharpen your tools is a great opportunity for any Soldier, any NCO, any senior leader. If something happens and you have to leave and your sword is not sharpened, it's too late. You can't sharpen your sword out there. You have to be ready."
ADVICE FOR HIS PEERS
Sisk advises other new Soldiers who have the opportunities like his to take on the challenge even if they feel unsure of themselves.
"If they're like me -- me, I had doubts," said Sisk. "I said, 'I don't know if I want to do this. Am I really the best person for it?' But if you have an NCO or a senior leader come up to you and ask you, 'Would you do this for us?' you must be right for the challenge. I'm glad I didn't give in to my second guessing, because I could have turned it down. I could have said no. Take the opportunity to do it. Any chance to learn is a great opportunity."
Sisk has two pieces of advice for studying for boards and competitions.
First, given the choice between asking someone for the right answer or looking it up, do the latter. Asking questions is good, he said, but from his experience, looking up information helps one retain the information and also demonstrates and exercises personal initiative -- which Sisk said is necessary in the journey of becoming a leader.
Second, there's always more to learn.
"You can't know everything," he said. "It's impossible to know everything in the Army because it's huge and it's constantly changing every day."
In the realm of personal discipline, Sisk emphasized the importance of staying healthy.
"It's easy to go out every weekend and party, but if you want to better yourself and better your career, you make the tough decisions in life and go through it," he said. "Every decision I've made so far has paid off. I'm grateful."
Before joining the Army, Sisk attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations with a minor in computer science.
Upon graduating, he considered attending law school, but decided he wanted to work right away instead of pursuing graduate studies. He turned his attention to law enforcement and considered becoming a state trooper, but he wanted to expand his horizons and see the world. That's when he decided to join the Army. He chose to enlist because he wanted to become part of the military police and because he wants to sign up for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division -- which is not currently recruiting officers, according to Sisk.
Sisk said he would like to stay with the Army for a while, build up his career, gain knowledge and one day possibly switch to the National Guard and join a federal intelligence or criminal investigative agency like the FBI.
In the meantime, as a member of the PMO, Sisk's leaders have been rotating his roles and responsibilities as an MP. Having acquired experience in operations work, he has now moved onto the road, learning what it takes to be an MP patrolman.
"For someone like Specialist Sisk who's been largely successful in life, it easily translates when he gets here," said Command Sgt. Mark A. Maj. Kiefer, the USAG Ansbach command sergeant major. "I think most Soldiers in his demographic spend the first year or more learning their craft. He is probably the exception where he learns his craft very quickly and he learns it quicker than it's being taught."
Kiefer, who referred to Sisk as "that rare Soldier who makes leading easy," publicly recognized him during a garrison hail and farewell in late May. Although Sisk was being neither hailed nor bid farewell, Kiefer took advantage of the moment to commend him on his achievements.
"He's a great example," Kiefer later said. "He's a great example of hard work, and he's gaining the rewards for his effort. If you put forth the effort, you will be rewarded in kind.
"I think that Sisk has really found something that he can thrive at," Kiefer added. "One of the good things about the Army is how good you become is really up to the individual. … Sisk can go as far as he wants to go in this Army."
While third place at a command-level competition is a big accomplishment in almost anyone's book, the Army is giving Sisk another shot. This time, he is slated to compete in September at the U.S. Army Europe Best Warrior / Soldier of the Year Competition. If he wins, he will compete at Army level, which is in October.
"I'm excited," Sisk said. "Just in those three competitions I've done so far, I've learned a lot from other people, and I feel like I'm more ready for a competition like this than I've ever been. But there's always room for improvement; always room for more. That's why I'm still studying at things and still training.
"It's been quite an experience so far," he added. "I hope my whole entire career is like this because I will never be bored."