By RACHEL PONDER, APG NewsJuly 30, 2009
With the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer well underway, NCOs across the country are being recognized for the many critical tasks they perform everyday that are essential to the Army's mission.
Sergeant First Class Fredrick Jenkins, an NCO who works at the Joint Project Manager for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Contamination Avoidance, has many responsibilities. Not only is he the NCO in Charge, but he serves as a security, facility and operations manager.
The JPM NBC CA, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, is responsible for the development, production, integration, testing and fielding of NBC detection, obscuration and reconnaissance systems. The JPM NBC CA, which is under the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, ensures that the system developments, integration efforts and services focus on the Joint Warfighter's needs within cost, schedule, performance and risk.
Jenkins said that he is proud of the work being completed in his department, a mostly civilian department, with 182 civilians, 12 Soldiers, and two NCOs.
Jenkins serves as a subject matter expert for the fielding and netting of new chemical and radiation equipment. Contractors come to the JPM NBC CA with equipment to sell, and his department tests the equipment to see if the equipment is feasible for the Warfighter.
Jenkins said that what he enjoys most about his job is being able to serve the Soldiers by sharing his expertise.
"Since I am a Warfighter, I am able to provide input on a piece of equipment from the Warfighter's perspective," he said. "I feel more comfortable knowing it is a Soldier testing the equipment who knows what the Warfighter needs."
Jenkins said that he also frequently attends at conferences, like the Association of the United States Army conference, where he showcases the latest equipment used by the Soldiers to civilians.
Lieutenant Colonel Rodney Faust, Jenkin's supervisor, said that Jenkins shoulders much of the responsibility at his organization.
"He is an outstanding NCO, and he is a quick learner who takes on many responsibilities," Faust said. "He is very good at taking the initiative and getting things done accurately before anyone has to tell him to do it. He is one of the best NCOs who have worked for me."
On being an NCO
Jenkins said that he joined the Army in 1990 because he wanted to serve his country and wanted better opportunities for himself.
"Throughout my career I have enjoyed the camaraderie, or esprit de corps that comes along with being a Soldier," he said.
During his career, Jenkins has moved multiple times and has served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and operations overseas in Germany and Korea.
Jenkins said that he felt honored when he became an NCO, because it gave him an opportunity to move into a supervisory role, and what he enjoys most about being an NCO is the leadership role, because it gives him a chance to mentor younger Soldiers.
Jenkins added that he felt that he made the biggest impact and had the greatest responsibility when he served as a drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., at the Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear School.
"I am proud that I have had a chance to be a mentor, to teach young Soldiers basic military skills," he said. "I helped turn civilians into Soldiers, I taught them how to defend and protect."
Jenkins said that being a drill sergeant requires long hours as they basically live with the new Soldiers, but the rewards outweigh the demands.
Jenkins added that it is a great honor and responsibility to train new Soldiers, many who have little military experience. Adequate instruction in basic training is vital because Soldiers may be heading off to the front lines once they have received basic training, he said.
Drill instructors also provide guidance beyond military instruction; they provide counsel to young Soldiers, many who are on their own for the first time in their life.
Jenkins said that he will always look on that time fondly, and considers graduating from drill sergeant school one of his highest achievements.
"My greatest award [of my military career] was receiving the drill sergeant patch," he said.
Jenkins added that he feels a sense of pride when he hears that a Soldier who he has trained is doing well and succeeding in the Army.
Jenkins also served in other leadership capacities, as a division chemical instructor, for a two-week NBC course and a squad leader in the 12th Chemical Company.
Jenkins said he is proud that the Army is recognizing NCOs this year, because they are the backbone of the Army, providing guidance and leadership to young Soldiers, the future of the Army.
"My advice to future NCOs is to know your Soldiers and know your job," Jenkins said. "Take pride in knowing your job and knowing it well.
Jenkins added that respect is an important quality for NCOs.
"Respect yourself. If you don't then no one else will respect you," he said.
Jenkins said that effective communication is also an important factor in the success of an NCO.
"You need to be able to listen to other people, and be flexible," he said.
Jenkins added that it is also important to be helpful, and be willing to find answers.
"If you don't know an answer to a question, say that you will find out and get back to them," he said.
On physical fitness
Jenkins said that physical fitness is important to all Soldiers.
"Physical fitness is important, it helps you be mentally prepared to do your job," he said.
Jenkins said that he likes to remain physically fit by going to the gym.
Jenkins, who will officially retire next year, said that he is looking forward to the next phase of his life to have a chance to give back to his community in a different way.
Jenkins has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and would like to work as either a juvenile corrections officer or a counselor.
"I want to make a difference in young people's lives, and I think that my time in the military will help," he said.