Abrams LFX at Germany
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mike Alford, command sergeant major of the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, discusses the plan of action with a platoon leader during a platoon live-fire exercise at Oberlausitz Training Area, Germany, May 3, 2022. The 3/4 ABCT is among other units assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, proudly working alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide combat-credible forces to V Corps, America’s forward-deployed corps in Europe. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Gabriel Rivera) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Gabriel Rivera-Villanueva) VIEW ORIGINAL

OBERLAUSITZ, GERMANY – The 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division completed Defender 22, an annual exercise that involves NATO allies and partner nations here, May 27, 2022.

Defender Europe 22 is a series of U.S. Army Europe and Africa multinational training exercises in Eastern Europe. The exercise demonstrates U.S. Army Europe and Africa's ability to conduct large-scale ground combat operations across multiple theaters supporting NATO.

In the exercise where the 1-8 IN had the opportunity to train and teach with a German battalion, the noncommissioned officers took the lead to meet and exceed the standards. The NCOs Corps are military officers who have not pursued a commission and usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks.

"The NCOs are the backbone of the Army because they are the line that never swerves," said U.S. Army First Sgt. Michael Charles Weinstein, first sergeant of the Charlie Company, 1-8 IN. "The leadership comes and goes as they move upwards; the NCO corps is the makeover of the Army because these are the guys who have been doing that specific job for an extended period."

Noncommissioned officers are leaders. According to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the posture that the U.S. Army adopts is a "hierarchical organization, which means that everyone with less rank than you is looking to you for leadership, and every one of higher rank is expecting you to provide it.

The NCOs have a wide range of roles, duties, and responsibilities, varying in many ways. Still, the main goal is to achieve the mission by facilitating open and honest communication to ensure that the command excels in meeting the commander's mission.

The NCO should be a mentor to their subordinates and a trustworthy leader for their superiors, stated Sgt. Jonathan E. Morton, an armor crewman with the 1-8 IN. "It should be someone you should be able to learn from and someone you should be able to trust and seek help from."

The daily interaction with the troops is affected because the officers move into strategic operations to lead the institution, although their actions have a significant influence on them indirectly; therefore, they need leaders within the enlisted ranks that they can trust to oversee the troops and serve as advisors to the commanders and the command group.

Among the responsibilities to the commanders and the institution, the NCOs need to enhance the mental and physical well-being of the Soldiers by providing feedback on all matters affecting personnel, including subordinates, organization, operations, training, maintenance of equipment, and readiness.

Leaders at all levels are essential in this organization. When all the NCOs train their soldiers as individual groups at their levels, the readiness keeps building up in a staggered manner, the squads, platoons, companies, and battalions. "The way I see it, if we're failing, at our level, the bigger picture doesn't build up, and we can't go out and do successful training like this," said Sgt. Morton, when asked about his role in Defender 2022.