By Luis A. Deya, 401st AFSB Public AffairsAugust 21, 2009
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait - Sgt. 1st Class Robert G. Greeley of the 2nd Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade describes what a noncommissioned officer is or should be.
Greeley joined the Army in January 1996 and quickly set his goal to become an NCO. His hard work, effort motivation and dedication helped him reach his goal by his third year of service.
Asked what advice he would give junior Soldiers who have the same vision to succeed, Greeley replied, "My advice is very simple. Find an NCO in your direct chain of command who gives you the impression he is always on the go, who usually has younger Soldiers constantly trying to ask him questions, and learn as much as you can by shadowing him."
Greeley works as the maintenance NCO in charge for the 2nd Bn., 401st AFSB and wears what he calls "five different hats." In addition to being fully engaged in the Operation Iraqi Freedom drawdown and the Operation Enduring Freedom buildup, he occasionally serves as the maintenance technician, a teacher or mentor whose Soldiers can come talk to about their problems.
Simply put, an NCO is not just a leader, but someone who keeps the team together in every aspect for the overall mission. An NCO puts the team's needs and concerns before his own to improve mission readiness on a daily basis. Greeley does exactly this.
His experience working as the NCOIC for the battalion has helped him diversify his leadership style as an NCO because of the many different people he serves with. From Soldiers to Department of the Army civilians to contractors and local nationals, Greeley provides leadership and direction for each group.
In his 13 years' service, this is the first time he has worked in such a diverse organization, Greeley said. His lifelong learning as an NCO has helped him manage, mentor and contribute to the unit's mission.
"The outstanding training I have received in the Army as an NCO is directly responsible for my success here at the 2-401st AFSB," Greeley said. "An NCO is a leader who lives by the Army values, and I have used those to lead, train and mentor those who will take my place when I leave."
Greeley said he is a firm believer that you may obtain the rank of sergeant and still not have the heart of an NCO. The Army promotes you to the pay grade of E-5, but you must choose in your heart to be an NCO, he said.
While the rank of sergeant is definitely a symbol of success, the title "NCO" is what drives him to lead by example, he said. An NCO, he said, leads by example, guides Soldiers' mission, and takes care of Soldiers' needs.
"I had great NCOs who mentored me and have taken me to where I am now. I want to give back that same opportunity to others, which is the heart of a true NCO," Greeley said.
Although Greeley has not yet met his next goal, but he is steadily working toward it. That would be to become a company first sergeant so that he can guide NCOs to train, mentor and pass their knowledge on to junior enlisted Soldiers.
His ultimate goal is to be the Army Materiel Command's command sergeant major one day.
(Editor's note: 401st AFSB's Robin Oakley, Maj. Joseph Roberts and Maj. Tomas Stocks contributed to this article.)