Tag Team Champions of Command

Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Company, Bahrain – We were often tasked with port security missions guarding resupply ships while they were unloading. Cement barriers were always erected to fortify our corner of the pier. There was a single entry control point for vehicles and personnel as well as observation positions along key points of the barricade.  Fixed site security was one of FAST’s bread and butter missions so the company commander and I would regularly visit the Marines standing post on the pier.

During one such command visit the platoon assigned the mission was not meeting our expectations. Marines failed to report their post to our satisfaction. They could not identify their principle direction of fire or their left and right lateral limits. They couldn’t tell us how much ammo they had on post which, considering the number of crew served and individual weapons were present, might have been important. When asked they were also unsure of their escalation of force procedures. My mouth began to fill with powder as my teeth were ground down to the nubs.

When we got back to the company office, I called for the platoon sergeant to report to me post haste.  The company commander had summoned the platoon commander into his office as well. Their platoon was still relatively new to Bahrain having deployed from Norfolk some weeks prior.

The platoon commander arrived to the CO’s office, notebook in hand.

“Sir? You called for me?”

“Have a seat,” said the CO.

“What’s going on sir?”

“Nothing, just relax for a second,” the CO said, scrolling through something on his computer monitor.

In my office next door, quite a different scenario played out as the platoon sergeant, a Staff Sergeant, reported in. As soon as he shut the hatch he was subjected to a verbal flogging as I laid out his platoon’s shortcomings.  The strange acoustics of my office often caused a ringing noise to fill the air whenever I hit the right pitch. It was a pretty neat effect and I would pause dramatically between profane outbursts to enjoy the sensation.

The CO and platoon commander could hear every word. Our offices shared a head and we often purposefully left the doors open. To his credit, the platoon commander began to sag in the chair as his platoon sergeant was raked over the coals. I continued to lash the Staff Sergeant with my expectations in the event there was any misunderstanding.

Mentorship concluded, I dismissed the Staff Sergeant to carry out the plan of the day. Without missing a beat, the CO turned from his monitor to the young platoon commander.

“So, any questions?”

“No sir,” the platoon commander sighed. “I’ve got it.”

In the end they turned out to have a pretty good platoon with a very successful deployment during their time in the Persian Gulf. Imagine that.

Semper Fidelis!

America’s SgtMaj

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    7 comments

    1. Think you could find your way to the hallowed halls of Congress and get them moving? Shove the old embedded ones out. (They have made their millions) Give stern directions to the juniors…..and maybe, just maybe, our country can be saved! By the way, I have enjoyed reading your blog since you were talked (badgered?) into starting it. It is more than comforting to know that men like you are serving our nation.

      1. No thanks, at least in combat you have the luxury of knowing who the enemy is and taking direct action against him. And thanks! Glad you’ve enjoyed the blog. I’ll admit, if I hadn’t been “badgered” into it I might never have started.

    2. A reminder that being a Marine requires a lot of mental, as well as physical fortitude. I do not envy the platoon sergeant’s seat in that ringing line of verbal fire. Having said that, you did the right thing…. I’m just glad it wasn’t me.

      1. Just doing a little business is all. Besides, when there’s a potential for lives to be on the line, saying: “Gee Billy, I think you could be doing this a little better,” just doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency.

    3. This civilian is impressed by the high efficiency that a CO and his/her sergeant can get when they can rely on each other.

      With one reaming:

      1) the (then) 1st Sergeant chews out the platoon sergeant about his platoon’s problems;
      2) the 1st Sergeant, by proxy with the CO’s approval, also reams the lieutenant on the same matter, thereby;
      3) ensuring the lieutenant and his platoon sergeant are on the same page, and;
      4) showing that the 1st Sergeant and his CO are a team;
      5) and allowing the CO to catch up on some of the routine paperwork.

    4. I must say SgtMaj, that you are completely correct about the acoustics in that particular office as I learned first hand how your already booming voice could somehow amplify in there ten fold.

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