Thursday, April 1, 2010

Negative reinforcement and punishment

The First Sargeant for our Wing (think army = brigade) is not the most senior NCO (non-commissioned officer); the more senior NCOs occupy the positions of "Chief" or squadron superintendents - this roughly means that they have their own pick up trucks to get around base, and represent our squads at morale events such as fun runs, live music performances or award ceremonies.  These most senior NCOs would never want to be the First Shirt because this job is a mix of hall monitor, risk manager, and narc.  Our First Shirt has to present for the Prosecution in all UCMJ violations (and GO1B violations), minor disciplinary infractions, and has to, on behalf of the Commander, set the tone with regard to enforcement of the rules. 

One of the particularly notorious and unpalatable faces of the First Shirt is that of clothing inspector.  There are certain ways to way the different uniforms (the camoflauge, the PT gear, etc), and clearly, there are always people pushing the limits, but the twice weekly reminders of nuances of uniform compliance are tedious, at best.  With the warmer weather here, and I am sure this is a recurring theme, a few young soldier/soldierettes strip down to the bare essentials on the roofs of their work places for some sun.  No one would know that Private Jones was baring all, but the Victoria Secret, on the roof.  No one, except, that is, one of the helicopter pilots who fly the Blackhawks and Chinooks overhead in scores every afternoon.  Does Private Jones think that all helicopter pilots and passengers will remain silent on this violation? 

So, in typical rant to the lowest common denominator, my e-mailbox, and everyone else's is filled with reminders of expected behavior and attire.  The letter from the First Shirt on behalf of the Commander, the forward of the FS's letter from the Commander to all personnel endorsing said note; and then, a compendium of syncophants to follow.  Got it.  Will tuck in my shirt, and will be sure not to roll cigarettes in the sleeves.  This is the tact to change behavior in the military.  It is entirely punative, and directed like shotgun fire into a flock of ducks.  In this analogy, I am minding his own business on the periphery, receiving contaminant buck shot from the proverbial Dick Cheney.  Another reason to wonder as to why we have trouble retaining skilled people in the military.

1 comment: