While we are enjoying the slower pace of Fort Leonard Wood, I will admit that it is an adjustment coming from a FORSCOM (Forces Command) to a TRADOC (Training Command). The mentality is different and that is becoming very apparent as we go through each day. This isn't our first turn at being a primarily TRADOC installation, don't forget that Kevin has served as a Drill Sergeant for 3 years. But even that is different. Yesterday we had to run to the Post Exchange (PX) for a few items and it was overrun with trainees. I'm going to assume that they were in AIT to be wandering around like that. I don't know how many Soldiers bumped into us or were vulgar in their language. A big change to 6 years ago when we were at Knox and Privates hurried about their business and didn't speak and were very respectful. It made me think that this may be the problem with the caliber of some of our Soldiers these days. Don't get me wrong I love the Army and I am proud of our Soldiers but too many Soldiers these days lack respect and discipline and I blame it on the nicer Army. I have not ever agreed in co-ed Basic Training. I feel that there has to be a point where discipline is established and I got that at basic training, where it was an even playing field. When we merged to co-ed Advanced Individual Training, we already had that discipline and we could carry it on throughout the rest of our military careers. I don't see that anymore. We have Soldiers coming out of training pregnant or barely passing their PT tests, it made no sense to me.
However after this past weekend, I can see. And let me tell you why. Last night we attended the Oktoberfest here at FLW. Shortly after arriving, we sent Neil to get us some more food tickets. When he came out of the tent where they were selling them there was a Drill Sergeant walking towards him. Neil was counting his tickets as walking and almost bumped into the Drill Sergeant. Granted Neil should have been watching where he was going but at the same time the DS saw him and could have easily sidestepped him. The DS who was well over 6 feet stared down Neil and then stood next to four MP's who were standing near by and said LOUDLY that apparently the kid didn't know who he was and should have moved. What that punk E5 Drill Sergeant (something else I don't agree with) didn't notice was that I watched the whole thing. Neil rushed quickly over to me and I stared those MP's and the DS down. We've lived the life, it can be a power rush, I get it. However, never in the 36 months that Kevin served as a Drill Sergeant did he ever let the "power of the hat" cloud his judgment on how to act or treat people outside the basic training bay. It used to make me mad when I would see DS's act like jerks just because they thought they could. I would see them berating very sick Soldiers in the ER, they weren't even their Soldiers but just because they wore "the hat" they acted stupid.
Last night pissed me off...when he saw me looking at him, he nudged his little buddies and laughed and I replied LOUDLY that if acting like jerk made him feel special then so be it, but don't act like that to a kid and certainly my kid. It doesn't make me think you're extra cool and it doesn't impress anyone else around you (and it didn't, couples standing nearby scowled at him). I was reminded last night why I don't like TRADOC, I didn't enjoy it when we were on the trail because of those few who ruin it for everyone. But more and more we are handing rank to Soldiers so fast that they often don't have the maturity to go with the responsibility and that was obvious last night with that young Drill Sergeant.
I also noticed today that we are different, there are many people here who have never been deployed and so their mentality is very different then ours. I thought I was prepared for that change but perhaps it will take me a little bit longer to adjust to that. I've met people who's Soldiers are also Chemical and they are surprised that Kevin has deployed as much as he has. I have to explain that Chemical Soldiers can serve in any type of unit and when you are assigned to different Combat Arms and Combat Service Support units, you go where they go. We haven't had the opportunity to serve in just a Chemical unit, so yes Kevin has deployed.
Don't get me wrong with this post, I love the Army, I still think our Soldiers are the best out there, just not always coming out of training like they should be. We need to be putting the best Soldiers in these special positions and we need to go back in when we broke a Soldier down and built them back up, not in a position when we are their buddy. My drill sergeants didn't do me any favors by being nice and I thank them for that.
Kevin isn't going to a TRADOC unit here, he will actually go to a FORSCOM unit, I pray that it will give me the balance I need to keep me sane while we live here.