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About Command February 28, 2006

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.
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I was reading Band of Brothers for what seems to be the gazillionth time when i asked myself a question i must’ve asked myself time and time again, especially whenever i fell into the shadows of doubt. But it’s something i never allowed myself too often, lest i fall apart in front of everyone. And the million-dollar question goes like this:

Am i fit for command? Am i fit to wear 2 bars upon my shoulders?

Previously, i based my idea of command upon my School of Arty instructors, namely a certain CPT James. His idea of gentle tutelage, but knowing when to be harsh and demanding. Although i don’t know if my fellow cadets were similarly (and sufficiently) impressed by him, i know i was. But maybe it was because he was well-read and intelligent that impressed me.

Upon commissioning and entering TA Battery, 24th Battalion Singapore Artillery, i tried to base my idea of command upon CPT Francis, who shall be referred to here as ex-boss. Here was someone who led by example and who reminded his junior officers that he did so almost on a daily basis. Every bit the garang soldier, i tried to keep up with him but failed. If he had one flaw, perhaps it was the way he obeyed orders to the word. I felt that while he gave us free reign, i always had the strange impression that ex-boss was quite inflexible on things (especially regarding leave and off.)

Perhaps it was the way he kept telling us to hang ourselves and his physically imposing build which led us to think thus. I, however, failed to live up to this manifestation of command. It was like myself being inflexible, but failing to live up to what i decreed. I admit that i’ve failed in leadership by example before. Another example is during outfields (but i’m not talking about conducting courses.) During BATTLEKING, the crazy weather, coupled with me being forced to be with the shelter, leading myself to be improperly attired, etc (something i wouldn’t have done as a cadet but as a cadet you have rules.) but for goodness’ sake i was taking cadets. Failure to lead by example on a grand scale. I guess that may be a reason why our best friend is so fucked-up. No idea.

NZ, however, was grand. Maybe it’s because i wasn’t going with trainees anymore, or maybe it’s because the weather was absolutely grand – it was a time when i was absolutely proud of my being an officer, because i was able to lead by example while having a good time. It was like a Golden Age in NZ, and i loved it. It was worth every minute there. Then we came back for FATEP, which was, IMHO, atrocious. I’ll admit that i slept very little, if at all throughout the course of the FATEP days, but i slept on the move and then i’d be sleeping while everyone else was deploying. Granted, i’m a controller and i’m not even supposed to help, but the least i could do as a battery officer was come down and take a look, yes? At some point of the deployment i’d awaken and step out to take a look, but that was about it. I guess sleeping at 4 a.m. whilst everyone else could grab some z’s in between is the difference, but still, could i have pressed on?

(it was fucking different in the BOC, however. The reason why we didn’t receive any comms after midnight or so was because everyone was fucking asleep. I wonder what right could they have gotten lemuel and eric to man the shelter throughout when they were all in la-la-land. And guess why i know? Because i was up and about while all of you were performing research in quantum physics.)

As such, my current ideal of a good military officer in 24 SA should be as such:

  1. Thinks in a commonsensical way (which is difficult for me when the maggots appear and eat up my grey matter)
  2. Swears by his non-commissioned officers (which melvyn and myself do a lot…they are the technical gods of operating the systems)
  3. Trains in a matter oriented to battle (possible? i don’t know. How many of us have actually seen war?)
  4. Is moderately competent with the technicalities of the equipment, and is able to apply theory in an educated way. (i learned in BATTLEKING and perfected it in NZ…moohahahahaha)
  5. To really give 2 fucks about his subordinates (i’d like to think i tried…but i’m not the one you should ask if it worked.)
  6. Who can do what he preaches (a reason why i kiwi my boots daily and fold my uniform properly…but then again i’ve failed elsewhere in this particular aspect)

So do i fit the bill? Do you fit the bill? boss is an example of a rather good officer…he fits a lot of the abovementioned criteria…he’s a lot more cooler than me, for one thing. And his paikia-ism surely befits that of a captain of the SAF. And it’s not just your ordinary street xiao hun hun…he’s like the dai kor type…hahaha…he has a way of making people look up to him. But i guess, to each his own. Everyone has their personal style of leadership. My stint in the Army has seen me quite paikia (but nowhere near boss) and yes i do have a confidence in my step which is misread sometimes to be arrogance and i don’t normally watch what i talk in camp but still. I’m far from perfect, i guess, and leadership is a skill which has to be nurtured. I don’t know when i’ll be thrust into the driver’s seat again, do i?

I think there are some people in the unit, however, whose names i shall not mention, that clearly do not fit the above-listed criteria. I’m sure we all know who they are.

In retrospect, however, maybe officership wasn’t exactly the best thing (except the pay, of course.) I guess no matter where you go, you give up a little part of yourself, and you give up more as your position rises. As an officer, people just go yes sir, will do sir, three bags full, sir, and it gets done. Some of my closer friends have said that i have become an opinionated fucker and all and…i guess they’re right? I’m so used to taking the bull by its horns and saying what i want and what i think that it’s now just…me.

‘It happens. Just move on.’

It’s not as simple as that.

Specs/Men of TA, anything to say? Now that it’s all over, you can flame me without any extras (unless you threaten me…yes, threatening an officer is a chargeable offence.) HAHAHA.

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