Sapper platoon sergeant: operating in a lightfighter's tactical environment; Joint Readiness Training center (JRTC)."NCOs, the backbone of the Army, train, lead, and take care of enlisted soldiers. They receive their authority from their oaths of office, law, rank structure, traditions, and regulations. This authority allows them to direct soldiers, take actions required to accomplish the mission, and enforce good order and discipline. NCOs represent officer leaders. They ensure their subordinates, along with their personal equipment, are prepared to function as effective unit and team members. While commissioned officers command, establish policy, and manage resources, NCOs conduct the Army's daily business."
Field Manual (FM) 22-100, Army Leadership
A prevalent trend at JRTC JRTC Joint Readiness Training Center (Fort Polk, LA, USA) among rotational engineer units is the platoon sergeant platoon sergeant
The senior noncommissioned officer in an army platoon or comparable unit. (PSG PSG,
n polysomnograph; polygraph performed during sleep. Physiological variables such as pulse, blood pressure, and respiration are monitored and charted. ) not understanding his role and exercising his authority to best influence the mission and ensure its accomplishment. The bottom line is that the PSG is not getting into the fight and making a difference. In a light environment, the engineer platoon habitually associates with an infantry task force. Often, the three sapper squads are task-organized in support of company maneuver teams and operate independently from the platoon headquarters element. With the expectation of having no subordinates upon task organization, the sapper PSG is faced with a constant dilemma--knowing his organizational role and knowing where his leadership is needed most in the tactical environment. The following paragraphs address this concern and include observations and feedback from the engineer observer-controllers (O-Cs) at JRTC.
The PSG is the senior noncommissioned officer (NCO NCO
NCO noncommissioned officer
NCO n abbr (Mil) (= noncommissioned officer) → Uffz. ) at the platoon level. He is the principal advisor and mentor to the platoon leader A platoon leader or platoon commander is the officer in command of a platoon. This person is usually a junior officer — a second or first lieutenant, or an equivalent rank. He is usually assisted by a platoon sergeant. (PL). The PSG generally has 12 to 18 years of military experience and is rightfully expected to bring that experience and mentorship to bear and influence quick, accurate decisions that are in the best interest of the mission and the soldier. The connection between the chain of command and the NCO support channel is the senior NCO. Officers issue orders through the chain of command, but the senior NCO must know and understand the orders to issue effective implementing instructions through the NCO support channel. The role of the PSG was best defined in TC 22-6 (replaced by FM 7-22.7 The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide): "When the platoon leader is present, the platoon sergeant is the primary assistant and advisor, with the responsibility of training and caring for soldiers. In the absence of the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant takes charge of the platoon." This serves as a guideline for the two basic combat functions of the sapper PSG: PL/assistant platoon leader (APL (A Programming Language) A high-level mathematical programming language noted for its brevity and matrix generation capabilities. Developed by Kenneth Iverson in the mid-1960s, it runs on micros to mainframes and is often used to develop mathematical models. ) and assistant task force engineer.
Platoon Leader/Assistant Platoon Leader
As the PL executes his duties as task force engineer participating in the maneuver task force military decision-making process (MDMP MDMP Military Decision-Making Process
MDMP Million Dollar Mouthpiece
MDMP Mediterranean Dialogue Military Program ), the PSG must take a proactive approach in conducting parallel mission planning and preparation with his subordinate squad leaders. This involves the active supervision and execution of platoon troop leading procedures (TLPs). With the PL's intent and the receipt of developing mission-critical information, the PSG can--
* Issue warning orders (WARNORDS) (as detailed as possible).
* Make a tentative plan; assign critical responsibilities to facilitate mission preparation, precombat checks (PCCs), and rehearsals.
* Initiate necessary movement; coordinate task organization changes or movement to a new patrol base or assembly area.
* Conduct reconnaissance (map, route, objective).
* Complete the plan; implement changes based on the results of the reconnaissance and the approved scheme of engineer operations from the MDMP.
* Issue the operation order (OPORD OPORD Operation/Operational Order ), if tasked by the PL.
* Supervise and assess; conduct leader precombat inspections (PCIs) and monitor rehearsals at the squad, platoon, and combined arms Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects.
Though the lower-echelon units of a combined arms team may be of homogeneous types, a balanced mixture of such units are combined into an levels.
Under the factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time available, and civilian considerations (METT-TC), the maneuver commander's guidance, and/or the PL's instructions, the PSG must be assigned a distinct role for the execution phase of the operation. This may include serving as a PL/APL in a platoon-level operation, maneuvering with an engineer main effort squad, or battletracking in the task force tactical operations center A physical groupment of those elements of a general and special staff concerned with the current tactical operations and the tactical support thereof. Also called TOC. See also command post. (TOC) as the assistant task force engineer. The goal is to find the combination and balance of engineer leadership that best supports the task force and allows the engineer platoon to successfully accomplish the mission.
Assistant Task Force Engineer
The sapper PSG inherently must share the responsibility of manning the task force engineer cell (TFEC TFEC Traffic Fatalities and Economic growth project (World Bank) ). In the absence of the PL, the PSG serves as the engineer Battlefield Operating System operating system (OS)
Software that controls the operation of a computer, directs the input and output of data, keeps track of files, and controls the processing of computer programs. (BOS) representative on the task force battle staff. His duties include battletracking on current operations; maintaining communications and reporting with higher and subordinate headquarters; and managing critical engineer information--such as enemy and friendly minefields, route status within the area of responsibility, and combat power. The PSG must maintain an excellent situational awareness Situation awareness or situational awareness  (SA) is the mental representation and understanding of objects, events, people, system states, interactions, environmental conditions, and other situation-specific factors affecting human performance in and possess a strong knowledge of engineer systems, their capabilities and doctrinal employment, and tactics. Ultimately, he must be confident in his ability to execute his role as an engineer BOS advisor to senior maneuver leadership.
* The majority of engineer PSGs rotating through the JRTC are "fast-tracking" staff sergeants (with 8 to 12 years of military experience) who excelled as squad leaders in a tactical environment but are struggling to fulfill the responsibilities of a competent PSG. They have little to no experience in a TOC, do not possess the engineer doctrinal knowledge and understanding of task force-level operations, and lack the confidence and credibility with the maneuver community to be a senior-level advisor.
* PSGs revert back to the mentality of just managing the "beans and bullets" aspect of operations. This hinders the PL's ability to effectively manage the platoon's timeline. The PSG has little involvement in platoon TLPs; they are left to the PL to execute upon completion of the task force MDMP or pushed down to the squad leaders for decentralized execution Delegation of execution authority to subordinate commanders. .
* A "TOC avoidance" syndrome causes PSGs to push that entire responsibility on the PL. This has been attributed to a number of factors: there is no battle staff NCO course qualification; the TOC is an unfamiliar environment that might show the senior NCO's "true" lack of experience in the presence of his maneuver brethren; the PSG simply wants to stay forward with the soldiers and where the "real" fight is.
* The PSG rarely conducts battlefield circulation. This impacts his ability to gain the "pulse" of the platoon and implement action when needs are not being addressed. Soldier welfare and logistic concerns are often overlooked when squads are task-organized away from the platoon headquarters in various command/support relationships.
* The PSG often has a poor relationship with the PL. The PSG shows little patience in coordinating with and mentoring the junior lieutenant who has an incredible dual responsibility as PL and task force engineer (often assigned with less than 18 months of military service). This severely strains the platoon's ability to plan, prepare, and execute, and it ultimately impacts the unit's ability to support the task force and accomplish the mission.
The PSG is the key assistant and advisor to the PL--both as a task force engineer in the TOC and forward with the platoon on the battlefield. In the absence of the PL, the PSG commands the platoon and acts as the senior engineer advisor to the task force. He is the driving force behind the platoon's prebattle preparation, and he must be ready to lead from the front when called upon. The PL and PSG must work together effectively to find a balance of leadership and position themselves accordingly to fight and win on the battlefield.
The following checklist of responsibilities serves as a guide for the sapper PSG when determining where he is needed most to influence operations and impact mission accomplishment:
* Assist and coordinate with the PL. The PSG should also be prepared to assume the PL's duties, as required.
* Execute TLPs and briefing orders in the absence of the PL.
* Become involved early in the planning process to provide quality control in the execution of engineer missions and logistical operations.
* Execute duties as the assistant task force engineer has directed.
* Check on the welfare of the soldier as a second set of eyes for the PL.
* Enforce standards and the tactical standard operating procedure.
* Supervise platoon logistics, maintenance, communications, field hygiene, and medical evacuation operations.
* Lead, supervise, inspect, observe, and assess matters that the PL designates.
By Sergeant First Class Anthony S. Sparks and Captain Jason D. Williams
Sergeant First Class Sparks is a light engineer platoon senior NCO observer-controller. Previous assignments include PSG and squad leader, Charlie Company, 307th Engineer Battalion (Airborne); operations sergeant, 554th Engineer Battalion; and squad leader, 562d Engineer Company, 172d Infantry Brigade (Separate) and Alpha Company, 20th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Wheeled).
Captain Williams is a light engineer platoon senior observer-controller. Previous assignments include commander, Bravo Company, 65th Engineer Battalion (Light); brigade engineer, 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division; adjutant ADJUTANT. A military officer, attached to every battalion of a regiment. It is his duty to superintend, under his superiors, all matters relating to the ordinary routine of discipline in the regiment. , executive officer, and platoon leader, 588th Engineer Battalion (Mechanized), 4th Infantry Division.