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The world is faced with ever increasing terrorist attacks; newspapers, TV channels and journals report every day on horrific scenes such as suicide bombing, hijackings and extremism that is happening in the many parts of the world. Relatively, there is also increasing conflicts between nations and the issues of nuclear proliferation which may spark wars between nations. Under these circumstances nations have to equip their military force with knowledge and skills that will outpace that of their enemies.
In respect to this, America has been continually empowering its Non-commissioned officers. Anon-commissioned officer is an officer in military whose rank is not high and has not been awarded commission by higher authority. These officers are invariably promoted from the lower ranks; they include corporal, sergeant and warrant officers. Non-commissioned officer corps plays a very key role in the military missions; they train military personnel to prepare them for accomplishment of the mission plans. As well they act as leaders of military mission. Basically, non commissioned officers are charged with a responsibility to train and maintain standards within the military force teaching soldiers on good morals and discipline and ensing the safety of the soldiers.
American military officers fought in South East Asia (Vietnam) for over a period of eight years. That period was very challenging to the America soldiers; the War demanded a lot of 'technical specialist, trainers and tactical leaders' (Rush, 2006, p.24). In respect to this, the American government developed a training programme for the Non-commissioned officers that were meant to provide them with the necessary technical and leadership skills and improve their performance in the war. Amazingly, the education programme brought about success and in the subsequent years American soldiers performed exemplary; this was witnessed during the Grenada liberation in 1982, panama in 1989 and Kuwait in 1992 (p. 24). Presently, American non-commissioned officers are tirelessly serving in many battle grounds and peace keeping missions in many nations all over the world. Remarkably, their selfless determination to provide security to all people irrespective of their origin is witnessed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Southern Sudan.
Empowerment of American Non-commissioned officers is ever increasing and this can be attributed to some fundamental factors. So to speak, American soldier is faced with very dynamic and changing society which requires new knowledge and skills. In relation to this, Non-commissioned officers are trusted to adequately provide this technical and leadership skills to other soldiers and therefore they need to be empowered to perform this duty. Rush (2006) points out that, today the American's sergeant officer has experiences, leadership, and technical skills more than ever before (p.24). Outstandingly, Non-commission Education system is believed to have contributed to the improvement, performance, and professionalism of these officers.
Reimer (1996) asserts that leaders must possess creative leadership skills and positive attitude and provide an atmosphere where all soldiers can exploit their potential to the fullest. He continues to say that Army is not a group of people but it is the people and all of them offer volunteer services. Furthermore, good commanders understand their soldiers well and know them by names. Governments must, therefore, mentor non-commissioned and young officers and talk to them about their performance in order to prepare them for the future. Non-commissioned officers must be educated and well set for victory; they should be in a position to fight and defeat all their enemies in the world. Therefore, Reimer (1996) suggests that leaders must develop training programmes and establish National Training Centers for army officers to exploit full potential from them.
The Iraq and the Afghanistan war was the most challenging war for the American soldiers. It was noted that, American soldiers were not adequately prepared for that war; they were not much enlightened and equipped with the necessary skills to counter insurgency. Petraeus (2006) one of the Lieutenants of U.S Army asserts that American soldiers must 'persist to learn from the experience in those countries' (p.1). Besides this, American soldiers should practice the habit of recording what they observe and learn in the battle field and disseminate this knowledge to other officers. The American government has done a good job in fostering this custom; they have established a center for Army Lessons Learned which is mandated with a duty of collecting, evaluating and disseminating information. With all this information Non-commissioned officers are able to do their roles as trainers and leaders effectively.
Non-commissioned officers are considered as the 'back-borne of the army' (Rush, 2006, p.
76); this is because of their role in maintaining discipline and order within the army. Many years ago training of soldiers was the duty of officers; however, recently senior non-commissioned officers have been entrusted with this responsibility by the new regulation. Outstandingly, American Non-commissioned officers have performed commendably in their discharge of their duties worldwide. Every soldier is entitled with NCO who ensures that all soldiers get good and professional training from experienced and qualified experts.
NCO is also mandated to identify leaders from soldiers who can effectively perform in small-units. Hence it is very essential for the NCO to be empowered with knowledge and technique on how to carry out these duties effectively as Reimer (1996) asserts that excellent leaders understand their soldiers' strength and weaknesses (p.2). Basically, it is the role of NCO to employ knowledge and skills they have acquired through many years of service in planning and decision making stages in the Army (Department of the Army, Information Management Support Center, 1997, p.20).
In line with this, the US government is taking initiatives to empower the non-commissioned officers with the competency skills that they can practice to help the ravaged nations built their military system again. As a result, American non-commissioned officers today are helping in improving and establishing of military force in ravished nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The experience that American non-commissioned officer has, has contributed as well in the successful reestablishment of the Iraq military colleges and schools. They employ their leadership determination skills to identify the best Iraq leaders who can head these colleges.
The chain of authority is very fundamental in the military system. How well a military institution works rely on how the information is passed from the high rank to the lower rank. Rush (2006) defines the chain as 'the succession of commanders from a superior to a subordinate through which command is exercised' (p.32). American system of military embraces only one chain of command which is parallel with NCO; however, NCO complements this chain through its support channels. Basically, this chain of command is essential for communication between senior and junior staff in the Army and for it to be effective then the NCO support channels must be operational (p. 32).
The non-commissioned officer support for the channel mentioned above starts with the command sergeant major and ends with junior cadre of NCO. This support channels functions by direct oral communication through the command sergeant major or first sergeant (Rush, 2006, p.33). Besides, this channel is very vital and is applied in giving out orders and ensuring that all jobs are done. Essentially, this method gives the commander freedom of planning, making decisions and designing future education programs for the force (p.33). Additionally, the NCO support channel helps the chain of command in designing and carrying out every day unit activities. Moreover, they train army soldiers in conducting unit operations as well as individual task. It is the responsibility of NCO support channel to ensure the wellbeing of soldiers and their family members during their working time and when they are out of work.
Non-commissioned officer and the other Officers work together and complement each other as a unit. However, research conducted by Army Research Institute revealed that there has been problem between officers and Non-commission officers (Reimer, 2003, p.2). NCO and Officers have conflicts over the sharing of their duties, it is said that some Officers perform all the duties leaving NCO with nothing to do. Reimer (1996) asserts that, these officers want to perform training as well as micromanage; they also want the lower rank soldiers and civilians to report directly to them (p.2). This kind of actions leaves NCOs with titles and responsibilities while rendering them powerless. Surprisingly, the research also pointed out that ethical conduct of some battalion commanders is not up to the standard. Some commanders, compromise their ethics while discharging their duties and this influences the moral behavior of the other junior officers.
Inspite of the fact that the American soldiers were not well prepared for the Iraq war they are still the best soldiers in the world. Reimer (2003) affirm that there is no military all over the world that matches the quality of Non-commissioned officers of the United States of America (p.2). With the establishment of Centre for Army Lessons Learned, the American soldiers are able to learn from their past experience in the battle field and improve their tactics for the future. Petraeus (2006) claims that the American's great military superiority renders their enemies powerless and unable to mount any attack in future (p.2).
In conclusion, the empowerment of NCOs in the Americas military was indeed the most fundamental thing that ever happened in the American army. Today, the American soldiers are able to perform their duties effectively in all the countries they operate. The training of NCOs and empowering them to lead and train the junior soldiers has instilled discipline and integrity within the military. More to this point, the soldiers are gaining necessary skills to face their future enemies with much confidence. Importantly, empowerment of NCOs contributed to quality of work that American soldiers have done and are doing, and this is possibly the reason why American soldiers are ranked the best in the world. Owing to the dynamics and the changing trends of the battle fields and the need for military to pace up with this trends, the United States of America will continue to improve and empower its military to prepare them for the future.