WASHINGTON — Recently released statistics from a 2014 poll show that 99% of all platoon leaders are in abusive relationships with their respective platoon sergeants.
The poll, conducted by the Military Times, reinforces the enduring practice of lieutenant abuse by non-commissioned officers in platoon sergeant positions. It was nearly unanimous in respondents aged 18-38 that they openly condoned and engaged in behaviors with their platoon leaders that would be chargeable as “abuse” under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). A small cross-section even displayed behavior that would violate Article 120 of the military justice system.
Not surprisingly most platoon leaders are not coming forward, either out of fear or simple ignorance of how NCOs should be treating them.
One brave survivor, Nick Vance, a graduate of the United States Military Academy and currently attending seminary school, gave Duffel Blog an exclusive interview about living out his personal Hell.
“When I met my first platoon sergeant he was the ideal NCO. He was funny, nurturing, and supportive. He would even pick me up in the morning for PT and treat me to breakfast at the DFAC. I honestly couldn’t have been happier,” said Vance about his co-leader.
“But then, after about 3 months of working side by side, day in and day out, I started to notice things. They were little things at first. Like, he would stop talking to whoever he was speaking with when I walked up. When I would ask what he was talking about, he would say, ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s NCO business.’ Or he would make snide comments about my Hooters waitress girlfriend, saying how she was a ‘bad influence’ on me.”
Then, according to Vance, his platoon sergeant gradually became openly hostile and would randomly “fly off the handle” at the smallest remark. “He became very demeaning. After years of therapy I learned he was trying to isolate me when he forbade me from going to the company commander’s meeting or speaking with senior officers. He would rewrite my training schedules, tell me how everything I touched was ‘a clusterfuck, at best,’ and ‘out’ me on the radio. After I filled out our platoon’s range card with primary and secondary sectors of fire converging onto the company command post (CP) I knew it was only a matter of time before he took it to the next level.”
And took it the next level he did, according to Vance.
“Every time I would try to call cadence during platoon runs or organize chalks for Air Assaults I would be met with a string of profanity and flying garbage cans,” said Vance. “Where do you even put garbage cans during a 3 mile run?”
Finally, the officer was pushed to his breaking point. “I felt trapped and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t go inside the CP without being sprayed with fire extinguishers or called ‘Lieutenant Fauntleroy.’ I finally resigned my commission when I was held down by all of the platoon sergeants while they ritualistically shaved me.”
Vance briefly stopped to compose himself, adding: “ALL of me.”
It is because of cases like Vance’s that major news outlets and human rights groups are finally taking notice and forcing senior enlisted leaders to respond. Newly appointed Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey, informed of the accusations only this morning, vowed to act once he takes the top post on Jan. 30.
“I take these issues extremely seriously and will stop at nothing to resolve these allegations,” Dailey told reporters. “I will discuss these results with my staff and do my very best to bring the level back up to 100% like our forefathers intended.”