Ft. Sam Houston, TX - With a breakdown in morale and discipline, 1SG Dan Melton had enough. The Company First Sergeant had to reach back to the past -- with his decades of experience -- and issue fresh orders.
"We just came back from a 15-month deployment," says Melton, "and we've been having some serious problems with our junior soldiers."
The First Sergeant, part of the 14th Military Intelligence Battalion, stares at his soldiers standing in formation, upset that it's come to this. "Everyone has grown so enamored with the 'New' Army stuff," he says, using condescending air quotes. "Well I for one think it's bullshit!"
The soldiers just stare back blankly, unsure of what the First Sergeant is talking about. He then goes on to tell them that "they'll be going back to his day." Most have no idea what he means.
The troops soon got a taste after he replaced computers with a "butcher paper" method for analysis many hadn't seen since Fort Huachuca, AZ, if at all. He also instituted a regime of what he has deemed "purely infantry-oriented PT".
And then he issued black jump boots to all his soldiers.
"I'm doing this for your own good. When I was in Primary Leadership Development we used to dedicate at least three hours a day to cleaning those things! I'm not doing this as a punishment, but rather out of love for my soliders."
Many troops remain skeptical.
"What the hell are we supposed to do with these?" whined SPC Wade Galliston. "I used to hear stories about black boot polishing. And I saw them in an old recruting poster once, but I thought all that was over. Hell, my recruiter sealed the deal by saying we were only wearing Danners now."
One platoon sergeant tried to defend the First Sergeant and motivate his soldiers.
"Top's heart is in the right place. He just wants us to maintain a higher standard." said SSG Joshua Barrish. "It'll pass," he says, watching his platoon slave over the boots, black polish staining their multicams.
"It'll pass." he says again.
Later, during a listening session with other leadership, 1SG Melton faced something of a mini-rebellion, when he suggested the Army break out the old freeze dried MREs so "these pussies can stop crying about trading."
On what can only be determined an upside, 1SG Melton said he might forego any more radical changes and simply jump the chain of command, writting to SMA Raymond F. Chandler with his ideas to "cull the wheat from the chaff".