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Newsletter 09-40
June 2009

The Third Nightmare: Train to Standard

After capturing the lessons from my second nightmare, I really wanted to go back to sleep as soon as possible so I could change the results and save my mediocre career. My third nightmare began with my radio cracking with range control's conveyance of the severe weather report, but this time the company was tracking. I had checked the weather forecast that morning, and we had already deployed by truck. We used the occasion to train the Soldiers on convoy operations as well as reacting to improvised explosive devices while in route to the forward operating base. The lightning storm hit hard just like in my second nightmare. I had previously briefed the battalion commander on my inclement weather plan and my efforts to allow my platoons to conduct outcomes-based training. This time, however, when I got my platoon sergeants together, I gave my intent, identified the desired outcome, and gave an example on how to obtain the outcome. I told them regardless of their approach to the training, the training support package lesson plan would serve as the assessment tool in evaluating the Soldiers' performances. I also provided a tentative timeline to start and end training based on the weather. After finalizing their resource requirements, I directed the platoon sergeants to back brief me on their outcomes-based training approach during our evening battle update brief.

The next morning I went to training. I started with 3rd Platoon just in case the battalion and brigade commanders decided to show up to view training like in my second dream. At 0930, I looked over my shoulder, and the brigade and battalion commanders were approaching. Again LTC Charles told me he had invited COL Ranger to view our outcomes-based training. I explained our training approach as the first sergeant retrieved the 3rd Platoon sergeant, who knew the guidance and desired outcomes I had provided to the platoon sergeants last night. The 3rd Platoon sergeant did a masterful job illuminating his training approach to the colonels as they viewed the execution. I knew it was going well when the brigade commander turned to me and said, "Captain, you are tracking, my friend. In fact, I require your assistance. I want you to brief your outcomes-based training concept to your peers during next week's officer professional development so we can share our best practices."

I responded, "No problem, sir." The brigade commander went on say, "I am exceptionally pleased; you have a lot of potential, Captain. There is no doubt you will be a fine battalion commander if you keep it up, young man."

I was elated to hear such remarks from my senior rater. I saluted, the battalion commander escorted the brigade commander to his vehicle, and he departed. I anticipated LTC Charles' departure as well; however, he walked back to my position. He told me well done, but then said he had some bad news for me. He stated that the brigade chaplain informed him that a female Soldier had come to him with an allegation of sexual misconduct concerning Drill Sergeant Johnson. My elation was quickly replaced with disbelief. He informed me that while in the chow line, a Soldier overheard one of my Soldiers talking about having sex with Drill Sergeant Johnson in order to pass her Army Physical Fitness Test last week. LTC Charles then departed, and I relayed the details to the first sergeant. Since Drill Sergeant Johnson was already reassigned to the battalion S3 pending the investigation of the earlier assault misconduct, I instructed the first sergeant to ask the unit's victim advocate to take the Soldier back for support and allow the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) to investigate. I told him while he was transporting the Soldier, I would call CID and let them know. I knew this could not be a restricted report since the command had found out through a third party and was mandated to investigate. Therefore, if the allegation was true and the Soldier cooperated, SFC Johnson would be looking at some prison time. Not more than 15 minutes after I had informed CID, the agent called me back and told me SFC Johnson had confessed to the sexual and physical abuse. Not only had SFC Johnson disgraced and dishonored the U.S, Army, he had devastated his own life. The seventeen years that he had served were gone, his career was over, and his retirement was lost. Not to mention the fact that he would have to explain his actions to his wife and three children.

Later that afternoon the weather broke, and the company was able to get back to its normal Dragon Challenge training model. As I stood there proudly watching the company march on to the Rites of Passage field, marking the conclusion of Dragon Challenge, I felt a push. I looked around, and it was my lovely wife. Our alarm clock was going off, and as she was shoving me. "Honey, you need to get up. Don't you have convoy live fire today?"

"Convoy live fire today! You're correct; it is today!" I woke up at once and dove out of bed. I threw on my uniform, kissed my wife good-bye, and went to work with great anticipation.


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