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Home > UNS > 130522-01


Sgt Major Lehman talks about what the Army drawdown means for younger signal Soldiers

by Leslie Ozawa
95th Civil Affairs Brigade’s (Airborne) Public Affairs

FORT BRAGG, N.C.  The Army is reducing its Soldier numbers from a post- 9/11 high of about 570,000 in 2010 to 490,000 in 2017, according to a March 2013 Congressional Research Service report.

To help Soldiers understand what this means for them, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade’s (Airborne) Master Sgt. Stoney Lindsey and Maj. Karla Porch invited Sgt. Maj. Tim Lehman of Joint Special Operations Command to speak to the brigade’s signal Soldiers at a leadership development program session on March 6. 

“Sgt. Maj. Lehman has reached the pinnacle of the signal enlisted rank. We felt his guidance on the Army’s promotion process and on how to lead Soldiers would be very valuable to the 120 Signalers in the brigade,” Lindsey said.

“It will be a complete reorganization,” Lehman said, in starting his talk at the brigade’s S-6 classroom.  While he didn’t expect the reduction to affect Army Special Operations as much as the rest of the Army, Lehman said, “You think we’re busy today? [We’re going to be the] Only people left standing. Our forces are already stretched. There’ll be less money, less people coming in.”

Positive discriminators

Lehman urged Soldiers to key in on what he called “positive discriminators.” 

“It’s those things that set you apart,”  he said.

Lehman recalled his experience as a junior non-commissioned officer after a seven-month deployment to Bosnia. Lehman said he thought he would take a break from the Army, when his next assignment was to the basic NCO school.

With his attitude changed, when he went later to the advanced NCO course, Lehman was named a distinguished graduate and also received a leadership award.

While it’s different for each Military Occupational Specialty, Lehman said Soldiers in the 25 Bravo MOS should not be satisfied with basic computer network certifications.

“You should be going after your Microsoft certifications, understanding what that does for you and your organization. Go after your Lean 6 Sigma certification,” Lehman urged. “You can still do some of the other positive discriminators, so I would submit it’s not too late. You can still get out to college….You are only benefitting yourself.  Certifications? Absolutely."

Promotion boards

“We look at the record to select the “fully qualified” individuals. And then Army G1 comes out with the numbers: here’s what’s promoted, and that gives you the best qualified, based on the numbers they select,” Lehman said.

Review of Soldier Enlisted Records Brief (ERB)

“I’m scanning their values. If there’s a note I’ll dig into it,” he said. “If it’s all yeses, for values…I won’t even read it. If I have to read a 15-inch ERB, a photo and awards and decorations, all the schools, I don’t have time to read it. I flip over to the back. I read the top bullet.”

“That top bullet can make or break that NCOER,” Lehman said. “If that bullet is marked an excellent, and if that bullet doesn’t justify the ‘excellent,’ the credibility of the NCOER just came into question.”

“Second thing, physical fitness…We had one individual, who, for whatever reason, over five NCOs, grew five inches,” he said. “His weight went up 10 pounds on every NCOER as well, in order to meet height and weight standards.  Something’s wrong with this picture.”

“Those things are what I call negative discriminators,” Lehman said.

Professional counseling

“As leaders, we have to make time for professional counseling.…Every six months I have all my NCOs come in,” Lehman said. “It’s a simple as a 10-minute conversation. I don’t talk about their performance. All I talk about is schools, goals, desires, positions, and what they are doing.”

“I’ve done a lot of verbal stuff too,” he said. “But I started putting it on paper. And there’s a reason. It helps me, as a senior leader, to understand the requirements of the people that work for me. It helps the NCO’s and Soldiers know that I understand what their desires and requirements are, that they are meeting those milestones.”

Diverse assignments

“You need to show diverse assignments, once you make staff sergeant and going for the SFC,” Lehman said. “As a board member, we’re looking at that…That’s an issue today, because the Sergeant Major of the Army has issued guidance about diverse assignments, and that also includes diverse duty stations."

Taking ownership

“Who owns your record? You do,” Lehman said. ,” Lehman said.This goes for everybody that’s zoned out. Your S1 should facilitate the updates to that record. But you own your record. There is absolutely no excuse for a master sergeant showing up on a sergeant major promotion board with no photo, or with his photo as an E-7 in Class A. Look at it from my standpoint. I am selecting a master sergeant to be a senior leader in the Signal Corps. A senior leader leads by example.”

Staff Sgt. Justin Cook, a brigade information technology specialist, commented later, “I thought his LPD brief was very informative on how dynamic and competitive the Army's promotions are becoming for junior and senior NCO's.”  

Private 2nd Class Bittan Watkins agreed. “It was the most informative talk on the way the Army is headed that I have ever received, about career advancement for Soldiers for all the ranks.”