This is one in our series of interviews with noncommissioned officers from the field, as well as those in key or strategic positions who are influencing the Army and the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. This interview is with Sergeant Major Allen Fritzsching, IG Sergeant Major and Senior Enlisted Advisor to The Inspector General, US Army. Below are his responses to our questions:
DE. What is the most important change to happen in the Army since you first entered, and why?
AF. The Improvement in the training and caliber of our Noncommissioned Officers Corps.
DE. What’s something you wish everyone knew about you?
AF. How passionate I am about being a Soldier and how much I care about my Soldiers.
DE. What advice do you have for soldiers about to attend the Warrior Leaders Course?
AF. The Warrior Leaders Course is the first and most important pillar of our Noncommissioned Officer Education System because it is the foundation of our professional development as NCOs. It is important that our Soldiers are physically and mentally prepared to attend the course and get everything they can out of the training. It is their first opportunity to train side by side with Soldiers from Maneuver, Fires and Effects, Maneuver Support and Force Sustainment and it is important that they start building relationship and learn what their Cohorts bring to the fight.
DE. What do you think the Army could do to best improve noncommissioned officer education?
AF. We are getting some training too late in our careers. Our NCOs are capable of learning much more earlier in their careers. We do not allow our NCOs enough time to spend in our institutions learning. NCOES is too short and limited and we need our NCOs spending more time in the school house learning their craft and applying critical thinking.
DE. Who is your most admired person, and why?
AF. CSM Daniel Elder because he set an incredible example for me when I was a very young and under developed NCO and he took the time to coach me for decades. He has given so much to our institution and our NCO Corps.
DE. In your opinion, what is a Sergeant?
AF. A Sergeant is a Servant Leader that always places the mission and his Soldiers first. A Sergeant is a master of Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills, an expert at taking care of Soldiers and enforcing standards and the first line Leader in our formations. Sergeants take plans and orders and turn them into actions. They are the first Leader in our Army that a Soldier sees each day and turns to for Leadership and assistance.
DE. How do you feel right now? What are you thinking about?
AF. I feel great and I am always thinking about how I can improve myself, my unit and my Soldiers.
DE. If a sergeant asked you to give them a random piece of advice, what would you say?
AF. You are exactly who your Soldiers perceive you to be. It is important that you always set the example and never ask your Soldiers to do something that you would not do yourself. You are always on display and your Soldiers are always watching you. You can not fool them with your words.
DE. How do you think suicide should be addressed in squads and platoons?
AF. The most important people to prevent suicides are battle buddies and first line leaders. The key to preventing suicides is through knowing your Soldiers. The only way that you can know your Soldiers is to be an engaged Leader that continuously communicates with your Soldiers and gains their trusts. If you communicate with them and they trust you they will come to you with their problems and you can solve them.
DE. If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?
AF. The American Soldier. It would be about what it means to be a Soldier and to serve a purpose greater than oneself.
Our thanks to SGM Fritzsching for participating in this interview. Statements here are personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of the US Army or DoD, participation in our interview sessions does not equal endorsement of any type. The NCO Guide is a news outlet of professional commentary and opinion from current and former Soldiers with the desire to share their expertise and experience and can be read at http://ncoguide.net.
CSM Dan Elder, USA, Retired