The Importance of Documentation

The Importance of Documentation Documentation: Material, printed or electronic, that provides official information or evidence or that serves as a record. Why is documentation important? Without it there would be no record of anything. Humans have been documenting and recording important information for centuries. Information from inventory lists to details of wars, weather reports, past civilizations, and census data. As a non-commissioned officer having documentation when required is important in many aspects of my duties at work and even at home.
At work there are medical files and profiles, leave paperwork, ammunition requests, forms for vehicle repairs, parts requests, dependent documents… the list goes on and on but each document is important for its own unique reasons. Without medical files there would be no documentation of injuries or illnesses and what was done to treat them. What if the issue reoccurred? A physician would need the details of past treatments and medications to determine what the current treatment should be.
A medical profile is an important document for showing proof of health or injury related limitations or restrictions to avoid causing the issue to worsen. Without properly completed and filed leave paperwork a soldier’s leave request would be denied. Other paperwork ignored or improperly completed can result in mission failure, delayed repairs, etc. Dependent documents are imperative to ensuring eligible family members receive the benefits entitled to them. The NCO Creed: No one is more professional than I.

I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “the Backbone of the Army. ” I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the military service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit or personal safety. Competence is my watch-word. My two basic responsibilities will always be ppermost in my mind — accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a noncommissioned officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders! As an NCO, as a leader of soldiers, it is my responsibility to set the standard.
It is my responsibility to be the example and demonstrate that which I expect from my soldiers. Leadership, competence, responsibility, and accountability are the foundation of successful operations within the United States Military. That ability to train, prepare and lead men into combat has been a defining characteristic of our military for hundreds of years. The importance these skills cannot be underestimated. Leaders apply these skills to ensure a successful mission. Since the revolutionary war, men have been dedicating their lives to the freedom of our country.
These men were part of a team that received orders from leaders about how to overcome the enemy of the day. Today’s enemy is much harder to find, but the skills needed to succeed are easily to found here within the ranks of the United States Military, the thousands of men and women giving their best to lead soldiers. The words of the NCO Creed state clearly the responsibilities of the Army’s NCO leaders and the importance of these responsibilities is beyond measure. This country’s leaders have been teaching about leadership for quite some time.
As General George Washington expressed more than 200 years ago, serving as a Soldier of the United States does not mean giving up being an American citizen with its inherent rights and responsibilities. Soldiers are citizens and should recognize that when in uniform, they represent their units, their Army, and their country. Every Soldier must balance the functions of being a dedicated warrior with obedience to the laws of the Nation. They must function as ambassadors for the country in peace and war. When speaking to officer candidates in 1941, then General of the Army George C.
Marshall said, “When you are commanding, leading [Soldiers] under conditions where physical exhaustion and privations must be ignored; where the lives of [Soldiers] may be sacrificed, then, the efficiency of your leadership will depend only to a minor degree on your tactical or technical ability. It will primarily be determined by your character, your reputation, not so much for courage—which will be accepted as a matter of course—but by the previous reputation you have established for fairness, for that high-minded patriotic purpose, that quality of unswerving determination to carry through any military task assigned you.
Soldiers need to be able to have faith in their command to do what is right for the soldier and the country. Command is about sacred trust. Nowhere else do superiors have to answer for how their subordinates live and act beyond duty hours. Society and the Army look to commanders to ensure that Soldiers and Army civilians receive the proper training and care, uphold expected values, and accomplish assigned missions. Having a “good” commander is vital for unit cohesion and success. In Army organizations, commanders set the standards and policies for achieving and rewarding superior performance, as well as for punishing misconduct.
In fact, military commanders can enforce their orders by force of criminal law. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that organizations often take on the personality of their commanders. Army leaders selected to command are expected to lead beyond merely exercising formal authority. They should lead by example and serve as role models, since their personal example and public actions carry tremendous moral force. Soldiers need to work in a positive environment. Many will argue that aggressive leadership inspires more work.
While this may be true, the motivating factors within soldiers of such a leader are going to be less personal than those found within a soldier who respects and values his leader’s guidance. How important is character in those trying to lead? The answer is of course that character is the defining element in a successful leader. Three major factors determine a leader’s character: values, empathy, and the Warrior Ethos. Some characteristics are present at the beginning of the leader’s career, while others develop over time through additional education, training, and experience.
It is essential to success that Army leaders lead by personal example and consistently act as good role models through a dedicated lifelong effort to learn and develop. The Army cannot accomplish its mission unless all Army leaders, NCOs, soldiers, and civilians accomplish theirs— whether that means presenting a medical profile upon request, filling out a status report, repairing a vehicle, planning a budget, packing a parachute, maintaining pay records, or walking guard duty. The Army consists of more than a single outstanding general or a handful of combat heroes.
It relies on hundreds of thousands of dedicated NCOs, soldiers, and civilians—workers and leaders— each doing their part to accomplish the mission. Each of their roles and responsibilities may differ, but they are no less important in reaching the goal. Every leader in the Army is a member of a team, a subordinate, and at some point, a leader of leaders. The Army relies on it’s NCOs to be capable of executing complex tactical operations, making intent driven decisions, and who can operate in joint, interagency, and multinational scenarios.
They must take the information provided by their leaders and pass it on to their subordinates. Soldiers look to their NCOs for solutions, guidance, and inspiration. Soldiers can relate to NCOs since NCOs are promoted from the junior enlisted ranks. They expect them to be the buffer, filtering information from the commissioned officers and providing them with the day-to-day guidance to get the job done. To answer the challenges of the contemporary operating environment, NCOs must train their Soldiers to cope, prepare, and perform no matter what the situation.
In short, the Army NCO of today is a warrior-leader of strong character, comfortable in every role outlined in the NCO Corps’ vision. NCO leaders are responsible for setting and maintaining high-quality standards and discipline. They are the standard-bearers. Throughout history, flags have served as rallying points for Soldiers, and because of their symbolic importance, NCOs are entrusted with maintaining them. In a similar sense, NCOs are also accountable for caring for Soldiers and setting the example for them. NCOs live and work every day with Soldiers.
The first people that new recruits encounter when joining the Army are NCOs. NCOs process Soldiers for enlistment, teach basic Soldier skills, and demonstrate how to respect superior officers. Even after transition from civilian to Soldier is complete, the NCO is the key direct leader and trainer for individual, team, and crew skills at the unit level. NCOs have other roles as trainers, mentors, communicators, and advisors. When junior officers first serve in the Army, their NCO helps to train and mold them. When lieutenants make mistakes, seasoned NCOs can step in and guide the young officers back on track.
Doing so ensures mission accomplishment and Soldier safety while forming professional and personal bonds with the officers based on mutual trust and common goals. “Watching each other’s back” is a fundamental step in team building and cohesion. An NCO is a direct leader, giving leadership that is face-to-face or first-line leadership. This leadership occurs in organizations where subordinates are accustomed to seeing their leaders all the time: teams and squads; sections and platoons; companies, batteries, troops, battalions, and squadrons. The direct leader’s p of influence may range from a handful to several hundred people.
NCOs are in direct leadership positions more often than their officer and civilian counterparts. Direct leaders develop their subordinates one-on-one and influence the organization indirectly through their subordinates. To ensure that I as an NCO, in a direct leadership role, positively influence and guide the soldiers around me, I have the responsibility, the obligation, to convey the example of the ideal soldier. Character, a person’s moral and ethical qualities, the ability to determine what is right and gives a leader motivation to do what is appropriate, regardless of the circumstances.
An informed ethical conscience consistent with the Army Values strengthens leaders to make the right choices when faced with tough issues. Since Army leaders seek to do what is right and inspire others to do the same, they must embody these values. As a non-commissioned officer having documentation when it is needed is important in many aspects of my duties at work but more than that it is important for me to set an example for the soldiers looking to me for guidance.

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