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Give them an inch and some Soldiers will take a mile

While most soldiers want to do a good job, there are a few who decide they don’t have to do what you tell them. For them, jerking the boss around when they get corrected is their idea of entertainment. In many cases, these soldiers are nearing the end of their enlistment, and they have no intention of remaining in the military. While old vets rarely talk about it, such behavior becomes more common when wars draw to an end, particularly long, unpopular wars. In this regard the current war in Afghanistan has much in common with the Vietnam War, where attitude problems among disgruntled short-timers were a major issue. Although the Army depended heavily on draftees during the Vietnam War, the same dynamic comes into play with today’s all-volunteer force.

Why do some soldiers have bad attitudes?

Some soldiers are disillusioned, fed-up with the military, and ready to get out, yet their ETS is still a long way off. Attempting to motivate discontented soldiers with the usual appeals to be professional or to be combat-ready doesn’t work. Mentally they have already quit. Unfortunately, their body is still in the military and they are still members of your team. When they become disrespectful or refuse to follow your instructions, they are attempting to bully you, despite the fact that you outrank them. From their point of view, they aren’t staying in the Army anyway, so What are you gonna’ do, Sergeant? Send me back to Afghanistan? I don’t give a s___! As they see it, they have nothing to lose. At worst they might get a chapter discharge and get out quicker. So, what’s the big deal?

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posted on 05/30/2012 under Articles
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Jo B. Rusin is a retired soldier, who spent the majority of her career in Regular Army troop units from platoon leader to commander of a support brigade in the Gulf War. As a combat service support soldier, Jo B. served in units composed of both men and women from all racial and ethnic groups. She is a strong believer in the ability of soldiers to succeed, regardless of whether they are men or women or where they came from. Jo B. is the author of a number of military leadership books, including Move Out: The Insider's Guide for Military Leaders; Move to the Front: The Classic Guide for Military Women; and Women on Your Team: A Man's Guide to Leading Women. JoRusin.com

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