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How can a Soldier transfer to another unit?

My husband and I moved to a new duty station a few months ago, but the communications skills are horrible, nothing gets taken care of, and he didn't even have enough time to in-process. My husband is miserable. It is getting worse by the day and I'm worried about him getting depressed and in trouble. Is there any way to file for a reassignment to a different unit?

Company Command: The Bottom Line - Army Leadership Guide

Before we talk about transfer I would like to address your statement concerning depression and getting into trouble. It is important that if your husband starts to have problems that he seek professional assistance. There are several options available such as the Chaplain and Medical Services. While I understand this is a difficult decision for many Soldiers it is important to take action to correct the problem. If you become increasingly concerned about your husband and he does not want to do anything about it, you have the option to speak with the Chaplain or members of the chain of command. If you choose to do this I encourage you to be calm and take a professional approach.

Methods to transfer out of your unit

Unfortunately a Soldier usually faces this type of situation once or twice in a career and most times they must work through it. There are some options but the success rate is limited.

posted on 11/16/2011 under Q&A
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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • Sarah edwards

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    My son joined the army almost a year ago and graduated basic. His sergeant seems to be really mean to him my son says it is worse then basic is there anything he can do to make it a better situation he has always wanted to be in the army but is talking about quitting because he is tired of being called nasty names everyday

    Thank you

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Don’t Get Discouraged: first do not to get discouraged. The great part about the military is someone is always rotating to a new position. The sergeant will rotate to another unit, typical tours overseas are 3 years. The sergeant may only have a few months left. Your son might be selected for another job within the unit or be reassigned to another squad or platoon within the unit.

      Regulation: Army Regulation AR 600-20 specially prohibits abuse, hazing, harassing, and bullying of Soldiers. Is States:
      Paragraph 4–19. Treatment of persons The Army is a values-based organization where everyone is expected to do what is right by treating all persons as they should be treated – with dignity and respect. Hazing, bullying, and other behaviors that undermine dignity and respect are fundamentally in opposition to our values and are prohibited. This paragraph is punitive. Soldiers who violate this policy may be subject to punishment under the UCMJ. Whether or not certain acts specifically violate the provisions of this paragraph, they may be inappropriate or violate relevant civilian personnel guidance. Commanders must seek the advice and counsel of their legal advisor when taking actions pursuant to this paragraph. a. Definition.

      (1) Hazing. Any conduct whereby a Servicemember or members regardless of service, rank, or position, and without proper authority, recklessly or intentionally causes a Servicemember to suffer or be exposed to any activity that is cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful. Soliciting or coercing another to participate in any such activity is also considered hazing. Hazing need not involve physical contact among or between military members or employees; it can be verbal or psychological in nature. Likewise, it need not be committed in the physical presence of the victim; it may be accomplished through written or phone messages, text messages, email, social media, or any other virtual or electronic medium. Actual or implied consent to acts of hazing does not eliminate the culpability of the perpetrator. Without outside intervention, hazing conduct typically stops at an identified end-point.

      (2) Bullying. Bullying is any conduct whereby a Servicemember or members, regardless of service, rank, or position, intends to exclude or reject another Servicemember through cruel, abusive, humiliating, oppressive, demeaning, or harmful behavior, which results in diminishing the other Servicemember’s dignity, position, or status. Absent outside intervention, bullying will typically continue without any identifiable end-point. Bullying may include an abuse of authority. Bullying tactics include, but are not limited to, making threats, spreading rumors, social isolation, and attacking someone physically, verbally, or through the use of electronic media.

      b. Scope.
      (1) What constitutes hazing and bullying? Hazing and bullying can include both physical and nonphysical interactions. Hazing typically involves conduct directed at new members of an organization or individuals who have recently achieved a career milestone. It may result from any form of initiation, “rite of passage,” or congratulatory act that includes unauthorized conduct such as: physically striking another while intending to cause, or causing, the infliction of pain or other physical marks such as bruises, swelling, broken bones, internal injuries; piercing another’s skin in any manner; forcing or requiring the consumption of excessive amounts of food, alcohol, drugs, or other substances; or encouraging another to engage in illegal, harmful, demeaning, or unauthorized dangerous acts. Unlike hazing, bullying often, but not always, takes the form of excessive corrective measures that, like hazing, involve the infliction of physical or psychological pain and go beyond what is required for authorized corrective training.

      (2) Hazing and bullying are not limited to superior-subordinate relationships. They may occur between peers or, under certain circumstances, may involve actions directed towards senior personnel by those junior in rank, grade, or position to them. Hazing may occur during graduation or promotion ceremonies or similar military “rites of passage.” However, it may also happen in military settings, such as in small units, to initiate or “welcome” a new member to the unit. Bullying may also occur in all settings but it most often appears as excessive correction of, or punishment for, perceived performance deficiencies. Hazing and bullying are prohibited in all cases, to include off-duty or “unofficial” celebrations or unit functions, on or off post. 30 AR 600–20 • 6 November 2014

      (3) What does not constitute hazing or bullying?

      (a) Hazing may occur when otherwise authorized or permissible conduct crosses the line into impermissible conduct. Bullying is always committed with the intent to exclude or reject another from inclusion in a group and, while the bullying conduct may appear to be corrective training, it is never authorized or permissible. The imposition of necessary or proper duties and the requirement of their performance does not violate this policy even though the duties may be arduous, hazardous, or both. When authorized by the chain of command and/or operationally required, the following activities do not constitute hazing or bullying:
      (1) the physical and mental hardships associated with operations or operational training;
      (2) lawful punishment imposed pursuant to the UCMJ;
      (3) administrative corrective measures, including verbal reprimands and command-authorized physical exercises;
      (4) extra military instruction or corrective training that is a valid exercise of military authority needed to correct a Soldier’s deficient performance in accordance with paragraph 4–6;
      (5) physical training and remedial physical training; and
      (6) other similar activities that are authorized by the chain of command and conducted in accordance with this or another applicable regulation.

      (b) Many time-honored customs of the Army include traditional events that celebrate personal milestones and professional achievements. These events are part of our heritage and include hails and farewells, promotion and graduation ceremonies, and other official command functions. When properly organized and supervised, these events serve to enhance morale, esprit de corps, pride, professionalism, and unit cohesiveness. The chain of command will ensure these traditions and customs are carried out in accordance with Army values and that the dignity and respect of all participants is maintained. (c) The willingness of any participant is irrelevant; therefore, express or implied consent to prohibited behaviors under this paragraph is not a defense to a violation of this regulation.

      c. Command responsibilities.
      (1) Enforcement of this policy is the responsibility of commanders and supervisors at all levels.
      (2) Publish and post written command policy statements on treatment of persons. Statements will be consistent with the Army policy, include the local command’s commitment to prevention of hazing and bullying, and reaffirm that these behaviors will not be tolerated. The command policy will explain how and where to file complaints and will state that all complainants will be protected from acts or threats of reprisal. Each ACOM, ASCC, DRU, installation, unit, agency, and activity down to company, troop, or battery level will publish a treatment of persons policy. Commanders must consult with their legal advisor prior to publishing.

      (3) Conduct training. On at least an annual basis, commanders will conduct hazing and bullying training as part of the EO training requirements related to promoting a healthy unit climate.

      (4) Commanders will immediately report allegations of criminal behavior in violation of this paragraph to law enforcement. All other hazing or bullying allegations that are reported to a commander will be investigated as possible violations of Article 92 of the UCMJ in accordance with the informal board procedures set forth in AR 15–6 or as a commander’s inquiry. Individuals may also report incidents of hazing to the appropriate Inspector General’s office and these incidents may be investigated by that office or referred to the command for investigation. Regardless of the type of investigation conducted into the hazing or bullying allegation (law enforcement, IG, or administrative), commanders are responsible for coordinating with their unit Equal Opportunity Advisor (EOA) to ensure that all hazing or bullying allegations are recorded and tracked in the Equal Opportunity Reporting System (EORS). Although administrative investigations into hazing or bullying are not EO investigations, EOAs will ensure that these incidents are recorded in EORS for tracking purposes. If a Soldier possesses a security clearance, commanders will ensure the security manager records the derogatory information as an incident report in the JPAS (or subsequent system) in accordance with AR 380–67.

      d. Individual responsibilities. Individuals are responsible for the following:
      (1) Advising the command of any incidents of hazing or bullying.
      (2) Conducting themselves in accordance with this paragraph and treating all persons as they should be treated – with dignity and respect.

      e. Individual reporting. Servicemembers should report hazing or bullying to their commander, law enforcement, or the Inspector General.

      Things to Consider:
      There are several courses of action which can include:
      1. Do Nothing: First, if the leader is truly hazing, harassing, bullying, or otherwise mistreating the Soldier there is no excuse. Some people are just not good leaders. You will encounter good and bad leaders in the civilian world as well as the Army. The only difference is you can’t quit the Army. This option can seem unreasonable but sometimes ignoring the behavior is the best option. The Soldier should also ask themselves a few questions: 1. Does the leader treat other people this way or just me? (2) Am I living up to my duties and responsibilities (do my job correctly)? (3) What is the root cause of the behavior? Asking these questions forces the Soldier to look at themselves first to ensure they are looking at the whole picture. The questions are not designed to put blame or focus the problem on the Soldier. Again regardless if a Soldier is being mistreated there is absolutely no excuse for this behavior.

      2. Report the Problem to the Chain of Command: In accordance with the regulation paragraph 4-19d the Soldier has a responsibility to report the issue to the chain of command usually by asking to see the Commander and First Sergeant on open door policy. At this time the Soldier presents their grievance against the leader. It is usually best to present the complaint in writing. The document must be well thought out, factual, free of emotion, and state the impact the leader’s behavior is having on the Soldier. It may also address potential solutions such as: The Soldier just wants the behavior to stop, or the Soldier would like to be transferred to another squad or platoon within the unit.

      3. Repot the Problem to the Inspector General: The Soldier has the right to contact the inspector general and report the problem if they do not feel like they will receive fair treat from the chain of command. Keep in mind the Inspector General simply opens a case file, calls the unit and tells the unit they have a problem that must be resolved. The Soldier is called in and the problem is addressed. Then the command reports back to the Inspector General as to how the issue was resolved. Usually it is best to report the issue through the unit Commander first. The goal is to solve the problem at the lowest level possible.

      Retribution: There are times when reporting an issue can just make the issue worse. However, this means the Soldier will have to stand their ground and continue to report the behavior or submit to the abusive behavior. This a Soldier’s choice. The command can only fix the problem if they know it exists.

      1. Most leaders want to do what is right and will fix the issue. However, the Soldier must choose to report the problem in a professional, factual, and calm manner so that the command views the complaint as legitimate not just a Soldier complaining.

      2. When reporting the issue consider submitting it in writing to the Commander and First Sergeant during open door hours. It is best for the Soldier to inform the Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader that they desire to see the Commander on open door policy. Sometimes they will fix the problem before it ever gets to the Commander. If the Platoon Sergeant and Platoon Leader take action to fix the problem and it later resurfaces then it can still be taken to the Commander.

      3. The Soldier can also request relief from the situation by asking to be transferred to another squad or platoon within the unit. (This is sometimes granted but not always.)
      They can even ask to be transferred to another unit within the battalion (this is rarely granted)

      4. Once the Soldier has reported the issue to the Company Commander if the behavior continues the Soldier has the right to continue to report the issue up the chain of command to their Battalion and Brigade Commanders. It is rare for a problem to go this high in the chain of command.

      5. There is absolutely no excuse for mistreating Soldiers and leaders that do so need to be corrected and disciplined if conditions warrant such action. Only the Soldier can decide if this issue is worth reporting.

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      This response is based on the information you provide. My comments do not represent the US Army or US government positions. Furthermore, my comments should be used for information purposes only.

  • Jess

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    I have been at my unit, for only 3 months, in these 3 months I have not learned anything about my job. I am new to the army. My NCOIC, is not a great leader and has not helped me at all. I am eager to learn I am eager to want to work and do my job, but I get many excuses. There wish also a lot of favoritism, and I am just a PVT. I don’t feel comfortable in my unit, I feel like I cant trust anyone. Is there a possibility that I can request a change of unit? What can u do to help me become a better soldier, when I don’t have good leadership? I’m beginning to feel discouraged, and I don’t want to become a complacent soldier.

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Discouraged: Frist whatever you DO NOT GET DISCOURAGE! Keep in mind this is only a temporary situation. The good and bad about the military is things change. You could be reassigned within your unit. Your NCO or yourself may come down on orders to go to a new duty station. Things change. Stay positive.

      Requesting a change of unit: 99.9% of the time transferring to another unit is not going to happen. Asking for it can do more harm than good. You are needed in your unit. You may not feel that way but every Soldier is a commodity the chain of command needs to succeed in their mission. They need everyone pulling their weight.

      Not Assigned in Your MOS: Sometimes this happens. Just because we have an MOS does not mean we get to work in it. I worked outside my MOS numerous times during my career. I wanted to work my MOS but I had a wise leader once tell me “GROW WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED!” In other words, to an awesome job in the duties and responsibilities you are assigned to. The rest will take care of itself. Here is an example I recall from my career: A young generator mechanic out of AIT came to our unit and was handed a mechanics tool box and told to learn how to work on trucks. He stated he was a generator mechanic and the Leader stated: “When a generator breaks down, I will let you know, now go work on trucks!” Why did the leader say this? We only had 4 generators in the unit and the Soldier would be wasting their time sitting around to do work on a generator so they employed the Soldier and cross trained him as a truck mechanic. The Soldier did not really care for the answer but the Soldier had a positive attitude and went on to become one of our best truck mechanics in the unit. Guess what when the generators need to get fixed…he got called and he was a better generator mechanic because he had more mechanical experience . Once you have let your Leader know you want to work in your MOS they know that you want to work your MOS. Don’t continue to ask about it. It will just upset them. In most cases your leader can’t influence that decision anyway. They need you to do the job they are asking you to do!

      My NCOIC is not a Great Leader: Ok not all leaders are good leaders. If a leader cares that is a great start. If they don’t care then that is another story. Let’s assume the leader does care.

      Eager to Learn:
      You stated you are eager to learn. That is an Awesome start. Now how do you learn. Let’s think about a couple of things you could consider:

      1. Grow Where You Are Planted: This means if you are a generator mechanic but you have to work in the orderly room. Then be the best Damn Orderly Rook Clerk there is. Learn everything you can. Read the regulations become the Subject Matter Expert. Example: When I was a PFC I was an Artilleryman but my commander decided he needed me to be his driver. I was not at all happy because I wanted to shoot the guns and the Commander’s driver position was usually looked down upon because they were not working the gun line. I became the best driver I could and learned everything I could: How to emplace aiming circles, how to scout new positions, etc. but my commander also allowed me time to go to the gun line to learn my job. We were both highly satisfied in the end.

      2. Consider a Mentor: You might want to consider finding a mentor or a couple of mentors. First ask your squad leader if they will mentor you or if you can look for a mentor that can help train you in your current duties (whatever they are), and then potentially find a mentor that can help you stay on top of your MOS skills (once you have learned your current duties). I am not sure of your MOS but in some cases you might be able to go to another unit during Sergeant Time Training say once a month. EXAMPLE: I had a young intelligence E-4 that was new to her job. Once a month I allowed her to go the Intelligence battalion and receive MOS training so that she remained proficient in her MOS.

      Favoritism: Unfortunately, sometimes this does exist. In some cases it is a misunderstanding. EXAMPLE: I was a young PFC and I was new to the unit. Every detail that came up I was put on. At first, I assumed it was because I was new to the team and had to pay my dues. Then I felt like my Squad Leader was upset with me. Regardless I did what I was told without complaining and to the best of my ability. One day I asked my Squad Leader if I was doing something wrong. He stated: “Absolutely Not! You are doing Great! He asked me why and I told him that every time a detail came up, I was put on it and I just felt like I was doing something wrong. His answer surprised me: “Gerecht, I never thought about it that way, I guess it was just easy to ask you to do it. You never complain and you always do a great job. I will try to fix that in the future.” From then on details rotated through the entire squad. My point is he didn’t even realize he was doing it.

      Be Careful What You Ask For: Now also keep in mind you have to be careful what you ask for. Because when you ask for more responsibility, when you make it clear you are hungry to learn the Leaders will being piling stuff on. Once they trust you may have more work than you can physically do. This is because leaders sometimes abuse outstanding troops (without realizing it) because we know they will get the job done and not complain. It’s not fair and it doesn’t happen all the time but it does happen.

      Not feeling Comfortable: This is part of being new to a unit. I agree 3 months is a long time but part of the relationship process involves you and you getting to know your team and your unit. You may have to earn their trust and this may include talking with them on a personal level, volunteering to help them with some type of task, asking them to teach you how to do something. The good and bad thing about the Army is someone is always leaving a unit or unit requirements change. This means that you or your leader may come down on order for another unit. You may get reassigned within your battalion because of personnel shortages or they need your MOS in another unit. The bottom line is you never know. Keep the Faith, don’t burn bridges when you leave a unit by saying things that might come back to haunt you. The Army is a very small place. You may see these people again in the future so be politely, professional, and respectful in dealing with all people. Never know you might work for them again, or they might end up working for you…. Example: As a young E-4 I had a Squad Leader E-5. A few years later I was an E-6 and he was still and E-5. He ended up working with me.

      Trust: Typically, there are two types of people. Those that give you 100% of their trust up front. They trust you completely to do what’s right but when you violate their trust you may never get it back. Then there are those that you have earn their trust. I think most leaders are this way. They give you a little bit at a time until you have their complete trust. Trust is a two-way street you have to give them trust to some degree that they will do what is in your best interest. Trust is best achieved by developing a good relationship with strong and clear communication.

      Change the Picture: Another way to say this is change your attitude. Have a positive outlook on what you are asked to do. Become involved in making things better. Talk to your leaders and team mates. Being positive usually brings about results and opportunities you never knew existed.

      Things to Consider
      So here are some things that might help (some we have already discussed):
      1. Grow where you are planted. In other words do the best Job you can do with the duties and responsibilities you are assigned.
      2. Find every regulation and manual you can find about the duties and responsibilities you are assigned. Read them, learn them, become the Subject Matter Expert.
      3. Find every regulation and manual you can find about your MOS and read it. Become the Subject Matter Expert. Look for correspondence courses on your MOS, your MOS might even have YOU TUBE videos. There are plenty of resources out there.
      4. Change Your Attitude
      5. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
      6. Know you are making a POSITIVE Difference when you do your job to the best of your ability and seek knowledge from your leaders and peers.

      Finally, I share this with you. As a young Sergeant a Staff Sergeant looked at me while we were in the Orderly Room one day and he said “Gerecht do you plan to make the Army a Career?” I said “Yes.” Then he said something that changed my life. He pointed to all the books shelves in the Orderly Room with all the ARs, FMs, and other manuals (this was before the internet), and said “Then you better learned everything they can do to you, and everything they can’t do to you!” That was his way of saying learn everything you can. That night I signed out a regulation and took it home with me, put it in my bathroom. Every time I went to the bathroom I read. I did this until I read every book in our library. In the end I became the walking encyclopedia everyone would come to for information. He made me a valuable commodity to my chain of command. I applied this to everything I did even after I retired from the military.

      NOTE: Only you can decide the best course of action for your situation. I do not know the specifics of your situation. Take this information with a grain of salt and think about how you might move forward. My comments are based on my experience…not your exact situation.

      I hope you have found this information useful. I know it is probably not the answer you were looking for but hopefully I gave you some nuggets of knowledge. I would appreciate any FEEDBACK you have for me on this Post. Please feel free to contact me with any questions in the future.
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  • Monika

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    Help me out on how to write a military transfer letter

    • Mark Gerecht

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      Monika,
      I am not in a position to help you write a transfer letter. I can share with you that it should be done in a Memorandum Format to Commander. If you check with your orderly room or your Local S-1 they should be able to provide you an example to follow. Have you discussed this with your 1SG and/or Commander yet? If not I would speak with them before writing a letter. If they tell you they cannot support a transfer it might be a moot point.

      Read AR 25-50 which will detail how to prepare the correspondence. Then I would sit down and write an outline of why you are requesting the transfer. If it is for a medical or family matter you may be able to request a compassionate reassignment rather than a request for transfer. Once you finished your draft take it to someone you can trust preferably a Senior NCO, your 1SG and/or Commander and ask for their assistance. The S-1 would be the best point of contact to obtain an example.

      Hope this helps.
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  • Mickey white

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    I’m worried about my nephew he seems very depressed he is stationed in El Paso he wants out. His sargeant doesn’t seem to be very good he says he is very rude won’t say exact words. He was doing ok at Missouri seem to like it very well. I’m really worried about his state of mind. Is there anything that can be done?

    • Mark Gerecht

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      If he is under this much pressure he should seek professional help thorough the mental health clinic immediately. They are trained to deal with situation such as this. The immediate would be for your nephew to seek resolution by going to the chain of command: squad leader, platoon sergeant, platoon leader, first sergeant, and commander. If he uses the chain of command someone will fix the problem if there is one. He can also go straight to the commander by using the open door policy.

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      Respectfully
      TOP

    • Lori Siefring

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      My son just graduated OSUT and Airborne school, assigned a non airborne unit no write ups and honor grad. ? wouldn’t he be placed in a AB unit? Can he transfer

      • Mark Gerecht

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        Soldiers are assigned based on the needs of the Army. Even if a Soldier completes Airborne training they are not guaranteed an assignment to an Airborne unit. He can always request to be assigned to an Airborne unit during his next assignment.

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