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How do I help a Soldier who just does not “get it” and cannot follow orders?

I have a Soldier who is quite frankly, a complete idiot. I know that may be harsh, but I have no other way to put it. Maybe "special' is more politically correct. However, this Soldier simply can't follow instruction, has no sense, and in general just does unbelievable things. I have done my best to address this. First I addressed his finances, because he has those all messed up. Then his lack of hygiene and cleanliness of his room. He is lost in most things I tell him to do. At 19 years old, he does not appear to have the ability to think for himself. I do my best to be clear with him, but I just don't know how long I can endure him. I honestly don't know how to deal with this guy. It's just one thing after another and counseling doesn't seem to help, formal or not. I don't see how an article will help him. I am tempted to just come down harder and harder, but maybe someone on here has a better option than that.

The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

You describe a situation many leaders face at some point in their career. Your frustration is normal. You are up against a difficult problem and it is testing your skills and resolve as a leader.

My answer will revolve around personal experience and reflection. While the Army is not a repository for misfits, our ranks are filled with individuals from all walks of life with varying degrees of competency. While I believe in discipline and correcting substandard performance, my methods have changed significantly as I have grown older and gained additional experience.

Take an objective look

Take an objective look at your Army Soldier

Start by looking at the Soldier in a new light

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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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  • Turner



    This is the most wholesome and magnanimous thing I have ever heard an Enlisted-man say. You sir deserve kudos for this FAQ. Congratulations on truly hitting it on the head. It is the NCO’s job to help this soldier, and not only that, but to be decent to him as a fellow human being. It is part of this NCO’s creed and Army Value system. Kudos to you for this wonderful advice!

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