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What do I do when a Senior Leader is Verbally abusive?

What do you do when a 1SG calls a lower enlisted a Piece of S _ _ _t the PT field in front of everyone when the unit is taking a pt test. The Soldier got hurt during the PT test and the 1SG took a picture of the Soldier that got hurt laying on the ground then sent it to the commander?

The Mentor - A Comprehensive Guide to Army Counseling and Leadership

At a minimum it is unprofessional behavior.


I apologize for the delay. Got knocked down with Pneumonia. You have a few options:

1. Blow it off
2. Report him for abuse of subordinates
3. Report him for hazing
4. Report him for failure to care for the health and welfare of the injured Soldier

Either way the situation you discribe is unprofessional.

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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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  • Edmund


    Can you explain what constitutes as “Disrespect to an NCO” and “Disobey a lawful order”? I am in a deployment right now, and the NCO has been threatening to send us home with an article 15 if we violate these two things. It is mainly about not standing in parade rest and complain too much about our work schedule. Thing is we didn’t talk back to them or anything. It was just junior enlisted talking among each others and the NCOs over heard the conversation. Also is there a regulation any where saying soldier has to be 10 minutes prior to everything. Because last I checked, it only apply for formation.

    • Mark Gerecht


      The manual for Courts Martial explain the elements of what constitutes Disrespect and Disobeying a lawful order.

      Article 91 : Insubordinate Conduct Towards a Warrant Officer, Noncommissioned officer, or Petty officer. The elements of this charge are as follows:

      Disobeying a warrant, noncommissioned, or petty officer. That the accused was a warrant officer or enlisted member; That the accused received a certain lawful order from a certain warrant, noncommissioned, or petty officer; That the accused then knew that the person giving the order was a warrant, noncommissioned, or petty officer; That the accused had a duty to obey the order; and That the accused willfully disobeyed the order.

      Article 92: disobeying a lawful order. The elements are as follows:

      Violation of or failure to obey a lawful general order or regulation. That there was in effect a certain lawful general order or regulation; That the accused had a duty to obey it; and That the accused violated or failed to obey the order or regulation. Failure to obey other lawful order. That a member of the armed forces issued a certain lawful order; That the accused had knowledge of the order;
      That the accused had a duty to obey the order; and That the accused failed to obey the order.

      With that said I would encourage you to read the MCM and read the entire articles so that you have a full understanding of the articles and the actions thereof.

      Thoughts On Disrespect and Complaining in the Military
      When addressing NCO’s it is appropriate to stand at parade rest. Some NCO’s are not as strict as others, but you can never go wrong by standing at parade rest and it is the professional thing to do. With regard to complaining we all complain at some point, especially among peers. Keep in mind complaining does not solve the issue. If you must complain do so with someone you can confide in and only in a location where you will not be over heard. The best way to resolve this issue would be simply not to complain. The truth of the matter is that sometimes we work for unreasonable people. In these cases it is best to adapt to the leader. This assumes the leader is not doing anything that is illegal, unethical, immoral, unsafe, or abusive. If they are doing these things then their is a duty and responsibility to report them. Just make sure you have your act together before you do so. Keep in mind at some point someone will PCS, be reassigned, etc. So your relationship with this individual is not permanent. Be professional and reasonable and this too shall pass.

      Ask yourself a couple of questions::
      Should I be standing at parade rest when addressing an NCO?
      Is my complaining excessive?
      Is your leader being unreasonable? If so, how are they being unreasonable? Are they being unreasonable in such a way that you should report them through the chain of command?

      Only you can answer these questions truthfully.

      The bottom line is: Either you need to make some corrections or your leader is being unreasonable and/or both. You can either:

      Deal with the situation
      Continue to do what you are doing
      Request to see the leader above the NCO and address the problem with them…if so there could be some backlash from your NCO…so you should consider addressing this concern with talking with the NCO’s superior.
      Modify your performance to comply with the NCO standards?

      Only you can decide the course of action. Regardless of the course of action you seek:
      1. Make sure you remove your emotions from your decision
      2. Look at the facts…do not make assumptions
      3. What do the regulations say?
      4. Are you violating the regulations?
      5. Is the NCO being unreasonable? If so, how?
      6. Is the NCO’s behavior so bad that they need to be reported?
      a. If so, how are you going to discuss this with the chain of command?
      b. What proof or facts do you have>?
      c. Are the consequences of reporting the issue worse than the current situation?
      7. How much longer will this relationship last with this NCO?

      Take some time to think through the issue. Some leaders go on a power trip…some Soldiers don’t understand what Right Looks like. Somewhere between what your NCO expects and what you see as the problem is the truth of the matter.

      I cannot give you the magic bullet answer to this question. I can only give you the regulatory guidance and some thoughts based on my experience.

      I hope this has helped you in some way.

      You may want to check out this article as well: https://asktop.net/articles/taking-the-venom-out-of-toxic-leadership/?all=1

      Take Care and Stay Safe

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