Why is it important to respect your Chain of Command? This is a common question asked by a lot of new soldiers and experienced ones but the answer is simple and for many reasons. There is an old saying among army leaders, “Take care of your people, and they’ll take care of you.” The reasons are to start, because of the Army Values, the NCO creed, and basic morals.
The Army Values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These are things every Soldier, NCO, and Officer agrees to live by as guidance for how they carry themselves in day to day life. The respect value is defined as; “Treat people as they should be treated. In the Soldier’s Code, we pledge to “treat others with dignity and respect while expecting others to do the same.” Respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people. Respect is trusting that all people have done their jobs and fulfilled their duty. And self-respect is a vital ingredient with the Army value of respect, which results from knowing you have put forth your best effort. The Army is one team and each of us has something to contribute.”
The Chain of Command was established as a way to not have all duties fall over one person, each person in the Chain of Command has an essential function. Without filling in your appropriate person, the chain fails. Sometimes this is as little as not mentioning an appointment or could be as large as fatalities in a combat scenario. The chain cannot function properly if not used appropriately, if the Chain of Command is abused, there is a lack of integrity or loyalty, or lack of respect. Respect of the Chain of Command is essential due to each person’s functions within it. With failure to respect even the lowest members on the Chain of Command a break occurs in the functionality.
The NCO creed is another point to mention in why one should respect their Chain of Command. An excerpt from the creed states “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.” This is useful due to the fact that it states how NCO’s will essentially ‘take care’ of their soldiers needs within the Army, be it letting them know the basic information they need, or to help them when they are in need, whatever that may be, to the best of their abilities. Without the respect of a soldier to inform their Chain of Command of the necessities they need to know, they cannot help, after all they are not mind readers. With that another excerpt is “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.” This goes on to explain just what an NCO is expected to do, a tall order for just about anyone. Taking initiative and earning respect and confidence is all the more reason to respect them. The duties and training of an NCO have put them at a level on the Chain of Command to lead and respect soldiers, soldiers should in return, follow and respect their NCO’s as well.
Then there is the basic sense of respect. It is a concept we teach to our children from a young age. “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”, the “golden rule” that means a lot in this case. Who in their right mind would not wish to be respected? With that said, why wouldn’t you respect those you wish to gain respect from? It is a two way street and both sides must make an effort, one that normally pays off rewardingly once completed. Disrespect is harmful to both the person doing it and the recipient. The recipient is often the only one thought of, and the harm is rather obvious, but the person causing the disrespect often is harmed by things such as low esteem and regret. A bad combination no matter the scenario but detrimental to the Army Chain of Command.
Respect of one’s Chain of Command, senor or subordinate, has been a founding piece of the US Army sense its creation during the Revolutionary War. In 1879 General John M. Schofield made a comment that still rings true in many ways. "The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh and tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an Army. It is possible to impart instruction and to give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in the soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey. The one mode or the other of dealing with subordinates springs from a corresponding spirit in the breast of the commander.
He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself." Where this is mainly focused towards the leaders, every member of the Army is essentially a part of the Chain of Command. Treat all you deal with, with respect weather higher or lower rank then oneself.
One could branch off of these options and explain till one is blue in the face on each point, but that is not the point of this. The point is to demonstrate that each component has its own reasons to respect and be respected, from civilian to soldier to NCO to officers. Respect is something given and earned. To respect also tends to lead to trust, trusting in the Army is a big thing, after all it is the group of people you ultimately go to war with, fight beside, and help you stand back up when you fall, and guide you to safety. These are the core reasons why to respect your Chain of Command.