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Pilotfish

The NJP Avoider's Guide

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Troopers,

 

I’ve noticed some of our NCOs having to dole out NJPs and stern talks to some of the enlisted because of over-familiarity and general impressions of disrespect. The NCOs don’t enjoy punishing people (one of the specific reasons they’ve been chosen as NCOs), and I don’t particularly like seeing riflemen having to do weighted laps or get dressed down.

 

This is a guide to help you avoid punishments in this platoon. It’s not a hard and fast set of rules, but an explanation of some of the principles that’ll help you stay out of the shit.

 

Etiquette

 

Etiquette does not mean using the outer cutlery first, or not putting your elbows on the table. It’s the code of conduct any group has. Etiquette for the ancient Letin clan of New Guinea was to cook and eat the flesh of diseased tribesmen. For us, etiquette consists of the following things:

 

Addressing by rank:

In formal situations (any arranged meeting, eg. interviews, private debriefings, disciplinary discussions, etc) superiors should be addressed by their rank. This doesn’t mean tack ‘Sergeant’ onto everything you say, but the rank should be acknowledged. This is more important the higher up the chain the person is relative to you. If you’re a lance corporal, addressing a corporal by rank is probably not very important, but calling a staff sergeant ‘Staff’ is.

 

In informal situations, like in bars or when bumping into people around the ship, use your judgement, but you can probably be a little more lax.

 

With officers, you should almost always use their rank when addressing them. If you use their name, use their rank before it. ‘Sir’ or ‘ma’am’ work as a shorthand.

 

In combat, use people’s names if there’s any possible confusion between two people of the same rank. Generally in combat etiquette takes a back seat, but remember that if you’re outright disrespectful, as long as that superior doesn’t die, they’ll remember it long enough to bring it up with you afterwards.

 

Insulting terminally wounded NCOs probably won’t get you in trouble, but you’ll still be an asshole.

 

Attention and salutes:

Never salute or stand to attention in combat. This is specifically to avoid telling snipers who the superiors are, but even when facing bugs, it’s a habit that’s important to stick to. Once again, do not salute or stand to attention in the field.

 

In formal situations, stand to attention when entering the room if there’s a superior present. If there is an officer present, salute.

 

If an officer enters the room you’re in, everyone should stand to attention and the highest rank should salute. You can alert everyone else by shouting ‘officer on deck’.

 

It’s generally considered polite to salute officers when addressing them. You can choose to salute when passing them as well, but we’re a front line unit and we’re all busy people. There is such a thing as too much politeness.

 

With these, use your own judgement. If you’re in the middle of something (like training, or a drill) the officer probably doesn’t want you to drop everything and stand around like garden gnomes. If you hear the shout of ‘carry on’ before you see the officer, that’s a sign they want you to ignore the usual etiquette.

 

Nicknames:

Nicknames are common in the MI. Some names aren’t easy for everyone to pronounce, and some people prefer to shorten names for the sake of expediency.

 

Before using the nickname of a superior check with them that they are fine with it. They might prefer you use the nickname over their real name, or they might hate it. It’s a good general rule of thumb not to do things your superiors hate.

 

Keep in mind that if you’ve known a superior for a long time, and they are your friend, they may be fine with you using certain terms of address, but won’t want others to do the same. In those cases, use the terms in private but not in public. Remember that your behaviour sets an example for others, so be careful what you start.

 

Being dressed down

 

If you think you’re in danger of being in trouble, or you already are in trouble, get formal fast. The more shit you’re in, the more polite you should be. If you’re looking to avoid or lessen punishments, this is the way to go. A lot of people do the opposite and end up making it worse for themselves.

 

Remember that it’s your superiors’ job to discipline you when they see fit. They might be wrong, but unless there’s an urgent problem or a legal issue, it’s something to bring up with another NCO afterwards. Trying to argue in the moment rarely yields results.

 

Guiding others

Your behaviour shapes the culture of the platoon. If you call your officer by a nickname in a formal situation, that tells other people they can do the same, and then the NCOs are forced to crack down on etiquette. Help people stay on the right side of the rules and you help them avoid NJPs.

 

How to carry through an NJP (and avoid escalation)

When you’re given an NJP, you should always be briefed on what you’ve done wrong and how to do it better in future. The NJP is a conditioning exercise, a little like the dinner bell of Pavlov’s dogs.

 

If you act out, shout, have a tantrum, or otherwise disrupt your own NJP, you’re telling that superior that you need heavier conditioning. That could lead to anything from a nastier punishment to a court-martial. Exercise some common sense. You’re not going to win an argument against someone with legal power over you unless they’re exercising that power in an illegal way.

 

In addition, when carrying out a punishment duty, keep in mind that running through the NCO’s mind will be ‘do I need to make them do this again?’ So don’t half-ass it. If you do, you’ll risk doing far more work than you would’ve if you’d done it properly the first time.

 

Undermining

So far it’s largely been about keeping your buttons done up and your laces tied. It’s important to ground all this and explain why it’s important.

 

It’s all about what your actions tell other people.

 

If you treat an officer like your friend, someone watching might think they can do the same. In the field, they might take an officer’s order like an instruction from a friend, and disagree with it. They could then be field executed.

 

We have etiquette to make clear the relationships between people in the MI. Officers are not friends. They and NCOs are your leaders, and their job is not to be liked by you, but to make you effective and to bring you back from combat. Sometimes that might mean they have to be downright unfriendly to you.

 

When someone’s behaviour confuses people about that relationship, we call it undermining. It means that leader’s authority is lessened, which is dangerous for everyone. We happen to have a kick-ass set of NCOs. Treat them as such. Help them do their jobs. It’s in your own interests.

 

Snitching

As your officer, my official stance is that any and all misbehaviour should be reported up the chain of command and dealt with through the proper channels.

 

Unofficially, fuck that.

 

Use your own judgement. If someone’s doing something unsafe, or something that reduces the effectiveness of the platoon in a concrete way, bring it to a corporal. If they’ve stolen your porn mags, or they’ve hidden a hip flask in their locker, deal with it yourself.

 

Don’t violate the trust of the trooper next to you over trivial bullshit. I only want to hear about genuine problems, and I’m far more likely to come down hard over troopers not working together than I am about someone smuggling smokes or flicking your ear.


 

Conclusion

Social skills might not seem like the most important ones for a trooper to master, but no mobile infantryman is a lone soldier. We operate as buddy teams, fire teams, squads, and as a platoon. Not all of us have the advantage of being socially skilled, so these rules exist to prevent us from accidentally hurting our combat effectiveness.

 

 

-Vickers

 

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*A note is taped up next to where ever this was posted. It has very bad handwriting.* See...I would read all of this but it's a lot of work...Lot of reading. Uh....Plus that's a lot of effort to do the things that I read. Ehhhhhhh. 

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