In 2006 I was stationed at Puckapunyal Army Barracks near Seymour Victoria at the School of Armour. I was completing my Initial Employment Training (IET’s) to be an Armoured Corps Crewman. There was 18 soldiers on the course, all from different backgrounds and walks of life. Every morning we would walk across a hilly ridge line following a bush track to the School. it was a 20 minute walk up and down a few steep hills, along a terrain that reminds me a lot of the Walking tracks around the Hepburn Springs. Up and down ridge line we would go, along our daily ritual to work.
One day as we all gathered at our place of parade, we noticed that Tropper Doddamede was missing his weapon sling from his pack. We where instructed the evening before to have it at First Parade. Knowing that Dodds would cop a beasting and that we would be collectively punished either way, the decision was made to hide our weapon slings. This way Dodds would not cop the brunt of it all and hopefully would create doubt in the Sargents mind if the instructions where clear the night before. When Sgt Rigoni had us formed up on parade and asked to see our weapon slings, no one displayed them. Owww did we cop it! A full volley of insults “The worst soldiers the Australian Army has ever seen” “disgrace to the ANZAC’s” he screamed.
We where sent back to our Lines, over the hill in full gear and with a time cap, of course. Busting our asses up and down the hills, checking the time as we went. The stronger and fitter members carried the weight off the unfit, trying to make up time. We got close, but didn’t make the time cap and received extra training as rewards for failing short. Cadence push ups was on the menu. Sargent Rigoni gave commands of “LOWER” and “RAISE”, making us pause at the bottom. Holding a push up 2 inches off the ground, buuurrrnnns! The second a soldier collapsed they turned into burpees, it didn’t get any easier.
Still!, No one said a word. No one claimed a ritouse stance of “well i have mine” no one blamed Dodds, we sucked it up and got it done, why? because we where a team.
When you are a team there is no individuals. The army had brought us together via the use of collective reasponsibility and not punishing individuals. It creates bonds that are stronger than any friendship you will ever have. Because I knew the soldier next to me will run 4km in full gear, do 100 push ups and 100 burpees for a mistake I made and still treat me like a brother.
There is no other workplace or team where this would occur. Most would roll over and display their weapon sling as an attempt to save them selves.
The Army has shown me, a team will achieve more than any group of individuals.
The Army has shown me, a GREAT leader brings people together and a BAD leader creates division.