A determined, yet nervous Soldier sat absolutely still Nov. 30, preparing to answer a question that was just asked by the president of the 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division’s promotion board.
“What makes you think you’re ready to non commissioned officer,” asked Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Witzel, president of the battalion promotion board, senior enlisted adviser, 541st CSSB, 1st Sust. Bde. rear detachment.
Sitting perfectly still, Spc. Nicole Morrison, finance specialist, Company D, 230th Financial Management Company, 541st CSSB, 1st Sust. Bde., inhaled deeply, and as she exhaled, she replied.
“Sergeant major, I know I’m ready because of my passion for helping Soldiers, doing my job and making a positive impact in the Army,” she said, while sitting in a chair in front of the senior NCOs of the battalion, who determine if she will be recommended to the ranks of noncommissioned officer.
Morrison, a native of Olympia, Washington, and an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, was deployed to Al Asad Air Base and Camp Taji, Iraq, in 2010. While in Iraq, she served Soldiers in the Commercial Vendor Services, Military Pay clerk and as a cashier.
According to Witzel, the Army promotes Soldiers based on their potential to serve at the next higher rank. The leadership is responsible for acknowledging the proficiency of the Soldier based on performance, merit and technical and tactical knowledge. NCOs are the back-bone of the Army.
“If I did not feel as though she was ready, I would not have recommended her for promotion,” said Staff Sgt. Chad Price, financial readiness NCO, Co. D, 230th FMCO. “She was motivated to learn; she studied and practiced for this board. She showed the commander, first sergeant and me that she was not only ready to be promoted, but was ready for the responsibilities and duties of an NCO.”
Not only did Morrison study rigorously by herself, but her command supported her as well by setting up mock promotion boards to help her prepare for what to she might face.
“As her squad leader, it is my overall responsibility to ensure the success of not just Spc. Morrision, but my whole squad,” Price said. “I was able to have the team ask her questions throughout the day, set up practice boards and ensured that I took the time to study with her. But it was the entire company who ensured she was ready.”
Morrison wasn’t the only one in the hot seat. Before the promotion board began, Price was sitting in the same seat as Morrison.
He had to explain to the board members why he recommended Morrison, how she had demonstrated her leadership potential and how she possessed skills of becoming an NCO.
“Spc. Morrison knew her job well,” Price said. “She trained four new privates who arrived directly from (AIT) to be proficient in the technical aspects of finance management.”
Within the subjects, she trained the Soldiers on three different systems depending on what needed to be done, according to Price. Each system requires a different set of rules and regulations and has its own procedures.
“It’s not about knowing the by-the-book answer or knowing where to get the information,” Witzel said. “It’s about applying that information to situations that is an integral part of being a Soldier, leader and an (NCO).”
Morrison’s experience and determination showed throughout the promotion board. But like every situation that happens, either in Iraq or at Fort Riley, the thought process and problem solving is the same.
“I think the hardest part for me would have to be those few questions that I hadn’t really prepared for,” Morrison said. “It made me think on my toes and as an NCO. I realize that you aren’t always going to have a great answer prepared for certain questions. The answer isn’t always the most important thing, but how you handle yourself and come up with a solution to a problem while under pressure.”
After the promotion board’s round-robin questionnaire, Morrison said she felt relieved, yet an ounce of doubt remained.
“I felt a sigh of relief. I was glad I had gotten through it,” she said. “However, I was nervous about how I did and how the board members would vote because I worked hard to prepare for the promotion board.”
After a brief interlude of discussion, the board members called Morrison back in to reveal the final results.
“Spc. Morrison, as of today, you are now recommended to become a Noncommissioned officer,” Witzel said. “Congratulations!”
By Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Torres-Cortes
1st Sust. Bde. Public Affairs
Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Torres-Cortes | 1st Sust. Bde.
Spc. Nicole Morrison, finance specialist, Co. D, 230th Financial Management Co., 541st CSSB, stands at attention in front of members of the 541st CSSB’s promotion board Nov. 30.