By B. O'Donoghue
“Talk to the privates,” Col. Burt Thompson said early on, encouraging us to get the full picture on life in and around Warhorse Forward Operating Base.
I have encountered a few privates on missions and other stories we’re covering as embeds with the 1-25th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. But soldiers at Beetle Bailey’s end of the pay grades don’t appear that common among Fort Wainwright’s deployed ranks.
This is confirmed by the brigade’s top NCO, Sgt. Major Gabriel Cervantes. He said it’s a natural consequence of the 1-25th’s overnight formation as a “life-cycle unit” in 2006, and the U.S. Army’s promotion process.
“When they came in, 90 percent of these soldiers were privates. Now all those soldiers who were privates three years ago are sergeants.”
Cervantes expects the brigade will see big turnover this fall as many of those newly-minted sergeants either move on to new Army posts, or elect to get out of the service.
As an established brigade, however, the 1-25th should retain more of a mix in the ranks. “You’ll always have people rotating in and out,” Cervantes said, “but there won’t be such an abundance of NCOs.”