Staff Duty

Staff Duty one of the least desirable duties, though it does have some perks as well. Staff Duty and CQ are similar, in that you are essentially assigned a twenty-four hour shift, during which you are entrusted with the welfare and protection of x number of soldiers and x amount of property i.e. a barracks building, or other Government building, and everything within and or assigned to that building. You are expected to correctly react to all sorts of situations, including emergency medical responses, police investigations, drunk and stupid soldiers etc.

The differences between Staff Duty and CQ are as follows: CQ is an extension of the company, and the company 1SG and you are expected to conduct your term of duty in accordance with his established guidelines and policies, as well as use your own judgment and competence to determine the best course of action. Staff Duty is an extension of the Battalion or Brigade and is superior to CQ and it has overall control over the CQ NCOs and Runners.

Now both Staff Duty and CQ normally consists of an NCO and a runner. For CQ the NCO is normally E-4 through E 5, though if you don’t have enough E-5s, an E-6 may sometimes fill the slot and sometimes you will have two junior enlisted.  It all depends on Personnel and what the overall policy is for that particular unit. Now Staff Duty normally has the NCO as an E-6 or higher but E-5s often get tasked as well. Runners are almost always between E-1 and E-4.

At this point, I should probably take a moment to describe a where Staff Duty sits. In our Battalion, (I would like to note that every Battalion is different as to where they set up their Staff Duty), ours is to the right of our main doors, as we have a nice series of windows so you pretty much can look out over the entire parking lot.

One of our duties is to alert the Battalion when the Sergeant Major and the Battalion Commander enter and leave. This is done by shouting “Battalion attention” or “Battalion at ease,” depending on whether or not it is the Sergeant Major or the Battalion Commander. We are also tasked with answering the phone, relaying messages and going through any other tasking we are given. If we do not have “extra duties, our tasking’s include:  cleaning the latrines, sweeping, mopping, waxing the floors, and general area beautification.  Most of our additional tasking’s are handed out during the duty day, so during the day, it is mostly, pretty boring and routine. However, it is during the nighttime hours the most of the interesting stuff tends to happen.

Despite the drawbacks, there are a few benefits– one of the biggest, is the next day you have off; so depending on where your shift falls, you might get either a three –for rare cases– a five day weekend. Depending where your shift fell, you have either a very coveted duty, or it is a duty that nobody wants and you are hard pressed to find someone who will even let you pay him or her for the duty.

Another perk is that depending on what’s going on that day, you may get out of some other nasty tasking or duties elsewhere.

Another perk is that sometimes you have interesting things that happen, which can make an otherwise very dull evening into something quite exciting.

One such time, in the dead of winter, while I was on the Staff Duty desk and my NCO had gone to get chow, this soldier came in wearing nothing but a towel .He had apparently locked himself out of his room, and Instead of waiting for somebody to at least lend them some clothes, he decided to walk from the barracks through the snow to the Staff Duty desk just to get the key. I will admit I could not help but laugh for good several minutes, before I was able to help this poor soul.

Another interesting Staff Duty tale involved a battle buddy of mine. It was a Saturday evening when I get called from Staff Duty and told that one of my soldiers was in jail to a domestic disturbance. I called our NCO and he was conveniently unavailable, so he sent me, a brand-new PFC to go pick up the soldier. Fortunately when the time I got down to the jail, our company First Sergeant had already come and gotten him out. I was told to keep an eye on him, as it turned out he and his wife got into an argument and she had tamed him. When he called the police, it escalated from there, and they both ended up in jail.

Another event is particularly poignant. I was on Saturday with another NCO, and the night had been very quiet. We were watching movies and hoping that everything would stay that way, when we received a call from a soldier who was concerned about her roommate. She informed us that her roommate had recently had a personal incident. Her friend was worried that she was suicidal or would hurt herself. My NCO wasted no time in sending me with the master key to go check to see if she was all right. It’s normally about a 10 min. walk from where Staff Duty is located to her particular barracks dormitory. I think I made it about 3 min. I was running that fast. Unfortunately she was on the third floor, so I ran up the stairs.  I was out of breath, banging on her door, and when I got no response, I unlocked the door and entered her room. I found her lying in her closet, severely groggy and with what appeared to be a large empty pill bottle. I called my NCO for help.  I checked to make certain that she was still breathing, and prayed and hoped that he got there before something really bad happened.

The last thing I wanted was to be left holding the bag, because in situations like this, they are always looking for scapegoats– or someone to blame– and I was bound and determined that I would not be the one. Luckily, my NCO arrived quickly and was able to call 911. He sent me back to the Staff Duty desk while he stayed with her to make sure that she was okay until the paramedics arrived. Personally, I was happy because it meant that I would have somebody else who could take the blame if something happened to her.

It’s kind of sad, but that tends to be the climate in the military nowadays– the people who would help are worried that somehow they will be held responsible for things that go wrong. In my unit, the situation was exceptionally bad with many of the senior NCOs and officers playing political games at the expense of each other and the lower enlisted. Fortunately the paramedics arrived in time take care of her and neither of us got in trouble. She made a full recovery, and is fine.

Normally however CQ, and staff duty is pretty boring and lacking in excitement. The stories above are the exception to the rule, fortunately.  In retrospect, CQ and Staff Duty have taught me two very important lessons. One, Murphy’s Law is real and two, always be prepared for the worst. I think that overall, it teaches you discipline and quick thinking skills.



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