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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Membership  |  Topic: Cadet Suspension Question
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CommanderTelford
Recruit

Posts: 5
Unit: GLR-OH-078

« on: January 22, 2017, 09:47:04 PM »

Good Evening;

I am reaching out to other senior members here who could offer some valuable input regarding an issue that took place on January 17, 2017.

I was hosting a staff meeting with my cadet officers, as well as the Squadron Chaplain (who was there for the 2 senior rule).

I advised the staff on my plan of action for the year, because our squadron unfortunately had 4 commanders within a year, myself being the last. There are a lot of issues within the squadron, due to issues arising from previous command; which I will not go in to.

One of those issues is that our current cadet core does not know how to do the more advanced drill manuevers such as columns, to the rear march, and other commands. Some don't even understand that basic drill movements such as about face or hand salute. Due to this I requested that the Cadet Officers drill from WITHIN the flight, vs drilling from the side of the flight. One of the cadet staff (who is in the COC), began to raise his voice and scream at me stating that he would not be doing what I was requesting. I advised him that as the Commander, I have the right to ask him to do whatever I think will benefit the squadron, as long as there are no CPP violations or safety concerns.

I have since thought long and hard about this and have decided to suspend him....

Now my question here is this;

Am I doing the right thing with suspending him for insubordination? I do have the support of those higher in the Echelon. This is not the first time that he has directly yelled at me like this.

Please advise.
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1st Lt. Christin Telford
Lunken Cadet Squadron Commander- GLR-OH-078
kwe1009
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 624

« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2017, 10:04:48 PM »

Have you had a conversation with this cadet about his actions?  You should do that before instituting any punishment.  If you suspend this cadet he will very likely never come back so what has been accomplished? 
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NIN
VIP

Posts: 4,464
Unit: of issue

« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2017, 10:08:50 PM »

This is definitely not the best place to be saying / doing thing.

That said, document everything.  Verbal counselings, memorandums for record (instead of "remembery for nothing"), written counselings, etc.

The key to success in the cadet program, when you run in to troublesome cadets, is to be calm, clear and precise, document everything, lay everything out and use a progressive approach to discipline.

People can be corrected with a simple "Hey, fix this." (On the spot correction)
Others need a verbal sit-down "Hey, Cadet Smithers, I need to talk to you. You cannot be doing this." (informal verbal counseling)
This can progress to a formal verbal or written counseling, but document the dates, times, witnesses, people present, etc, on even the verbal counselings first. 
A written counseling needs to have some teeth: "You're doing X, you must [condition: fix yourself in Y days, stop doing action X, comport yourself in the manner of a cadet, whatever] or else Z action will occur." or similar.
After Y days, you then take Z action. Z action should be something allowable under the regulations (suspension, demotion, etc).
Again, with a written counseling, especially a demotion, that basically says "You are being demoted n grades, and you have 60 days per n grades to 'earn back' through good behavior or something bad will happen," you must follow thru with the action. 
If you demote the cadet one grade and he continues to be a problem, then thats not successfully earning back the grade and its time for termination.

That kind of thing.  It has to be a progressive series of steps where you correct the behavior and set the expectations formally, either verbally or in writing, and if you don't see the expected change, eliminate the problem from the organization.

But document everything and follow the regulations to the letter.



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Darin Ninness, Lt Col, CAP
Sq Bubba, Wing Dude, National Guy
I like to have Difficult Adult Conversations™
The contents of this post are Copyright © 2017 by NIN. All rights are reserved. Specific permission is given to quote this post here on CAP-Talk only.
Stinson
Newbie

Posts: 1
Unit: RMR-CO-000

« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 10:33:44 PM »

Way back when I was a squadron commander I had problems with one cadet officer who refused to follow my instructions. I let him know that if he felt he could not follow my directives, he was free to step down from staff. He opted to do that. He was under the impression that as a cadet officer he would not be assigned to a flight and not have to drill and do PT with the flight and could just hang with the staff. He was not happy when his misunderstanding was corrected. After a few meetings of being a member of a flight, having to drill, and doing PT with the other enlisted and NCO cadets, he reconsidered his position.

Also, do not overlook writing a Letter of Reprimand and giving him a copy and putting one in his personnel file. It may piss him off, but it may also be a wake up call to this young man.
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coudano
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,100

« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 11:17:16 PM »

Progressive discipline noted by NIN is fine, and it's definitely the best practice.  However there is nothing wrong with kind of doing an immediate (for lack of better word) time-out or "knock it off" period.  Any time a cadet of any rank, but especially an officer, loses their mind and goes off like that (especially to the squadron commander, and especially in front of other troops), they need to step back and cool off immediately.  I wouldn't hesitate to excuse the cadet from the room, or possibly from the squadron meeting, post haste...  I would probably wait to decide whether to issue a formal 'suspension' until a counseling session sometime later.

With that said, cadets are teenagers, and they can be hot headed, emo, and even a little aggressive at times.  It's part of the package.   I can remember venting some angst a time or two when i was a cadet.  That's not said to excuse such behavior, but as a senior member that leads cadets, make sure you understand this about your audience, and take it into account with your decision making.  One of the things we are supposed to be /teaching/ these kids is how to, and not to, react to disagreements they have with their subordinates, peers, and leaders.  We have to teach them because........  they are students !!!  (they don't already necessarily know).  This sort of lesson is probably an order of magnitude more important than making sure their gig lines are straight and they know how to do a column of files...

The fact that this cadet is unwilling to serve the squadron by helping demonstrate drill by example has shown that he has already missed the boat about what leadership and the cadet program are all about.  His hostile reaction is just adding fuel to the fire.  It's going to be nothing but painful to back that bus up, and fix those misconceptions.  But if you do the hard work right, you'll have a better cadet and a better squadron for it.

After all of the above...  (crappy attitude aside) I would personally hesitate to the extent feasible, using cadet officers in-flight to demonstrate drill.  --I would expect my cadet officers to cheerfully do so if required-- (and if they copped that attitude with me, i'd punt it right through the uprights)  but I would not ask or require it of them unless there was literally no other way.  One NCO and 4 cadet airmen can do everything that is absolutely required of basic drill...   I would rather place the officers in charge of recognizing and solving this problem with the resources they have available.  ...Of course a cadet officer with that sort of attitude problem probably isn't going to be very effective at doing that sort of problem solving...  Usually when i've given cadet officers problems like this one to deal with, they WANT to get directly involved and jump in at the lowest level, because it's their first and most comfortable and most obvious solution.  I usually have to /restrict/ that from them, and MAKE them step back and use their NCO's.
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Spam
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 834
Unit: GA-001/CV

« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2017, 12:18:15 AM »

Hi, Lt.

First, congratulations on accepting Squadron level command (the best gig in CAP).

My advice to you in several parts:

1. You hosted a staff meeting with your cadet staff, with a second CPPT approved officer present (good job on both counts - CPPT process discipline, and treating cadet officers as valued parts of the team). Cadet officers are defined as indirect leaders and are appropriate to provide analysis and planning inputs, as well as to execute the plan which you as CC approve.

2. You observed a valid training shortfall in your unit (cadets unable to execute basic drill to standards). As noted, cadet officers are expected to provide INDIRECT leadership, not DIRECT leadership. Thus, your cadet commander and his (cadet officer) staff should never be drilling the flight themselves. They should be monitoring the success of Cadet NCOs instructing and drilling the flight. So, first things first - recommend you address the systematic issue of roles and responsibilities by having everyone study up on job duties. See the Cadet Staff Handbook at: https://www.capmembers.com/file.cfm/media/blogs/documents/Cadet_Staff_Handbook__Nov_16_802A2D2F952CC.pdf


3. You should consider that there might have been a communications issue between you and your subordinates related to this program noncompliance. If there have been irregularities and turmoil within the unit, to the point where your cadet officers are teaching drill... you need to back up and push the "reset" button before taking drastic action to drive willing volunteers away. I would very strongly suggest that you take some steps to hit reset:

3A. ASAP:  sign up for a Unit Commanders Course (UCC) for yourself. If OHWG fails to provide them, try neighboring Wings. At the very least, schedule some quiet time to look over the slides on line at: https://www.capmembers.com/cap_university/professional_development/inresidence_courses/unit-commanders-course-ucc/

3B: Schedule a staff retreat on a Saturday, and plan an agenda for it using the CP Manual. This should be a bottom up review of cadet program requirements, starting first with the program expectations (USE THE MANUALS) and then your expectations as Commander. Keep an open mind for discussion and inputs from your staff (cadet and officer). Strongly recommend that you set up a laptop and projector, bring up CAPR 52-16, and scroll through it together, reading the entire freakin' thing.

3C: Your statement, "I have the right to..." etc. seems pretty gutsy to me for a new commander in a unit with problems. Recommend that you re-cage that attitude to read:  "As the Commander, I have the duty to enforce the program of record, which requires me to act when I see program discrepancies, from drill to insubordination".  My advice here is that when you rest your authority on your opinion you have weak power (especially as a 1LT, no offense intended), but when you make a statement which links your actions to the rule of law and the official program of record, you have STRONG power (and accountability).

4. Regardless of misunderstandings, and regardless of any missteps you might make as a new Commander, that insubordination cannot be allowed to stand. As an example, think on Russell Crowe's Captain Aubrey in the film "Master and Commander" where he backed up his subordinate LT by having an insubordinate rating punished... but then didn't let his young officer off the hook, either.  Your "COC" (I would assume that you meant Cadet Commander, or C/CC, who is a part of your cadet "Corps") needs to receive public consequences, quickly.

5. What I would recommend is the following:

5A. Ensure that you have a Membership Committee duly appointed in eServices.

5B. Send an email to the cadet, copying your Membership Committee, informing him that he will report for an in person counseling board this week regarding an incident that took place on XJAN17. Be sure to request that the Chaplain witness attend, and be sure to cc your Group/CC for info (you need a Command track mentor, and be sure that he's got his eye on you, as a new Commander in a troubled unit).

5C. Prepare a one page, short written reprimand for the cadet. Point out in it that IAW CAPR 35-3 27 DECEMBER 2012, 3(d), a valid cause to terminate Cadet membership includes misconduct, defined in 3(d)1 and 4 as "Conduct unbecoming a member of CAP", and "Insubordination", respectively, and that he is hereby formally reprimanded. Do not give this to the cadet, nor discuss it with him, until the board sits.

5D. In the review board, the tone to take is to be firm, to recognize that he has valid concerns, that he has the experience of being a cadet officer and that he's a valued member of CAP that you (especially in your situation) need to help turn the unit around, BUT, that you cannot tolerate insubordination as exhibited by this instance. You are required per the regs (that hook again, see?)  to administer progressive discipline by this written warning, and that you want to jointly see this as a growth experience for you both to learn from and move on together. You should expect feedback when you are considering a plan; as you discuss the problem, your subordinates had better be bringing you ideas and even (appropriately, politely, even humorously) critiquing your ideas. When people stop bringing you suggestions, then you are really in trouble as a leader. You need them to feel free enough to give you push back, politely, and you should accept that - right up until the point where you make a decision and issue the order, at which point participative leadership ends and they should shut up and salute.

5E. Having duly taken into account his frustration at having a screwed up unit and potentially at your actions, if you find that due to continued outbursts you must suspend a sitting Cadet Commander for this, really you should remove him for cause. If so, recommend you document that too. If he goes off on you further and exhibits an inability to control himself, recommend you terminate him swiftly, ensuring that you cc your Group/CC. That's not Mitchell cadet quality.


Expected outcome: you need this to not be LT Telford versus Cadet Bagodonuts, but you, trying to follow the program, with the expectation that whatever nutso or fantastic orders you give, that they will give you feedback in a calm and rational manner. If you give a nutso order (I've done so many times over the past 30 years, to my shame), you should expect to get some push back.

Here's my advice on that: float your analysis and ideas as a draft plan in your staff retreat, and base them on having read the regs and studied the records/history of your unit. Then, give them your Commanders Intent and step back and let them do their jobs as Cadet Officers:  ("Here's my expectations:  I'd like to see us improve drill to the point where every cadet wearing Curry stripes and above can actually pass the Lead lab 1 drill practical they should have passed to earn that stripe... now give me options, people"). Discuss their responses, judge and make your decision, and then empower the Cadet NCOs to implement it. Move to next problem.

In summary, use this drill problem as your model to implement a proper unit staff function.

Long, wordy response. Let us know how this sounds.

Very Respectfully,
Spam





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CAP Talk  |  General Discussion  |  Membership  |  Topic: Cadet Suspension Question
 


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