Thursday, February 7, 2008

Two-time War Vet Joins Master Sergeant Ranks

Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, commander of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, promotes Peter Black, from Smith Station, Ala., senior non-commissioned officer of Task Force Petro, the liaison team to the 13th Light Infantry Battalion,1st Georgian Army Brigade, to the rank of master sergeant, Feb. 5, at Combat Outpost Cleary, Iraq.

By Sgt. Natalie Rostek
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – “I didn’t expect to make it this far,” said recently-promoted Master Sgt. Peter Black, a native of Smith Station, Ala. “I’ve seen a lot of guys in this MOS (military occupational skill) retire as an E7 (sergeant first class) because it’s such a small community.”

Black was promoted to the rank of master sergeant Feb. 5 at Combat Outpost Cleary.

Black joined the Army almost 19 years ago as an anti-armor specialist. The U.S. Army leadership changed the series to infantry in 2007.

The 36-year-old, two-time Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran recently moved to COP Cleary after spending 10 months at COP Cahill in Salman Pak. He was a platoon sergeant for Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment where he spent almost his entire three-and-a-half year tenure with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Black is currently serving as the senior non-commissioned officer in charge of Task Force Petro, the liaison team between the 13th Light Infantry Battalion, 1st Georgian Army Brigade.

He explained the entire liaison team was put together in five days and moved to COP Cleary 15 days later.

“It’s difficult because you didn’t train with these guys, you didn’t live with these guys, you didn’t deploy with these guys and you didn’t fight with these guys,” he said. “You have to learn the ins and outs of the new Soldiers and people you work with every day.”

Black said his leadership styles have been built by several senior NCOs he has served with and under in the past.

“You pick from what works and you make your own system,” he said.

One strategy Black adheres to is explaining the tasks, conditions, and standards of every mission he sends his Solders to complete.

“You can’t tell a Soldier to do something ‘just because’,” he said. “That’s not giving them a complete task and purpose.”

Another approach to leading his Soldiers is giving them freedom of maneuver, Black explained. That means telling Soldiers what needs to be done and allowing them to figure out a way to accomplish that mission.

“You can’t constantly lead someone by the hand or they won’t know how to do anything on their own,” Black said. “You have to let them grow. They will become better NCOs that way.”

In 2000 Black won the Jumpmaster of the Year award for the 82nd Airborne and then shortly after, was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, a prestigious title for non-commissioned officers.

Black comes from a line of Soldiers. His father served during Vietnam and his grandfather is a World War II veteran. Black said he is going to be the first in his family to retire from the military.

Task Force Petro is currently attached to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., which has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March, 2007. Soldiers from the unit will return to the 3rd BCT upon the brigade’s redeployment to Fort Benning, Ga.

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