In 2018, Master Sgt. Zach Rosser was a brand-new platoon sergeant in a Patriot missile battery. His transition into the role was not quite the journey he thought he’d take. From an unfriendly welcome from his fellow noncommissioned officers to ambiguous deployment information, Rosser found himself developing his leadership and influencing the platoon in ways he had not expected. The December 2019 rocket attack on the K-1 airfield in Kirkuk, Iraq changed the situation even more. Suddenly, instead of a routine deployment to Bahrain, Rosser’s soldiers found themselves as the first Patriot battery in Iraq in over a decade.

The battery’s position was little more than a dirt field, something reminiscent of Lieutenant Pete Mitchell’s air defense deployment covered in a previous episode. Between digging trenches and siting tents, Rosser also had to maintain morale, build trust, and fend off the sense of isolation COVID-19 brought to his soldiers. Rosser’s story of being a platoon sergeant gives voice to the role noncommissioned officers play in preparing and deploying units for combat while also mentoring and developing junior officers. (Note: Master Sgt. Rosser references The First 100 Days of Platoon Leadership, from the Center for Army Lessons Learned, in this interview.)

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Image credit: Staff Sgt. Matthew Fredericks