NCO Primary Leadership Subjects
Paperwork and the Army
Soldiers commonly dislike and blame paperwork for many of the Army's ills. You
should understand why good writing is necessary to overcome this perception.
No organization as large as the Army can manage its affairs without written
directives and records. Even at the lowest echelons, most Army instructions are
written. This method ensures uniform and timely instructions reach all elements in
the chain of command. Army planners base their writing largely on written studies
and accumulated records of past operations.
Why do people resent such necessary paperwork? This table shows the three reasons.
There's a lot of
Most Army people are so busy they resent time spent reading a
mass of papers, which often seem to bear little relation to their
It's hard to
Readers must read and reread to make sure they get the
meaning. Even then, they may need explanations to determine
what is expected of them.
Many soldiers feel unqualified to prepare military
resent having to do something that they are not trained to do.
The amount of paperwork is not the problem. The real problem stems from poorly
written communications which do not transmit ideas clearly and succinctly.
Here is an example of a poorly written report:
"Certain provisions incorporated into the laws enacted by Congress (such as the
Missing Persons Act) necessitate the making of determinations of status by the
Secretary of the Army in cases involving missing, and missing in action persons, and
such determinations are contingent upon complete knowledge of all known facts and
circumstances surrounding such casualties."
Continued on next page