Accountability is defined by department of defense as the obligation imposed by a law or lawful order or regulation on an officer or other person for keeping an accurate record of government property, documents or funds. The numerical end product of personnel accountability process reflects the combat power of a unit.
So what is Personnel accountability exactly? Personnel accountability is a by name tracking system that manages the duty status and location of every single soldier assigned or attached to a unit. This tracking system also tracks the soldiers as they arrive to the unit, and depart from the unit for duty. Personnel accountability must be maintained at all times, for an inaccurate count will lead to disastrous outcomes. In order to perform as a fully functional unit a commander must know their personnel strength.
It is important for a soldier to keep their squad leader informed as to where they are going what they are doing. If a soldier knows they are going to be late it is their duty to inform their squad leader on their status. If a soldier does not inform their squad leader of tardiness it takes away from the squad leaders role as a leader to other soldiers because it had become his duty to track down the missing soldiers. It is essential for a soldier to keep their squad leaders informed on their whereabouts in order for a squad leader to keep an accurate count of the number of soldiers he will have to complete any given task or mission. Which in turn is added to the count of the platoon and to the company so on and so forth until it reaches brigade and devision which the end result ends up in the commander and chief’s hand.
A leader may account for his soldiers in many ways. Over the phone, which is not entirely accurate, where the soldier have the opportunity to lie about their whereabouts and not arrive at their place of duty on time. An other way a leader may account for his soldiers is to call a formation and physically take an accurate headcount of each soldier present within the formation in order to pass the the accounted for number on to their superiors. A leader may also take accountability by having his or her soldiers sign in on a roster having each individual sign his or her name on a sheet of paper to allow the squad leader to know that his soldiers are present and accounted for. However, that is where we run into the problem of soldiers writing other soldiers names down who claim the missing soldiers to be at the place of duty when they had not yet arrived or are late for duty. Therefore, giving the leader a false count of personnel.
By receiving a false account of personnel there is the possibility that the specified unit could be tasked to perform a duty the unit doesn’t have enough personnel for because they did not receive an accurate account for their soldiers accountability. Of course when that happens, the blame will always roll down hill. Starting from the top, leadership will be asked a series of questions in which they have no answers for because they did not take an accurate account of their soldiers. So with that being said, it is important to keep accountability of a unit and individuals to avoid the trouble of having leadership tracking the individuals down and avoiding the complicated questions and avoid trouble and punishments that will occur due to lack of responsibility of one’s accountability.
Accountability of soldiers and equipment is given to the commander in order for the commander to access his or her unit’s combat readiness. If the commanders count is wrong the commander may be given a task for the unit to complete, that the unit cannot perform due to the lack of personnel needed for said task. Therefore, it reflects poorly on the commander in charge of the task. Which leads to punishment of the leadership in charge of the soldiers who did not report and were not accurately accounted for.
Accountability for personnel aids in the accessing of a unit’s assets and combat readiness is called personnel strength reporting. Personnel strength reporting is a command function that enables a unit as a whole, to analyze the manning levels and readiness to provide commanders with a snapshot of the unit’s combat power and capabilities. The formula to achieve a Personnel Strength report is achieved by comparing the by name data obtained during the Personnel accountability process and face it against the specified authorizations to determine the percentage of the slots filled for certain positions within a unit. Even though Strength reporting seems to be only important for the deployment process one has to think of the capabilities of each and every by name soldier within the unit, if the soldiers do not report to training how will they every be prepared for when it comes to combat situations.
So therefore even in garrison we need to maintain accurate numbers on the soldiers accounted for. If the numbers are inaccurate in garrison, what is it to say when it comes to combat situations? How will soldiers know how to perform their duties while they are in combat if they did not attend the specified training that is there to prepare them for war. In garrison may seem much more relaxed than being on a deployment but it doesn’t make the functions of the United States Army less needed.
Accurate accountability of soldiers is extremely important to maintain because of disastrous events can occur in theatre or in garrison. If war was to come to the United States, the soldiers must be prepared to fight. If a hurricane or other natural disaster were to occur, soldiers must maintain accountability so the commanders can assess the personnel strength of his or her unit. There is an understanding when disastrous situations occur things will be hectic, and rattle points need to be made in order to maintain an accurate account of soldiers, and all soldiers who end up missing must be tracked down for they may have become a causaulty or they may need to be medically evacuated.