SOP, or standard operating procedure, is a detailed, written instruction to achieve uniformity of the performance and appearance of a specific function. In the military the sop is suppose to be a reference for soldiers to consult whenever they have doubts about their knowledge on the proper way to complete an action. They have both operational and technical components, and they are essential to the development and deployment of solutions, as well as daily operations. My introduction to the Barracks SOP was when I arrived here at DLI. During Ph IV, I was told that to survive here or anywhere in the Army I needed to know the Barracks SOP from front cover to back cover.
I did take the time to learn how my barracks room was to supposed to be arranged with the furniture and also the proper way all my clothes need to be folded and stored while I wasn’t wearing them. Also it described how to properly make my bed and the protocol for having visitors. Despite graduating from PH IV and demonstrating my ability to adapt to the strict terms of military life, I recently failed to follow a direct order that is written in my Barracks SOP.
This is the cause for this corrective action and below I will describe my deficiency and the details of it. But, I also will educate myself on the importance and formation of a SOP by researching for the precious information that I will need to make this 1500 words. So the reason for this treatise is that I regrettably bought and utilized a prohibited item, a hot plate, for the room in the barracks where I stay. This could have been avoided if I would of checked with the Barracks SOP that clearly states, Hot plates, heating coils, and any device that produces high surface temperatures are prohibited due to their dangerous ability of starting fires. I would of saved myself this inconvenience. This essay is to reinforce the fact that SOPs serve an important purpose in all departments of the U.S. government as well as private businesses and other agencies around the world.
The SOPs in the world have been fine-tuned over an extensive period of time, so that as a next generation takes the place of the retirees they have a guide on what is the uniform code of conduct for that particular business, department or agency. I definitely don’t have this knowledge or experience so why shouldn’t I read directives passed down to me from my elders.
Now, in the careers that deal with life-threatening situations where a small mistake can result in loss of life, gives stronger motivation for the SOPs to be implemented more stringently and followed. For the military, SOPs can be used to teach varying things such as the storage and transportation of ammunition or hazardous materials to the display of a soldier’s footlocker. More importantly SOPs can be written, referenced and adjusted for centuries. All the while keeping a record of what earlier people have used and building off of that knowledge.
I wanted to get the full understanding of the SOP, so starting with the process of how to create an SOP document using the correct format is the best place to start. The header of the SOP document should contain the title, number and version of the particular document. The author’s name, page number, and creation and approval dates for the document are printed in the footer. The introduction section of a SOP should describe the recognized need for procedures and give a list of departments, agencies or other parties who share the procedures.
The next section covers the purpose of the SOP document, clarifying the main objective of the company, department or agency to which the document applies. The purpose section also covers the agency’s authority, use of resources and responsibilities. Another section covers area of interest, which lays out the departments or jurisdictions to which the SOP document applies. Additional sections, which are specific to the SOP’s respective applications, may include visual aids, chain-of-command, objectives, procedures, materials and equipment and documentation requirements. The final step in the process of creating a SOP document is experienced reviewers, who did not author the document, review the SOP for clarity and ease of use.
The review process may also include testing to make sure that each procedure in the SOP document works as expected. After review and testing, an immediate supervisor, such as a unit commander or executive officer, approves the SOP document for distribution and use. Whenever procedures, materials or available technologies change, authors should review and revise the SOP document to ensure that it remains current and applicable. The agency or unit should also conduct periodic reviews every one or two years to ensure that the SOP is current and applicable to modern needs and available resources.
The Army also uses the SOP to establish uniformity throughout the service and all of the different army posts. One of the most important environments for the SOPs to be implemented is during the IET stage. This will help to guarantee Army-wide cohesion for the next generation of soldier if we are taught the same processes. To my experience this seems to be the case in most of my basic combat training. So that when two different units are deployed together in a combat zone, even though they were trained at different locations by different cadre they would still have optimal cohesion and communication because they have for the most part been trained while being taught all of the same SOPs. Just think if each unit had been trained to use different radio operating lingo or a different form of the 9-line medevac call sheet. It would be chaotic and lives would be lost in the confusion.
The CLS-C, or combat lifesaver course, that I received seemed to have benefited greatly from the effect of SOPs. The SOPs for these kind of military actions have been polished over the years from different experiences in combat to form the best guide lines any new private could be instructed from. Also as I get farther into the Army I’ll find that In the army, there are SOPs originating from command level all the way down to squad level. Fighting in a squad that studies it’s SOPs will surely be a more cohesive fighting force.
This is mainly what the SOP was used for in my opinion. To uniformly enhance and train the skills of the individual soldier as a unit in a efficient, timely fashion.Take a look at history, in wars like the war in Vietnam where the fighting was in deep jungle against a guerrilla fighting force, usually only being fought in platoon size elements or smaller. This was a completely different war than the U.S. Army was trained to fight. So the SOPs had to be rethought and revamped quickly.
They were updated to adapt with the kind of battle by giving the squad leaders more tailored rules of engagement and ability to act on their own cognizance without the oversight of chain-of-command that was usually far away and incommunicable. This in itself had a huge effect on outcomes of the Vietnam War. The importance of SOPs in a department as large and cumbersome as the U.S. Army is immeasurable in the way it expedites changes in training just as long as the soldiers take the time to study and stay up to date with the most current SOPs. As in life it always comes down to the individual taking the initiative to keep learning.
What I have learned from this essay is that the SOP is essential and should be consulted whenever I feel like I don’t know about something. Also by studying the format of a SOP and the process the document goes through SOPs can be used as a guide to learning how different processes in the military work. In a military career SOPs are a constant reality from the day to day job and they must be given the proper attention.
What I have discovered while writing this essay will follow me throughout my career in the U.S.Army and hopefully help me become a better soldier and a better student in my future endeavors. Here, I must thank my PSG for having me experience this moment of reflection on the lessons of not knowing my orders and henceforth following them down to the “t.” No matter how small, an order is an order and it must be followed. This includes the nonverbal orders that are written. In retrospect these are some of the more important orders. Not in value of information but rather in display of my attention to detail and ability to adapt from civilian to military life. This continues my desire to better myself as a soldier and to learn from my deficiencies so I can grow as a person. Thanks for your time.
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