Anyone who is in the 29th for even a short amount of time will likely pick up on something rather unusual about our unit: there is an intense focus on statistics. A quick browse through our roster will reveal some of the various aspects of a person’s service that we track, but one statistic seems to stand out among all others. That statistic is attendance.
From individuals to the entire regiment, the 29th has a long tradition of closely monitoring who is showing up to drills and who is not. What is perhaps even more surprising is the nearly obsessive attention paid to these numbers by leadership. A few of you may have had a slightly awkward discussion with your squad leadership when your attendance fell to a certain point, and anyone who has been in the unit for a while will tell you that this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this issue.
The question that many folks around here ask is… why? Why the hell does attendance matter so much? Why does leadership insist on such high attendance standards? Why is there an entire database dedicated solely to showing, in bright colors, who was present? The 29th doesn’t have a limit on how many people can join, nor do we really screen for skill level, so one might wonder why we can’t just leave people on the roster even when they only show up occasionally? These folks still enjoy themselves during drills, they just usually have other things going on, so what’s the harm in letting them hang around? The reason is simple: attendance is the basis of everything we do in the 29th. If no one shows up, we can’t run drills, events, or scrims. We can’t improve ourselves, or build our unit’s culture, or determine who is putting in the effort to progress into important positions. Those epic scenarios we want to see more of, the scrims we all pine for, the clinics and schools we wish would be held more often, all of these things start and end with attendance. And, if we can’t enforce attendance standards, everything else falls apart.
In my modest amount of time in the 29th, it has become clear to me that squads with high attendance are always in a position to become excellent in all other areas as well. Their members get more practice in the realism setting, they learn about how the game’s mechanics relate to our realism game play much quicker, and they get to know each other better, therefore learning to work together more efficiently. The squad as a whole becomes much more effective when everyone shows up. The 29th works to train its members as much as it can for when the time comes that they must represent us in an important event. This cannot be accomplished with a squad whose roster is filled with people who cannot be counted on to show up and dedicate the necessary time needed.
Now you may be sitting there thinking, “Ouch, my attendance is in the red. Did Sgt. Maj. just insult me?” The answer is no. Drops in attendance do occur at all levels when real life temporarily gets in the way. What matters, in this case, is that one does not allow it to become the norm. You work to improve your attendance until it gets back to where it should be. You make sure there is a plan in place for this. You do what is necessary for the good of your squad. There are always options to fix poor attendance, but you must make the effort to follow through with them. Allowing bad attendance to fester leads to even worse attendance for your squad and helps no one, least of all the person not being held to the standard.
The 29th got to where it is today by taking things like attendance seriously. We are not a casual group, nor do we ever advertise ourselves as such. A unit as large and enduring as the 29th takes a lot of work to keep running well. A lot can go wrong around here, but if there is one thing the men and women of this regiment can rely on, it’s the standards of attendance.
Written by Sgt. Maj. Dethfield
Edited by Sgt. Zylath and SSgt. Gibson