In the old Army there were separate enlisted technician and Non-Commissioned Officer ranks of equivalent pay grades, and NCOs such as First Sergeants who lead troops were said to have “hard stripes”.

Hard Stripes is a collection of essays by Gabriel Russell, full-time law enforcement executive, Senior NCO in the Army National Guard, founder and managing partner of a security consulting firm, free-lance writer, peer support volunteer, heavy metal fan, martial artist and urban fly fisher. It is a personal blog and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of any organization he is affiliated with.