The second Army Archetype I’ll cover is Mr. Know-it-all. Mr. Know-it-all actually comes in two types: the one who really does know it all, and the one who doesn’t. Both, however, share enough common traits to be lumped into one category.

The most obvious signs of a Mr. Know-it-all are the continual eye-rolling, sighing, and muttering whenever someone else is giving a briefing, class, or just talking about something. No matter what you’re talking about, where you’ve been, or what your qualifications are, Mr. Know-it-all knows more, has already been there, and knows more than you do. Whatever the topic at hand, Mr. Know-it-all has the answers, anything you might know is bullshit – and you’re an idiot for knowing it.

For the most part, Mr. Know-it-all doesn’t speak up during briefings or classes, preferring instead to sit in the back of the room, radiating “you’re a retard” with his body language to anyone who’s paying attention. Usually, he’ll expound on the wrongness of the speaker only after the event is finished or during breaks, taking favored crowd members (or anyone who’ll listen) aside and enumerating the various errors of the speaker in question, often loudly and with many expletives.

When Mr. Know-it-all does speak up, it is invariably with the most condescending tone possible, and usually includes one of the following phrases:

  • “When I was in country/in theater/in the sandbox…”
  • “When I was on active duty…”
  • “The way we always do it…”

The key difference between the two types is that the ones who don’t really know it all (we’ll call them Type A) are considerably more indignant, abrasive, and reflexive in their objections. Their reactions to people speaking are grounded in ignorance, insecurity, narcissism, or old-fashioned sociopathy, and their knowledge of things is spotty at best and usually deeply flawed. On the other hand the Mr. Know-it-all who really does know it all (a.k.a. Type B) is more likely to be simply offended at the incorrect facts on display, or that people are being given incorrect information. He is more likely to be right about things (though no less condescending). He is also a more useful resource, since if he can be coaxed out of his condescension, he can use his knowledge for the betterment of the organization (unlike the Type A Mr. Know-it-all, who’s basically just a big asshole).

Interestingly, I had both types of Mr. Know-it-alls in my BNCOC class – their reactions to things were similar, but one clearly knew things and the other didn’t.