Lead with the best version of yourself.

The Science and Art of Command

by Michael Everett

Does the Army practice Mission Command? Or Command and Control?

After the 2019 update to ADP 6-0 Mission Command, many young leaders are confused about the terms command and control and mission command.

The bottom line is this: Mission command is the United States Army’s approach to command and control (C2). It became clear that doctrine devoid of C2 is not the optimum way to communicate where mission command lies in the spectrum of warfighting. The 2019 version of ADP 6-0 makes it clear that mission command is meant to enable the command of troops and the control of operations. This vital piece of information clarifies the purpose of mission command and how to frame its implementation.

The Field Grade Leader and Domestic Operations: A Primer

 

by Rick Chersicla                                                                             

You’re in garrison, and you get the Warning Order (WARNO) for the Battalion (or Brigade) to deploy for a real world mission. Your organization, however, is not preparing to deploy overseas, or for an Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE), but is instead preparing to deploy and support civil authorities within the United States. 

The odds are that very few—or perhaps none—of the personnel in your organization has conducted Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations. You and your leadership may find yourselves asking “what is DSCA?” on the eve of an operation, and more importantly “how can we prepare for it?”

Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) is support provided by federal military forces (and DoD civilians, DoD contract personnel, and National Guard forces in a Title 32 status) in response to a request for assistance (RFA) submitted by civil authorities. DSCA operations can be in response to manmade or natural events and can range from hurricane relief, to supporting wildland fire fighting, to COVID-19 vaccination support at the request of FEMA. 

Given the frequency with which some Governors activate their National Guard for emergency response operations, many Guardsmen are well versed in DSCA operations. While Active Duty forces respond to domestic crises with less regularity than National Guard compatriots, they can still prepare for DSCA missions, rather than end up in an on-the-job-training situation when time could be of the essence.

Leading at the Crossroads of Experience and Personality


by Kyle Trottier and William Branch

Upon being selected to serve as the BCT Executive Officer (XO) and BCT Operations Officer (S3), William Branch and I held a series of sensing sessions with each Battalion Commander and Battalion Command Sergeant Major (CSM), peer battalion field grade officers, the brigade staff, key leaders on the division staff, and finally the brigade commander and CSM. Our intention was to understand each command team and their staff leaders to inform how we would best be able to enable the success of each battalion and the brigade as a whole throughout the duration of our time in these positions. Will and I developed a simple rubric to visualize and understand the experiences of commanders using Personnel, Supply, Equipment Readiness, Training (P, S, R, T) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to understand personality characteristics. These two products allowed us to understand the previous experiences of each leader and ourselves, and inform where and how we as the brigade XO and S3 could best communicate with and enable that command team. This methodology also informed how we could best lead the brigade staff and our coordination with the division staff.

This article aims to share these lessons with field grade officers soon to assume Key Developmental (KD) positions and assist them by providing a way to quickly understand themselves and their commander. Ultimately, these lessons can help Soldiers prepare to lead their formations both effectively and adaptively.

How to Know if Your Presence Matters

By Sean Finnan

Several years ago, I came across this quote:

“If your absence doesn’t affect them, your presence never mattered.”

As I was nearing the end of my O-5 command, I began to reflect on what I was leaving behind.  Would my absence affect the squadron?  Did my presence matter?  Like all of us, I’m human.  In a way, I wanted to be missed.  I wanted to think that my presence over the previous two years had made a difference.  I think we all naturally feel that way.  But as I thought more about those questions, I realized that if I truly accomplished the second part of the concept (making a difference during my time), then the first part (my absence affecting the squadron) likely would not occur. That was a good thing.

Let Them Walk on the Grass: The Role of Senior NCOs

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By CSM Michael S. Burke

At the qualification range, a group of Soldiers congregate during the lunch break.  Unexpectedly, a Sergeant Major descends upon them In his growling voice he barks about their uniform deficiencies and how the range is not to standard. As quickly as he appears, he vanishes, and for a few minutes, Soldiers awkwardly stare at each other thinking, “what the hell?”  The proverbial Sergeant Major storm did little to change the unit, and the Soldiers resume their meal and continue as if it never happened. 

The role of the senior noncommissioned officer is not ensuring all Soldiers have eye protection and reflective belts or ensuring the lawns in their footprint are pristine, fixing deficiencies using the “leadership” methodology described above. Young Soldiers across the Army picture master sergeants and sergeants major holding coffee cups, spewing anger, and never actually doing anything. The problem with the senior NCO leadership is this image and the fact that they’ve made this image a reality! 

How to Succeed in a World of Merciless Taskers

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By Colonel Glenn A. Henke

The Problem

     Every Army command team faces the same challenge: how to manage the ceaseless onslaught of tasks that come from higher headquarters while conducting your own training and operations. Battery, company, and troop commanders are the leaders who direct actual Soldiers to execute missions dreamed up by their higher headquarters, all the way from the Department of Defense on down. To make matters more unfair, every commander above them has a staff to organize these tasks. A battery has the commander, 1SG, XO, and perhaps a training room NCO.

     Battery command teams frequently mention this challenge as the most significant issue preventing them from leading effectively. This is exacerbated when higher headquarters fail to observe established training lock-in windows, or when they task a unit for more than they can physically execute. This challenge accumulates at each echelon, so a battery that is lucky enough to have a perfect battalion staff is not protected if the brigade or division staffs are not equally disciplined. Even when the higher headquarters spread tasks equitably in a timely manner, allowing units time to plan, the sheer volume can overwhelm the best training plan.

     Leaders at the battery can manage this challenge by using planning horizons and applying fundamental Army processes, specifically the 8 Step Training Model and Troop Leading Procedures. This approach is more likely to succeed than fighting the battalion over every tasking. Commanders can’t control what happens, but they can control how they deal with what happens. 

The Map on the Wall

The Map on the Wall

By Jack “Farva” Curtis

Whenever I write, I try hard to avoid expressing political or partisan opinions. Not only do I doubt you care about my opinions, but it would also be wholly inappropriate for me, in my current position as an active duty squadron commanding officer, to make them publicly known. Last year when I wrote “Ship to Shore” it was fascinating to see as many MAGA hat-wearers as Bernie Bros applaud. I considered that a win — strange, perhaps, but a win nonetheless. So with that said…here we go again.

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In my office, I’ve got a large map of the United States with dozens of small pins stuck all over it. Almost every day visitors to my office (most likely there to get some paperwork signed) try to guess what all the pins represent. Seeing as I’m an aviator, many guess the pins represent airports I’ve visited — not a bad guess. Others take a little more general tack and ask if the pins denote cities I’ve visited. Also not a bad guess but, like the first, it’s not correct. The real answer is simpler and more complex. Those pins represent what makes my organization strong; that they’re dispersed so widely around the map underscores the point.

When a new member joins our team, regardless of rank or time in service, they go through a standardized check-in process that culminates in a one-on-one conversation with both the Executive Officer (XO) and the Commanding Officer (CO). When I assumed my role as XO last year, I hung the map and placed one lonely pin in my hometown. With each subsequent check-in, the map gained a new pin. An entirely different discussion could be had about the cultural and social implications of where the pins have begun to cluster (to include the not insignificant number that isn’t from within the US), but that’s another day. The point is that in a little over a year the map has slowly begun to fill; each new pin makes my original purpose in hanging it easier to demonstrate.

Has Anyone Seen the Boss?

Has Anyone Seen the Boss?

By Sam

When faced with a toxic leader, you can find multiple studies and a massive amount of information on what can be done to deal with this individual, but what happens when you have a boss who is just plain ineffective? They aren’t a bad person but they are a bad boss and what’s worse, they are in charge. They are approachable, they seem to be open to feedback however, despite feedback points and development sessions, the problems still persist.

It is easy to wallow in negativity when faced with this situation but with each challenge, the opportunity for development is available. When I experienced this scenario, I learned lessons and developed coping mechanisms that I now wish I had from the beginning to help me manage the situation better.

This list is not exhaustive and I am sure there are more methods out there, but you will find the most important lessons I learned below:

A Military Justice Philosophy

A Military Justice Philosophy

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By CPT Kevin D. Anderson

To be effective in combat, units must maintain good order and discipline. Undisciplined units compromise mission effectiveness and readiness, putting soldiers at unnecessary risk. Good order and discipline is maintained through an efficient command philosophy and military justice process. A commander must provide clear standards of conduct, uphold those standards, and hold those who do not meet our standards accountable. Therefore, to effectively instill good order and discipline, commanders must leverage military justice in a firm, fair, consistent, and expeditious manner.

Firm: We are all members of a standards based organization. Those who fail to observe our ethical, moral, and legal standards jeopardize readiness. We are an all-volunteer force, therefore, if someone makes a conscious decision not to adhere to the oath they freely took, it is the commander’s job to correct the behavior. Being firm does not necessarily mean “crushing” or “maxing” punishment. Firm means holding people accountable, all of the time, and not letting competence overshadow the importance of character. Soldiers are rightly held to a different set of standards and discipline than the rest of American society. Commanders must embrace that fact.

Fair: Each case will present unique challenges and circumstances. Use all available resources to gather as many facts as necessary to make an informed decision. However, recognize that you might not have everything you want to make your decision. Nonetheless, weigh the facts as you see them and make the best decision with the information you have. Hiding behind the cloak of incomplete information will demoralize units and degrade confidence in the chain of command. Additionally, being fair is not the same as being nice. Your duty as the commander is to the organization, not to make an individual Soldier feel good about your decision. Listen to testimony, examine the evidence, and make your decision. Educate yourself and know the different levels of proof required for each action or process (i.e. the difference between proof by a preponderance of the evidence versus proof beyond a reasonable doubt). The following principles should inform a commander’s view of fairness: