Lead with the best version of yourself.

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.

The SFAB: A Lieutenants Experience

by Christopher Wilson  

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article was published in the Spring 2022 issue of Infantry magazine and has been reproduced with permission.

As I in-processed to the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (2SFAB) at Ft. Bragg, NC last summer, I anticipated running into at least a few peer-lieutenants. It did not take many double-takes and greetings of “So you’re the LT,” before I realized that I was the singular variable in 2SFAB’s lieutenant-trial experiment. I immediately assumed that my relative inexperience would be a great weakness here, but I was wrong. SFAB is structured so that everyone adds a niche capability to the team, one’s unconventional experiences become his or her value-added. I was not even in the organization for two weeks when I walked-in on a battalion meeting at the tactical operation center during a live fire exercise. CSM Jacob D. Provence immediately turned to me and said, “Sir, I’m so glad you’re here. You know why? Because you’ve got fresh eyes. Tell us what you think about this [situation].” Now a whole room of senior or at least disparately experienced Soldiers stare at you expecting you to provide them with something worthwhile. That’s what it is to be an Advisor.

Faithful and True: Lessons Learned at Combined Resolve XVI

by Samuel “Joe” Nirenberg

During the past nine months, I was fortunate to command 1-5 FA while it served as a part of the rotational ABCT in support of Atlantic Resolve. Up front, I will say that the Atlantic Resolve mission allows units to build readiness. Additionally, when coupled with a Combat Training Center (CTC) rotation, the training provided does an excellent job of replicating the challenges that brigade combat teams will face in the European theater. 

The Top 10 Things I Learned as a Battalion Commander at the National Training Center

by Ethan Olberding

Editor’s Note: Over the next week, we will be running a series of articles from 4-70 AR on their lessons learned at the National Training Center (NTC). Each article is unique in that it will present a different perspective from the organization’s key leaders and staff members. Our hope is that these articles will help prepare you for success in your current or future roles in your organization. 

I recently completed a National Training Center (NTC) rotation at Fort Irwin, California as the battalion commander of 4-70 AR, 1st ABCT, 1st AD. I personally learned several lessons that I am still reviewing to inform future training plans and leader development strategies. In the interest of sharing information and creating professional dialogue, please see below for the Top 10 Things I learned through this experience. I hope these points generate conversation and useful leader discussions. 

Digital Dunkirk: Lessons Learned

Digital Dunkirk: Lessons Learned

On August 15, 2021, I doom-scrolled through social media feeds that tracked Kabul’s fall. By August 31, my phone had thousands of messages from hundreds of people I didn’t know two weeks before, and we’d helped some Afghan allies leave Afghanistan.

The in-between emphatically wasn’t me. It was (a) a coalition of ad-hoc networks that sprang into existence to help Afghans access (b) the herculean DoD/DoS evacuation effort in Kabul. I was on the grassroots side of things—a desk jockey armed with social media and email.

Why Army Sustainment Units Need Gunnery Training

by Alan Farr

 In the past, the Army geared its gunnery program towards combat arms Military Occupational Specialties (MOS). The gunnery program trained combat Soldiers to be highly proficient on their assigned weapon platforms, mounted or unmounted, to safely and accurately engage the enemy during a time of war. Due to the increased combat role of logistics personnel in the operating environment, logistics now require the same weapon system expertise as their combat arms counterparts, especially while traveling on the road, mounted in military vehicles. The Army gunnery program is important for sustainment units to train gun truck crews and increase levels of survivability and functionality.

The Integrated Weapons Training Strategy (IWTS) training circular states, “The IWTS maximizes the use of training aids, devices, simulators, and simulations (known as TADSS) within all force-on-force and live-fire events in a systematic manner to increase and sustain Soldier and unit proficiency, effectiveness, and lethality.” Each crew in a gun truck with a mounted weapon platform consists of a driver, vehicle commander, and a gunner at a minimum. The vehicle commander, normally the highest-ranking, is in charge and is responsible for radio communication with external elements. Each member of the truck keeps a sharp lookout and must call out the distance, direction, and description for the gunner to engage the targets of enemy combatants at the vehicle commander’s order. Each member in the gun crew has their role. However, all of them must work together to qualify their crew on that gun truck. 

Gunnery was introduced to the sustainment world in 2010, due to the rising need for sustainment personnel to provide their own protection for supply convoys. According to Captain Brooks, a company commander in the 49th Transportation Battalion, “On today’s battlefield, sustainment organizations with minimal self-defense capabilities are often exposed to direct combat. The 49th Transportation Battalion was the first sustainment unit to complete section gunnery.” In April of 2010, Training Circular (TC) 4-11.46, Convoy Protection Platform Gunnery (CPPG), was released to outline requirements for these units. Training CPPG is now a mandatory requirement for many combat support units to have qualified gun truck crews. This training, although challenging, is necessary to train logisticians on tactical skills that will prepare them to provide security on their convoys in an operational environment.

The Thinking Combatant

The Thinking Combatant

Editorial note – This blog post is part of our Scribbles series. If interested in submitting creative content, view our guidelines here or contact Daniel Vigeant at dan@fromthegreennotebook.com.

By Phil Mitten

It was a searing hot and dry day. I still hadn’t acclimatised to the overwhelming heat, and even after four days, I couldn’t believe how intensely bright the sunlight seemed on the desert sand. Sunglasses and shadows were my new best friends. I felt as though the air just wasn’t dense enough, and at 109 F, the temperatures were easily the highest I had ever experienced. If only I was wearing shorts and a shirt instead of combats, body armour, and kevlar helmet.

Camp Bastion’s air strip was a furiously loud and busy place. In the waiting area, it was only too easy to tell whether the soldiers around me were arriving or departing by their facial expressions, their kit and the way they carried themselves. Some pairs of eyes stared a thousand yards away into nothingness. Their minds were further still.

How We Prepared Our Brigade to Fight at JRTC: An Interview with Bastogne 6

How We Prepared Our Brigade to Fight at JRTC: An Interview with Bastogne 6

Last month, I had the chance to sit down with COL Robert Born, the commander of Bastogne Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division and talk about his experience as a brigade commander during his recent Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) rotation. He also shared some great insights on mission command, leading at the brigade level, and training in a COVID-19 environment.

6 Lessons I Learned Moving Nuclear Weapons Through North Dakota

6 Lessons I Learned Moving Nuclear Weapons Through North Dakota

by Andrew Klinger

I was both excited and anxious the day I got my orders to Minot Air Force Base. I requested to be sent to a nuclear missile base because of the challenges and opportunities  the mission presented. Every day, Airmen at Minot and its sister nuclear missile bases operate, maintain, and secure weapons that have an immediate and direct impact on US strategic policy. The thought of leading those Airmen was awesome but also daunting. In the weeks leading up to my first day in Minot, I was concerned with whether I had what it took to be the right leader in my unit. Unsure of what to do, I simply decided that I would approach everything with optimism and enthusiasm.

In time, I found (miraculously) my plan to simply throw my energy and passion into the job actually worked. I had a great relationship with my commander, my airmen appreciated my effort (or at least found their lieutenant’s attitudes novel/humorous), and I worked well with my peers to accomplish the mission. As a reward for my efforts, I was given an extremely unique opportunity that was the highlight of my time at Minot; the nuclear weapons convoy mission.

It was a major change of pace for me. I had my own unique vehicle fleet, command and control systems, specialized weapons, and an entire flight of hand-picked airmen. I also had to take responsibility for my own mission tasking and planning, work independently, and ensure the dozens of different agencies involved in every convoy were working in harmony with each other. But by far the biggest change for me was that I suddenly found myself with a significant degree of authority and responsibility to accomplish a mission that had very real consequences on US strategic policy.

What I humbly share here are the lessons I learned from long, cold days on the road, ensuring the safe and secure transport of the world’s most destructive weapons. They were hard-won lessons delivered to me in the form of long nights, strange situations, and a desire to do right by the most talented and motivated airmen in the Air Force. I hope these lessons help the next round of lieutenant’s taking up the watch in the great, wide north. 

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.