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Your Landing Attitude and How to ‘Be’ in Transition

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Under Canopy over Grim Reaper Drop Zone, Sheik Isa Air Base, Bahrain – Daniel C. Hodne, Colonel (USA, Retired)

By Daniel Hodne

Exiting an aircraft flying at 130 knots makes for an unnatural, turbulent, and adrenaline-charged experience.

Career change, in many respects, shares similar qualities.

In other words, the moment you’ve fully committed yourself to such a transition, you’ve exited the aircraft.

Military static-line parachuting necessitates actions, some of them reflexive, from properly stepping out the door (or off the ramp) to descending and landing safely. These actions may serve as metaphors for the checklist of a job transition process, with steps to be taken, and choices to be made when seeking a new position or industry.

They represent what you should do.

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The 2017 Ultimate Summer Reading List

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By Joe Byerly

Last summer I reached out to friends from around the national security community and asked what they were reading. The collective list became a hit, and for me personally, became the bulk of my reading material for the remainder of 2016. This year I decided to continue the tradition with the hopes of introducing works to readers that they might not have been familiar with before coming across this post. I hope you enjoy the list and find something that you will read while sitting on the beach this summer!

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The Top Ten Things I Learned in Squadron Command

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LTC Foster uncases the 4-10 Cavalry Colors during a ceremony in Europe

 

By: LTC Chad Foster

I learned a lot over two years in command of a Cavalry Squadron. I also re-learned many things that I had discovered during earlier assignments, but these lessons gained a new and broader context when experienced from a Commander’s perspective. The list that follows is not definitive. However, I hope that this “top 10,” as imperfect and incomplete as it is, might be helpful to some of those lucky enough to be taking command at any level in the future.

1. To truly command, you must have the courage to give up some control.

You MUST allow your subordinate leaders to do their jobs – That sounds obvious, right? But there can be a strong temptation to control everything. After all, YOU are the Commander, the most experienced and (to that point, at least) the most professionally successful officer in the battalion. Those who are focused on their own advancement, tend to obsess about “looking bad” in front of the boss. Everything MUST be perfect, so they feel like they must control it.

No matter how strong this urge might become, fight it. Fight it with all you’ve got. Your subordinate leaders and soldiers will never develop effectively and your unit will never fully harness the power and talent of its members unless you give up some control. If you are controlling, it likely that you aren’t commanding anything. While there are times when you have to closely monitor and control actions, these are the exceptions, not the norm. Give intent rather than directives whenever possible and trust your subordinates with the freedom to maneuver while pursuing that intent. Any short term setbacks that might occur are well worth the long term developmental benefits to the unit and to those young soldiers, NCOs, and officers.

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Let’s Talk #DRAFTFM30

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Have you ever read an Army Field Manual and wished you could have added your two cents prior to it accumulating dust on your office shelf? Now’s your chance.

The Strategy Bridge, The Military Leader, and From the Green Notebook are excited to announce that beginning on May 14th we are hosting a three week series focused on the current Draft of Field Manual (FM) 3-0: Army Operations. Each week one of our sites will post a question or series of questions on our Facebook pages for discussion. Answers and feedback will be sent directly to the authors of FM 3-0 for consideration.

The Army Chief of Staff (CSA) asked Training and Doctrine Command and the Combined Arms Center to write a new FM 3-0 to address, in a comprehensive fashion, how the Army conducts operations in an operational environment where the prospect of large scale combat against a capable regional peer adversary is no longer unthinkable. The CSA determined that the Army lacked adequate doctrine to account for large scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment, what happens during operations short of large scale combat, and how to exploit tactical success by consolidating gains to achieve enduring results.

As a result, the Army has developed a Field Manual that is organized according to the Army’s strategic roles as part of the joint force: Operations to Shape, Operations to Prevent, Operations to Win (offense and defense), and Operations to Consolidate Gains. All operations are conducted for a purpose that should inform what the Army does – and how. Field Manual 3-0 makes adjustments to the operational framework and how the Army thinks about it, and that the most likely paths to victory during operations are in the context of current force structure, capabilities, and threats. The authors argue that all combat is multi-domain, and has been for a long time. What is new is how we account for cyberspace and the dynamic information environment, and the idea of orchestrating and synchronizing capabilities across multiple domains to converge effects against an opponent. The Army has significant capability gaps against some potential opponents in some parts of the world, which is why we specify that current adversaries are regional peers. How the Army solves tactical problems will vary from theater to theater, but the one constant is that regional peers can contest U.S. land, air, space, maritime, and cyberspace capabilities in ways we’ve not dealt with in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army can no longer depend upon the Joint Force to solve its tactical problems. A company or battalion that goes to ground for more than a few minutes after making contact with the enemy, waiting on airstrikes against an enemy with viable IADS and fires complexes, is likely to be destroyed. This is an old problem for Cold Warriors, but it is a new problem for those without those formative training experiences. There are few with that experience in our divisions and brigades now; almost none in our battalions.

Download the Draft FM 3-0 chapters here and come join the conversation at our Facebook pages over the coming weeks.

Posting Schedule:

May 14: Strategy Bridge Posts questions for Chapters 1-2

May 21: Military Leader Posts questions for Chapter 3-5

May 28: From the Green Notebook Posts Questions for Chapters 6-8

 

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“Wall Walk” Yourself and Your Team to Better Briefings and Papers

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By: Colonel Michael Lawhorn

I have delivered, and I have been on the receiving end of less than stellar briefings that usually involve a lot of tedious Power Point slides.

Now there is plenty of advice out there both on personal briefing techniques and how to make better slides. In fact, on my short professional reading list, is Garr Reynolds’s Presentation Zen, which is both a book and a blog dedicated to helping people create and deliver better briefings.

Another way to help you create quality presentations can be by using a helpful technique called the “Wall Walk”. This technique is something I learned while serving on the Joint Staff’s Deployable Training Team.

Our team would deploy around the world to major military exercises, and after the exercise was complete, we would conduct a Wall Walk to create post-exercise (or After Action Review) briefings to the four-star commanding generals and their staffs.

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When Organizational Change Goes Wrong

AF Space Operations

By Dan Sanders

Five months into my Air Force operations officer tour, my boss and I reflected on how we were doing. I came to the conclusion that while we had made great strides in achieving his vision of unifying our team, and professionalizing the organization as a whole, we also stumbled hard along the way. We tried to implement change too quickly and the organization wasn’t ready for that. As a result, we created more friction than necessary.

Luckily, at the time of that conversation, I happened to be reading Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Their message was simple and powerful.  “Leaders must own everything in their world.  There is no one else to blame.” In the month or so since that conversation with my commander, I have spent a lot of time thinking about those early months in the squadron.  Experience is a great teacher if we’re willing to learn.  Hopefully some of you won’t have to stick your hand on the hot stove and you can learn from my mistakes.

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Turning Defeat into Development

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Dempsey and Firpo by George Bellows

By Joe Byerly

On September 14, 1923, over 80,000 spectators packed into the New York City Polo Grounds to watch one of the most famous prizefights in boxing history. The heavyweight champion, Jack Dempsey, who stood at 6’1 and weighed around 185 pounds, defended his title against Luis Firpo, the Wild Bull of Pampas. Firpo had two inches on Dempsey and outweighed him by thirty-five pounds. This matchup was so popular it didn’t even need commercials or Facebook ads to promote it. For example, Dempsey’s train-up prior to the fight drew 3,000 people a day to watch the champ prepare and the gate alone drew $1.2 million- in 1920’s money!

As soon as the bell rang, the two fighters gave everyone their money’s worth. Within the first few minutes, both boxers found themselves on their backs after some brutal exchanges. Dempsey knocked Firpo down seven times in the first round and he probably thought he had the fight in the bag. With less than thirty seconds remaining, Firpo caught Dempsey with a blow that sent him through the ropes (head first) onto one of the tables below. The referee began his count.

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When War Comes Home: An Interview

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I heard about American War back in December, and finally got my hands on a copy a few days after it was available for purchase. After reading the first couple of pages, I was hooked. It wasn’t only the subject matter that pulled me in, but the way in which Omar El Akkad writes brings his story into vivid color.  I recently caught up with the author and we discussed American War. 

Joe: Omar, the title of your debut novel is the first thing that caught my eye several months ago. Can you tell us what American War: A Novel is about?

Omar: American War tells the story of a second American civil war that takes place about 60 years from now. The war begins after the federal government decides to impose a prohibition on the use of fossil fuels. Even though most of the world has moved on to other sources of fuel by then, and climate change has destroyed much of the U.S. coastline and drowned Florida entirely, a number of southern states still decide to secede rather than go along with prohibition. The novel follows the Chestnuts, a family living in southernmost Louisiana, as they are displaced from their home by war and forced into a southern refugee camp.

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Lead Like a CHAMPION

Public Affairs Supervisor Advanced Leader Course, Class 501–17, posing after a physical fitness test.

By SSG Alex R. Ramos

The sport of boxing has had a rich tradition in my family. My father used to box, my uncles and cousins were pugilists, even my grandma laced up the gloves to practice the sport.

My dad, Rafael Ramos, has been inducted into three different Halls of Fame (at the time of this commentary) for his role as a professional boxing referee. He never wanted me to box, and because of that reason, I did not start training until I was 16, which is considered a late age to start the discipline when compared to elite boxers.

One of my father’s friends started teaching me near the end of my junior year of high school. I did my best to impersonate a sponge when I first received my boxing tutelage. I soaked up all of my coach’s advice. I practiced every day with conviction. I methodically trained on my footwork stepping forward and stepping backward way before I even started working on any punches.

I then worked on perfecting my jab before moving to combinations. It wasn’t long before I started fantasizing about lifting the championship belt and hearing the ring announcer say, “…and the NEW featherweight champion of the world, Alexis…Rafael…Ramos.” I could hear the crowd chant my nickname, “Ramito, Ramito, Ramito” in my head.

While I did garner a few accolades in the sport of amateur boxing, I never reached the level I wished to attain. Several years have passed since my last match, and my dream of being a world renowned boxing title holder did not pan out the way I had hoped.

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#DAweek: Welcome to Atropia

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By: James King

Large columns of dust rise up from the desert floor as a hundred T-80 tanks and BMPs are on the move. The commander of the Donovian Operational Strategic Command South (OSC-South) has just given the order to invade Atropia. Supported by separatist fighters from the Belusavar Freedom Brigade (BFB), their task is to seize key natural resources and annex the newly acquired territory. Standing in the way of the five mechanized divisions of the OSC-South is one United States Army division, one division from the United Kingdom, and one Atropian division. In other words, a thin line of defense exists against this near-peer competitor.

This is the situation units find themselves in when they arrive at the National Training Center. Developed by TRADOC, the Decisive Action Training Environment, a combination of Combined Arms Maneuver and Wide Area Security, in which units at NTC, JRTC, and JMRC come to train against was designed to bring the Army back to its roots after a decade and a half of fighting counterinsurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. While there are many people within a rotational unit wearing combat patches on their right arm, few if any have experienced tank on tank combat operations and none have experienced a fight against a near-peer threat like the one they are about to face.

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