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Quit Turning the Bubbles Green

Rise to the Level of Creativity: Assessments from Large-Scale Combat Operations

by Daniel R. DeNeve, Kevin J. Quigley, & Larry Kay

Army units at every echelon struggle to meet mission and training requirements due to lack of creativity, critical thought, and disciplined initiative. While repetition and trauma facilitate tactical and technical competence in training, they do not help units overcome these shortcomings. As an Army, we often practice singular solutions for singular problems. For a division-level exercise, this means that we only experience one way to do a wet gap crossing. At the Company level, we practice a singular way to conduct a combined arms breach. Yet, many of the great tactical and strategic victories in warfare have come from daring innovation. From scaling the cliffs of Abraham to the cliffs of Pointe Du Hoc, from the landing at Incheon, to the Anbar Awakening, some of our greatest victories have worked outside of the traditional confines of doctrinal lessons. 

The Importance of Property Accountability and Readiness

by Jakob Hutter

From helmets to Humvees, property accountability is a critical aspect of sustaining operational readiness. Property accountability refers to an organization’s ability to effectively track, manage, and report on equipment and assets. At the company level and below, leaders and subordinates are crucial in being good stewards to care for the property entrusted to them to execute missions and maintain readiness. The following article will explore why property accountability is important and how leaders can maintain and sustain it to optimize their readiness.

The Department of Defense policy states that all persons entrusted with the management of government property are expected to possess and demonstrate a high level of competency in property management, while adhering to ethical standards. They are also responsible for the appropriate use, care, physical protection, and disposal of all government property in accordance with policies and procedures. Additionally, this responsibility includes the appropriate disposition of government property, following applicable laws and regulations. For the Army, the property accountability policies are found in Army Regulation (AR) 735-5 and AR 710-2.

Building Cohesive and Effective Teams

by Mitch Butterworth

“It is not what [leaders] know or how bright they are that leads to success or failure; [rather] how well they work with others, and how well they understand themselves.” – R.J. Burke                                                                                                                       

The US Army relies on cohesive and effective teams (CET) to perform tasks, achieve objectives, and accomplish missions. To build CET, the Army relies on the concept of Army team building. Army team building helps teams to reach their collective goals through the application of leadership exercises, activities, and techniques. In this article, I will provide two examples of leadership activities or techniques designed to build CET. Those two examples are humble leadership and authentic leadership. 

Humble Leadership

The idea of applying humility to leadership and organizations was advanced by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. It is important at this point to address the negative view often associated with humility or humble leadership. Humility or humble leadership is not poor self-esteem, passivity or meekness. Generally speaking, humble leaders are described as other-affirming, self-effacing, and people oriented. ADP 6-22 defines humility as a leader being unselfish and working towards something more important than themselves. 

What are the specific humble leadership behaviors that drive the building of cohesive and effective teams? 

4 Types of Officers; and How to Develop Yourself and Others

By Joel Smith 

The Four Types of Officers

As a young officer I read German General Kurt Von Hammerstein-Equord’s four officer categories; they are 1) the clever, 2) the industrious, 3) the lazy, and 4) the stupid.

“I divide my officers into four classes as follows: the clever, the industrious, the lazy, and the stupid. Each officer always possesses two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious I appoint to the General Staff. Use can, under certain circumstances, be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy qualifies for the highest leadership posts. He has the requisite nerves and the mental clarity for difficult decisions. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be got rid of, for he is too dangerous.” (Von Hammerstein, 1933)

“You can use the brilliant but lazy man as a strategist, a brilliant but energetic man as a Chief of Staff, but God help you with a dumb but energetic man.” (Gen Douglas McArthur)

 By swapping out a few terms for contemporary ones, we get four base archetypes:

Lazy and dumb: Doesn’t do much, but doesn’t cause problems, can be of use under certain circumstances. Needs supervision and you can trust them with simple tasks.

Lazy and intelligent: Has the intellect necessary to make strategic decisions, and doesn’t expel too much energy on inconsequential issues.  They focus their energy on gaining efficiency, saving cost, and reducing risk over the long-term.

Hardworking and dumb: Not self-aware, doesn’t know what they don’t know, and won’t ask for directions. They actively make things worse. These people can be quite affable and charming. They often ‘talk a big game’ but can’t deliver, they are dangerous.

Hardworking and intelligent: Tackles problems, relentless, does not accept defeat. This type, when armed with commander’s intent and end state, will find a way to solve any problem necessary to achieve results.

A Letter to My Younger Self on Graduation Day

by Nikiay Comer 

Graduation week is here and you’ve felt a wave of emotions in anticipation of its arrival. You’re looking forward to accepting your diploma in front of your family and friends who have traveled far and wide to support you on this special day. You will soon be a commissioned officer. 

For some, commissioning is a time to be joyful and excited about what the future brings. For you and others, commissioning brings excitement from completing a milestone but also uncertainty—anxiety—about the future. You’re not sure if you’re ready. Although you have put so much hard work into preparing yourself to be a leader, you wonder if you’ve learned enough. As a cadet, you have completed many types of military training, leadership and character development lessons, and physical readiness classes. Even still, you may think you’re not ready. But I’m here to tell you that you are. It is okay that you don’t know everything there is to know about leadership. Knowledge will come with experience. However, at this very moment, you have what you need to be a good leader.  

The Impact of Moral Efficacy on Army Readiness

by Marc Meybaum, Cole Cannon, & Brian Martinez

You stand in the hot sun of a motor pool staring down at a sea of equipment layouts. You have been desperately trying to manage the ream of property book pages as you conduct your change of command equipment inventories. You have been acclimating to your new unit over the past few weeks and are very eagerly trying to earn their trust. 

You have reached a decision point, the equipment in front of you is in no way serviceable. 

Your outgoing counterpart informs you this is exactly how they received it and it will never be needed. Your timeline is tight, and you know this could really slow you down. The supply representative assures you that this will “take care of itself,” and there is no need to make an issue where one doesn’t exist. Although his words are tempting, you know they don’t sound quite right, though they don’t sound fully wrong either….

Fight The Tank! A Practical Lesson in Army Leadership

by Marc E. “Dewey” Boberg, Ed.D. 

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Shortly after commissioning and attending the Armor Officer Basic Course (now ABOLC) I reported to Fort Hood, Texas. I was quickly assigned to the 1/12 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division, where I became an M1A1 tank platoon leader in 3rd Platoon, D Company. All my Soldiers and NCOs were veterans of the first Gulf War—I literally was the only one without combat experience. My platoon sergeant was Sergeant First Class Anthony Garcia. SFC Garcia was a tank Master Gunner with more than 17 years of experience. He would become the most influential person in my training especially as it pertains to understanding tanks and practical lessons in Army leadership.

Lessons from Large Scale Combat Operations, Part II

by Larry Kay, Josh Cosmos, Dan DeNeve, Nicole Courtney, Jeremy Mounticure

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part article, stay tuned for the final part tomorrow. In the previous article, the authors discussed the importance of aligning planning with targeting as well as illustrating a sense-making model which can inform when and why a staff should adjust their planning horizon. In this next post, they aim to explain the importance of assessment-driven planning, finding flexibility in a battle rhythm, and the natural tension between deception, dilemmas, and risk.

Lessons From the Dark Side: Leadership by Vader

by Eric Shockley

The presentation with the Emperor had not gone well. Progress on the completion of the Death Star had been slow.  Delays, complications with contractors, hiring challenges, and the ongoing war with the Rebel Alliance had all negatively impacted the site becoming fully operational. The Emperor had honed in on every task with a Red completion status, quizzing Vader relentlessly for over six hours. He’d been on the job for all of two days. As he let out a slow sigh, he remembered that this was the life, the constant demands simply a given now that he was a senior leader.