Lead with the best version of yourself.

Get To Know Each Other: The Art and Power of Friendship

by Caleb Miller

How well do you know the people you work with? How often, outside of work hours, do you hang out with any of them? Do you know what they consider to be important? Do you know about where they came from before they joined the military? What they fear? What they value above all else?

Could you point out who in your platoon came from a stable home, or is in a healthy marriage, or defines success in a way similar to you?

Do you know what books they read or movies they watch? What shows they are binging?

Or, are you too busy to really think about any of that?

Every Soldier A Warrior: Bridging the Divide Between Combat and Support

by Benjamin Phocas

After twenty years of counterinsurgency, with some spending entire combat deployments in an air conditioned office on a city sized forward operating base, it has become easy for soldiers not at the tip of the spear to treat the Army as a simple nine-to-five job. Simply stated, an attitude of complacency became pervasive. Peacetime has worsened this attitude for every branch, with the true purpose of the Army, fighting our nation’s wars, taking a backseat as everyday priorities pile up.

The One Thing Series: Seeing the Best in People

by Brad Ruttman

It was very difficult to choose the one thing I wish I knew before taking command. After 8 years of operational and strategic level command, there are so many. However, there is one in particular that I never thought that I would say as a military member: to be the best leader you can possibly be, you have to see the best in people first.

For most in the military, we grow up in the tactical realm where we formulate “the way it should be” in our brain. The idea that someday, “when I’m in charge, I’m going to do it right.” After actually taking command, we find out it’s really more complicated than we thought. 

The One Thing Series: Burnout

by Bob Shelton 

I failed … my family, my unit, and my leaders.  

As a teenager, I had a t-shirt that said “Eat, sleep, and go like hell.”  I put a lot of stock in the latter part of that slogan…I believed it.  Twenty-two years of military experience reinforced that I could not only sustain, but push the pace. Regardless, the new job demanded that I do more.  Then, less than six months into a command tour, I hit the wall.

Welcome to burnout. 

The One Thing Series: Sharing the Profession with Department of the Army Civilians

By Tom Dull

 “The Army profession develops Soldiers and Army civilians who demonstrate character, competence, and commitment through career-long training, education, and experience.”

ADP 6-22: Army Leadership and the Profession

In the past year I have had the privilege of working with several Department of the Army (DA) Civilians in a variety of fields and expertise while serving at the United States Military Academy at West Point. These civilians work hard, share responsibility, and make monumental efforts to support Soldiers, Noncommissioned Officers, and Officers. However, I was surprised to learn that many of our civilians were unaware of the fact that they are active members of our Profession. For those who did understand this responsibility, they conveyed timidity to exercise this responsibility alongside their military counterparts. I learned that it was important to discuss, educate, and coach these tremendous colleagues on their responsibility within our great profession and  convey to them that they are absolutely valued and welcomed members in our community.

The Special Projects Officer Guide to Event Planning

The Special Projects Officer Guide to Event Planning

EventDefault-2.jpg

By Zachary Griffiths

Military officers plan and execute complex operations. Junior officers cut their teeth on platoon attacks, convoys, military balls, and even conferences. These latter events are hardly new challenges. The Army Officer’s Guide of 1917 recommends event planners establish six planning committees, covering everything from invitations to music and dancing. Planning big events begins up to a year out and requires detailed planning.

The lessons outlined below come from my two years of experience with Senior Conference, an annual event administered by West Point’s Department of Social Sciences. Senior Conference brings about 60 distinguished guests – 30 panelists and 30 participants – to West Point for about two days each April.  This year’s conference aimed to help the United States Army Pacific develop a more comprehensive understanding of the Indo-Pacific region.

Once a conference wraps up, planning for the next year begins immediately. Senior Conference relies on a team that consists of three part-time planners  but surges to more than thirty during execution.

Other events may differ significantly from our model, but these tips, presented in rough chronological order, should resonate with anyone assigned to lead a military event.

How to Keep a Notebook Like Da Vinci

1*ieFE-OttOL_h7F_R4GgOAg-2.jpeg

By Joe Byerly

When we hear the name Leonardo Da Vinci, the word “genius” immediately comes to mind. His 16th century works “The Last Supper,” “Mona Lisa,” and “Vitruvian Man” are still popular today. The Da Vinci namesake is a part of our modern pop culture as well: The Da Vinci Code dominated the New York Times best seller list, he’s been represented in cartoons, movies, and TV shows, and the episode of Epic Rap Battle about him has had more than 74 million views on YouTube. Most recently, in November 2017, one of Leonardo’s paintings broke a record, selling at auction for $450 million.

There is something, however, we should know about his genius: he wasn’t born with it or guided to it through schooling (he didn’t go to one) — he worked for it. And as Walter Isaacson argues in his latest biography, Leonardo da Vinci, his style of creativity is exportable, because we can all learn from and adopt one of his most important practices — keeping a notebook. Leonardo’s creativity and artistic abilities grew out his talent for making connections across disciplines. And it is within his notebooks where those connections were made.

So what can Leonardo’s notebooks teach us about creativity?

How to be a Successful S6

How to be a Successful S6

SC180791

By: LTC Joshua Trimble

Did the Army select you to serve as an S6? If you are lucky, you remember your training. If you are extra lucky, the Army even sent you to a refresher S6 course.  Chances are, you are not that lucky, and you probably do not remember everything that isn’t written down in your little green notebook. It would be impractical to expect you to remember everything. But, if you can remember these three themes and what they imply, you are on your way to success.

Have a PACE not a Prayer.  Many are familiar enough with the communications practice of a PACE. It’s the abbreviated signal way of having different courses of action – the acronym standing for, “Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency.” Each letter representing the preferred method of communications between you and adjacent units.  There are different PACEs for communicating to higher units, to lower units and to adjacent units because each unit will have different types and quantities of communications equipment.

There can even be different PACEs for operations or phases of operations.  Ask an aviation unit S6 how many PACEs there are in an air assault operation (Hint – at least three: 1. Aircraft to Command Posts (CPs), 2. Aircraft to Aircraft, 3. Aircraft to ground forces) and you understand the complexity of developing a PACE. The best PACEs also account for different Warfighting Functions (WfFs). For example, the intel team wants to talk differently than the fires guys who want to send digital fire missions.

5 Battlefields that Influenced My Outlook on War, Leadership, and Life

5D7825D5-1DD8-B71B-0B8FF7F0B312AED7_0.jpg

By: Jim Greer

Throughout my life I have visited many battlefields, certainly more than I can remember. The first battlefield I visited was Kennesaw Mountain, with my Dad when I was seven years old. The most recent was Fort McHenry last year (crossing the birthplace of our National Anthem off my bucket list). Some of these visits have been strictly tourism, some personal development, some staff rides, and some for other reasons. All have been instructive and visiting battlefields has been a core component of both my personal and professional growth as a security professional and a member of the human race. Below are the five battlefields I’d like to highlight that have had a profound effect on my life.

Kennesaw Mountain

When I was six years old we moved to Atlanta, Georgia. My Father was an artilleryman and always very interested in the Civil War and Civil War battlefields, particularly since he had grown up in the Northeast where none of those battles had taken place. When I was seven he took me out to the battlefield of Kennesaw Mountain. Kennesaw Mountain was one of the series of battles and engagements that took place during the defense and siege of Atlanta in 1864. It was the first battlefield of any type that I have been to, although it would prove to be the first of many more.

Kennesaw Mountain was a particularly violent battle. In it, the Confederates were defending the heights of Kennesaw Mountain, well entrenched and with commanding fields of fire. The Union troops attempted to attack up the mountain to dislodge the Confederates and secure the high ground in support of the broader operation to take the city of Atlanta. The Union attacks were repeatedly repulsed with severe losses.

At the battlefield my Dad took me to the Confederate breastworks. We knelt down behind them just as the Confederate soldiers had done and so we had a view of the long slope up which the Union forces had struggled against withering fire from prepared defenses. My Dad explained the battle to me in terms a seven year old could comprehend. What I have never forgotten is how he stressed to me the leadership the Union officers must have been able to exert and the courage the Union soldiers must have had to attack over and over up that slope even in the midst of horrendous losses.