To some people, it is only noise but to me, it was a whole new world. I can still remember the first time I heard a round whiz past my ear, the cars passing by, or SSG Blue yelling at me to get down. At that moment, I realized that I was not training anymore. I was made aware that everything and everyone were out to kill me. I kept telling myself, “I shouldn’t be here.” Mentally, I can hear my mother in the background crying just as the day she did when she found out I joined the military. My life was not the same nor will it ever be the same. In my first combat tour I learned the importance of life, how to mentally prepare myself for the worst outcomes, and I learned how to be a great leader.
During morning PT on Ft. Campbell, CSM Hambrick was a regular fixture along the run route and throughout the Brigade’s footprint. He always encouraged leaders to participate in daily PT with their subordinates and regularly joined them as well. CSM Hambrick showed up during an APFT and asked me what my best run time was. After receiving my answer, he told me that he believed I could do better and he would run with me to prove it. I took an entire minute off of my run during that APFT. After the APFT he gathered the present NCOs and explained the importance of breathing excellence into your subordinates. He always stressed that it was important for Soldiers to know that their leader supported them and expected greatness. In reflection, I realize that he was also demonstrating that an effective leader leverages every available opportunity as a teaching
Regardless of the career you choose in your life, whether it be an accountant or a Soldier in the United States Army, someone, somewhere most likely had an influence to bring you to that decision. The Army defines leadership as the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization (JP, p. 1). Now imagine you are a young Private, in one of the most dangerous places in Iraq and you have constant leadership changes, and not much support from your direct leadership. I am sure at this point you can imagine, it is not the best scenario to be in. Throughout the duration of this essay you will read about Sergeant First Class Rob Gallagher and Sergeant First Class Jeff Fenlason, their leadership abilities, and the techniques they attempted to use to resolve the issues in this Platoon that was in a downward spiral after losing many leaders to the hell of war.
At the heart of this book is leadership. Poor leadership trumps all. The most squared away unit in the Army will cripple underneath nebulous leadership. Leadership shapes the battlefield and has more of an effect on subordinates than most think. Most of the effect is intangible, at least up until a terrible (or great) act is committed. The more that we as a society, and the Army more specifically, can look back on past events and learn from them the better off we all will be. Good leadership is a learned skill and, as with any learned skill, incorporating significant historical events into one’s decision-making process is vital for the advancement of the skill.
The book Black Hearts by Jim Frederick is an in-depth narrative about the 1st platoon, Bravo Company 1-502nd Infantry 101st Airborne Division deployed to Iraq in 2005. The leadership failures documented in this book range all the way from the general officer level down to the lowest private. LT general Ricardo Sanchez failed to understand the climate his command group was entering as they were deployed into Iraq. From then on the entire leadership failures continued to compound upon each other with improper time to plan. It is customary to have a six month lead time to have a proper battle hand off when preparing to take over an AO from another unit. To compound this problem, the entire time the 502nd was in pre-deployment training, they were preparing for the rigors of urban combat. In reality, they were given six weeks to recon their new area of responsibility and were going to a countryside crafted by the heavens for guerilla warfare. As Colonel Ebel said in the book, “It is not going to be an easy road. They are not even sure of what they have in the area. It just feels bad. We can expect a real fight.”
We can identify three major cultural dimensions that help us to understand what leaders must focus on as they guide the transition of the Army. First, professional Identity, which is guided by Soldiers at all levels who are striving for excellence in their functional specialty, i.e., HR Sergeants. Soldiers who have goals and ideals of the Army to ethically put service and duty first. HR Sergeants are trained and well educated in their field. They are taught to put Soldiers first and have great customer support skills. Second, community, the sense in which Soldiers stop thinking about “I” and start thinking “we”. The bond among units who not only believe in cohesion with Soldiers, but their families too. The HR Sergeants are there to take care of Soldiers when financial issues arise with them or their families and don’t back down until the situation is solved. Last, hierarchy, which leads to order and control and provides Soldiers with moral reference and a sense of direction. The HR Sergeant has the mentality of mission first, knowing who to contact at the next level for assistance helps get the mission
United States Military Officers from all services are trained in military tactics, standards, and values. One of the most important lesson they are taught is the health and welfare of their troops. Commanding Officers (COs) hold the lives of thousands of service men and women in their hands, and their decisions directly affect the safety and well-being of subordinates. The moral dilemma to risk the lives of many to save a few, or its opposite, to save the lives of many by sacrificing the lives of a few, is one of the toughest situations for a CO to be in, and one of the toughest decisions to make. The CO has to look at the big picture and the long-term effects of his decisions, and in this scenario the
Black Hearts is a great example of the reality on how severe bad leadership skills can ripple throughout a unit and impact its overall mission. This book serves as a guide for future leaders of America and will set the examples of what not to do in leadership positions. The lessons we can take from these soldiers can help us as potential leaders to become more competent and effective. The fact that this book focused on the hardships, poor decisions and sound judgment of the soldiers it helped emphasize on what was not the best choice of action and leaves a moment for you as the audience to think how you would of done it better. So right or wrong there was a lesson to be learned and the book did a good job including the reader. This book puts you in the shoes of a small group of soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment and gives you an up close and personal take on the experience of the soldiers, from the bottom of the the ranks all the way up to the commander. 502nd Bravo Company 1st platoon deployed in the fall of 2005 into one of the most dangerous battle zones in Iraq known as the “Triangle of Death”. Thrown into the heartland of a growing insurgency, with undefined goals and a shortage of manpower, Bravo Company began piling up casualties at an alarming rate. They suffered many losses, as well as mental anguish. Because of the long and tragic deployment, a collapse in leadership began to unfold causing one of the most tragic, brutal, and infamous deployments in U.S Army history. There were many reasons that caused the deconstruction of leadership, and eventually, the actions of the soldiers accompanied by the lack of control, lead to the rape and murder of an innocent Iraqi girl and her family. This is a story about character...
As our forefathers before us stated, ‘‘No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army (“The NCO Creed writing by SFC Earle Brigham and Jimmie Jakes Sr”). These words to Noncommissioned Officer should inspire us to the fullest with pride, honor, and integrity. The NCO creed should mean much more than just words whenever we attend a NCO’s school. For most of us this is what our creed has become because we learn to narrate or recite. The military from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard has an overabundance of NCOs who fall under their pay grade of E-5, E-6 and etc. Yet somehow there still not enough leaders. I believe that the largest problem afflicting the military today is our lack of competent leaders, ineffective leader development, and how we influence our subordinates under us who are becoming leaders.
COL Prescott’s role in the Battle of Bunker Hill, or more correctly know as the Battle of Breed’s Hill, is a great example of how to properly execute mission command. An overview from The Cowpens Staff Ride and Battlefield Tour (Moncure) reveals a number of operation and strategic objectives that the American militia had to consider. In this instance, COL Prescott takes charge of 1200 men with instructions to defend against incoming British forces that were seeking to occupy the surrounding hills during the Siege of Boston campaign. COL Prescott utilized a variety of steps in the operations process that contributed to his expert utilization of mission command over his forces. Through various sources from published works by experts on the subject, COL Prescott’s mission command demonstrates its effectiveness in his understanding of the situation against the British, his visualization to create an end state for t...