Counseling Leaders to Cultivate Influence

A Guest Post by Major Kyle Trottier

Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization (ADRP 6-22, 1-1).

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erin Piazza

In a 2010 New York Time OpEd titled The Unsentimental Warrior, Lucian Truscott, grandson of his namesake, a famous WWII general, argued that Army leaders must be willing and able to give deadly serious orders to accomplish the mission they are given, that men die for a cause and not for their generals, and if leaders are unable to influence Soldiers they may as well pack up their stuff and go home. Carl Von Clausewitz argues the nature of war is a human endeavor, it is brutal and violent, and it is uncertain. As leaders, we must develop our organization to maneuver through the fog of war and win against a competent and determined foe and we cannot do that without developing our organization’s leaders’ ability to cultivate and exercise influence judiciously. By understanding what it means to counsel, coach, and mentor, leaders will be better prepared to influence people to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. To empower subordinates, execute mission command, and accomplish the mission, leaders must develop their own organization through counseling, coaching and mentoring. This approach directly supports General Robert Abram’s FY18 FORSCOM Command Training Guidance which emphasizes “mastering the fundamentals, strengthening leader development, caring for soldiers and their families, and informing the future force.”

Six Lessons for Combined Planning

A Guest Post by Nick Simontis

“There is at least one thing worse than fighting with allies – And that is to fight without them”  

-Winston S. Churchill

Sitting down in a conference room surrounded by blank whiteboards and charged with developing a plan can be a daunting task for a group of Army planners. The task becomes increasingly difficult in a joint environment, as planners wrestle with joint and service doctrines, service-specific jargon and acronyms, and conflicting service interests. These challenges multiply in a bilateral or multinational environment. Yet this is a situation that we will face more frequently as the trend of coalition operations continues, and working with international partners becomes our new normal. Unfortunately, while doctrine addresses the planning process broadly, there are no doctrinal references that address the actual nuts and bolts of combined planning, laying out the hurdles to multinational planning at the operational planning team (OPT) level.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Inf. Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Division and the Senegalese Army’s 1st Paratrooper Battalion rehearse mortar crew drills July 12, in Thies, Senegal as part of Africa Readiness Training 2016.

Integrating Coalition Staff into a US Headquarters

A Guest Post by Major Andy Breach

To be successful in multi-national operations, the US military must create an environment where coalition staff officers can provide meaningful contributions to the team. The differences that exist between nationalities are magnified in the pressure cooker that is a coalition headquarters. Acceptance in this environment is a difficult path to navigate for a coalition officer, and an easy one to misjudge. This entry offers three recommendations that will allow coalition officers to integrate effectively into a US-led HQ during the initial few months of their tour. It falls to the Field Grade leaders in an organization to drive this integration and build the effectiveness of the staff. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather observations formed from personal experience.

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. William Reinier, 82nd Airborne Division

KD Lessons Learned – You Own the Readiness Challenge

A Guest Post by Adam Brady and Rick Montcalm

The summer PCS season is upon us, bringing with it a large number of outstanding articles written by former Iron Majors who are moving to other assignments. Our goal with this article is to present an area not commonly discussed but was a significant challenge we faced for our entire KD time.

What follows focuses on readiness – the Chief of Staff of the Army’s (CSA) top priority. For the field grade officers, it is a broad term that encompasses a number of systems and data input streams that ultimately empower commanders to determine who is ready to fight today, who will be ready tomorrow and who needs more work. As a battalion or brigade level field grade officer, especially an S3 or XO, you are the readiness data custodian. You will plan and run training for units and staffs, manage numerous systems of record and enforce maintenance and accountability processes, all of which turn numbers and percentages into a picture of unit readiness.

U.S. Army Soldiers in Basic Combat Training low crawl through the final obstacle during the Fit to Win endurance course at Fort Jackson, S.C.

Oct. 1, 2015 – Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton

Mission Command. Start with Why.

A guest post by Major Kyle Trottier

A common explanation of mission command is that it is telling people what to do, instead of how to achieve the end state. There is normally a desire not to use detailed command and specify precisely how the mission will be executed as some associate this with the negative term, “micromanagement.” However, the successful execution of mission command demands leaders to start with why, the purpose of the action. Simon Sinek explains in his 2011 book, “Start With Why” that the failure to express why will lead to an increase in stress and disorder within an organization. Applying some of the principles found in his book can increase our understanding of mission command, our role in supporting the commander and subordinates, and how to yield more successful organizations.

April 2, 2015 – Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nicolas Morales

The Operational Planning Team Leader Revisited

In the last installment, we talked very broadly about being an OPT Leader and the basic skills required to survive in this capacity. In this article, we’ll talk with more fidelity about your team and provide masterful tools for success on a big staff.

Mecole Hardman Jr. gets a little pregame motivation from Soldier-mentors at the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 9, 2016. (Photo by Cheryle Rivas)

Mission Command

Considerations as a Field Grade Officer

The ability to employ Mission Command is essential as our Army shifts towards future operating environments, yet it remains a highly debated topic within the profession. Individuals provide interpretations of the philosophy rooted in training and combat experiences.

Paratroopers, assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, practice a forced-entry parachute assault on Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska as part of a larger tactical field exercise. The Soldiers are part of the Army’s only Pacific airborne brigade with the ability to rapidly deploy worldwide, and are trained to conduct military operations in austere conditions.

Building Effective and Efficient Systems

Shortly after becoming a Battalion Operations Officer, I was overwhelmed by the volume of “stuff” coming across my desk prior to distribution, publication, or implementation. As the S3, I simply could not touch all of the FRAGOs, tasks, and requirements flowing through my headquarters. Though shaped for several years, I had just made the shift from small unit to organizational leader. I quickly found the organization’s success revolved around our ability to establish and maintain systems. Later, as the Brigade S3, I would reap the benefits of hard lessons learned in system management as a Battalion S3 attempting to keep my head above water.

The Operational Planning Team

As a Major, we’re focused on those important (and painful) “KD years,” time well spent as a key leader at the battalion or brigade level. That said, the majority of our time is often spent on higher level staffs, toiling away at a project that no one else seems to care about until it becomes a crisis. Given the time spent in such positions, its interesting that we invest little energy thinking about and preparing for success.

U.S. Army Soldiers, from the 25th Infantry Division and soldiers from the Republic of Korea army participate in demolitions tactics and procedures during the joint exercise Foal Eagle near the DMZ, South Korea.