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Admiral Inman’s Rules

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

Bobby Ray Inman is a retired Navy Admiral. An Officer Candidate School graduate and the first Naval Intelligence Officer to earn four stars as a Flag Officer. During the 1970s and into the early 80s, ADM Inman served as Director of Naval Intelligence, Vice Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence. Interestingly, he held these last two posts simultaneously for a period, pushing the two agencies to work more closely. He did this by sending memos back and forth to himself, approving them as he went along.

In response to the Beirut bombings of the US Embassy and Marine Barracks, ADM Inman chaired a commission on improving security at U.S. foreign installations.

Some SSD readers may know him for sitting in the Board of Directors of Academi, a corporation formerly known as Blackwater.

His list of rules are well known within the Intelligence Community and may seem at first glance only suited for senior officers working in Washington. While some are specific to that unique arena, many should be implemented immediately upon starting a career and consistently throughout.

1. Conservation of enemies.

2. When you are explaining you are losing.

3. Something too good to believe probably is just that, untrue.

4. Go to the Hill alone.

5. Wisdom in Washington is having much to say and knowing when not to say it.

6. Never sign for anything.

7. The only one looking out for you is you.

8. If you think your enemy is stupid, think again.

9. Never try to fool yourself.

10. Never go into a meeting without knowing what the outcome is going to be.

11. Don’t change what got you to where you are just to get to the next place.

12. Intelligence is knowing what the enemy doesn’t want you to know.

13. Nothing changes faster than yesterday’s vision of the future.

14. Intelligence users are looking for what is going to happen, not what has already occurred.

15. It is much harder to convince someone they are wrong than it is to convince them they are right.

16. For Intelligence Officers in particular there is no substitute for the truth.

17. By the time intelligence gets back to a user with the answer the question usually has changed.

18. Always know your blind spots, get help to cover them.

19. The first report is usually wrong, act but understand more is to come and it will be different.

20. You can never know too much about the enemy.

21. Tell what you know, tell what you don’t know, tell what it means.

22. Tell them what you are going to say, tell them, then tell them what you told them, they might remember something.

23. Never have more than three points.

24. Never follow lunch or an animal act.

25. Believe is correct, intelligence officers never feel.

26. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

27. Boredom is the enemy, not the time to any briefing.

28. If you can’t summarize it on one page, your can’t sell it to anyone.

29. Always allow time to consider what the enemy wants me to think, is he succeeding or am I?

30. If you can’t add value, get out of the way.

The Making of a Drill Sergeant: Transforming Civilians into Soldiers

Wednesday, January 8th, 2020

FORT JACKSON, S.C. — Watching the Army recruits run to their designated location, the drill sergeant could feel the tension, the excitement, the anticipation. The only question now was, who was more excited–her or the trainees?

Drill Sergeant Alycia Perkins is a new drill sergeant. In fact, she has only been ‘on the trail’ for a few weeks and everything is new and exhilarating to this U.S. Army Reserve drill sergeant. Fresh out of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy, this young noncommissioned officer is full of the latest knowledge and knows all the regulations, training goals and safety protocols. She had worked extremely hard on earning her Drill Sergeant Hat and Badge, and now, here she stood before a group of civilians she had helped transform into Soldiers. They were just days away from graduating from U.S. Army Basic Combat Training, and Perkins could not be more proud.

“During this Blue Phase (the third and final part of Basic Combat Training), I have gotten a lot of hands-on mentoring. It is not so much of the yelling and the teaching them anymore, it’s more about helping them understand who they are and what kind of Soldier they CAN be, and then helping them realize their goals,” said the all-wheeled vehicle mechanic from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 485th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training).

As a U.S. Army Reserve Drill Sergeant, Perkins had not been with the trainees through their entire cycle of three phases: Red, White and Blue. Reserve drill sergeants typically assist Active Duty drill sergeants for a phase rather than a complete cycle. However, they can stay longer based on needs and availability. Perkins entered this particular cycle at Fort Jackson, South Carolina cycle in the Blue Phase, which allowed her to do more mentoring and less yelling.

“The screaming and yelling [in Red phase] is more of a shock. It is to put the trainees into a stressful environment so they can learn to think on their feet, because that is the environment you would have when deployed,” said the Columbia, South Carolina resident.

“As you move on through the different phases, you kind of step back from being ‘the Hat and the Badge,’ and what people typically think a drill sergeant is, and you go more towards a mentoring phase and mentoring position,” said Perkins.

In her short time on the trail so far, Perkins said she finds this part of the job the most rewarding, and the main reason for her own transformation into becoming a drill sergeant.

“I don’t know if [the Drill Sergeant Academy] changed me necessarily, as much as built what was already there. I have always been a pretty motivated Soldier and wanted to help people.”

In the teacher and mentor phase, Perkins discovered people from across the Nation and with varying reasons for joining the Army. And some of the motivation she witnessed surprised the young drill sergeant.

“You expect a base level of motivation, but some of the trainees who come through here really have some personal stories and personal attachments that help drive them to be a Soldier, and help get them through Basic. So hearing these stories, and where people are coming from, and how diverse it is, surprised me a little bit.”

Of course, motivation alone will not get a trainee through Basic Combat Training. They have to meet all the standards and pass all the physical and mental requirements. The drill sergeant is only there to guide the recruits and give them all the tools to succeed. But in the end, the trainee must do it on their own, just like Perkins did when she completed the Drill Sergeant Academy.

After spending time with the trainees and getting to know them a little, it can be hard for a drill sergeant to see motivated trainees fail out for various reasons, said Perkins.

“On the flip side, it is very rewarding to see a trainee who has struggled, overcome those struggles and make it to graduation,” said Perkins looking out over her Soldiers practicing for graduation.

Of course, being new to the responsibilities of a drill sergeant, Perkins admits that she still has a lot to learn.

“Just because you graduate the Academy does not mean the learning is over. Things are always changing. Even since I graduated, things have already changed. A drill sergeant has to keep themselves up-to-date and be as knowledgeable as they can be.”

With the eyes of every recruit looking to drill sergeants as role models, Perkins said there is no choice but to strive to be the epitome of perfection. It’s not an easy goal to achieve but it is just a responsibility of the role.

Another responsibility for drill sergeants is making sure all the training requirements are accomplished. The simple logistics of moving a group of trainees around in an efficient manner to complete the fast-paced schedule of Basic Combat Training is an education that Perkins found invaluable, and a bit taxing.

“What I found to be the most challenging was all the paperwork and the behind the scenes stuff you do as a drill sergeant: setting up training, getting with everyone else to make sure the schedules are online…This is my duty week this week, so I am really learning everything that goes into planning just one training exercise. That has been the most difficult, for me at least.”

So while Perkins has been leading trainees, she has been learning herself. The Training and Doctrine Command environment is a very supportive place full of people willing to help, which has allowed me to become more confident, said Perkins.

“I have realized, I can handle more than I think I can.”

This type of confidence is critical for a leader required to be a role model, an example of Army perfection. However, it is something that any noncommissioned officer could achieve, said Perkins.

“Anybody can be a drill sergeant. If you have the time, the motivation, and the patience to do it…and the drive. It does take a lot. These are very long days–4:30 a.m. to 7:30 or 8:30 p.m. on a normal day. So it’s not for the faint of heart,” explained the new drill sergeant.

The responsibilities of the job are not for unmotivated people who don’t care about the quality of their work. It requires a disciplined effort and a generous amount of pride and ownership in the end goal, said Perkins.

“You have to really care for the trainees and care about the product you are putting out to do this kind of job.”

No one at the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy said the role of U.S. Army drill sergeant was going to be easy. In fact, they clearly explained the challenges. Yet, among the long, and somewhat grueling days, they said there would be rewards. In just a few cycles on the trail, Perkins has seen those rewards and that is a product she has found pride in.

“There have been moments when I am teaching a class on why a regulation is the way it is, and it is very rewarding to see that light just click on for them. Helping them understand takes away any obstinacy. When you can get into why things are important, it really helps them connect with the Army in general and the material you are putting out.”

Finding a way to connect the trainees with the Army is a way to ensure our Nation’s future, said Perkins.

“That is what we are defending–that heritage going into the future. We are building a stronger Army. A more competent Amy. A more intelligent Army. All those compiling factors are what you, as a drill sergeant, are working to instill in those trainees who will defend our Nation eventually. So the product you put out, that time you put into that trainee, really reflects, and will define our future Army.”

Knowing she is playing a part, making a difference in not only the lives of future Soldiers but the Nation itself, makes Perkins immensely happy and proud to be a drill sergeant.

“It is always said, ‘the trainees are a direct reflection of their leadership.’ That really makes me feel that what I put into them, is exactly what they are going to put out into the rest of the Army. So, that is a really good feeling.”

By MAJ Michelle Lunato

FYSA – SF Training SFAB

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Green Berets with 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) lent their expertise during a combat marksmanship range where they mentored Soldiers from 4th Battalion, 4th Security Force Assistance Brigade, Nov. 18-21, 2019.

See the story and more photos at

US Army Publishes TC 3-20.40 w/Change 1 – Training and Qualification, Individual Weapons

Wednesday, January 1st, 2020

After removing TC 3-20.40 Training and Qualification, Individual Weapons for several months to make revisions, they’ve republished it with Change 1.

Download your copy here.

TacJobs – Join The US Space Force

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Concurrent with signing the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law, a sixth military service, the US Space Force has been created.

From: SECAF <>

Sent: Friday, December 20, 2019 20:25

Subject: Space Force

To the Men and Women of the United States Air Force and United States Space Force:

Today, the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act, and with the bipartisan support of Congress, established a sixth branch of the armed forces – the United States Space Force. The U.S. Space Force, an independent service singularly focused on protecting our interests and security in space, launches the nation into a new era. Combined with the standup of U.S. Space Command in August 2019, our nation is now well postured to preserve and protect space.

Forging a new service is an historic opportunity to deliver world-class capabilities to the American people. As of today, the law re-designates Air Force Space Command as the U.S. Space Force. Space professionals will soon have the opportunity to permanently transfer into the new service, while U.S. Air Force Airmen will continue to support the space mission. More information is available at

Together with our joint teammates and our spacefaring allies and partners, we will establish a service that meets the highest standards of excellence, built on a foundation of integrity and service. We’re proud to serve with you!

Barbara Barrett
Secretary of the Air Force

David L. Goldfein
General, U.S. Air Force
Chief of Staff

John W. Raymond
General, U.S. Space Force
Chief of Space Operations

Air Force Improves Efficiencies for Special Warfare Airmen

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019


The Air Force recently consolidated and moved enlisted members of Air Force Special Warfare to new Air Force specialty codes to encompass AFSPECWAR operator, enabler and support specialties.

“The Air Force is invested in ensuring ready and lethal special warfare Airmen who operate primarily from the land domain to achieve air, space and cyberspace dominance for the joint force,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan. “These Airmen will provide the connective tissue to conduct multi-domain operations, even in the most difficult scenarios.”

As of Oct. 31, 2019, the new special warfare career field (1Z) includes the following AFSCs: pararescue (1Z1X1), combat control (1Z2X1), tactical air control party (1Z3X1) and special reconnaissance (1Z4X1). The special warfare enabler career field (1T) includes Airmen who train, integrate with and accompany operators and teams to enable additional capabilities, such as survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist (1T0X1). In addition, a special warfare mission support reporting identifier (9ZXX1) was created for Airmen in specific positions that provide consultative leadership on all special warfare mission support enlisted matters.

The Air Force special warfare enterprise includes special tactics officers, combat rescue officers, TACP officers. It also includes enlisted combat controllers, pararescuemen, TACP, special reconnaissance, SERE specialists and combat mission support Airmen.

Changes for special warfare officer AFSCs are expected to go into effect in April 2020.

“The Airmen who choose these specialties are ordinary Americans with extraordinary grit and determination. Through incredible hard work and unparalleled discipline, they’ve forged themselves into teams of exceptional physical and mental strength. They are trained for the toughest missions in the most unforgiving environments,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson. “Their skills are more in demand today than ever. This movement to new AFSCs is just one of the ways that AFSPECWAR is responding to the evolving mix of threats that the Air Force confronts today and will in the future.”

In addition to the AFSC changes, Headquarters Air Force stood up an Air Force Special Warfare Directorate on Oct. 3. This new directorate is the focal point on the air staff that will provide senior-level integration and management to better organize, train, equip and employ special warfare Airmen on the battlefield through resourcing requirements and providing overarching career field guidance and direction. Previously, special tactics, Guardian Angel and TACP Airmen were spread out across seven major commands with different sources of funding, training and operational requirements.

“These communities have a long record of success on and off the battlefield. AFSPECWAR will continue to build on that legacy while aligning with the National Defense Strategy and evolving for future threats,” said Col. Thomas Palenske, director of the new Air Force Special Warfare directorate at the Pentagon. “Special warfare Airmen need to focus on acting as sensors, communicators and human weapons systems, enabling enhanced multi-domain command and control and air superiority from the ground in anti-access area denial environments. They will be better able to do that with the help of this new directorate as we develop and streamline career field management processes, policy and guidance to make their jobs easier.”

Within the last year, special warfare initiatives included the activation of the Special Warfare Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and the 330th Recruiting Squadron at JB San Antonio-Randolph. The 330th RCS focuses solely on recruiting Air Force special warfare operators and enablers while the SWTW centralizes training to meet the demands of the future battlefield.

“AFSPECWAR delivers ground-based access and placement to conduct preparation of the battlefield operations to the advantage of the Air Force to counter (anti-access/area denial) threats. Our Airmen’s unique capabilities enable air, space and cyber dominance from the ground,” Palenske said. “To be successful, the Air Force must leverage special warfare to execute its mission on an increasingly complex and contested battlefield.”

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Baldwin Files – Assessing Potential Leaders

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Someone asked last time about the “Traits that you look for when selecting personnel for a role or team?” A number of things to consider came to mind immediately. First, it would be accurate to say that all of us are constantly assessing those we work with; and, in turn, we are assessed by them. Sometimes, in the military especially, the professional assessment (testing) or “selection” process is formalized and fairly objective; but most often, it is informal and more subjective. In any case, both formal and informal professional assessment criteria should directly relate to the work for which a candidate is being considered. Ultimately, those who meet or exceed those criterions will be “selected” at the culmination of the process. In so many words, professional assessment is always a job interview.

Obviously, if a candidate is available who has already satisfactorily demonstrated the requisite basic character traits and skills for the job the choice is easy. If a Staff Sergeant joins an Infantry Platoon, it is reasonable to expect that an infantry NCO of that grade – even if just promoted – has already demonstrated at least the potential to lead a squad successfully. Therefore, unless there is evidence to the contrary, we can have trust and confidence that the individual is qualified to get the job done. If that is not the case, a leader choses someone else judged suitable for the task, or – if there is no other option – takes a risk or even a gamble on someone who is untested. Consequently, while the original question (above) sounds simple, it begs a bit deeper dive into the continuous process of assessment, selection or non-selection, teambuilding, and – as always – the role of leadership.

In the Bible, Gideon assessed soldiers for the coming battle based primarily on how they individually drank water from a stream. As the story goes, the 300 he selected (with divine guidance) went on to achieve a decisive victory against an enemy many times larger. Military leaders throughout history have found it useful to develop and apply some form of assessment criteria to sift presumably better quality fighters – or those with special talents – from whatever untested quantity of personnel might otherwise be available. Those so selected tended to be considered “elite” soldiers, often organized into “special” units, with exceptional and often higher-risk mission sets. In every case I can think of, and regardless of whatever assessment method might have been used to find them, those select few never formed the bulk of any army.     

In 1899, Elbert Hubbard wrote a short and thought provoking ode to personal initiative and the rare individuals who can be counted on to get hard jobs done called “A Message to Garcia.” Hubbard concluded by saying, “Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village – in every office, shop, store and factory. The world cries out for such: he is needed, & needed badly – the man who can carry a message to Garcia.” Hubbard’s version of assessment and selection criteria. I would say that he was certainly right about at least two things; result or mission oriented and purpose driven people are habitually in short supply and they are always of great value. Especially in battle.

“Show me a man who will jump out of an airplane and I’ll show you a man who will fight.”

LTG(R) James M. Gavin

I have often spoken with admiration of the assessment and team-building process paratroopers of World War II went through. It is an excellent example for leaders today to study. Commanders of those paratroopers had to build winning combat teams while simultaneously assessing individual paratrooper candidates. In most cases, the nascent Parachute Infantry Regiments (PIRs) were formed around a small cohort of relatively experienced officers and NCOs – only a handful of whom were already parachute qualified. That assigned cohort became the primary trainers of the unit. The PIRs ran their own infantry-centric training programs for approximately five months before going in turn to Fort Benning for what we now know as “Jump School.” The school was the only major portion of the training with assigned instructor cadre. Completing the four weeks of Jump School was essentially the final crucible event for the new paratroopers. At the end of Jump School, they were awarded their wings, allowed to blouse their boots, and call themselves paratroopers. It was a big deal.

Shortly thereafter, the PIR would conduct one or more maneuver exercises involving parachute assaults and be declared fully “combat ready” for deployment. It is unfortunate but true that we no longer give basic airborne qualification the kind of respect it carried in the days when few Americans – and practically none of the airborne candidates – had even flown in a plane. Those paratroopers and their leaders were being evaluated, organized, and trained, to do two highly risky things: individually jump out of an airplane in flight and collectively seek to take and hold key terrain usually behind enemy lines. The toughest of tough jobs. Stephen Ambrose’s book about the 506th PIR and Kurt Gabel’s about his experience in the 513th PIR give good accounts of the training regimens for the PIRs. The first episode of the Band of Brothers miniseries provides a good approximation of the training as well. In short, while practicing modified airborne specific infantry tactics and receiving U.S. weapons training, the aspiring candidates were subjected to intense physical conditioning, taught foreign weapons employment, demolitions, survival skills, and combatives.  

The training program was refined and changed over time, but was never just a random hodgepodge of tasks. The expectation was that paratroopers would likely be widely scattered; critical equipment lost or destroyed; key leaders missing or killed. Small groups and even individual paratroopers were supposed to take those contingencies in stride and still move aggressively to seize their objectives. In training and then later in combat, PIRs made it SOP to brief every trooper on the operational and even the strategic plan – not just on his platoon or company’s small  part of it. Airborne leaders concluded that troopers had a need to know the bigger picture and the intent of the mission in order for the PIRs to succeed in combat. They were right. It also becomes obvious that if individual troopers were expected to take mission lead when necessary, then each one had to also be assessed and their leadership potential developed as much as possible in support of the team effort.

That is why large parts of the Army leadership then – and even now – are generally not fans of any specialized units. They recognize that those units tend to siphon off and concentrate that rarest of commodities – soldiers with leadership potential – stolen as they see it, from “regular” units. If you think of talent management as only a zero sum game, there might be some truth to that perspective. However, I would argue otherwise. In World War II, with the fullest mobilization of American manpower in history, the PIRs had an initial surplus of candidates applying for the job. However, even with that abundance, the U.S. was only able to field about a dozen PIRs. In the final 18 months of the war, those last PIRs formed were destined to serve as training units only. At the completion of the training cycle, their troopers deployed forward as individual replacements for the PIRs and separate Parachute units already in combat. We never got to the point where we had “too many” paratroopers; or too many aviators or any of the other myriad specialties we needed people to fill in large numbers. Even then, talent was in short supply.

Let us transition to a formal assessment program established more recently and that I am personally familiar with. That is Special Forces Assessment & Selection or SFAS. Although it has evolved over the years, the program we use was initially based in large part on the Australian SAS selection program of the mid-1980s. It started out as a three week event in 1988, was reduced to two weeks just before 9/11, and was later re-extended to three weeks. Before anyone asks, I will explain why it was reduced in length for a time. However, as usual, I will take the long way to get there. There is an old saying that “there would be no Special Forces if not for the 82nd Airborne.” That is actually more literally true then most people might realize. In 2000, some 70% of the enlisted candidates for SFAS were already Airborne qualified. While there are a handful of exceptions every year, enlisted soldiers (unlike officers) only get a slot at Jump School if they are on orders for an Airborne assignment.

That means that the majority of our enlisted candidates – who make up the bulk and backbone of Special Forces – were coming from another Airborne unit like the 82nd or the Ranger Regiment. Furthermore, if you add the candidates from the 101st, 25th ID and the 10th Mountain that accounted for some 96% of all the enlisted candidates that volunteered to try out at SFAS. In short, our practical in-service recruiting pool is fundamentally just four Divisions of the Army. For reference, officers – all of whom are Captains – are 100% Airborne qualified and some 85% that show up are Ranger qualified. Moreover, the preponderance of all in-service candidates have an infantry background. I have met the occasional exception, but the fact is that statistically we get practically zero from the Armor Community, Aviation, Intelligence, Combat Support, or Combat Service Support units. If we get a Messkit Repairman, it is likely because he served in an infantry or engineer battalion rather than a Corps’ Messkit Repair Brigade. Many intel soldiers want to serve in SF Groups – as Intel Analysis not as (SF) 18 Series MOSs. The same is true of most of the so-called “support” MOSs in Group.

Make no mistake, we absolutely need those highly skilled soldiers and officers to function, and they are appreciated – but they do not fill A-Teams. In 2000, the Special Forces Regiment was in a statistical “death spiral.” We were losing more 18s from ETS and Retirement then the schoolhouse was producing. Many reasonable and some outlandish ideas were floated that year to address the problem. One retired former Group Commander suggested that we get the Army to “levy” soldiers to go through SFAS – some percentage of those pressganged soldiers were bound to pass he opined. He was serious. He was crazy, but he was serious. A better idea was to find another pool to fish in. That is where the 18X-Ray Enlistment Program came from. It was not that radical really, the Ranger Regiment had been using a similar enlistment option for some time. However, it would be almost a year before any of those 18Xs even got to SFAS and at least another year before even one would get to an ODA; so it was not a quick fix. Moreover, while it briefed well, no one had any real feel for how many people “off the street” would go for a program of multi-year length. There was some anxiety at first, but I would say that particular initiative turned out well in the end.

I have said many times that no good decisions are likely to be made out of fear or in a panic. Unfortunately, some people were panicking. They decided that the best way to get more green hats on heads was to “adjust” the standards. It was an emergency they reasoned and bold action was required to save the SF Regiment. These well-meaning but tragically misguided leaders started to look at the assessment gates where the most attrition occurred. In SFAS it was during the third or “team” week. Therefore, they dropped the third week. Just like that. The SFAS cadre was not consulted, no study was conducted – they were just told to execute. The premise behind this change was wrong on many levels. Standards and assessment criteria can and should evolve over time. Doing something simply because “that is the way we have always done it” is never a good excuse not to at least periodically reevaluate. Yet, before any chance is made, the first question that needs to be asked and honestly answered is whether the current criterion are still valid. If the answer is “yes” then no change is warranted – regardless of the numbers.

In this case, there was nothing wrong with the existing three week program. It was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Now, here is the funny part; making SFAS shorter did not result in any noticeable change in the attrition rate. The cadre does not control assessment or the outcomes; the candidates control it – although most do not realize it at the time. The candidate volunteers to show up. The candidate chooses how much effort he is willing to exert, and he decides when to quit or not. The cadre simply set up the conditions and then observes the candidate’s performance. If the candidate came to stay, came to win, he will keep at it for two or three or as many weeks as it takes. If he did not show up with that attitude, it is just a matter of when – not if – he will quit. It is also worth remembering that the finest soldiers and leaders that have ever served in storied special units in history were never subject to a formal individual selection program, as we know them today. Darby never experienced anything like the current Ranger School and never wore a Ranger Tab. Anybody doubt he was a fully qualified Ranger? Early Green Berets went through some tough training. However, none ever went through something like our current SFAS. They earned their tabs – before there were tabs – in different but just as legitimate ways. 

To answer the original question, I have found that it comes down to the three credos on the attached picture. I look for people who won’t quit, won’t accept mission failure, and won’t let their teammates down. I try to be that kind of leader myself and set the right example. I want to know if a candidate has internalized that ethos – or at least has the potential to. In other words, I am looking for leaders. That is it. Everything else comes down to training. There is a scene in the football movie “The Replacements” with Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves. The Coach (Hackman) askes the Quarterback (Reeves), “What’s it going to be?” Reeves replies, “I want the ball, Coach!” Hackman says, “Winners always do.” I do not think anyone can be a leader that does not have an innate desire to win. That means in military units that a true leader’s first instinct is to claim ownership of the mission. Real leaders seek to take control of the proverbial ball. When a subordinate has shown the desire and / or the potential to take on additional responsibilities, a good leader will challenge them, test them, and be an accelerant not a retardant to their ambitions to take up the yoke of leadership. 

By now, some of you might be saying, that is fine, but my unit does not have the luxury of a formal assessment program and I have to deal with whatever the Army sends me. I can assure you that the principles are the same. It just falls to the individual leader to conduct those job interviews and make those professional assessments for themselves. It is an innate part of the job. With practice, leaders learn to do it almost instinctively. We routinely recommend select people for schools or promotions. We test our subordinates and make judgements about whether or not they are ready for tasks or assignments that are more difficult. In conclusion, it has been said, that an army of lambs led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a lamb. Clearly, what is best in life is to have an army of lions led by a lion. That goal requires no magic or luck, just continuous and rigorous assessment, engaged and tenacious leadership, and focused and effective teambuilding. In the end, good leaders must get the best out of all their soldiers, and the most out of all the lions they can find or develop on their teams. De Oppresso Liber!

Army University Press – Large Scale Combat Operations

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

This new compendium is the first volume in the Art of Tactics series, sponsored by the Department of Army Tactics, US Army Command and General Staff College. This collection examines various aspects of division-level operations, to include Fires, Wet Gap Crossings, and Consolidating Gains, as part of the Army’s effort to refocus the force on large-scale combat against near peer and peer adversaries.

Download your copy here.