01 August 2014

Garrison Life and Leadership in the Future



Let me see a show of hands. How many of you have been deployed? How many have been deployed more than once? We have the most tactically competent fighting force that the world has ever seen.

How many of you have spent two consecutive years in a garrison environment (not including training exercises)? Three years? Four? I was in the Army for eight years before I went to Bosnia. It was then another six years before I went to Afghanistan.

With the overall Operations Tempo (OPTEMPO) slowing down, more time at home station means new challenges for us.  I remember the days before the Global War on Terror. There were daily room inspections, daily open ranks inspections, motor stables and Sergeants Time training. I remember getting counseled every month as a Soldier and more than the required once a quarter when I was a young Sergeant. A lot of you out there may not remember that, and that’s not your fault. It is a much different Army now than it was 23 years ago, and it will be a much different Army five years from now.

We can’t take all of our battle hardened Soldiers and place them in a jar that says “break glass in case of war.”  We have to open our eyes to an Army that some of you reading this have never seen. A lot of CSMs and 1SGs will say that we as an Army are coming full circle. I can understand that, but I do not necessarily agree. I believe that we, the senior NCOs have a lot to bring to the table about the way it used to be. Good experiences with the garrison environment, with training, and day-to-day operations without war. So it is time to turn to you.

There will be challenges. I know that there are a few of you out there, myself included, a few years ago, that did what had to be done for those eight or 12 months between rotations to ensure you had all of your Soldiers for the next engagement. We may have cut some corners about chapters, flags, etc. Those Soldiers just had a few issues in garrison. Nothing we can’t handle internally.

That kind of outlook is not the way ahead. The Army is heading towards more garrison time. There will be more time between deployments. There will be more time for your Soldiers, and some of your peers, to find new ways to make you say “I thought I had seen it all.”

So what do we do? What worked for me and my peers 20 years ago may not apply now. We have to get back to developing total Soldiers. Soldiers who can fight and can raise the flag in the morning.   Soldiers who have mastered warrior tasks and battle drills and can recognize each NCO in their NCO Support Channel. The total Soldier concept. That needs to be the goal. Total Soldier equals Total Army.

So how do we define the way ahead?  How do you ensure that your Soldiers are “total Soldiers” in this time of change?  How do you do that and ensure that you are also growing as a Leader?

Comment below or share advice here and connect within the military community.



*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.

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