This blog post is a continuation of the multi-part Company Command Series covering key aspects of my command experience that I feel other commanders (current and future) can benefit from. This post discusses how to validate your company’s combat readiness and deployability so it is not a surprise when you are called upon to accomplish your mission.
My brigade commander continuously reminded my fellow company commanders and me that, “commanders generate readiness.” He felt so passionate about readiness that he included my capacity to maintain readiness in his senior rater comments in my OER. Readiness really is that important. I believe that equipment and personnel readiness should always be the top priority of a commander (at any level); without sufficient deployability, what are you bringing to the fight?
I believe company commanders can easily establish methods at their level to test and validate their company’s readiness. I can’t think of many things worse than being called to conduct a deployment readiness exercise (DRE) by a higher headquarters (let alone a real world short-notice deployment) where you boast a 95% combat power deployability, but only 60% of your equipment and personnel can leave the motor pool. Commanders generate readiness and it all starts with the company commander. Below are ideas to create a company-level DRE program. Not every DRE requires extensive time and resources; vary your DRE methods up to support your training calendar.
- Personnel readiness scrubs. Commanders should know the percentage of deployable Soldiers in the company at all times, to include non-deployables by name, reason for being non-deployable, and what is being done to correct it. Battalions usually hold their own scrubs for you to participate in, but I recommend routinely doing this at your level and hold platoon and squad leadership accountable for their Soldiers. Side note: equipment readiness is addressed in unit maintenance meetings / processes.
- Alert systems. Use a program like Blackboard Connect or Army E-messenger to alert your company through automated systems. Place your Operations SGT in charge of maintaining the digital roster.
- Platoon Mission. Recall a platoon on/around 0500 for a NLT 0630 accountability (normal PT accountability time). Issue the platoon a mission and require them to complete TLPs to include a PLT OPORD brief and be REDCON1 (ready to leave the motor pool immediately) to deploy out NLT 1600. Observe their TLPs, OPORDs, and PCCs/PCIs. At 1600, conduct an AAR with the entire platoon to identify what systems can be improved. This method is also great to assess your leaders’ strengths and weaknesses in planning and preparing.
- Fitness readiness. Create a company standard “fitness test” (give it a cool name tied to your unit) and call out a platoon or squad to complete it during a PT session with no notice. Execute this several times to be able to rank performance across the company. Choose events that support battle-focused tasks to encourage formations to get better at those physical demands to make them better in their mission.
- Low-level universal tasks. With no notice call out a squad during PT formation to complete basic universal Soldier tasks. Tasks can include assuming a specific MOPP level and don NBC masks in 9-seconds, employ CBRN detection equipment resident within the company, MOS tasks, communication equipment proficiency, medical tasks, tactical scenarios, grenade throwing, making sector sketches and range cards, etc. After several iterations, you will see squads using white space to improve proficiency in these necessary basic tasks.
- Platoon deployment. Assign a platoon a no-notice mission to deploy out to a grid ASAP with a limited mission information. Then order them to react to a tactical scenario on the ground.
- Platoon inspection. Assign a platoon to deploy tactically to a location NLT a specified time that day. Once they arrive, inspect several things like load plans, platoon special equipment, dispatches, licenses, Soldier kits and tie downs IAW TACSOP, packing lists, etc. This is a simple way to hold leaders accountable. A coordinating instruction in the OPORD brief can require the platoon to bring APFT or weapon qualification cards to be inspected upon arrival too (or 5988s, leader books, counseling packets, technical manuals, etc. for inspection). This is a great way to accomplish several goals with one event.
- Platoon-level universal tasks. Assign a platoon a specific mission like CBRN detection; test their competency in assuming MOPP levels and employing detection equipment. This can also be used with communication equipment (setup a RETRANS), medical tasks (establish a CCP for the battalion), maintenance (establish a maintenance collection point), or platoon patrol base (range cards, sector sketches, protection methods, etc.). These events can be preparatory platoon events to precede major platoon-collective training or transition from squad to platoon-level training.
No matter your methods, ensure you own your company’s readiness as the commander. Your unit’s readiness levels should never be a surprise.
Feel free to share other ideas to test and maintain unit readiness, to include maintenance! I would love to hear of other proven ideas.
The next Company Command series post addresses methods to create deep-rooted unit pride and a robust recognition program.