Company Command Series Part XII: My Command Regrets

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This blog post is the conclusion 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 discloses my personal post-command regrets that I’ve reflected on since relinquishing command.

I feel it is appropriate to close out my (admittedly long) Company Command blog series with discussing my personal regrets since relinquishing company command. This post is not so much about the actual regrets themselves as much as it is about the importance to spend time and deliberately reflect, to be honest with yourself, understand you are not (and never will be) a perfect leader, and identify what you wish you were able to accomplish in your formal leadership role. My hope is to first, encourage leaders to be self-aware and willing to admit where they can improve, and second, prevent these below regrets from being on other leaders’ lists of regrets down the road. It’s not weak or unprofessional to assess your post-command regrets; it is a healthy and necessary step to continue your development as a leader. Continue reading

Company Command Series Part XI: Unit Pride & Recognition Programs

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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 methods to enhance unit pride and ideas for a formal unit recognition program.

It is undeniable that a positive organizational culture is critical to your success as the commander, and the success of your company.  What I’ve found, though, is that little content exists addressing how exactly to advance your unit’s culture with specific, tangible actions. There are necessary methods such as Leadership by Wandering Around, as I wrote about in an earlier blog post. However, what are other influence methods that can build a healthy culture focused on your priorities as the commander? I argue two major components are: being deliberate in establishing a robust sense of unit pride, and creating an extensive recognition program. For both lines of effort, below, I address ways I advanced my company’s pride and a supporting recognition program. Continue reading

Company Command Series Part X: Deployment Readiness

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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.  Continue reading

Company Command Series Part IX: Troop Leading Procedures

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 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 maximize operations and Troop Leading Procedures efficiency in your company.

With the often-overwhelming requirements placed on companies, coupled with continuous time constraints, it is hard to implement the Troop Leading Procedures (TLPs) in their entirety. Throughout my command, I often felt that my company and I should be doing more to maximize TLP effectiveness. This is why it is imperative that commanders and companies codify how to conduct TLPs and expectations throughout. This post introduces some aspects that made TLPs successful in my experience, and a few recommendations based on lessons learned. As with all content in these posts, these serve as options for commanders to consider and implement. I encourage readers to share their experiences and lessons in how to effectively leverage TLPs beyond this. Continue reading

Company Command Series Part VIII: Closeout Formations

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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 improve your company closeout formations and weekend safety briefs. 

To any military service member, just the mention of a weekend safety brief and closeout formation can stir reactions of dread and loathing. I can think of few things that are less inspiring or effective in the military than a long brief where leaders regurgitate the same speech every Friday listing every “don’t” for the weekend. I argue that these closeout formations with the excessive safety briefs are no longer for the Soldiers, but “check-the-block” requirements to cover leaders when the weekend Serious Incident Report (SIR) event occurs, such as a DUI. These methods are ineffective and waste Soldiers’ and leaders’ time. Weekend closeout formations, like many other events, should be valuable and planned-out events that contribute to your company’s culture.

Early in my command, I read two blog posts (From the Green Notebook and The Military Leader) regarding this topic of improving unit closeout formations and safety briefs. They served as the catalyst to end my company’s current safety brief ways and update them with new focuses and methods. I cannot take credit for conceiving these ideas; I encourage readers to check out those posts for further ideas and inspiration.

Continue reading

Company Command Series Part VII: Policy Memos

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 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 company policy memos and recommendations on how to make them effective.

Policy memos tend to be scary commandments that merely collect dust on some ignored unit board outside the commander’s office. Still, these memos are your standing guidance and often influence your unit’s first impression of you as a new commander.

It’s important to make your policies concise, clear, and effective to aid in a successful command. Don’t create policies simply to create policies; you don’t need 16 memos. If your higher headquarters has an adequate policy memo for a specific topic, leave it; you don’t need to re-create the wheel. Army command policy, installation regulations, and unit SOPs will influence what policies you are required to have. This post is not a regurgitation of those requirements. Rather, I am sharing a couple key policies I recommend and how to approach them. Continue reading

What Army Soldiers Can Learn From Navy Sailors

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We are halfway through the Company Command Series and are taking a quick intermission this week from the series. We continue discussing company command next week with policy letters.

Army-Navy football; working with peers or bosses during joint service time as a field grade officer; popular Hollywood films like The Hunt for Red October, Master and Commander, and Top Gun. I can think of few other times the Navy really ever comes to my mind as an Army officer and leader. Especially for junior officers or enlisted Soldiers, we don’t tend to consider our Navy brothers and sisters in arms during our daily professional routines or even throughout most of our careers. It should be expected though; when was the last time any of us (outside of SOF) participated in a training or real-world mission with Navy personnel? Our branches serve two different purposes for our nation: an army brigade combat team of 4,000 Soldiers generally operates at the low tactical level of war during land operations, where a 135-man Navy submarine exists to achieve strategic level influence ensuring the freedom of the high seas. As the Department of Defense appears to be steering more towards ‘jointness’ or a joint team, the mission of the Army and the Navy illustrate the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.  The Army’s relationship with the Air Force, for example, illustrates how easy this transition may be with joint basing; however, the Navy has been less than motivated to share its property with anyone else.  I don’t need to concern myself with the Navy except the one day a year that we beat the hell out of Navy, right? Not quite.   Continue reading

Company Command Series Part VI: Additional Duties

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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 managing additional duties within your company and how to verify they are meeting Department of the Army requirements.

It may seem there are as many required additional duties for your company as you have Soldiers. Without a sufficient system to manage these duties and provide necessary oversight, you may quickly find yourself in trouble with multiple higher headquarters.

At a minimum, your company needs to create and maintain three items for additional duties: duty appointment orders signed by you (the commander), copies of certificates for your appointed Soldiers’ training, and a system to easily track the status of all required duties. I assigned this additional duties management system to my company Training NCO (my gunner). He maintained one binder for the company’s duties and all necessary documentation for each one. Once a month, I personally met with him, First Sergeant, and all platoon sergeants to review additional duties. We forecasted Soldier losses (to PCS, ETS, etc.) and I worked with the platoon sergeants to assign new Soldiers to those duties. My Training NCO left each meeting with a to-do list of new duty-specific training courses to schedule, appointment orders to update, and training certificate copies he needed to obtain. Continue reading

Company Command Series Part V: Unit Training Management Concluded

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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 wraps up Unit Training Management focusing on METL and collective task training tracking.

With the Army’s introduction of Objective-T for Mission Essential Task List (METL) proficiency reporting, it is more critical than ever to codify and be objective in your company’s own METL tracking.

Before the implementation of Objective-T, I created a matrix to record MET and collective task training conducted. The matrix columns were my formations, one for the company and one for each platoon. The rows were our assigned METs and the designated supporting collective tasks. For each applicable collective task, platoon leaders updated training conducted on that specific task. The PLs include all necessary information regarding the training of that collective task needed for an Objective-T rating to include date(s) last trained, if training was conducted day and night, live fire exercise incorporated or not, and the number of participating personnel from the platoon compared to authorized. Continue reading

Company Command Series Part IV: Unit Training Management Continued

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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 Unit Training Management focused on company-level planning and training week management.

FM 7-0 states that companies must maintain training calendars and plan five months in advance. I personally preferred to plan six to seven months out to secure training area land before other units on the installation. So how do you determine what to plan five to seven months in advance? Every unit has their means of training planning, I acknowledge that. I leveraged company-level quarterly planning conferences (QPC). Continue reading