Lessons Learned in the Science & Art of (Engineer) Support to Army Maneuver Forces

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This post is not only for engineers; it is about fulfilling your organizational role to support the “main effort” when you are not that main effort or are in a defined supporting position. It is about providing the best customer service through the capabilities you deliver. I apply the below concepts through the lens of being an Army combat engineer, which has been my professional experience. However, these concepts can relate to ANY position, both in and out of the military. Consider how these ideas can apply to your branch or current position. For Army maneuver readers (Infantry & Armor), this post can serve as a guide in what you should expect from a supporting enabler; demand these from those that support you…but also, help bring them onto the team and have them feel like a valued member in your organization.

Engineers exist for one reason at the Army tactical level: to support maneuver forces. Every capability we provide is to enable a maneuver unit to get to the objective and accomplish its mission. As Army engineers, we are required to be a “Swiss Army Knife” of capabilities, by enabling mobility, countermobility, and survivability; providing necessary general engineering support; and being able to lead our formations to fight as Infantry if required. Continue reading → Lessons Learned in the Science & Art of (Engineer) Support to Army Maneuver Forces

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 X: Deployment Readiness

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 IX: Troop Leading Procedures

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 V: Unit Training Management Concluded

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 → Company Command Series Part IV: Unit Training Management Continued

Company Command Series Part III: Unit Training Management

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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 battle rhythms.

Unit Training Management (UTM) is the systematic foundation of any military tactical-level unit. The quality of your UTM can make or break your command time. Maximizing your UTM systems is critical to your company’s overall effectiveness and efficiency. It also prevents wasting your leaders’ time with inefficient meetings (or too many meetings). Ultimately, it establishes predictability for your subordinates.

To build an effective UTM, start with a battle rhythm. Brainstorm with your leaders (I recommend 1SG, Operations Sergeant, XO, and PLT leadership teams) and identify what topics need to be reviewed in a meeting and how often. With those topics, put topic to calendar and assign a date-time group that works best for your company and is nested within battalion and brigade schedules. Minimize the number of meetings. Be critical in determining if certain topics actually require meeting. If so, look to group similar topics having minimal organizational impact in one meeting. I grouped my company supply meeting with our maintenance meeting; the bi-weekly supply meeting would immediately follow the company maintenance meeting on selected weeks to prevent an additional time my Platoon Leaders and XO needed to meet me in the conference room. Continue reading → Company Command Series Part III: Unit Training Management