Category Archives: Editorials

From the CSM: Mentorship basics haven’t changed


By COMMAND SGT. MAJ. JOHN K. MIYATA
3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion 

As the deployment cycle winds down and we return to the garrison, we must take the time to mentor our young Soldiers.

Soldiers enlisting in the Army today are different than those 10 years ago and much different than those when I enlisted 27 years ago.

Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata (seated center right) speaks with members of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion’s staff in their offices at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.   (Photo courtesy of Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata)
Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata (seated center right) speaks with members of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion’s staff in their offices at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.
(Photo courtesy of Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata)

The basics back in the day were conducting drill and ceremony, “hip-pocket” training, in-ranks inspections, land navigation and learning to operate the PRC-77 radio. Today, many Soldiers completed their Initial Military Training and deployed straight into theater; some of them have served multiple tours overseas.

However, the basic fundamentals that we seemed to have lost over the years are taking the time to sit with Soldiers, talking to them and mentoring them.

Take the time to map out your Soldiers’ careers, explain the milestones they’ll need to achieve and give them a plan to follow. Provide them with lessons learned from your career and advice on how to do things better. Teach them special skills that they may use as they move to staff level positions, such as the military decision-making process and staff action planning.

Get to know your Soldiers and their families, and see what you can do to help family members play a bigger part in Soldiers’ careers. Have them be involved in the unit’s family readiness group and be a part of the military family.

As we progress in our careers as noncommissioned officers, we accumulate a wealth of knowledge and experience over years of deployments, exercises and training missions. The Army spends millions of dollars training us to be proficient in our warrior and military occupational specialty skills.

Many Army Reserve Soldiers bring additional skills and talents from their civilian professions. When these skills and talents are combined, you end up with a highly skilled NCO capable of training tomorrow’s leaders.

As an Army Reserve citizen-Soldier, I’m faced with seeing my Soldiers only 40 to 50 days out of the year. Of those precious training days, we have to use every hour and minute to maximize training, and still find time to provide for counseling and mentorship.

As the command sergeant major of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion, it’s a priority of mine to ensure not just Soldiers’ well-being, but also to use my experiences and knowledge to set them up for success in their future careers.

The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, FM 7-22.7, says, “Mentorship is demanding business, but the future of the Army depends on the trained and effective leaders whom you leave behind.

“Mentoring future leaders may require you to take risks,” the guide continues. “It requires you to give Soldiers the opportunity to learn and develop them while using your experience to guide them without micromanaging.

“Mentoring will lead your Soldiers to successes that build their confidence and skills for the future. The key to mentorship in the U.S. Army is a sustained relationship that may last through the entire career of a young Soldier, even into retirement,” the guide explains.

The basic principles of military leadership are tried and true. I use the basic fundamentals of “Be-Know-Do” and the seven core Army Values in my daily life. I use them with my sons, my Boy Scouts and my employees.

Now, let us all get back to using basic principles with our Soldiers.

 

Command Sgt. Maj. John K. Miyata is the command sergeant major of the 3302nd Mobilization Support Battalion, 3rd Mobilization Support Group, 9th Mission Support Command, at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

From the CSM: Correction should train, not humiliate


By COMMAND SGT. MAJ. RORY L. MALLOY
U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy

As members of the Army profession, we have been entrusted to defend our nation’s borders, interests and ideals. As noncommissioned officers, we have been entrusted to lead Soldiers, to train them, to teach them to be professionals.

That trust is given to us by our Soldiers, their families and their loved ones. They trust that we will use our authority to make our Soldiers better — to build them up, not tear them down. One of the tools we’re given to accomplish this is corrective training.

Corrective training is an invaluable way for NCOs to enforce standards and hold Soldiers accountable. However, when applied incorrectly, corrective training can cross the line and lead to humiliation, punishment or even hazing. And when leaders cross that line, their actions can become worse than the shortcomings they were trying to correct.

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy discusses corrective training with two NCOs at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Stadel)
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy discusses corrective training with two NCOs at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Stadel)

Army Regulation 600-20 is clear that “training, instruction, or correction given to a Soldier to correct deficiencies must be directly related to the deficiency. It must be oriented to improving the Soldier’s performance in his or her problem area. … Such measures assume the nature of training or instruction, not punishment.” And AR 600-20 notes, “Care should be taken at all levels of command to ensure that training and instruction are not used in an oppressive manner to evade the procedural safeguards applying to imposing nonjudicial punishment.”

Punishment is strictly the realm of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Corrective training is intended to correct a deficiency or shortcoming, never to punish.

If a Soldier shows up to formation late, corrective training is in order. Making the Soldier wear a clock around his or her neck for a week is not corrective training. It’s humiliating. So what should an NCO do? Requiring the Soldier to arrive in formation 10 minutes earlier than his or her peers until the supervisor feels the Soldier has overcome this deficiency would be acceptable corrective training.

If a Soldier arrives to work and he hasn’t shaved properly, having him conduct a “shaving class” in formation, in which he puts on shaving cream and shaves in front of his peers, isn’t corrective training — it’s humiliating, it’s unprofessional and it could be considered hazing. However, his NCO could have that Soldier arrive 30 minutes early and shave in the latrine under the supervision of the NCO. In that case, it’s clear the action is intended to ensure the Soldier knows how to shave properly. It takes place in private. It’s not intended to harass, humiliate or haze. If a supervisor believes his or her whole platoon has a problem with shaving properly, he or she might conduct a class to correct the issue, but the intention should never be to humiliate or punish.

Small research projects about a shortcoming or incorrect action can also be valuable corrective training. They engage and inform Soldiers in the importance of proper behavior and professionalism. For instance, that Soldier who was late might be required to research the backward planning model of the Army and explain why Soldiers need to be in place on time and how important an individual’s punctuality can be to the entire group.

Physical training is sometimes warranted. If a Soldier is goofing off in formation and he or she has been warned once or twice, an NCO might require that Soldier to do pushups to get him or her focused and back on task. A few pushups are OK. One hundred are not.

Our nation, our leaders and our Soldiers have entrusted us with a great deal of authority to enforce Army standards. If we abuse our authority, as we do when we don’t use corrective training as it’s intended, then we might lose that authority. And that would be detrimental to the good order and discipline of the force and diminish the power of the noncommissioned officer to do what’s right. ♦

Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy is the 18th commandant of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

From the SGM: Mission command needs strategic NCOs


By SGT. MAJ. NATHAN E. BUCKNER
U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy

There are definable differences between leading organizations in conventional and irregular warfare, and leading in decisive-action operations. Yet, some cannot adapt and don’t decentralize or don’t empower NCOs to think and act strategically. Trapped in a bygone era, they refuse to change their maladaptive leadership approaches to match today’s contemporary operational environment.

The keys to success in the operational environment of today are strategic leadership and mission command. And though it may sound simple, do not underestimate the amount of complexity and mental agility associated with implementing the Strategic Leadership Model in decisive-action operations. I’d say the task is analogous to clearing a weapon’s malfunction during an ambush.

Nonetheless, strategic leadership is the most logical approach to leading in mission command. The very words conjure up the NCO Creed and NCOs being the “backbone of the Army,” where NCOs at all levels instill discipline throughout the operations process.

Sgt. Maj. Nathan E. Buckner instructs a leadership class Oct. 3 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Spc. Ashley Arnett)
Sgt. Maj. Nathan E. Buckner instructs a leadership class Oct. 3 at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas. (Photo by Spc. Ashley Arnett)

The essence of strategic leadership is this: Know the capabilities of your Soldiers, your commander’s intent and your environment. Then decide on a course of action while continuously assessing the situation and allowing your leaders to use their own initiative and discernment to solve complex problems. The same concepts apply to leading organizations in decisive-action operations.

The Strategic Leadership Model encourages adaptability and agility by acting as a driver for critical thinking. It thus eliminates many self-serving biases and thinking traps. As such, strategic NCOs do not rest on their laurels, and they understand they must lead by example. Their sense of resolve and understanding of the commander’s intent in mission command is the driving force of disciplined initiative, motivating them to seek solutions to ill-structured problems that traditionally minded NCOs may dismiss as unsolveable.

For some NCOs, mission command defies conventional wisdom. So they often become irresolute in their decisions and settle for solving every simple problem. Subsequently, they become overwhelmed because decisive-action operations are too complex to micromanage.

Strategic NCOs, however, are constantly monitoring and assessing the operational environment. They understand that their influence resides within the principles of mission command. They know that empowerment and situational awareness are the instigators of change. They know that strategic leadership is an art of choosing — choosing to change, choosing to treat others with dignity and respect, and choosing to live the profession of arms 100 percent every single day. They view strategic leadership as a principled duty, not as an additional task.

As they have in the past, senior NCOs today will adapt to the challenges of a new age. They will accomplish this by finding creative ways to apply time-honored principles through continuous assessment of the mission command warfighting function. That innovative approach is strategic leadership. It is a natural fit for mission command because it fosters empowerment and understanding, and necessitates collaboration.

By living a lifestyle of excellence and exhibiting a strong moral character with a resolute mindset, strategic NCOs will continue to inspire Soldiers and lead their organizations to success in decisive-action operations.

 

Sgt. Maj. Nathan E. Buckner is a leadership instructor at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas, and was previously the command sergeant major of the National Training Center and Fort Irwin, Calif.