You can teach an old dog new tricks

U.S. Army Inspector General Agency

As a junior NCO, I attended NCO Education System courses, as well as briefings given by my assignments branch manager on the importance of accepting challenging and diverse career-enhancing assignments such as drill sergeant, recruiter or observer-controller duty. To tell you the truth, for many years these recommendations went in one ear and directly out of the other. I’ve since realized that these types of assignments provide NCOs the unique opportunity to mold the Soldiers of tomorrow and be among the first to instill the Army Values.

In the fall of 2012 after serving 18 years in Airborne and Special Operations units, I had the desire to do something different. I was interested in becoming an inspector general NCO.

I worked with my chain of command, my branch manager, as well as the inspector general assignments manager at Human Resources Command. I was soon scheduled to attend the U.S. Army Inspector General School and was placed on assignment with Department of the Army Inspector General Agency at the Pentagon.

I soon found myself in a whole new world—an environment vastly different than what I was accustomed to during my 19 years as a logistician. I was well out of my comfort zone. I was used to waiting on a drop zone with my parachute donned for my chalk to be called or standing up in front of the company at morning formation as the first sergeant. I found myself “learning new tricks.”

After settling into my new routine, I began soaking up massive amounts of information on a plethora of policies, procedures, regulations and agencies I never knew existed. For example, before becoming an IG, I was not aware of the various Army boards that exist under the Army Review Boards Agency, the process a Department of the Army civilian must take through their local Civilian Personnel Advisory Center to file a formal grievance, or the components that make up a Whistle Blower Reprisal. The amount of information I have learned is incalculable and thanks to it, my ability to assist others in these areas has become exceptionally rewarding.

Becoming an IG NCO requires you to expand your knowledge base into areas not typically associated with your normal career field or military occupation specialty. In addition to teaching, training and mentoring junior enlisted Soldiers like drill sergeants and recruiters, you also teach, train and mentor officers, NCOs and Department of the Army civilians of all ranks. Similarly, you often provide assistance to retirees and family members which can also be quite rewarding.

Though my time as a logistician in Special Operations was extremely fulfilling and educational, I simply was not involved in any way with the various Department of the Army policies and procedures, appeal processes and regulations that I am now involved with on a daily basis as an IG NCO.

In a way, I guess you can say I was stuck in my own little bubble. The same can be said about my previous reach or sphere of influence as a senior NCO. Previously, I was able to easily mentor those Soldiers assigned to my company and those I came in contact with around the installation. But for the most part it ended there. By accepting my new diverse assignment as an IG NCO, my sphere of influence widened and my ability to assist Soldiers and their families became greater. It was no longer just those Soldiers in my formation receiving assistance but also retirees, prospective enlistees, family members and Soldiers from commands throughout the Army.

I imagine the same can be said about duty as an observer-controller or as a drill sergeant. With assignments such as these, you not only expand your knowledge base but can obtain the ability to influence and mentor a vastly larger group of Soldiers. The drill sergeant is always getting another cycle, new units are always rotating into “the box,” and new Soldiers are always calling or walking into your inspector general office.

I’ll end by noting that I am extremely fortunate to have worked with members of very prestigious Special Operations organizations through a very difficult period of the United States’ military history. Despite missing that part of my military career, I am truly glad I took a leap of faith to accept the advice given to me so many years ago to seize a different and career-enhancing assignment. There is no doubt in my mind that, should I be fortunate enough to be selected to become a command sergeant major that the experiences gained in this assignment will better prepare me for that next challenge.

Master Sgt. Ryan M. Meurer is a former first sergeant with more than 20 years of active-duty service, 19 of which were within Airborne and Special Operations units. He has multiple deployments to the U.S. Central Command area of operations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti and Qatar. He is currently serving as the NCOIC of the Assistance Division within the Department of the Army Inspector General Agency at the Pentagon.

Army to open 33,000 positions to female Soldiers in April

From the Army News Service:

About 33,000 of the positions in the Army that are currently closed to women are closed because they were in units that were designated as direct ground combat. That will change this year in units that are not under Army Special Operations.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense recently notified Congress of the Army’s intent to open those 33,000 positions to women. The change is expected to take place in April, said Col. Linda Sheimo, chief of the Command Programs and Policy Division at the Directorate of Military Personnel Management, Army G-1.

Sheimo said that with recent force structure changes, the Army moved away from focusing on units.

” Our plan allowed us to identify all the positions that were closed across the three components, regardless of the unit,” Sheimo said.

Those 33,000 positions do not include anything within the Special Operations community, she said.

“When we complete congressional notification in April 2014, the Army will have opened approximately 55,000 positions to women, across all three components, since May 2012. ” Sheimo said.

Read more →

New Retention Control Points take effect Feb. 1


Army Directive 2013-28 has been released with an effective date of Feb. 1, 2014. The directive identifies new retention control points (RCP) for each enlisted rank. Retention control points are the maximum amount of years of active service, an enlisted Soldier can have before they must either get promoted or leave the Army.

The directive applies to Soldiers serving in the Regular Army and Soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve and the Army National Guard of the United States who are serving under the Active Guard Reserve Title 10 programs. This policy does not apply to Soldiers serving in the USAR or ARNGUS who are mobilized, or assigned to the Individual Ready Reserve or Troop Program Unit.

A Soldier’s RCP is based on their basic active service date (the date they were sworn into the Army). However, Soldiers whose RCP precedes their end term of service (ETS) will serve until their ETS date.

RCP is a program that will not allow Soldiers to reenlist when they have reached their specific RCP. Soldiers can attend promotion boards prior to their RCP date to extend their Army career. If a Soldier gets promoted prior to reaching their RCP, they can continue their service and reenlist at their new rank provided they meet current reenlistment standards (see table below for how promotable status affects each rank’s RCP).

Those Soldiers who exceed the RCP for their current rank because of a reduction in grade or removal from the promotion list must retire or separate from the Army no earlier than 90 days or no later than 180 days after the effective date of the reduction in grade.

For specific questions please see your Career Counselor.

New RCPs:

Private-Private First Class: 5 years time in service
Corporal/Specalist/Specalist (P): 8 years time in service            
Sergeant/Sergeant (P): 14 years time in service
Staff Sergeant: 20 years time in service
Staff Sergeant (P): 26 years time in service
Sergeant First Class: 26 years time in service
Sergeant First Class (P): 29 years time in service
First Sergeant/Master Sergeant: 29 years time in service
First Sergeant/Master Sergeant (P): 32 years time in service
Command Sergeant Major/Sergeant Major: 32 years time in service






NCOs a vital part of 4th Infantry Division’s storied past

NCO Journal

The 4th Infantry Division experienced an arduous beginning that belies its 96-year history.

Unlike many other Army units, the division had an abbreviated amount of time to get off the ground. A mere 17 days of outdoor training is all the 4th ID completed before being thrust into its first action in World War I.

And yet, the 4th Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Carson, Colo., has become one of the Army’s most storied units, putting the first American ground forces boots on the ground in Normandy during World War II, capturing Saddam Hussein during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and, just last year, having two of its members awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.

Fittingly, the two Soldiers who received the military’s highest honor — Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter and Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha —were noncommissioned officers. For it is NCOs who have helped guide the 4th Infantry Division from a fledgling group thrust into World War I to a competent team of thousands that embodies the motto, “Steadfast and Loyal.”

“NCOs do more than any other rank,” said Scott Daubert, director of the 4th Infantry Division Museum at Fort Carson. “That is true in the 4th Infantry Division as well.”

Forged in sludge

The 4th Infantry Division was formed Dec. 3, 1917, at Camp Greene, N.C.

What Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron, the first commander, discovered when he arrived at the camp six miles south of Charlotte, N.C., was a group of eager Soldiers and the NCOs leading them who were ready to work, as well as Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, who were conducting their own preparations at Camp Greene to enter World War I.

But Cameron also found a problem.

Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron, the first commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron, the first commander of the 4th Infantry Division. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)

“This area of North Carolina was known to have really bad subsoil,” said Thomas Silvis, a historian at the 4th Infantry Division Museum. “The moisture would collect and stagnate. If you rode wagons or vehicles over the top, it would cut ruts into it and it would turn into a muddy quagmire — if you dropped something, it would immediately just suck right in. If you were to try to walk across it, you’d sink into it up to your ankles, if not up to your knees.”

This soggy mess, coupled with one of the harshest winters the region had seen, made simultaneous training for two units a complicated endeavor as Camp Greene welcomed the start of 1918.

The 3rd Infantry Division, which was scheduled to aid the French and British troops defending France first, was given priority in training and in the amount of draftees joining its ranks. As such, out of the five months it was at Camp Greene, the 4th Infantry Division enjoyed only 17 days of training in the slop.

“When they did get outside, they tried to dig trenches. But the soil could not hold walls, so they couldn’t train outside,” Silvis said. “They were lucky if each infantryman was able to pull off five rounds of his Springfield rifle before they shipped them off.”

The orders to do just that arrived April 15, 1918.

World War I: A brief outing

The 4th Infantry Division engineers were the first to ship to Europe on April 29, and by June 5, the entire division was in France. The 7th and 8th Brigades began intensive training in Samer while the Artillery Brigade trained at Camp de Souge in Bordeaux.

In mid-June, elements of the 4th Infantry Division were attached to the French Army and proved their merit by helping secure the village of Chouy as well as take Hill 172 near the village of Chevillon, where the Germans were heavily entrenched.

The 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division marches through Kaiseresech, Germany, on Dec. 14, 1918.
The 1st Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division marches through Kaiseresech, Germany, on Dec. 14, 1918. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)

In July, the 4th Infantry Division was placed under U.S. I Corps control and fought the Germans at the Vesle River and near Verdun as part of the St. Mihiel Offensive. The 4th would end the war fighting alongside the British and French as part of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that began in September.

Throughout its combat operations, the 4th Infantry Division did find one fortuitous aspect about its limited training in North Carolina.

“In the area of France and the weather conditions that they ran into those first few months, it was very lucky they had that soggy situation in North Carolina,” Silvis said. “That’s exactly what they ran into on the battlefields of France. Heavy artillery engagements were chewing up the ground, which was mainly clay mixed with snow or rain all the time. So the limited training that they did get turned out to be a real boon and a benefit because they ended up going through almost the same thing.”

The Armistice ended the war Nov. 11, 1918, 359 days after the 4th Infantry Division was formed. In its brief action, the unit proved its mettle as the only American combat force to serve with both the French and British troops in their respective sectors, as well as with all corps in the American combat sector.

The division conducted occupation duty in Europe until July 31, 1919, when the last detachment sailed for the United States from France. The 4th Infantry Division was inactivated Sept. 21, 1921, at Camp Lewis, Wash.

World War II: The D-Day spearhead

On June 1, 1940, the 4th ID was reactivated at Fort Benning, Ga., as part of the Army buildup in preparation for World War II.

The division was built using a new structure featuring three infantry regiments, each with about 3,000 personnel, all of which trained at Fort Benning until 1943. During its time at Fort Benning, the 4th ID served as an experimental division for the Army, practicing various maneuvers in exercises throughout the country and taking part in amphibious training, not knowing what it was for.

On June 6, 1944, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe began with landings at five beachheads along the Normandy coast of France. The westernmost flank of the coast was designated Utah Beach, and the 4th Infantry Division was to be the first American division to land in that area. On D-Day, the division accomplished this feat, which earned Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. the Medal of Honor, the first of four such medals that went to the division during World War II.

Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division move off the Utah beachhead on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division move off the Utah beachhead on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

After the landings, the 4th’s objective was to take the city of Cherbourg to the north, which it did by June 25. Then it headed south to join the battle of the Falaise Gap, where Allied soldiers encircled some 200,000 Germans and started squeezing the gap. An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 of the enemy escaped and would later see Allied forces again at the Battle of the Bulge.

Elements of the division, part of the first group of Allies to reach the city, then moved toward Paris on Aug. 24 with Free French Forces to liberate the Parisian capital.

The milestone moment was a short-lived highlight, as the 4th ID would soon become involved in the Battle of the Bulge and the three-month Battle of Hürtgen Forest — two clashes that were among the most costly of the war.

The bravery of the division was typified by Staff Sgt. Marcario Garcia on Nov. 27, 1944, near Grosshau, Germany.

When the platoon Garcia was leading was pinned down by German machine-gun fire, Garcia single-handedly attacked the nests, eliminating two enemy emplacements and capturing four prisoners, despite being wounded. For his actions, Garcia became the 4th ID’s first NCO to be awarded the Medal of Honor and also the first Mexican immigrant to receive the award.

The 4th Infantry Division ended World War II by crossing the Danube River and making its way to Munich before hostilities in Germany ended May 25, 1945. The division returned to the United States on July 10 and was prepared to deploy to the Pacific before the Japanese surrendered.

With the war over, the division was once again inactivated May 12, 1946, at Camp Butner, N.C.

Reactivation and the Vietnam War

NCOs figured heavily into the 4th Infantry Division’s next assignment.

The division was reactivated as a training division July 15, 1947, at Fort Ord, Calif., where NCOs helped make the post a staging area for units preparing for deployment to Korea. In October 1950, the 4th ID was reorganized as a combat division at Fort Benning before being deployed to Germany in May 1951 to become part of the NATO structure.

In September 1958, the division returned to the United States and was assigned to Fort Lewis, where NCOs once again figured largely into its day-to-day operations, providing basic training to thousands of young draftees. In 1958, the division became part of the Strategic Army Corps and from then to 1965 participated in a plethora of major exercises that ranged from amphibious landings to alpine training. The eventual focus of the training centered on testing the unit’s capabilities in a tropical climate.

“It was a time of preparation,” Silvis said. “NCOs were a large part of this. The training was going to be put to use shortly.”

That opportunity came in January 1966 when the division began preparations for the Vietnam War.

The 4th Engineer Battalion set up its base of operations near Pleiku, a town in Vietnam’s central highlands that summer. The 1st Brigade arrived in October and moved into a new camp south of Pleiku. The 2nd Brigade established its headquarters near the coast at Tuy Hoa in September 1966.

“The reason they were sent over to the coastal region was that the harvest was coming,” Silvis said. “Historically, the [North Vietnamese Army] would come in here, rip that harvest off and ship it up north. So we sent a brigade to help them protect that harvest.”

The Division’s 3rd Brigade was sent further south outside of Saigon and was assigned to the control of the 25th Infantry Division. With the 25th ID’s 3rd Brigade already operating out of the Pleiku area, the decision was made to reflag both organizations in August 1967.

During its time in Vietnam, the 4th Infantry Division primarily engaged NVA units operating in the central highlands as well as eliminating the enemy’s supply and equipment lines.

Members of the 4th Infantry Division move out on dismounted patrol east of Pleiku, Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)
Members of the 4th Infantry Division move out on dismounted patrol east of Pleiku, Vietnam. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)

NCOs helped guide their units during these missions as the tropical terrain created logistical challenges and the combat action consisted of small, company-sized firefights against an elusive enemy that was able to retreat effectively into the rainforest or across the Cambodian border.

For much of November 1967, the 4th Infantry Division was engaged in numerous clashes in the area near the village of Dak To, a key geographical area that was a major branch of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The 4th’s efforts destroyed two NVA regiments’ operational capabilities and neutralized a major NVA offensive.

The Tet Offensive of Jan. 30, 1968, was also speedily put down in the area around Pleiku by the 4th ID. The division closed its time in Vietnam by helping the Army of the Republic of Vietnam move into positions to secure the civilian population centers of the central highlands before leaving beginning in November 1970.

Its time in Vietnam produced 12 Medals of Honor for the 4th Infantry Division; six of those honors went to NCOs. In addition, among the units currently serving with the division, 16 Presidential Unit Citations, 23 Valorous Unit Awards and 20 Meritorious Unit Citations were awarded for actions in Vietnam.

Fort Carson and Fort Hood

Upon returning to the United States, the 4th Infantry Division was assigned to Fort Carson, Colo. It would spend 25 years at the post located at the base of the Rocky Mountains. During its time there, the division’s NCOs honed their leadership skills as they took part in a slew of training exercises and dealt with numerous subordinate unit redesignations, activations and inactivations.

4th Infantry Division Soldiers test some of the Army's new equipment as part of the Force XXI mission at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)
4th Infantry Division Soldiers test some of the Army’s new equipment as part of the Force XXI mission at Fort Hood, Texas. (Photo courtesy of 4th Infantry Division Museum)

In 1995, after word was handed down regarding the downsizing of the Army, a unique opportunity arose for the 4th Infantry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, where its new headquarters was to be.

“The Army was starting to upgrade from this old technology to computers and the digital world,” Silvis said. “So the Army set up a training schoolhouse down in Fort Hood called Force XXI. It was the upgrade of the Army from old communications and electronics capabilities to the new.”

The 4th Infantry Division was the first unit to go through Force XXI, which along with communication enhancements, included training in new high-tech weaponry supplements  such as satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, night-vision goggles, long-range reconnaissance systems and more. From 1995 to 2001, the division’s efforts were key to developing compatibility and effectiveness for the new technology as the Army entered the 21st century.

While the 4th Infantry Division was at Fort Hood, it also prepared for the Iraq War.

Global War on Terrorism

The 4th Infantry Division deployed to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in April 2003.

The division roared quickly through Baghdad, Samarra and Tikrit before accomplishing the most notable feat of the war in Iraq.

On Dec. 13, 2003, the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, commanded by then-Maj. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and joined by Joint Operations Task Force 121, captured Saddam Hussein during a nighttime operation about 10 miles south of Tikrit. His capture was a milestone moment during the war and a symbol of optimism for the Iraqi people.

The division would deploy to Iraq twice more, mainly to take part in security operations.

In May 2009, elements of the 4th ID deployed to Afghanistan, including the 4th Brigade Combat Team, which took part in the Battle of Kamdesh in the mountains in the eastern part of the country.

On Oct. 3, 2009, about 300 insurgents attacked an American outpost defended by 85 International Security Assistance Force soldiers, including those assigned to B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry. A 12-hour firefight ensued, resulting in eight American deaths. But the efforts of two NCOs to save lives and secure the outpost after it was breached were deemed worthy of the nation’s top military honor.

President Barack Obama places the Medal of Honor around the neck of Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony Feb. 11, 2013, at the White House. (Photo courtesy of Army News Service)
President Barack Obama places the Medal of Honor around the neck of Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha during a ceremony Feb. 11, 2013, at the White House. (Photo courtesy of Army News Service)

Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha was awarded the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony in February 2013. Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter, a specialist at the time of the battle, was awarded the medal in August.

The pair’s accolades mark the most recent honors awarded to members of the 4th Infantry Division. They also continue the proud tradition of the division, a tradition that Daubert hopes to preserve and celebrate at the 4th Infantry Division Museum at Fort Carson.

Since the division returned to Fort Carson in July 2009 after 14 years at Fort Hood, Daubert has worked tirelessly to improve the facility and turn it into something Soldiers can look to as a symbol of pride.

“Soldiers, and NCOs, aren’t understanding their heritage and history,” Daubert said. “It’s when they’re at the division level when we’re asking them to go out and do horrible, horrible things. They need to be inspired to go do that. They need to feel like they’re a part of something and understand that they’re in a long line of dogfaced Soldiers doing the same things that every dogfaced Soldier has done. If they don’t have places like this, where do they get that from?”

President Barack Obama places the Medal of Honor around the neck of Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter during a ceremony Aug. 26, 2013, at the White House. (Photo by Staff. Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)
President Barack Obama places the Medal of Honor around the neck of Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter during a ceremony Aug. 26, 2013, at the White House. (Photo by Staff. Sgt. Bernardo Fuller)

And as the 4th Infantry Division continues its preparations at Fort Carson for whatever the future holds, Daubert pledges to work just as tediously to ensure its storied past is preserved.

“Every Soldier and NCO that comes in here says, ‘Wow, I did not know?’ about the 4th having the first boots on the ground on D-Day, about us capturing Saddam,” Daubert said. “We want them to know, and to have some pride.”


4th Infantry Division current structure

Division Special Troops Battalion (Lightning)

1st Armored Brigade Combat Team (Raiders)

2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (Warhorse)

3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (Iron)

4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain Warriors)

Combat Aviation Brigade (Heavy), 4th Infantry Division (Iron Eagle) (Activates April 16, 2014)

  • 1st Battalion (Attack/Reconnaissance)
  • 2nd Battalion (General Support), 4th Aviation Regiment
  • 3rd Battalion (Assault), 4th Aviation Regiment
  • 4th Battalion (Attack/Reconnaissance), 4th Aviation
  • 404th Aviation Support Battalion

The division is supported by the 43rd Sustainment Brigade at Fort Carson.


4th Infantry Division March

“Steadfast and loyal,

We’re fit to fight!

The nation’s finest Soldiers,

Keep liberty’s light.

Our Soldiers roar for freedom,

We’re fit for any test.

The mighty 4th Division …

America’s best!”


4th Infantry Division patch

4th Infantry Division patch.
4th Infantry Division patch.

The division’s insignia had been adopted by its first commanding general, Maj. Gen. George H. Cameron. The insignia consists of four green ivy leaves on a khaki background. The division derived its numerical designation from the Roman numeral “IV,” hence the nickname, the Ivy division. The division’s motto is “Steadfast and Loyal.”

Mastering the Art of Military Leadership

U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy

Whenever I facilitate a classroom discussion on the Leadership Requirements Model with future sergeants major, someone usually asks, “How did you develop yourself?” More specifically, they want to know the opinion of a senior sergeant major on mastering military leadership. Interestingly, fellow classmates always join in to ensure that the question is not redirected or answered in the form of another question — as though there’s some great secret held by nominative command sergeants major. To be sure, it’s a slippery slope for the capstone instructor. Most nominative command sergeants major respond with what worked for them. However, what worked for me may not necessarily work for others.

Nevertheless, many are baffled when I say there are no secrets or shortcuts to success in the profession of arms. Truth be told, when you have not yet learned a competency or attribute, those who have mastered it appear to know professional secrets. But even in the most logical sense, secrets are not determinants of success. The fact is many professionals simply fail at higher levels of leadership because they don’t apply the elements of the LRM. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply.”

To put it in perspective, it’s essential that we recognize the three major paradigms, or misconceptions, that perpetuate leadership secrets. The first centers on the Behavioral and Path-Goal Leadership Theories, which focus on a leader’s “attempt to explain distinctive styles used by effective leaders.” There are task-orientated noncommissioned officers who assume that civilian education development (specifically in reading, writing and math) is not a necessity for excellent performance and becoming a successful NCO. As a result, they become fragmented leaders and passive followers who feel constantly constrained.

The second myth is a misconception of leadership styles and personality. Those who hold this view base their assumptions on Leadership Trait Theories, and are victims of the fallacy that “leaders are born, not made.” This belief is reinforced when the individual possesses effective leadership traits such as attractiveness, aggressiveness, being articulate, possessing high-energy or self-reliant. They also assert that their military qualifications and experience alone should prepare them to lead at the next level.

The third paradigm perpetuates a negative stereotype of situational leaders and managers. Though there are definable differences between the two, they are mutually supportive. As such, the two paradigms overlap because great leaders are excellent managers, and exceptional managers are successful leaders. In essence, we are all managers — whether it’s managing our personal finances, families and development, or an organization’s resources, personnel and training. Ironically, foregoing reasons are why many professionals often fail. They simply lack an understanding of themselves and leadership theory paradigms.

My response to the “How did you develop?” question is this: A successful leader’s transformation from expert to master is not one of happenstance. It begins with a profound sense of purpose that is cultivated through years of personal and professional development and effective followership.  This is the mysterious secret that enables great leaders to master the art of military leadership. According to ADP 6-22, “Army Leadership,” it results in “the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.”

If you subscribe to the Army’s definition in ADP 6-22, you can realize that leadership is an inside-out process that is predicated upon the Army Values — and exercised through the LRM. These values are symmetrically nested within each competency (Leads, Develops and Achieves) of the LRM and are the heart and soul of the artful leader.

The problem is, during the Information Age, learning priorities are shifting more toward technology rather than intellect to solve complex problems. Magnanimous solutions and creative ideas don’t lie within the next advanced computer or weapon system, because computers don’t have intuition. It lies within a leader’s mind — his or her ability to think critically, creatively and intuitively — which gives the leader the mental agility to thrive in complex situations. However, a leader cannot engage in intuitive problem solving without field experience. Experience is what allows leaders to make sense of “gut feelings.” As one would expect, it’s a balance of academic knowledge, field experience and emotional intelligence that develops intuitive skills.

Undeniably, advanced technology does instigate change. It has negated neither the Principles of War nor Army doctrine. It simply has added several layers of complexity. However, the LRM leverages technology to get results in the contemporary operational environment, especially against creative and adaptive adversaries. Once the root cause of the problem is identified, the solution lies in finding creative new ways of doing old things.

That’s what the application of the LRM does. It reduces the decline in critical thinking and redefines the “basics” by harmonizing decision-making styles (decisive, hierarchic, flexible and integrative) with operational design and military decision-making process concepts. More notably, it accounts for the dimensions of human behavior in regards to ethical dilemmas. It’s not revolutionary; it’s the art of military leadership.

Applying the art of military leadership is unlike any other profession in that the leader often works within the complex operational variables of political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment and time (PMESII-PT) that habitually conflict with one another. Not to mention the fact that decisive-action operations, in their most basic sense, leverage complexity to combat complexity, and civilian educational development and critical thinking allow us to think within these variables. This is how artful military leaders solve ill-defined problems.

Drawing on the LRM (Figure 1), one can visualize how leadership attributes and competencies are applied to address PMESII-PT.  It is an integrated two-pronged approach to mastering the art of leadership. Accordingly, the LRM systematically integrates sudden insights from the Situational Leadership Model to address complexity. This artistic process is the harmonious matching of character, presence and intellect to the appropriate leadership style. Decision-making and communication styles are also used to achieve the desired results.

Figure One
Figure 1


Additionally, the model centers on four logical hypotheses (Figure 2A & 2B) to link behavior to the follower’s ability and motivation. As explained by management experts Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, the primary purpose explores the motivations of the follower. According to the Situational Leadership Model, situational leaders say if a follower is unable and unwilling; the leader needs to display high task orientation to compensate for the follower’s lack of ability and low relationship orientation to get the follower to understand what needs to be done. Therefore, the situational leader can intuitively apply the appropriate leadership style (directing, participating, delegating, coaching) based on the follower’s readiness level.

Figure 2A


For some leaders, situational leadership defies conventional wisdom, so they often become comfortable with applying one leadership style to all situations, become indecisive in their decisions and settle for “good enough” performance.  On the other hand, artful leaders create committed learning cultures, and understand that success depends on their ability to match their decision-making style, communication style and leadership style to master the art of leadership (Figure 2B).


Figure 2B
Figure 2B

According to Ohio State University professor Bernard Erven, “Success in leadership comes when the leadership style is matched with the characteristics of the follower.” Moreover, the best leaders understand that situational leadership is an art of choosing — choosing to learn, choosing to think, choosing to change and choosing excellence, 100 percent, every single day of their careers. They know the commander’s intent is the instigator of change, and that it plays a critical role in allowing them to understand patterns of friction and change.Situational leaders rely on their education and experience to solve complex problems that are not problems yet. And they understand that the quality of their thinking lies within their ability to draw logical connections between PMESII-PT. In turn, this creates the right amount of stress to perpetuate a sense of urgency and resolve that is the driving force behind their critical and creative thinking abilities. This motivates them to seek precise solutions to problems that most professionals dismiss as insoluble.

Figure 3
Figure 3


Therefore, NCOs should move from the “Be, Know, Do” mental model to the “Be, Know, Think, Choose, & Do” mindset. For sure, the choices you make today will limit your opportunities in the future.

This is vital because the LRM acts as a driver for creativity and empowerment thus preventing leader development issues, lazy thinking, passive communication and leadership style mismatches that often keep potential leaders from succeeding. In the same way, the LRM naturally purges toxic behaviors and leader trust issues that habitually plague organizational cultures.

In short, the answer to mastering the art of leadership is the meticulous matching of leadership, communication, and decision-making styles to solve problems. And it starts with both the LRM and situational leadership approaches. However, some professionals are missing the leadership developmental link between “intellect” and “getting results.” That link is critical thinking because, without it, inaccurate assumptions, negative stereotypes and archaic mental models will fill-in knowledge gaps. Subsequently, it skews our sense of priorities in complex situations as well as our ability to explain intuitive thoughts.

Though simple in concept, many fail at higher levels because they do not apply these fundamental attributes and competencies. In other words, there are no secrets to success in the Profession of Arms. To be sure, a professional does not become a respected leader until he has mastered his art. Any attempt to do otherwise only breeds contempt.

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.