Advice for new and future officers




 
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January 5th, 2005  
Redneck
 
 

Topic: Advice for new and future officers


I know that many younger members of this forum, myself included, either hope to or very soon will be commissioned as officers in their respective militaries. I (and I am sure the others share this sentiment) would very much appreciate any advice or words of wisdom about day to day military life (taking care of your Soldiers/Marines/etc., dealing with common problems, and generally being a good solid leader) that those who have already or are currently serving on either the enlisted or officer sides could share with us.


Thank you in advance.
January 5th, 2005  
Sooners1
 
 
Whoa, where do ya start? Just kiddin. I think the biggest thing to remember is respect. This goes for any leadership position. You have to respect the people around you in order to get respect, this is something that is earned. Sometimes it is hard to earn it but if you give it you will earn it. Another is; advice. As a fresh Officer there will be NCO's and SNCO's that have been there done that, litterally. Listen to what they have to say, you dont have to use it, but they know their way around and it will go a long way and help with the above mentioned respect. Sometimes it goes against what people think but the only way to be a good leader is to be a good follower.
January 5th, 2005  
Charge 7
 
 
"the only way to be a good leader is to be a good follower"

FM-101 Leadership states just that.

There is also the maxim that I'm sure you've heard before "Mission first - men always". That can be a difficult balance to find at times but in the end good common sense makes the distinction. I was a mustang and so had some idea of what troops feel and do as well as what they expect from a junior officer.

The absolute worst junior officers I saw were those who felt that their "butter bar" had somehow made them a superior form of human being and not just superior in rank and responsibility. Responsibility - that is the key word - to your men, to your superiors and to yourself. Listening to senior NCOs is a given and the only real way to learn as you'll find that your fellow company officers won't have much time to teach you the ropes. I learned the most from my FDC chief when I was a young LT. A SSG of long service with a quiet wisdom who taught me that often the best thing to say is nothing at all and let the individual make the connection. Many times that can make the impression quite well.

And be prepared to make sacrifices as well as ask for them. You may have seen my story in another forum about SMAB. I made the decision to allow the SGT who came up with that idea to go with it and was prepared to take the consequences for doing so. I did, however, look over at the FDC chief and silently ask his opinion. He just as silently smiled and shrugged to say "why not?". I made it clear to the SGT that he could use it on the lima-lima but absolutely not on the radio and he was to be judicious in using it even then. It came out okay. My troops got the morale boost they needed and I didn't have my ass in a sling but I was ready to get a chewing out if I had. Years later when I was a captain and our LTC had become a full colonel and brigade commander he mentioned my sections escapade as a good example of a leader willing to take one for the troops at a meeting I attended. He didn't mention me by name at the meeting but he gave me a quick look and we shared a smile of rememberance.
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January 6th, 2005  
Redneck
 
 
Thank you for your time and advice, gentlemen, I appreciate your effort very much.
January 6th, 2005  
Vitaly
 
I do not know if my opinion is in any way valid but as a guy going to a Delayed Entry Program I hope I can share a little of it from an enlisted point of view. At the DEP that I go to there is a future officer. Even though he is not yet an officer I see some traits that I would hope my future officers would show. He displays leadership in many subtle ways. I rather like seeing him working extra hard during PT to be the best or at least as close as he possibly can to be the best without collapsing. For example, He is about 6'2" and 225+ and he busts his ass to try to keep up with cross country kids in 30 min. timed jogs. He can't keep up due to the fact that the cross country kids are trained to do just that (3.1 miles in under 20 min.) but he still comes in third no matter how hard he has to push himself. Its easy to see the effort and that has gained my respect and I'd follow him without question because of the respect. Besides that, if the people at the DEP do a group map reading/land nav exercise he goes last to make sure everyone else hasn't messed up and if they have he will fix it. I enjoy seeing the responsibility. Also the NCOs at the DEP make him get used to marching and leading the column because as they say "You better get used to doing this shit, you'll be doing this a lot."

If I sounded like a dumbass, I apologize.
January 6th, 2005  
r031Button
 
 
Biggest thing is respect for you troops. The second thing is always maintain a certain level of distance. You should make an efforct o know the troops; to make sure they know you care about their welfare...but that doesn't mean you should be everybody's best friend. Also..always remember that your platoon Sgt, Warrent, Gunny...what ever has been in since before you were born; and has been there done that many times before. He leads the platoon; you command it.
January 7th, 2005  
RnderSafe
 
 
Learn the importance of quiet dignity, absolute honesty, and reserve audacious behavior for situations that required it.

Respect and honor the experience of your NCOs and defer to their better judgement in situations you do not fully understand. Listen to your NCOs, learn from them - but also remember they are not Gods, they can do wrong and they do need leadership. Watch them carefully, you will quickly learn which NCOs are valuable and knowledgeable soldiers, and which couldn't lead a starving man to the chow hall.

Remember that sometimes, the best ideas come from an E-2. If you want to learn about the equipment in your team/platoon talk to the fella who actually operates it. A young soldier loves to tell someone "just how much he knows" about HIS piece of equipment, he will talk your ear off if given the chance, that's where you learn about him and his gear.

Be confident, but keep your humility.

Focus on the good of your unit, and it's ability to survive without you. You may not always be there, so allow your NCOs the freedom to act within your guidance. Make certain everyone knows the importance of their job how it fits into the mission.

Always lead from the front. Your men do not serve you. They serve the mission. You serve them.

Last, but not least: When the shit comes rolling downhill. Let it stop with you. Do not betray your men, or their trust by bypassing blame or bending to political pressure. When your NCOs are right, be willing lock horns with anyone to defend them. In other words, be willing to "bet your bars."
January 8th, 2005  
Lamm
 
Thanks for the information, great thread!
Lamm
January 8th, 2005  
Redneck
 
 
Thank you, Sir, and thank you r031button.