Download the Command Philosophy here.
1. The most important and sacred
responsibility entrusted to an officer or noncommissioned officer is the
privilege of leading American soldiers. Leading soldiers and being
charged with the responsibility of their professional development, and
possibly their lives, is an awesome trust. Your subordinates must
understand what is important to you because, ultimately, this will
become important to them. No organization can progress without this
framework and, more importantly, it must be understood and practiced by
all leaders within the organization. The command philosophy is this
framework – a framework which will guide how I operate in all
environments, in the field or in garrison.
2. For any command philosophy to work, it must
be lived daily. It must stand on its own merits, easily understood by
all. It must be the basic leadership standards which guide the
organization. The commander must always keep in mind the importance of
establishing high yet realistic standards which are met. High standards lead
to professionalism, and professionalism should always be the hallmark of
3. I will focus my thoughts on the traditional
four ‘glass balls’ of leading, training, maintaining, and caring.
The old axiom, ‘lead by example’, will always
serve you well. Soldiers and particularly leaders, are ‘on parade’
24 hours a day. We are constantly being scrutinized by others,
especially our subordinates. We cannot enforce selective standards. By
that I mean we cannot have one standard for the troops, another for the
NCOs, and another for the officers. Basic soldier standards whether in
the field or garrison, should apply to everyone. We as leaders should
always set the example we would like others to emulate.
Effective two-way communication is essential to
any organizations’ success. In order for us to consistently accomplish
the mission, our subordinates must know what it is we expect of them.
They must also be able to transmit to us any constraints they have that
keep them from accomplishing what we ask of them. Without efficient,
two-way communications, our efforts will be wasted.
Treat your soldiers with the utmost respect and
dignity; never humiliate them or publicly dress them down. Soldiers, if
treated properly, will normally not let you down. They will fail
periodically, but never intentionally. They will always give the leader
who respects them that extra effort, which so often makes the
Make your subordinates feel part of the team by
keeping them informed and involved. Allow them to use their
initiative. Capitalize on their unique skills and backgrounds.
Leaders who identify with their troops and the
unit will have a better appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of
the unit. Be genuine in your interest; soldiers can immediately detect
when you are not sincere. Be approachable, but never cross that thin
line that separates you as leaders. Knowing the capabilities and
limitations of the unit leads to mission accomplishment and lower
Your soldiers will make mistakes; be prepared to
underwrite these mistakes as professional development. Realize that an
effective leader can help them to grow from a mistake and become a
better unit after learning how not to do something. Accept
responsibility for their mistakes; don’t hang the fault on your
subordinates. Stick up for your soldiers; they will repay you with
loyalty and dedication.
Develop a sound counseling program. Do not
reserve these sessions for only those who have faltered. Counseling
sessions should be positive events bent on highlighting strengths and
finding solutions to shortcomings. Remember, they will emulate those
who they perceive to be successful (by virtue of your position you fall
into that category); ensure they take away good habits and practices.
Leaders must develop
professional character. Some of this character can be acquired through
the military school system. Whenever possible, allow your subordinates
to attend these (keeping mind that the mission always comes first).
Realize it is normally extremely difficult for us as leaders to attend
schools. Most professional character, however, is learned through
experience and studying your profession. Unit professional
development programs stressing map and terrain exercises, reviews of
field manuals, studies on operations planning, and after-action reviews
are excellent ways to ensure subordinate leaders possess the necessary
experience and/or insights to accomplish the myriad of tasks we assign
We must take an
innovative approach to our training while still concentrating on the
basic soldiers skills and battle drills at all levels. Never lose sight
of the fact that our most important ‘system’ is the soldier. Train him
wisely – use his brains, talents and dedication.
meticulously planned, innovative and challenging in its approach.
Training is centrally planned and de-centrally executed to well-defined,
enforced standards. Training should be oriented to accomplish
tasks. ‘High visibility’ training which has nothing to do with the
unit’s mission is a waste of time. I expect a detailed training
plan with stated objectives and measurable standards. All training
will be performance-oriented and always have an evaluation plan.
training, ask WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW AND WHAT RESOURCES are
required and available. The training should be performance-oriented and
progressive. It should be tough, challenging, multi-echelon
combined-arms training designed to stress the soldier and promote
individual initiative at the leader and troop levels. Concentrate on
ensuring we can accomplish the mission.
If training is truly
progressive (and it should be), then time must be allotted to correct
deficiencies. It is counter-productive to move on to the next training
event if the unit cannot successfully execute the previous one. Conduct
detailed after-action reviews, analyze what went wrong, explain it to
the troops, and then do it until it is accomplished to standard.
Soldiers know when they have not done something right and will view the
training as unprofessional if left uncorrected. Bad habits/techniques
are easy to learn, but hard to correct. Troops will react
instinctively in combat as they were trained in peacetime. Train right
and train to standard the first time. Save their lives – do it
The execution of any
training plan presupposes that the leaders are prepared to conduct
training, that the task, conditions and standards are properly
articulated, and that proper planning was conducted. If this does not
occur, then the training day is wasted. Good training starts at the
top. Officer and NCO professional development classes are a start. Our
leaders must be tactically and technically proficient; they must be
skilled in weapons systems and know how to employ them. We are in the
business of preparing for war – that responsibility cannot be delegated.
It goes without
saying that physical fitness is paramount to a successful training
program. Physical training will be routinely done and everyone will participate unless
on a medical profile. Commanders will find out what type of physical
activity profile personnel can do and develop a program for them.
Physical fitness is one of the greatest combat multipliers on the
battlefield. Physical fitness promotes mental fitness which
promotes emotional fitness. Physically tough soldiers, trained to a tough standard
will be the earmark of our Battalion – I will take the lead!
confidence and trust up and down the chain of command. Soldiers
gain confidence in themselves and their leaders while learning to be
more resourceful. Leaders develop trust in their subordinates
while becoming more proficient in their tactical skills. Good,
challenging, realistic training promotes harmony and teamwork. Live-fire exercises and
night training bring a unique dimension to training, and instill in
the soldiers their ability to close with and destroy the enemy under any
conditions. A unit which possesses the confidence to execute their
mission under any conditions, has competent leadership, and have
stressed itself in training, will survive on the battlefield.
We will never have
enough equipment or money, so what we do possess must be utilized
wisely. Limited resources and a zero growth defense budget are
constraints, but abuse/neglect of equipment impacts directly on the
efficiency, effectiveness, and readiness of a unit. We have been
allocated adequate funds and supplies to accomplish our mission, but
there is no margin of error for waste. Ensure we use our resources
wisely. Maintenance, property accountability, and resource management
must be integrated into combat operations. We must train in these
arenas just as we do in the tactical arena. We will not always have the
luxury to ‘stand down’ to repair and refit. We must routinely maintain
and account for our equipment.
We must be ready to
go to war now. Develop a solid program and system to answer our
maintenance demands. Zero-in on the user and the first-line supervisor.
Well trained operators and supervisors who know how to conduct before,
during, and after operations checks and services on equipment, are the
foundation to any effective maintenance program. A sound maintenance
program is a direct result of properly trained operators and direct
leader interest and supervision.
Learn to properly
maintain in the field under battlefield conditions. We routinely care
for our individual equipment and weapons, but what about the special
equipment we periodically employ? We must know how to maintain it,
inspect it, account for it, and repair it to ensure mission
accomplishment. Vehicles must have assigned, trained drivers who
routinely conduct maintenance. Just as you cross-train your soldiers on
weapons systems, develop programs to cross-train them on equipment
maintenance and operation. It will pay big dividends.
We can have the best
trained and best led unit in the Army, but if our equipment cannot
support us in war, we will lose. The challenge and incentive is there –
attack it with a vengeance.
Caring for soldiers
is ensuring that they know and perform their duties, possess discipline
and high standards, and are trained well enough to accomplish the
mission while ensuring their survivability on the battlefield. Caring
for soldiers is ensuring they are provided the best leadership possible
and that they are recognized for their efforts and rewarded. Caring is
also seeing that quality soliders reenlist. Always insist on the proper
use of your troops – never abuse them.
One of our
challenges is to maintain that fighting edge. We must remain at
peak readiness. We can only do that by training wisely and ensuring
adequate time is given to the soldier and his family. Strive hard to
develop a dynamic, challenging, progressive training program which
allows for weekends and holidays off. We know the soldier will do
whatever he is told, whenever he is told to do it. Do not abuse his
dedication; he will respond in kind.
Readiness is directly
linked to soldier morale. A soldier with family or personal
problems is not an effective soldier. It is the chain of command’s
responsibility to assist in the resolution of problems. Family support
groups help as do the numerous social service programs that exist within
the Army today.
It is imperative that
our Battalion has an active family support group. For a family
group to be successful, it must have the support of the commanders at
all levels. Do not pay this lip service; a proactive family support
group is an invaluable asset, but don’t forget about our single
soldiers. Caring for soldiers also means developing a commitment to
them and their families. Be sensitive to their needs.
Caring for soldiers
begins the day they join your unit or you receive notifications of their
assignment. Develop a sponsorship and welcoming program. Assign an
experienced soldier of equal grade as the new man’s ‘buddy.’ The
quicker we can integrate our new soldiers into the unit and make them
feel welcome, the sooner they can begin contributing to the improvement
of the organization.
Some final thoughts
on which I will continually elaborate during my command, but that
I will highlight now for your reflection.
Integrity is a
non-negotiable attribute. I will not tolerate breaches of it. I will
accept an honest mistake and take the heat rather than have you
violate your high principles.
Loyalty must be both
horizontal and vertical in any organization. I expect all leaders to
positively support the chain-of-command. I will support my commander to
the hilt. Given the opportunity, I will strongly represent the
Battalion’s position but when the decision is made, I will
enthusiastically support it despite my personal feelings.
Discipline must be
the hallmark of a Soldier. Remember who you are and what you
represent. In the absence of guidance, do what you know is right.
Delineate NCO and
Officer responsibilities. Respect the other’s turf. No leader can be
effective unless he understands what his responsibilities are and has
the opportunity to execute them. The chain of command makes things
happen and supervises the effort. Commanders, NCOs, and staff officers
must work in concert for the good of the Battalion. The NCO support
chain must work in concert with the formal chain-of-command. The
Battalion cannot effectively function if the two operate separately.
always be in the forefront of our minds. Do not become paranoid about
it, but do not take unnecessary chances. Be prudent.
operations in a quiet, professional manner. Our accomplishments
will gain us all the recognition we need. We want our soldiers to be
aggressive, but this needs to be controlled aggressiveness.
Be enthusiastic, it
Always be yourself
and do your best; no one can expect more, and I will not accept less.
are all accountable continually for not only our own actions but those
of the people we supervise. If corrective actions are necessary, have
the moral courage to take charge and fix what needs to be fixed. Your
personal concern for your fellow soldiers and the Battalion will make
this a better unit.
Be flexible and
resourceful; two essential attributes to be an effective, efficient
The Army has an
overweight policy/standard which all – regardless of rank – must
meet. The demands of our profession require that we meet the standard,
and everyone will at all times.
Maintain a sense of
humor and have fun in what you do.
In summary, let me
say how honored and proud I am to be serving with this Battalion. This
Battalion has an outstanding reputation, which is directly attributable
to the superb leadership of each of you. Our nation depends on
us and our missions demand confident leaders, tactically and
technically proficient soldiers, and an aggressive, determined spirit.
You have proven time and again that you exceed every expectation. I
look forward to serving with you and meeting the challenges ahead.