You might change the equipment; you might change the uniform; you might change a lot of things, but the leadership challenges are primarily to lead, train and care for the troops.
SMA Richard A. Kidd
The secret to success in the Army is in the fundamentals of soldiering. There are two things every soldier has got to be able to do anywhere, any time, any place. You’ve got to be physically fit and you’ve got to be able to hit what you’re shooting at. Soldiers have to stay in a band of excellence. They have to maintain their own standards. And if they aren’t willing to stay in that band of excellence and if they aren’t always striving to better themselves or if they’re satisfied with some low level of performance, then maybe they should move on and perform someplace else.
The most important thing we can do is to get back to the very fundamentals of soldiering, maintaining, and enforcing standards in training, on missions, and in everyday life. Noncommissioned officers need to do what the Noncommissioned Officer Corps has done forever. They need to take care of soldiers. They need to take care of soldiers’ families. Noncommissioned officers need to maintain standards. This Army really became better when we started talking about tasks, conditions, and standards. And when we put the standards out there and when noncommissioned officers maintain the standards, that’s when you have great soldiers. That’s when you have great squads, great crews, and great teams.
Commissioned and noncommissioned officers are responsible for training soldiers. Commissioned officers are responsible for collective training, while noncommissioned officers are responsible for individual, crew, squad, and section training for all soldiers. Noncommissioned officers are responsible for ensuring that we have trained, ready, proficient soldiers and small units as we progress to collective training. In short, it’s the NCO’s responsibility to take these young troops and train them as individuals, train them as small units so they can accomplish the collective mission. It’s what the NCO Creed says- “competence, professionalism, officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties, they will not have to accomplish mine.” If NCOs fail in their tasks, commissioned officers will not be able to achieve their tasks because collective training cannot be accomplished without trained soldiers. Let’s train soldiers to a standard, let’s train hard, let’s train realistically, but let’s train to a standard. Remember: task, condition, standard and, let’s never forget that we do this in an environment where soldiers can excel, where we as leaders do what’s right, legally and morally every day, and where we treat each individual, each soldier with dignity and respect.
Everybody in the unit needs to be involved in training. It’s all about standards and living excellence every day. Recently, I drove by Baron Frederick von Steuben’s monument in Washington, D.C. I stopped and paused to reflect on Valley Forge and his group of 120 soldiers and how far our NCO Corps has come since his time. We arrived at today’s juncture through the dedicated efforts of our predecessors. It was through their efforts in establishing the basic fundamentals of soldiering and maintaining the standard that we have been able to succeed. It was that training to standard that became the cornerstone of our Army. Standards and the basic fundamentals of soldiering are what’s going to get us through the tough times. I would like every soldier to get a master’s degree- a master’s degree in soldiering. Enforcing the standards, maintaining the standards, train hard, train tough, realistic training done to standards- that’s how we get a master’s degree in soldiering.
SMA Robert E. Hall
Twenty years ago the challenges facing drill sergeants were long hours, hard duty, taking young men and young women and turning them into good soldiers. Today you’ve got the same hours. You’ve got the same challenge of turning young men and women into good soldiers so they can be great sergeants one day. Drill sergeants train hard, train tough, and train to standards. They are well prepared to face those challenges and we, the Army leadership, are prepared to back up the drill sergeants as they enforce the standards. When I go out, I tell drill sergeants I expect them to maintain the standards and I expect them to enforce the standards. I want them to make all the corrections that they are supposed to make, and they are supposed to do it the right way- I want that reflex to be second nature for drill sergeants. They should not sit back and think before they make a correction as to how this is going to look politically. They should go out and just make the corrections that noncommissioned officers need to make. Soldierization begins the second someone puts on this uniform.
SMA Robert E. Hall
Don’t just shoot for the standard. Use the standard as a springboard to even greater achievements. In every war we have ever had, more people were killed because of soldiers not doing things to standard and not doing things according to the safety rules that we teach. Enforcing standards is training, is leadership, is safety!
SMA Richard A. Kidd
I would like to emphasize how important physical fitness is. During combat, you have tremendous adrenaline flow. It helps during that time. Also if you are wounded, it helps you. According to the doctors, you can be operated on more often, the repair work can be accomplished quicker, you heal much faster, are more resilient, and if you’re physically fit you have a better mental attitude. You can come back quicker. Running the AUSA Army Ten-Miler has become something that I do to check myself from year to year. I draw a lot of strength when I run around other people.
SMA Richard A. Kidd
Training in our Army of today is easy. Because we don’t have to worry about establishing standards; we have a standard for everything. Our trouble comes when we leaders don’t know the standards. Or when we fail our soldiers and our unit by not enforcing the known standards. Enforcing the standards is a tough job. It requires intestinal fortitude and impartial fairness.
All NCOs in our Army (the Active, National Guard, and Reserve) are trainers. Everyone in our Army recognizes the importance of the noncommissioned officer as a trainer. Drill sergeants mold and build our young recruits into soldiers. Unit sergeants and corporals continue to train our soldiers individually and as a team to accomplish the unit mission. The most critical training is conducted at unit level by unit leaders. Unit training starts with sergeants who train young soldiers, including newly commissioned lieutenants, to become members of the unit team that serve and win. Soldier performance is the measurement for effective training. If our soldiers can perform well, then- and only then- can we be satisfied with our training program.
Soldiers will respect an individual who cares about their welfare, which includes ensuring that they’re properly trained. The best form of soldier protection, if we are required to fight, is prior training conducted to the prescribed standards. Simply stated, if we accomplish our training requirements right, when needed, we will inflict more damage on the enemy than he can withstand, and subsequently the fighting will stop. In the final analysis, it is the noncommissioned officer who will lead our nation’s best against the odds and win.
SMA Julius W. Gates
Throughout my career I have observed that great leaders at all levels focus on the mission. Good units and good leaders get the job accomplished: they get it done by working hard and concentrating on the basics. Everyone wants a good unit- and could have one if only they would demand that standards be met. People talk a lot about Ranger battalions. Every unit in the Army could be like a Ranger unit. What the Rangers have is a high set of standards that the leadership and the soldiers must meet. The leadership demands and ensures standards are met.
Unit training builds character and, more importantly, instills values. We must train in peacetime because there is not time in war. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t lose sight of it when you are wrestling with all those other alligators. A lot of people say, “Well, I have a lot of training distractors; I have to do this; I have to comply with that.” There is time for good training if we do the planning and follow guidance. Make it happen. Do not use those distractors as a crutch.
Simulators will not, and are not intended to replace live firing. Those psychological aspects of firing have to be experienced first hand. Gunners have to see and feel that weapon go off, experience the smoke and noise, and watch that round go down range and hit the target. Live fire is crucial to those first round hits. And we cannot afford to give our adversaries the chance to shoot back.
Training- both good and bad- is habit forming. The difference is that one develops the battlefield habits that win; the other gets you killed. Soldiers know when training is being conducted up to standards and proper objectives are being met. It is a good feeling to train hard and accomplish constructive objectives. No one wants to waste time during “make-work” training that does not accomplish anything. Time is too valuable.
SMA Glen E. Morrell
Who has the most influence on safety in your unit? The safety officer? The commander? No. You do! You, the noncommissioned officer, have the single greatest chance to make safety happen in your unit. Keep in mind that the costly shortcuts and failures to follow procedures are most likely to happen when you are not there, so make it a habit to be there. Be there. Watch. Ask questions. And don’t be there only in fair weather; it’s more likely the faults are going to occur when the weather is cold, wet, and miserable. If your troops are out working in those conditions, get out there with them. Do what you can to improve the conditions, but, above all, make your soldiers do the job safely.
SMA Glen E. Morrell
The habits that are the basis of professional competence are at the heart of the training challenge. The proper use of the soldier’s time, spent learning how to do and practicing his job, is the only way to give our soldiers what they deserve. They know, perhaps better than we do, that in the words of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, “The best form of ‘welfare’ for the troops is first-class training.” If you are not training because you are short people, then treat them as if they were battle casualties and ask yourself, “How do I still accomplish my mission?” When you spot something that is being done wrong, or could be done better, instead of just making an “on the spot correction” (which is fine), go one step further and make a five- or ten-minute training situation out of the problem. Junior NCOs and soldiers are the leaders of tomorrow and the people who represent the legacy of our labor. If they are well trained, we can rest easy.
SMA William A. Connelly
The drill instructor’s job is a vitally important one. The drill instructor makes the first significant contact with the volunteer and is also responsible for the young soldier’s initial military training. We want the best people training our young soldiers.
SMA Leon L. Van Autreve
Motivation and training go hand in hand. If one can find time to think up a make-work project, one also has the time to better plan for training.
SMA William G. Bainbridge
One of the first things that will impress you when you get into your first fire fight will be what an experienced combat veteran has described as “ordered confusion.” Many things happen in the heat of battle which do not go according to plan. In this respect a maneuver on the battlefield is something like a football game. If everything went exactly according to plan, the offensive team would score a touchdown on every play.
When something happens that really disrupts our plans, soldiers say that things are “snafu.” Nobody seems to know what’s going on up ahead or to the flanks. Communication with other units is out- or more likely hasn’t been established. The terrain doesn’t seem to match what is expected from a study of the map. A couple of landmarks may have been identified- but not where they’re supposed to be. If movement is made by truck, traffic may be snarled.
Frequently, a change in our plans causes this confusion. Sometimes the enemy forces us to change our plans (he’s pretty smart, too) but more often we change our plans to take advantage of a new situation. We do this to surprise the enemy or hit him where he is weakest. This ability to change our plans is one of our greatest strengths.
You can almost count on it, the weather will be too hot, too cold, too dry, or too wet. Properly used, the weather can help us. Fog can provide a natural “smoke screen” for attacking troops- without benefit of artillery or mortar smoke shells. We can’t change the weather but we can make it work for us.
Waiting. The old soldier finds good use for this time. He cleans his weapon or his equipment, makes his position better, or just relaxes. Make the best use of your time.
Knowledge helps you overcome the fear of the unknown. Knowing your stuff helps give you the confidence you need to meet the enemy in battle. Right now in training is the time to learn how to shoot and care for your weapons, what to expect and not expect from your equipment, how to use a compass, how to read a map, how to take advantage of the terrain, how to give yourself and others first aid, and how to keep in top physical shape. These are just a few of the skills that are going to take you through combat, not just to combat. Learning these things will help you develop the confidence that overcomes fear in battle.
Survival in combat in not solely a matter of luck. Doing things the right way is more important than luck in coming through a battle alive. And training teaches you to do things the right way. It’s training that defeats the enemy and saves lives.
SMA William O. Wooldridge