Leadership: Building on Lessons Learned | May-June 2014 Edition

May started off with a ‘bang’ as we fired the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) M109A7 howitzer for the first time outside of a test environment and on Fort Sill ahead of the Fires Conference. Our annual conference ran May 5-7 and was joined by more than 500 attendees present physically and virtually via Defense Connect Online. Briefers from the Field Artillery, Air Defense Artillery, and DoD science and technology community presented the Deep Future of Fires to conceptually lay the path that will take the Fires Force to 2025 and beyond. Those able to observe or join the discussion came away with a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities that await us in the years ahead. One of the key takeaways from the conference centered on the principle that, regardless of the technology selected to maintain our edge, our troops will require adaptive leaders to command them effectively. Leader development cannot be left to chance and remains as important as the choices made toward acquiring leap-ahead technology.

Leaders of competence, character, and commitment will inherit a leaner, more lethal and expeditionary force in the future. They will face adversaries that are increasingly connected, empowered and agile. To win the contest of wills, leaders must rely on their training and experience to assess and leverage the human factors surrounding each engagement. Providing them that experience through institutional, operational and self-directed development requires innovation of its own. As this issue of the Fires Bulletin reveals, current leaders display the initiative and creative resourcefulness that will drive training and development in the future.

CPT Joshua Urness’ article on “Audience Focused Training” highlights a battery commander’s efforts toward adapting training to the various learning styles of his young Soldiers. Urness captures the spirit of the Army Learning Concept for 2015 in TRADOC Pam 525-8-2 through using a continuously adaptive learning model to develop Soldier competencies. His battery overcame the inertia of ‘old ways’ of training by achieving Soldier buy-in and collaboration on structuring the training. In the article, COL John B. Richardson IV refers to this approach to training as an example of ‘real leadership’ that involves convincing others to assess their situation and make the necessary “change to their values, habit, practices, and priorities in order to deal with the real threat or opportunity the group faces.”

With adversary capabilities continuing trending upward and fiscal resources of our own increasingly constrained, some junior leaders express concern for how to lead during austerity. 1LT William Garza interviews BG Daniel Karbler and asked how a leader fosters a desirable command climate in such an environment. Karbler emphasizes the interpersonal relationships between a leader and the led and rejects the correlation between leadership and the level of funding available. Making do with fewer resources including ammunition, fuel, and supplies places a premium on the resource of thinking and creativity that is free. He cites the Army Chief of Staff GEN Martin Dempsey’s call for leaders who “aspire to have adaptability” and notes that no other community matches Fires leaders in this capacity.

This is the last Fires Bulletin forward that I will write as the commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill, Okla. Reflecting on my experience leading the Fires Force leaves me with confidence in the quality and resilience of our Soldiers, Marines, and their leadership. I take this opportunity to thank every Fires warrior and their Family for their dedication and support of our mission: to provide the United States and our partner nations with the most competent and proficient Fires Force possible. As I leave for my next command, I challenge you to display to MG John Rossi the same strength of leadership you have shown during my tenure. Best of luck to each of you and may all your Fires be effective.

Fires Strong!

Click here to read the PDF edition.