Fires | Using a Holistic Approach to Develop Leaders

Using a Holistic Approach to Develop Leaders

By LTC Issac G. Gipson, MAJ Justin D. Logan, and 1LT (P) Matt Kuwamoto


Reload photo
All Renegade Soldiers certify in the specific military occupational speciality (MOS). These Soldiers run through forklift missile reload drills during a certification. Photo courtesy of LTC Issac G. Gipson, MAJ Justin D. Logan, and 1LT (P) Matt Kuwamoto.

While forward deployed at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in defense of critical Central Command assets, the 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery, 69th Air Defense Brigade, Renegades from Fort Hood, Texas, have utilized a holistic and comprehensive approach to develop the future leaders of tomorrow’s Army. This approach centers around developing leaders of ‘competence, commitment and character,’ dubbed the imperative three ‘Cs’ in Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 1-0.

The 4-5 ADA Willing and Able Battalion developed and implemented their Leader Development Program prior to the unit’s deployment to the CENTCOM area of responsibility. Throughout the deployment, the battalion has utilized feedback to modify and update the program. The goal of the program is to develop competent, confident, agile and adaptive leaders that possess the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary for future positions of responsibility.

In order to develop leaders of competence, the battalion has implemented a multi-faceted approach focused on improving the warfighting and leadership skills of junior leaders. The centerpiece of this effort is the battalion’s Leader Certification Program, a program which requires junior leaders to demonstrate proficiency in a myriad of tasks ranging from gunnery certification, serving as the officer in charge/noncommissioned officer in charge (OIC/NCOIC) of a range, to briefing the unit’s non-mission capable status report. The phased certification program culminates with the induction of the junior leader into the Honorable Order of the Renegade Duck Hunter. Junior leaders are recognized in a formal ceremony in front of their peers and given an honorary ‘duck call’ and plaque, representing both their accomplishments and lifelong membership in the coveted order of the Renegade Duck Hunter.

I am proud to be a member,” said 1LT Matt Kuwamoto. “It’s awesome that our battalion takes so much pride in the branch and even opens the opportunity up for non-air defenders.”

The battalion takes developing competence in its leaders one step further; all Soldiers in the battalion are required to be certified in their specific military occupational specialty, regardless of their current duty position. Focus is also given on preparing junior leaders for their next phase of professional military education (PME) through the Renegade Leader Advisor (RLA) program. The program pairs future WLC, ALC, CCC, PMG, ILE, and Top Gun students with recent graduates of these courses to advise and assist Soldiers as they prepare for these courses. Students are presented with the most current curriculum and are mentored by their advisor through completion of prerequisite requirements.

To develop leaders of commitment, the battalion relies on a full array of formal and informal training techniques coupled with extensive feedback sessions in order to foster a high level of commitment to the battalion and the U.S. Army. The formal aspect of these initiatives includes quarterly ethical leadership training facilitated by the battalion’s senior leaders. Highlights of past instruction include seminars on the Harvard Business Review article the “Bathsheba Syndrome” and the Army profession. The battalion also recently completed the voluntary Regimental Affiliation of more than 50 of its junior leaders, further fostering a climate of commitment.

In an effort to enhance ‘buy-in’ among its junior leaders, the battalion has also implemented its monthly Renegade Advisory Panel (RAP). This regularly scheduled battle rhythm event brings leader representatives from each unit, ranging from junior enlisted to officers, to discuss issues and recommendations with the battalion commander and command sergeant major. The result is a culture built on continual growth and trust.

Lastly, the most crucial aspect of the Willing and Able Battalion’s Leader Development Program, is the development of leaders of character. The battalion has implemented numerous initiatives to inculcate the behavior required of highly moral leaders through its Men’s and Women’s Mentorship Program, ethnic observances and celebrations, and routine SHARP and Equal Opportunity (EO) training events. These events and programs have the dual benefit of developing both the participants and the facilitators.

I never knew that teaching others could have such an impact on my education as well,” said SSG Davyon Burroughs, the NCOIC of the Men’s Mentorship Program and Battalion’s EO advisor.

These initiatives are well liked across the battalion because Soldiers feel that they are being exposed to topics outside of their normal daily duties. Moreover, they assist in teaching Soldiers the character traits and behaviors necessary to becoming well rounded leaders.

Over the past nine months, 4-5 ADA has incorporated the development of future leaders in everything it does. The execution of its holistic Leader Development Program has provided the foundation to produce leaders that are both ‘Willing and Able’ and, most certainly, Renegade Strong.