A talk with some Lieutenants

Teufel

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I was asked to give a combat leadership brief to some Lieutenants so I thought I would post some of the bullets here to spark discussion.

You have joined the Marine Corps in a time of war and it is only a matter of time before you are deployed to combat.

You are not given a final exam at the Infantry Officers Course. Your final exam will be conducted daily in the crucible of combat and if you fail in any way your Marines will die.

Fortunately for you the Marine Corps has been at war for the last 235 years and has come up with a pretty good system for developing young officers. If you apply the principles you have been taught to do at TBS and IOC you will be successful both in garrison and in combat.

The tactics, techniques and procedures of combat are deceptively simple. It is the employment of these concepts that is devilishly difficult. Strive to master the basics and your unit will be successful.

Discipline bleeds over into everything. A well disciplined unit will have good fire control and fire discipline.

Don’t abdicate your leadership. Marines want a leader not a well paid friend. The strength of the platoon lies in your fire teams but your squads and fire teams will be a reflection of your leadership and the example that you set.

Take care of your Marines. This does not mean be easy on your Marines. The best way to take care of your Marines is to bring as many of them home as you can. This is accomplished through hard training and discipline.

An officer may lead his Marines to within small arms range of the enemy but we rely on our strength and valor of our NCOs to win the fight within the last 300 yards. NCOs have to be trained to be decision makers operating under commander’s intent. Solid mission type orders and commanders intent will lead to success.

Empower your subordinates. Sometimes this means letting them make mistakes. Advanced communications on the modern battlefield has facilitated micro management like never before and it is killing our military. We talk about strategic corporals but we employ UAV leadership. Let your men work the problem.

Don’t fall into the trap of maintaining the status quo. Doing things a certain way because that is the way they have always been done is ridiculous. This is pandemic in our organization and is limiting our growth and potential.

Officers serve as the moral compass for a platoon. A good officer will take the moral burden of combat on his shoulders.

Don’t do anything to lost this special trust and confidence your Marines have in you. You will never get it back.
 

Teufel

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It has served me well. I was lucky enough to be a platoon commander for six years so I had plenty of time to practice.
 

JimMCpog

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Do you have any advice for people who aren't good leaders, or not natural leaders?

I noticed that when I try to direct a task I sometimes make the situation MORE chaotic (as in less clear and that I micro-manage when I can't get my point across) and get a lot of attitude from subordinates. The other problem I had was motivating people without being a "friend" which obviously backfires.

I remember my last deployment I ended up being voted the 8th worst out of 13 squad leaders and 2 of the ones below me were put there because they had been relieved for insubordination to our commanders.

So is the answer just don't become an officer or can you fix this stuff?
 

x SF med

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Do you have any advice for people who aren't good leaders, or not natural leaders?

I noticed that when I try to direct a task I sometimes make the situation MORE chaotic (as in less clear and that I micro-manage when I can't get my point across) and get a lot of attitude from subordinates. The other problem I had was motivating people without being a "friend" which obviously backfires.

I remember my last deployment I ended up being voted the 8th worst out of 13 squad leaders and 2 of the ones below me were put there because they had been relieved for insubordination to our commanders.

So is the answer just don't become an officer or can you fix this stuff?

As a former NCO, it can be fixed, but you need to change your men's perceptions of you as a start. If you are in charge, be in charge. Be clear, be fair, be flexible - but set a goal and consequences if it's not achieved - you'll pay too, do every bit of training with your guys, do every minute of disciplinary training with your guys - mentor you people, make the most junior member of your squad responsible for a section of training - remind your guys that they will be moving into your position as you move up. Be honest with your men, be tactful, but be strong. Don't be stingy with praise, but don't overdo it. Be stingy with criticism, but don't ignore problems. Get thee to a leadership course, beg your command to get you there. Ask a Senior NCO to mentor you so you can be a better Marine. Be responsible, and make your guys responsible, but lead them and lead by example.
 

AWP

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As a former NCO, it can be fixed, but you need to change your men's perceptions of you as a start. If you are in charge, be in charge. Be clear, be fair, be flexible - but set a goal and consequences if it's not achieved - you'll pay too, do every bit of training with your guys, do every minute of disciplinary training with your guys - mentor you people, make the most junior member of your squad responsible for a section of training - remind your guys that they will be moving into your position as you move up. Be honest with your men, be tactful, but be strong. Don't be stingy with praise, but don't overdo it. Be stingy with criticism, but don't ignore problems. Get thee to a leadership course, beg your command to get you there. Ask a Senior NCO to mentor you so you can be a better Marine. Be responsible, and make your guys responsible, but lead them and lead by example.

Bingo.
 

Manolito

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Xsfmed Where were you 40 years ago. I was a brand new E-4 working a crew of seven men and after assigning them tasks I started painting the red box behind fire extinguishers. My chief came along and asked me what I was doing I explained and he took me on a tour of my crew. One was asleep in the head, one was reading a magazine and on and on. The chief explained he could arrange for me to go back to E-3 and get somebody else to manage people. 40+ years ago and I can still feel the sting that comment made. The chief went on to become the navys first E9 engineman chief and I made E-5 in my first enlistment and got out and went to work for DOD. Back then there were no classes for leadership at my level. Your advice is spot on in my opinion.
Bill
 

pardus

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Empower your subordinates. Sometimes this means letting them make mistakes. Advanced communications on the modern battlefield has facilitated micro management like never before and it is killing our military. We talk about strategic corporals but we employ UAV leadership. Let your men work the problem.

This is the biggest problem I see with the US Military and the biggest difference between the Commonwealth Army's and the US, the NCO's aren't left alone to run the battle.
When I was a Section Commander (Squad Leader) I was the honcho, it was me that told the PL if I needed him or not, he did what I said until I gave him control, and that control was only as to where the sections (squads) would move, all section (squad) movement and direction was on me and me alone.



Great speech BTW!
 

Teufel

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Did you deploy with them to OEF? I think you would find that your doctrine and training was built this way but in combat human nature would take over and micro management on an epic scale begins. That has been my experience (from higher and several adjacent units, certainly not in my platoons). Also, I think your PL may have had a different perspective on the above passage if we asked him!! Our system, at least in the Marine Corps, is designed exactly the way you described it but some leaders are really reluctant to fight the way we train when your lives and their careers are on the line.
 

Diamondback 2/2

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Did you deploy with them to OEF? I think you would find that your doctrine and training was built this way but in combat human nature would take over and micro management on an epic scale begins. That has been my experience (from higher and several adjacent units, certainly not in my platoons). Also, I think your PL may have had a different perspective on the above passage if we asked him!! Our system, at least in the Marine Corps, is designed exactly the way you described it but some leaders are really reluctant to fight the way we train when your lives and their careers are on the line.

I would agree with this as well for the Army, and add that it really depends on the SL’s. As it’s been stated PL’s need to be able to trust their NCO’s, but in some cases that is not possible. The NCO leadership should be helping the PL with his mission planning and explaining capabilities, refining and pointing out areas that may not be fully explored. Instead of one leader making a plan, you get as many good leaders involved as you can. However the buck stops with the PL b/c he is the man that takes the heat when shit goes bad.

Pardus, As for tactics, I agree that as a SL I have my own view of my battle area and should be afforded the trust to make the right call for whatever tactic or support I feel I may need. But something’s have changed on the modern battle field and especially in urban environments.

For example: when multiple squads/section are operating in confined areas there needs to be good command and control. The days of the old, where one squad raids a city block and frags every room are a thing of the past. Now you have multi breach point, multi building, and multiple sectors of fire on raids and when that is going on, the PL needs to micro manage his SL’s to insure things happen safely and efficiently.
 

Marine0311

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Do you have any advice for people who aren't good leaders, or not natural leaders?

I noticed that when I try to direct a task I sometimes make the situation MORE chaotic (as in less clear and that I micro-manage when I can't get my point across) and get a lot of attitude from subordinates. The other problem I had was motivating people without being a "friend" which obviously backfires.

I remember my last deployment I ended up being voted the 8th worst out of 13 squad leaders and 2 of the ones below me were put there because they had been relieved for insubordination to our commanders.

So is the answer just don't become an officer or can you fix this stuff?

You must assert yourself by your actions and words. You must give orders with a twist to convey that the task/mission/order is what you want the troops to do willingly. I also suggest reading books on great military leaders such as Patton or Chesty.
 
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