Fort Leonard Wood's top NCO talks leadership
May 2, 2013
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- If you ask Command Sgt. Maj. Terrence Murphy how he got to where he is today as the top noncommissioned officer on Fort Leonard Wood, he would smile and tell you it's all about setting goals.
"When I came into the Army, I set a goal for myself to become a sergeant, then a drill sergeant. Once there, I set my sights on becoming a first sergeant and a battalion command sergeant major. I never got ahead of my next goal," the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence command sergeant major said during a recent interview.
With a superior career record and a living example of the Army values, there is little doubt that Murphy was an excellent choice to lead MSCoE, but the fact that he came into the Army is somewhat amazing.
"I came from an Air Force Family. My father was retired Air Force and I moved around quite a bit from base to base, so I think he naturally thought I would follow in his footsteps," Murphy said.
Murphy's love of the military started in high school, excelling in the Junior ROTC program.
"When I came home and told my mother that I enlisted, she wasn't surprised at all -- after all, I had been military all my life," Murphy said.
Murphy's Army career started on the very same installation where he is now the top NCO.
"I came right here for basic training in October 1983," Murphy said. "When I finished basic training, a five-ton dump truck came and we rode in it with our gear over to the Fighting 5th Engineer Battalion. That was my first duty assignment."
In his 29 years of Army service, 11 years has been spent on Fort Leonard Wood.
But Murphy wasn't just selected to the top NCO position based on his past experiences. He was chosen to help lead the Army and MSCoE into the future.
"We have to get back to ownership," Murphy said. "We have to get back to the idea that NCOs take care of Soldiers and Families. We've moved away from this over the last 10 years of conflict because we were either deployed, returning home or getting ready to deploy. We need to regain that ownership NCOs have of an Army at Home Station."
"It's a big challenge to transition an Army -- an Army's way of thinking," Murphy said. "It will be tough, because at the same time, we are tightening the budget and reducing the force. There will be lots of uncertainties."
As for training, Murphy said NCOs have to think differently on how they train so that the Army can conserve resources as much as possible, yet still have realistic, demanding training.
"We just finished the Best Warrior Competition, and we did it at a very reduced cost. Instead of firing live ammunition, we used the simulators; instead of driving from place to place, we incorporated more foot travel. Good training can be done very cost effectively and Best Warrior proves that," Murphy said.
As for those junior noncommissioned officers, Murphy offered some advice to them on their own goal setting and beginning their career as an NCO.
"Start with your educations -- whether it's military schools or college degree -- start working on these. It's never too late to start," he said.
"When you become an NCO, you're no longer one of the boys … or girls. Your former peers now look to you for advice, mentorship, leadership and training. You are now a leader," Murphy said.
As for a leadership style, Murphy said his philosophy was to treat Soldiers the way he would treat his Family.
"You have to be a mentor and help steer them in the right direction, a disciplinarian, and a parent figure. I have been blessed that when I veered off that straight path, I had leaders and friends that got me back on the right path," he added.
"Now I am blessed to be in the company of the best sergeants major in the Army. Everywhere I have been stationed, nothing compares to the professionalism and dedication that you find across the brigades -- across the board -- like you do here on Fort Leonard Wood," he said. "I am indeed blessed to be here today."