Professional development, collaboration key to Ironhorse mission
July 29, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas -- In the words of Vince Lombardi, the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, "Leaders are made. They are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."
Amid twin missions as the NATO Response Force and European Response Force, Col. John DiGiambattista, commander, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is putting in the hard effort to help develop his unit's leaders.
He said developing leaders is vital to accomplishing the missions of the unit.
In July, DiGiambattista instituted weekly team-building physical training and officer professional development sessions to ensure that company, battalion and brigade leaders are working together and aware of the latest brigade and division guidance and priorities.
Most of the command teams in the "Ironhorse" brigade have recently switched out, with 31 of the 39 companies, and four of the seven battalions, under new leadership.
"With the turnover in leadership, and the missions in Europe, these professional development and team-building events are critical to our success," said DiGiambattista. "And we will be spread out - our battalions must function decentralized. That is why it is important to understand the latest guidance and make sure we are all on the same page."
DiGiambattista met with majors from the battalions July 18 for a 3.5-mile ruck march, followed by an hour-and-a-half officer professional development session.
The Ironhorse commander emphasized the many roles the majors play within their battalions, as operators, systems operators, trainers and leaders.
"There are typically seven captains in a battalion," said DiGiambattista. "Who do they have for mentorship and guidance -- the two majors in a battalion."
During the professional development session, DiGiambattista and participants discussed the BCT environment, and staff standard operating procedures, training and priorities.
Other topics included Sexual Assault Review Boards, Domestic Violence Review Boards, High Risk Review Boards, Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss, the Unit Status Report, Operations Orders, Army Training Guidance, Regionally Aligned Forces and the importance of being able to operate decentralized.
Those participating in the session said it was useful for several reasons.
"It's a great way to get guidance from the commander," said Maj. Margaret McGunegle, executive officer, 91st Engineer Battalion. "And it is an opportunity to see what my left and right are doing and collaborate on best practices."
Like "sergeant's time training" for enlisted service members, officers regularly participate in professional development, but the types of sessions can vary.
"My previous experience is probably not the norm," said Maj. Joe Venghaus, brigade judge advocate. "I was a government contract litigator at my last assignment in D.C. Our OPD was broader, covering a host of military occupational specialty topics as well as leadership. The Ironhorse OPD is more specifically-focused on officership in a brigade environment."
Maj. David Fitzpatrick, operations officer, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, said the opportunity to get guidance face-to-face from the commander and to get to know his peers in the other battalions was very worthwhile for him.
"It brings us together," said Fitzpatrick. "The OPD gives us a clearer understanding of the colonel's guidance. And it gives us a chance to talk and put our minds together."