214th Fires Brigade leaders accept gauntlet
September 15, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla., Sept. 15, 2011 -- In medieval times when a knight "threw down the gauntlet," he removed a leather and armor plated glove from his hand tossing it at the feet of another knight he challenged.
Col. Timothy Daugherty, 214th Fires Brigade commander, issued a challenge to his more than 140 lieutenants, captains and warrant officers in a leadership gauntlet Sept. 8 at Fort Sill.
The day featured a variety of events, including rigorous exercise, that tested the leaders' abilities and tenacity to overcome all hardships. It also served to give them a better understanding of what it means to be a leader and a member of the 214th FiB team. To facilitate the learning, the 140 leaders divided into four platoons.
Stars still shown in the heavens when they gathered about 4 a.m. at Rucker Field for a physical training test the same as any Soldier would experience. Once complete, the leaders went on a three-mile run to the east side of post where 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery drill sergeants worked their muscles over a second time with physical readiness training. Then, to make sure the leaders did more before 9 a.m. than most people do in a day, drill sergeants barked at them all the way over to the combat confidence course.
Laundry bills will definitely rise this week as most leaders sported perspiration soaked and dusty Army Combat Uniforms by then.
For Daugherty, who took command of the 214th FiB in June, the gauntlet showed the passion he pledged to lead his unit with. That intent came through as the colonel joined his lieutenants, captains and warrant officers throughout the demanding day running beside them, working through PT and discussing various training exercises along the way.
"It's very effective to get out and lead by example, because to tell people and not do it with them goes against the grain of who we're supposed to be as leaders," he said. "I think they appreciate seeing someone older plugging away with them."
The commander said the gauntlet was designed to immerse the Soldiers in physical training that would test even the most fit among them and teach some skill sets they will need as Army leaders.
It keyed on four key points:
-- Training leaders in the profession of arms
-- Identifying the physical toughness of the officer and warrant officer corps
-- Training on key tasks such as an air insertion, and cordon and search they may be called on to do
-- Building esprit de corps and unit cohesion
Capt. Marquay Edmondson, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 214th FiB, was a perfect example of the team building aspect Daugherty addressed. With only a year on-station, Edmondson is one of the unit's newcomers. He said it was good to meet leaders he's known by the battalions they worked at, but has never seen face to face.
With a personality that engages people, Daugherty appeared to enjoy spending time with his troops coaching, teaching and mentoring them while passing on some of the wisdom he has gleaned from 22 years of service. However, he is also a broad-shouldered, tough-as-nails career officer who knows the value of taking care of himself.
"I'm looking for the physical toughness in all my officers, because that was how I was led and trained up. You have to be physically tough to be an Army leader," he said.
He tempered that with a saying he recalled about leadership being a matter of floors and doors, not windows, as in the computer operating system. Daugherty reminded them good leaders get out, visit their troops and find out what is going on with them.
As for those who will carry his vision to the enlisted corps, Daugherty expressed his admiration for the resiliency he has witnessed in almost three months of command.
"The attitude has been amazing, as a commander you hope and expect a good attitude from your leaders. and I've gotten that 10-fold," he said.
A detailed itinerary called for stops at various training areas on the east side of post. And though there were tasks to accomplish, the event gave the commander time, such as during a three-mile ruck march, to stop and teach his leaders.
Midway through the day Warrant Officer Emily Page said the physical exertion she expended reminded her she wasn't 20-years-old anymore. Despite this admission, Page remained vocal and energetic as she went through the paces of combatives training with instructors from the Fort Sill Combatives School.
"I was so impressed that the brigade commander took his time to show he actually cares and what he cares about. I can see it when he talks that he means what he says. No matter how rigorous the training we've went through, when we stop and he talks, the points he shares mean something and make us better leaders," said Page, from B Company, 168th Brigade Support Battalion.
The leaders would soon realize a "high" point of the day when CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan., landed in a field near the Liberty City training area. Helicopter crew chiefs gave an air mission brief and acquainted some of the new leaders with aircrew operations and Army aviation.
Shortly thereafter the helicopter blades began to rotate as half of the brigade's leaders, laden with their rucksacks, loaded into the war birds. Once the blades achieved sufficient velocity, the two helicopters lifted off in a maelstrom of grass and dirt carrying them to their next training destination -- Objective Little Chicago where platoons would rehearse a cordon and search of buildings there.
First Lt. Daniel Parker, 2nd Battalion, 4th Field Artillery, served as one of four platoon leaders during the day's instruction. The young officer said he saw a lot of intestinal fortitude and motivation to do the right thing.
"It's really inspiring to see everyone come together and show what we can do," he said. "It's been a trying day, regardless of the physical stamina people may have, and though I'll be ready for a bit of rest once this ends, I'll be interested in doing this again."
It was that spirit that most impressed Daugherty. He said several leaders asked when the next leadership day would be, even though six hours of training still remained.
With his leaders around him, Daugherty commended them for their positive attitudes and hard work. He asked each platoon to give a 110-percent effort in their functional rehearsal then told them effectively planned and executed rehearsals would save lives of the Soldiers they will lead.
Having passed that nugget of knowledge off, Daugherty said he decided to cut the eight-mile ruck march to the wrap-up barbecue to two miles.
Displaying team spirit and enthusiasm, the leaders shouted out a resounding cheer. Then, they shouldered their heavy rucksacks and continued on knowing the gauntlet could not be returned until the challenge concluded.