FORSCOM CSM: 'There's always a place in the Army for a good leader'
February 13, 2012
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Less than a year ago, Command Sgt. Major Darrin J. Bohn completed a tour as the top senior enlisted advisor to the commander of International Security Assistance Forces -- Joint Command, overseeing daily operations for the war in Afghanistan. Today, he is settling into his new role as command sergeant major of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
With just over 90 days in his new position as FORSCOM's top enlisted Soldier, Bohn's focus is on the training and readiness of units for combat.
"We've been in combat for the last 10 years," said Bohn, whose role at FORSCOM means he must help manage the training, mobilization and deployment of more than 800,000 Active and Reserve component Soldiers throughout the continental United States. "We have enough experience as an organization to know the key to success is in managing and perfecting the home station training piece."
The re-emphasis on home-station elements of Army training and Army life is not a new concept, Bohn explained.
"I understand this shift in focus toward the home station," the Saginaw, Mich. native said. "The Army has done it at least three or four times already. Doing what's required to make an organization more effective -- all corporations do it, and they do it through the lessons learned from past experience."
For today's Army leaders, the vast bulk of their experience has come from a decade of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"A lot of our Soldiers didn't have that combat experience before and we're a lot sharper today as a result," explained Bohn. "In fact, our war-fighting skills, our combat leadership, all the way down to the experience at administrative tasks -- we're the best that we've ever been in those areas. We opened up our books, adjusted our doctrine to new combat environments, and we've all benefited.
"But if we're talking about a long-term career in the Army, our Soldiers and their families should target the benefits and opportunities available right here at home," he said.
Those considerations include taking full advantage of the Army's Tuition Assistance program for enhancing civilian education, in addition to rounding out the Soldier's military education through advanced military occupation system training and specialty training -- Ranger school or Master Gunner's school, for example.
"There's also some excellent experience which comes from [the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC], including drill and Advanced Individual Training instructors," Bohn said.
He wants leaders to send their best noncommissioned-officers to these positions, since these instructors are the ones who will teach every Soldier and show them what right looks like.
"Remember, we get out what we put in. Leadership, sending the proper Soldiers to school -- these are the cornerstones of a good organization," Bohn added.
Having now held every leadership position from team leader to command sergeant major of the Army's largest command, Bohn offers FORSCOM troops a well-traveled perspective earned from work as a noncommissioned-officer spanning nearly three decades of service in at least nine countries.
The name of the game, he said, is going to be about "just plain leadership" and creative problem solving. "It takes no talent to find a problem; the talent is in fixing the problem."
As far as making the most of those creative Soldiers hungry for leadership positions, Bohn said, "They have to know that the Army is a competitive game, if you want to call it a game. The Army requires the best if you want to play the game."
"For the betterment of the organization," Bohn added, the fact of the matter is that at the end of the day, "not everybody will have a seat at the table."
"Nobody has a monopoly on good ideas," he said. "But it was my team, squad, and platoon leaders that instilled in me qualities of a good leader."
That competitive spirit -- the desire to become an all-around better person day after day -- he explained, is what will keep the Army strong and flexible.
For Soldiers considering their future, Bohn stressed the importance of contingency planning.
"I have never begged anyone to reenlist," he said. "The bottom line is you've got to look at your long-term plan. Because the Army has a 100% 'get-out' rate, you have to have a back-up plan. There are plenty of opportunities to be successful. We're already making people better in the Army."
To anyone looking for some guidance to his or her future as a Soldier, here are some tips from the command sergeant major himself:
1. Stop relearning yesterday's mistakes.
2. Be more competitive. This isn't a 6-year-old's soccer game. Not everybody gets a trophy at the end of the season.
3. The future depends on how you take the Army's opportunities and turn them into successes.
Meanwhile, Bohn reached back to some wisdom from his days as an infantryman to offer this parting thought: "You know the expression, 'There's always room for one more in the back of that five-ton?' The truth is if you're good, there's always going to be room for 16 in that 15-seater. There's always a place in the Army for a good leader."