Leading the blue into the heat
June 16, 2012
FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- "Sgt. 1st Class Register, why is the sky blue?" Register smiled as he remembered the all-so-familiar infantry saying and quickly replied, "Because God loves the infantry!"
Infantry has been a part of the Army since its founding, fighting on the front lines in defense of our country. The light blue hue, like the sky, is the color that represents this historic branch.
Donald Register is of a medium-built stature and wears his jet black hair in a medium cropped cut, speaks to his subordinates with confidence as if leadership were his second nature. The 12-year veteran is a platoon sergeant assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
The Wilmington, N.C. native charted his future years before even being eligible to join the Army because of an influence very close to him.
"My father served in the infantry during Desert Storm," he said proudly. "I have always believed that the infantry instills discipline into its Soldiers."
Register has three combat deployments and applies that experience to lead his Soldiers.
"It's a great feeling being able to pass on what I have learned to my Soldiers," said Register. "I am training future leaders of the Army, and I have to lead them the best way that I know how."
Spc. Adam Taylor is a young and ambitious member of Register's platoon who experiences the leadership that he provides first hand.
"He gives a lot to the team," said Taylor. "He isn't closed minded, he welcomes our ideas and input. He never thinks that it's his way or the highway, and I appreciate that."
Not all leaders are the same, and each one has their own leadership style. Register has learned from many different leaders throughout his career).
"I try to take good leadership traits from the best leaders and use them as a tool to develop my leadership style. Register said.
Taylor, who one day desires to be a leader himself, feels that he learns something new from Register everyday. Taylor explained that Register ensures information and knowledge gets passed down to the lowest ranking member of the team.
He makes it his duty to instill pride and discipline in his Soldiers. But in order to do so, he has to know each man personally.
"First I have to know any issues the Soldier has that could hinder their performance," said Register. "Then we try to get the issues under control so we can successfully execute the mission. If the Soldier's morale is low, then their performance will be as well."
Register's unit is currently at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin conducting realistic scenario-based training in preparation for a deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
While preparing to go out on their next mission, Register, not yelling -- but with a stern voice -- commands his Soldiers to prepare their equipment and directs his squad leaders to inspect their subordinates. At his command, everyone scurried around like a busy New York City street to execute the command being issued.
"I want my team to take all training serious," he explained. "From my own experience I have to let them know the good, bad and ugly sides of war. By telling them the reality of war, it makes them take the training more serious."
Register feels that the training at NTC is the best thing his team can receive before heading to Afghanistan and he accepts all that comes along with it.
"I'm glad to be here doing this training," said Register. "Yes, we're making mistakes, but this is the place to do it -- before we deploy."
As a platoon sergeant, he is responsible for more than 20 Soldiers and uses a tool known to the Army as a leader's book to keep track of every one of them. A leader's book is a listing of Soldiers' data, ranging from personal to career.
"While deployed, the leader's books of my squad leaders and myself will become even more important to the needs of the team," said Register.
Along with these books, there are three things that he places at the top of his priorities for his Soldiers to be in good standing to perform their duties.
"Food, water and ammunition!" he stated. "They have to be physically ready and I have to ensure they have enough rounds to protect themselves and their battle buddies. As long as we walk away knowing more than we came out here with and learn from our mistakes we will be successful in Afghanistan."
Register seems ready to continue leading his troops and ready to deploy with his team.
Taylor expressed that he respects and has confidence that Register will lead him in the right direction in a combat zone, and he will surely follow.
"He's a great inspiration and role model!"