New division commanding general embraces his leadership role
April 30, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas - Two new shiny stars initiate their descent into the historically combat-proven constellation known as the 1st Cavalry Division.
With the leadership landscape of America's First Team constantly changing, the heavily-armored unit that recently finished a 15-month Iraq deployment welcomed their new commanding general April 29.
Brig. Gen. (P) Vincent K. Brooks, the division's commanding general who took the reins from then-Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr., earlier this year, relinquishes command to Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger during a ceremony held on Cooper Field, the division's parade field.
With the possibility of the division's third deployment looming in the air, the new commanding general wasted no time in hitting the ground and running as he met with leaders and laid out his command philosophy.
The two-star general focused in on his three priorities
First, everyone in the First Team family has a part in the fight and no one will be left behind.
Second, Bolger reemphasized to his subordinate commanders and senior noncommissioned officers down to the brigade level that he is a leader that believes in training to fight and fighting to train.
"Everyday you need to do something," he said. "I know that we're missing a lot of equipment right now, but one thing we aren't missing is a lot of us." Bolger said he wants to have troopers leave with something useful every day.
Although he expressed a desire to make some changes to improve the division, he said the basics are essential to a future deployment to Iraq.
Bolger said troopers of all ranks and ages should always keep physical fitness, marksmanship, navigation and first aid training sharp.
"If you ask me what are our biggest assets heading into combat. I'd say it is our training. The training we get when we come in, the training we get at the school house, the training in our unit, and the training we get in theater," said Bolger. "Our enemy is not trained. They might have the will power, but they don't have the skill. Our advantage is our skill, but it is not guaranteed, and we must continue to work on it."
Thirdly, the commander who taught history at U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., said that it is everyone's job to "set the example."
Not only do the senior leaders set an example for younger Soldiers to emulate, the 30-year-veteran explained, young troops set the example for the Iraqi Army Soldiers in a war Bolger said that is being fought at the company level.
The hands-on commander said that talk is cheap.
"'Say' has got to equal 'do,'" Bolger explained. "If I say that (physical training) is important, what am I doing for PT' If I say that training is important, am I at training or down in Belton at a convention or something'"
Bolger reminded his senior leaders that they are always being watched especially in theater. He added that one thing Soldiers measure, especially those who go out of the wire often, is how often we are out in the fight.
"I am not talking about flying over in a helicopter. I am not talking about going to a (forward operating base) and checking the ice cream machine," he explained. "I am talking about walking through the streets of Baghdad and bad guys shooting at us - that's what they expect from us.
"They are going to get it from me, and I know they are going to get it from you too."
Although official orders to Iraq have not been published as of yet, the new commander is laying out the plans for another successful tour of duty and he sends a clear message to freedom's enemies.
"On the far side of the world our terrorist enemies, hidden, vicious and cunning, conspire in the evening twilight. They are waiting for us. They think that this time - just maybe - they might have something for us," said Bolger from Aurora, Ill. "In their day the imperial Japanese, Chinese communist, Viet Con, Saddam's republican guard and two previous iterations of Al-Qaeda in Iraq thought the same.
"They were wrong then and they're wrong today because we are coming for them."
The executive officer of 1st Brigade Combat Team Lt. Col. Scott Taylor said that we're living in peace provided by our Soldiers, serving across the street and down range, who are fighting to preserve it.
"Pretty soon we'll go take their place and tag team with them like we have done before," said Taylor. "And, like General Bolger said, we are going to take it to the enemy."
Taylor who, if the division back fills the 4th Infantry Division, will be going on his third deployment with the First Team, also said that he is confident in the new commander's experience and ability to take on the challenges of another deployment.
"(Bolger) said he's ready to take the fight to the enemy and that's always a comforting thing to know," said Susan Taylor, the wife of the Ironhorse XO. "It's great to know your husband and the troops are in good hands."
"We're coming by tank and by helicopter, we're coming on foot, we're coming with rifles, grenades and bayonets," Bolger fired during his brief speech.
"We're their worst nightmare."