Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for March 7, 2011 - Capt. Howard Falls Jr.

Captain Howard Falls Jr.

Current Unit: Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment
Current Position: Battery Commander
Component: Active
Current Location: Afghanistan
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Years of Service: 3

Being able to rely on the people you work with and understanding how to capitalize on your resources is a necessity in the Army. To be a successful leader, Soldiers must establish a dependable resource network from which to draw on; a process that requires both tact and time. When Capt. Howard Falls Jr. deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, he was the youngest battery executive officer in the Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment. Halfway through his deployment, after demonstrating his aptitude for establishing credibility and building trust with his fellow Soldiers, he was chosen from among his peers to be promoted to the position of battery commander.

“I believe my command made the decision to select the best qualified officer for the position of battery commander. I am humbled and honored that the person selected was me. Not only do I continue to have faith and confidence in myself, but I feel that my command has the same faith and confidence in me,” Falls explained.

As a battery commander, Falls is responsible for overseeing three platoons, all located in separate areas of the country. While the scope of each platoon’s mission varies, much of their responsibilities lie in training members of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

“We build, sustain, train, coach, and mentor the Afghan Soldiers,” Falls said. “My Soldiers have contracted and built many ANA forward operating bases, roads, and schools. Also we teach the ANA Remote Basic Warrior Training and Team Leaders Course, in which we train Afghan Soldiers to become noncommissioned officers. But most importantly, we oversee the literacy course, which teaches the ANA Soldiers how to read and write the Dari and Pashtun languages.”

While Falls and his Soldiers have had great success in mentoring their Afghan counterparts, the task has proven to be difficult at times.

“In my opinion, one of the main challenges here in Afghanistan is the communication barrier,” Falls explained. “With Americans and Afghan people speaking different languages, it becomes difficult to teach the Soldiers.”

That said, integrating Afghan interpreters into training exercises has improved communication and allowed Falls and his Soldiers to work closely with the members of the ANA and continue building a strong working relationship.

Previously assigned to the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Falls is very familiar with the methods of properly instructing and educating Soldiers in the U.S. Army, and is able to apply many of the same skills and tactics to training members of the ANA.

Given the geographic disbursement of his platoons, Falls relies on constant communication with his units; something that he is effectively able to do because of the broad network of personnel he has built during his deployment.

“In my opinion, networking is the key to resourcing and accomplishments,” explained Falls. “By having a good understanding of networking, I was able to pull contacts and resources from one entity to the other in order to accomplish my missions.”

Throughout his deployment, Falls and his fiancée have been working together to plan their wedding in Dallas, which he looks forward to upon his return this summer.

Falls’ joined Prairie View A&M’s Reserve Officers' Training Corps program during his senior year of college, in an effort to find a sense of direction in his life. Since then, Falls has spent three and half years in the Army and feels that he’s found the direction and purpose he was once searching for, he considers himself to be a career Soldier.

Telling the Army Story: Community Relations

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