By W. Wayne MarlowSeptember 22, 2017
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. - First Army officers, senior NCOs, and civilians were given leadership pointers from an expert in the field Friday morning in First Army headquarters here.
Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré spoke about motivating and guiding subordinates in a professional development session in the Pershing Conference Room, named for the initial First Army commander. Honoré himself served in that role from 2004 to 2008 and he is best known for his time as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. In that capacity, he employed a direct approach and delivered memorable soundbites while coordinating military relief efforts in the wake of the 2005 hurricane that pummeled the Gulf Coast.
His many military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Expert Infantryman Badge.
During the session, Honoré stressed the importance of flexibility and perseverance.
"We adapt and overcome. That's the history of this Army and it's a small chapter in the big picture of this outfit that's been in existence for 99 years," he said. "It answers the call and if it had to, it could be back at the port of Inchon running a field army. This is what we do in First Army. We are multifaceted, multi-mission capable, and can adapt. You are trained to do that and you train others to do it."
Ronnie Coney, First Army G2 deputy, reported that the session left him with increased enthusiasm for the mission.
"I love Lt. Gen. Honoré. He's my number one hero," Coney said. "To hear him talk like that and see that he hasn't lost his passion gave me a renewed spirt. I was really impacted by his lesson that we have to be thankful for what we do have and not think about what we don't have because we have a mission to perform."
Besides the lessons that Honoré taught, his personality also left an impression.
"He's very passionate and he makes you want to work for him and do what the nation calls for," Coney said. "He definitely exudes the warrior spirit."
Meanwhile, First Army G6 Deputy, Kathleen Linderman-Hill reported that she "enjoyed the talk and I thought he made a good point about our use of resources. I also liked his points about how we need to learn from mistakes so we don't keep repeating them, and we must accept that things are changing."
Honoré used an anecdote about the original commander-in-chief as an example of overcoming challenges with hard work, determination, and foresight.
"George Washington taught us some great lessons. Number one, do the routine things well. Like don't park the horses upstream from the bivouac," Honoré quipped. "Number two, don't be afraid of the impossible. The future of America has always been about doing the impossible. At one point in the Revolutionary War, the capitol in New York had been burned, the fire in Philadelphia was spreading, and on Christmas, Washington went out and said, 'We're going to attack.' They didn't have boats, they didn't have all their equipment, and some of them didn't have guns. They didn't have the right equipment for cold, bitter weather. Half of his Army was missing from the battle because of sickness and AWOL."
Undeterred, Washington led his men to a crucial victory at the Battle of Trenton . "They fought for freedom, and they set the example for this Army for to this day. If you're not leading and you're not sacrificing, you're not getting anything done," Honoré said. "They didn't have what they needed. They adapt and overcame. And on that night, they captured nearly a thousand British soldiers. They kept the revolution alive. They didn't win the war that night, but they demonstrated what we could do against the most powerful army in the world."
Challenges still continue, he noted, but so does the fighting spirt.
"This is America. We're still a work in progress, but we have a good example to look to," Honoré declared. "So when the nation asks us to go on back-to-back tours, we ask, 'Where do we go, boss?' We sit here today on the shoulders of those who have preceded us. We're free because of the sacrifices they made. Our job is to leave America free for the next generation."