Once a year, company grade officers from across the U.S. Army are recognized for embodying the ideals of duty, honor and country. These principles are what the Headquarters Department of the Army is looking for in those officers selected to receive the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. This year, Capt. Brian Lee, Quickstrike Troop commander, 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, was one of 14 regular Army officers selected to receive this distinguished award. Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, U.S. Army Europe commander, presented the award to Lee during a ceremony, Feb. 1, 2018.
"To me it was more of a confirmation that not necessarily me, but the teams I worked with, specifically [Fox Troop] and [Quickstrike Troop], Cougar Squadron and Saber Squadron, all of the hard work that we all as a team put in together, it was the result of that," said Lee. "I never saw it as an individual award, although it is presented to an individual. It always to me was based on the team and it's a direct reflection of them."
According to regulation, the intent of the GDMLA is to recognize the leadership contributions of Army officers in a field environment. The selection criteria is based on performance in categories such as influence, proficiency and team building. During the calendar year of consideration, Lee played a role in 2CR's participation and success in Allied Spirit V, Bull Run I, Saber Strike '17, the Regimental validation exercise and the first rotation supporting NATO's enhanced Forward Presence initiative as Battle Group Poland.
"Lee has the tactical abilities, interpersonal skills and composed demeanor to promptly switch from tactical training to strategic level engagements with ease," wrote Lt. Col. Gregory Campion, 4/2CR commander. "The personal example and leadership he provides to his formations are directly responsible for the well-rounded excellence they each have achieved."
Based on his performance as the Fox Troop commander, Lee was selected to command the Quickstrike Troop at the conclusion of the 2nd Squadron, 2CR's rotation in Poland. Lee took command of the Regiment's only weapons Troop in August 2017. Quickstrike is continually conducting split operations across multiple countries in Eastern Europe.
"Quickstrike is different than anything [Lee] has done before," wrote Campion. "...Brian committed himself to studying and came into this job ready and willing to learn, quickly mastered how we fight these Anti-tank and Mobile Gun System platoons and dedicated to the development of his subordinate leaders."
Though Lee was aware of the award and what it stood for, he had never set his sites on earning the distinction. In fact, Lee describes receiving the 2CR Commander, Col. Patrick J. Ellis' nomination as a surprise.
"It was more of a surprise than anything else," said Lee. "I was in [my office] talking with my lieutenants. We were going through the Troop Leading Procedures process and then Campion walks in randomly. All of the sudden he is like, 'Hey, by the way you were nominated for the Regt. for the GDMLA.'"
During his time assigned to 2CR, Lee has had the opportunity to learn from and work with an array of leaders. Lee accredits his success as a leader to the lessons he has learned from his peers.
"I could put it completely on [my peers] helping me develop the way I did with their day-to-day interactions, with our frustrations or working through problem sets to solve a lot of problems that we have had to deal with in terms of moving the Regt. from here to there, this exercise, that exercise, this event, and that event," said Lee. "It was very positive to have the group of peers that I did."
Over the next few months, Lee, along with entire Regt., will continue preparations for the upcoming U.S. Army Europe multinational training exercise, Saber Strike 18.