By Mr. Michael Maddox (ROTC)February 20, 2019
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas. (February 13, 2019) -- Cadets attending the 2019 George C. Marshall Seminar at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, were privy to advice and mentoring on how to excel after they commission as second lieutenants in the Army. From panels, to peer breakout sessions, there was no shortage of knowledge on how to prepare for and be successful officers.
Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, knows a little about that and shared how he went from a cadet from the University North Georgia 37 years ago to leading TRADOC today.
Townsend began his speech by reminding the Cadets in the room of the importance of the roles they will soon play as leaders of Soldiers.
"You're soon going to be called upon to assume the most important duty a young American can perform -- leadership of American Soldiers. Never forget, that's why you are here. It's why the Army has invested so much in your development and preparation as an officer. Not for your personal benefit, but for the benefit of America's sons and daughters whom you will lead -- our greatest treasure -- in service to the nation," he said.
He offered up four suggestions on how Cadets can be successful as new leaders.
Keep your honor clean:
"Live and Soldier by the Army values and our warrior ethos. Every decision you make, every action you take, is to be based on a foundation of our Army and national values. An Army officer is a grown-up, who is a role model of Army values to your Soldiers," Townsend said. "Be a person of moral courage and do what's right even when you think no one is looking. The American people and the Army expect this of you and your Soldiers deserve this of you. Soldiering and leading by Army values is the foundation upon which trust, teamwork and unit cohesion will be built."
Live on amber:
"By that, I mean be ready - be ready for anything. Stay alert -- always ready to deploy, fight and win. Keep yourself and your Soldier physically and mentally prepared. Teach them to expect the unexpected. Make sure your Soldiers get what they need before they get what they might want," he said. "You will fight just like you have trained. You do have to practice being miserable in training."
"Bottom line - take care of first things first. Making sure your Soldiers are prepared to do their jobs in combat is your first priority," he added. "There will be a platoon of Soldiers counting on you to know your officer stuff because you're the only officer in the platoon. So hit the field manuals and unit SOPs and learn what you can. Be a sponge around your leaders, your seniors, your NCOs -- learn as much as you can as fast as you can."
Act with disciplined initiative:
"Take decisive actions to achieve your command's intent, even when the initial plan is failing," said Townsend. "Army leaders give clear commander's intent. This empowers your subordinates to act with disciplined initiative, to understand what must be accomplished and why. Your subordinates have to be smart enough to recognize when a plan is failing. Smart enough to come up with a plan that will work. And to have the guts enough to do it even if they're out of communication with you."
Lead by example:
"Just be the leader you want to be led by. Whether you realize it or not, you're a role model for your Soldiers 24/7. You must always model what you want your Soldiers to be," he offered. "Get to know your Soldiers as people and keep them informed. Take your work seriously, but not yourself so seriously. Soldiering can be an adventure if you just let it be. If the task before you is hard, if it sucks, if it's risky, you need to be right there with your Soldiers and be ready to go first and lead them."
Townsend said his tips are just a beginning blueprint to what he sees as a great adventure.
"We're all proud of you. We've got nothing but the utmost confidence in all of you. You're going to try hard, you're going to make mistakes. You'll learn from them, you'll grow from them -- just strive every day to be a little better, to be a little more ready and to be the leader you would like to be led by," he said. "If you do that, you'll be just fine. Believe it or not, I would trade my stars for a chance to start all over again with you. You're on an amazing journey of service and leadership."
U.S. Army Cadet Command oversees the Army's senior and Junior ROTC programs. The Army ROTC program provides more college scholarships than any other program in America, with merit-based benefits going to about 15K students each year. The total amount of scholarship benefits paid this year currently stands at over $370M. It commissions more than 70 percent of the Army's new officers each year through host ROTC programs at 274 host universities at nearly 1,000 affiliated programs at other colleges across the nation.Learn more about Army ROTC at www.goarmy.com/rotc.