By Capt. Jean TomteAugust 22, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla., Aug. 22, 2019 -- Air Defense Artillery Captains of Class No. 04-19 participated in and shared viewpoints with 1st Sgt. Mica Snell, D Battery, 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery July 25.
Snell has been a first sergeant for almost three years serving under commanders.
Snell's visit and discussion with Captains Career Course (CCC) students occurred following a brown bag lunch led by Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general. The general talked with incoming instructors for the Basic Officer Leader Course and CCC about the new Army Learning Model. He also addressed the shift in focus to engage students to contribute through group discussions rather than learn via static computer-based slide presentations.
While interacting with students, Snell emphasized trust as a means for captains to be more productive and efficient leaders. For most of the students, their immediate future will be serving as staff officers and company or battery commanders.
Snell addressed the importance of leadership presence, and how the absence of it can create a destructive climate within the unit. A leader with a positive mindset may shock subordinates at first, but that attitude can shift the unit's culture and morale.
"1st Sgt. Snell noted that the command team worked best with over-communication. The biggest failures stemmed from a lack of communication," said Capt. Conor Knapp, CCC student and class leader.
Another critical insight that he learned from his second commander was that every conversation with the commander is an informal counseling.
"As a future commander, I need to ensure my words, posture, and tone are deliberate when speaking with my Soldiers so that I counsel them effectively every time we speak," added Knapp.
Snell recalled having a disagreement with his commander after a battery run, which was a result of a lack of communication. He then urged the students to avoid having a disagreement in front of the troops, but instead to do so in private.
"We can't shield Soldiers from adversity, but we can prepare them to navigate through it," he said.
"1st Sgt. Snell provided all of us student leaders and future commanders with insights on conducting counseling and building relationships. He spoke very candidly about what we must do to build trust with our subordinates and avoid misconduct. He reaffirmed that small infractions could lead to big issues. Finally, as a first sergeant from a basic training unit, he offered his wisdom in regard to leading a new generation with different experiences and mentalities than our own," said Capt. Liam Phillip, CCC student.
Maj. Vaibhav Kumar, a student-captain from India, said the first sergeant's message helped him appreciate the life and duties he might encounter as a new battery commander.
"He had years of experience and gave us some handy tips to deal with daily nuances of being a battery commander," said Kumar. "He provided detailed input as far as counseling was concerned and very quickly drew out lessons of good counseling and how to conduct it."
Class No. 04-19 is four weeks through their studies with three more months of instruction to prepare them to lead Soldiers and to fulfill the rest of their duties as Army officers.