Mastering tasks through PRACTICE

By CourtesyMay 20, 2024

As we transform as an Army for 2030 and beyond, understanding the strategic environment and our role at echelon is critical. Success in large-scale combat operations requires proficiency in tasks that have atrophied over that last two decades of counterinsurgency. A constrained resource environment with increased requirements have contributed to increased risk to our formations. As leaders, it is imperative that we give our Soldiers a solid foundation to fight, win and survive on future battlefields. Seventeenth Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer, wants our Army to be “brilliant in the basics.” But how do you become brilliant at the basics in today’s operational environment? Simple, mastery of any task requires P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E.

Precision management identifies and optimizes talent in our formations while leveraging data to efficiently manage resources. The strength of our Army is our people. Through continuous transformation, we must identify talent, and invest in the development of our Soldiers is critical. This requires proactive management of leaders based on future potential. Operationalizing cross training and providing broadening opportunities whenever possible will pay dividends. This is a difficult paradigm shift but will provide the flexibility to surge personnel based on adjusted mission requirements. Modernization is constant, and data analytics through digital systems are powerful tools we need to incorporate to gain efficiency in training while concurrently conserving resources. The potential applications to the sustainment community involve predictive logistics, conditions-based maintenance and unmanned aerial systems. The key to utilizing these capabilities is to leverage emerging technology to streamline current operational goals and work smarter not harder.

Readiness measures our capability to deliver combat ready formations and accomplish our wartime mission. We, however, must adjust our definition of what it means to be ready for combat. It not only applies to our mission, but also to our Soldiers and their families. Effective warfighting relies on ready and resilient Soldiers. Prioritizing holistic health and fitness and integrating it fully into our formations is the first step. It is essential leaders know their Soldiers’ strengths, weaknesses and goals. Additionally, we must integrate this knowledge into training management by programming training based on current capabilities with a path towards improvement. This starts with essential basic tasks based on mission tailored to develop leaders that are multifunctional. This requires assuming prudent risk and mitigating it at echelon. The Army provides a multitude of programs and services to support our families, but many are underutilized based on a lack of awareness. It is imperative that we socialize this information to increase knowledge among our young leaders, so that we may more proactively take care of families.

Accountability is the bedrock of the noncommissioned officer’s corps as stewards of the profession. We as NCOs enforce standards and discipline and model the behavior we expect from our subordinate leaders and Soldiers. We must be humble, delegate effectively and own our mistakes. Authentic leadership comes with the maturity to realize when we will fall short of accomplishing a goal. We must be teammates in every sense of the word and balance our resources to facilitate our higher headquarters’ mission. We are accountable for our collective proficiency and are responsible for the quality and effectiveness of our organization’s training. This requires truth in the form of accurate measurement of our capabilities. We do not exist in an echo chamber and must ask the hard questions to ensure we are placing our formations in the best position for success.

Communicating up and down the chain of command and laterally across formations helps us see ourselves. Effective communication requires us as leaders to not only listen to our subordinates and ensure they understand the Commander’s intent, but to also make sure they know their role and impact on the unit and its mission. Effective leadership includes our nonverbal communication and how we respond to bad news. Soldiers are always watching, and they will emulate what they see. Effective communication requires trust, and trust is built through our presence at points of friction. While email, chats and video conferencing systems are excellent tools, they cannot be the only tools.

Transparency underscores the trust placed in our military by the citizens of this country and our form of government. Weimer has described this as a call to service. The uniform we wear personifies our oath to uphold the Constitution. As Soldiers, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves and swear an oath not to a ruler but to a document written by the founding fathers of our nation. When we circulate throughout our communities, we embody these values and maintain the trust placed in the armed forces through our actions. Development of our Soldiers should include these lessons, and it should be reinforced throughout their terms of service. Through these interactions, we steward the Army profession. We should continue to tell our Army story to help our Soldiers internalize the Army values and the benefits of service.

Integration provides warfighting capability across our organizations, the joint force and our allied partners necessary to deter aggression and defeat our adversaries. Precision sustainment plays a key role in joint warfighting concepts, perhaps the most critical role. To achieve success, the sustainment community must deliver critical supplies over difficult terrain with expanded supply lines while contested. Our ability to work in concert as part of the joint force requires exposure early and often, and must be a focus of our preparation. To achieve success in this complex environment, we must truly understand interoperability.

Continuous transformation ensures we are constantly evolving how we man, train and equip our Army. The future revolves around digital systems, human/ AI integration and data analytics. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate, and future operational environments will look very different. We will have to rapidly adjust our tactics, techniques and procedures to integrate new equipment to maintain overmatch. While these concepts are important, we must also understand how to operate in a denied or degraded environment. This requires a strong foundation in basic skills and analog concepts critical to survivability.

Empowerment fuels leader development building commitment to our values. It begins with building trust based on our actions and how we model the values and behavior we expect. We owe our Soldiers what, how and why both as an individual and as a member of a team. We must communicate what the priorities are, how to accomplish them and why they are important. Through explaining the importance of tasks and how those tasks collectively contribute to the success of the mission and the organization, we build commitment. This requires us as leaders to adapt based on the attributes of our Soldiers and teams from more directing to empowering as they progress in maturity and ability through P-R-A-C-T-I-C-E.

Article written by Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Doss, Fort Novosel garrison command sergeant major