By Capt. Lindsey ElderMarch 25, 2013
DONGDUCHEON, South Korea - A very modest Capt. Andrew C. Webb would have you believe he's just like any other soldier, and clearly hoped the talk about his behavior would quietly go away. But that's the burden you reap when you stand head and shoulders above your peers.
"In this battalion there is a number of great company commanders, I don't really feel like I'm better than any one of them on any given day," said Webb, commander of Company B , 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. "It's just our guys have had a number of really good successes and that's what has paid off."
But Webb is certainly doing something right. This month he was notified that he is one of only 28 officers from across the Army being awarded the 2012 General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Webb, from Lynchburg, Va., was the winner of the Eighth Army board composed of the best company grade leaders from across the Korean peninsula, and was selected again at the national level.
"The key is to set the structure of so they [his Soldiers] can succeed," said Webb. "We have to break people of the ARFORGEN [Army Force Generation] habit where they just show up and get training, and instill a sense of initiative in them.
"My advice for other commanders is just to set the structure up for your people to succeed and then get out of their way and let them do it"
Webb came to Korea in September 2011 with hopes of command, but he spent some time with 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT, 2nd Inf.Div., as an assistant battalion training officer before taking command.
"Before I came to Korea colonels and lieutenant colonels told me I was going to have a great time commanding here and it really is a phenomenal place to command," Webb said. "There are unique challenges with being here. The high turnover that most people complain about a lot, that's the key to success here. Because you constantly get new guys, there are so many opportunities to train."
Webb has been in Korea for 20 months and, as an infantry officer in a combined arms battalion, makes it sound like it was all part of the challenge he was looking for.
"Since I've been in command [February 2012] I've had about 300 Soldiers turnover; that included three first sergeants, two executive officers, two fire support officers and nine platoon leaders," Webb said. "You don't really have to teach a bird to fly; these guys want to do their jobs. You just give them an idea of where to go. I've been very lucky and found that the guys have just embraced it."
The MacArthur award is meant to recognize company grade officers who demonstrate the ideals for which MacArthur represented -- duty, honor and country. Those who work for Webb can clearly understand why he is the recipient for such an honor.
"He is great leader, good mentorship ... kind of stubborn though," joked Sgt. 1st Class Dominic Walker, platoon sergeant in Webb's company. "He is very effective as a company commander. He gets his point across; it's simple, nothing is ever confusing about what he wants.
"And he listens. He listens to his NCOs," added Walker, from Baltimore. "He listens to every last one of them, even down to team level which is good. So wherever he may go in his future endeavors, he is going to accomplish a lot. That shows right now by the kind of award he's receiving. It really shows what his peers, his subordinates and his leaders think of him."
From his subordinates, most notably was the respect for how approachable Webb is and that he shows how he cares about the professional development of his soldiers beyond the training areas they'll face together in the Republic of Korea.
"He does a great job of mentoring the developing young leaders, ensuring that we always have the tasks, conditions and standards," said 2nd Lt. Brian Steel, who has worked as a platoon leader in the company for four months. "He also gives advice on how to train our guys.
"On an individual basis he sits down with us to discuss our careers," said Steel, from Winston-Salem, N. C. "We talk about where we want to be in five years and how to get a career path toward doing that. Whatever we might need to help achieve that, like letters of recommendations or applications, he will stay with us, working long hours to help us."
Under Webb's leadership, among other achievements the company earned the top scores at the winter collective, Top Gun, Top Bradley Platoon and Top Company gunneries. The company also received streamers for excellent maintenance, safety excellence and has the top physical fitness average in the battalion, said Lt. Col. Matthew Holly, battalion commander, who nominated Webb for the award.
"Andy is a thinker and an executor -- he defines disciplined initiative," said Holly.
In May 2013, Webb will travel to Washington, D.C., to have his name permanently engraved in the Pentagon's MacArthur Hall. He will also receive a commendation memorandum from the Army Chief of Staff and an engraved bust of MacArthur. The annual award was established in 1987.