“The mission of the Field Artillery is to destroy, defeat, or disrupt the enemy with integrated fires to enable maneuver commanders to dominate in unified land operations.”
DA Pam 600-3
My favorite branch of the combat arms career fields! Mainly because these guys have always been around me somehow. I was in a Division Artillery Brigade, and a Multiple Launch Rocket System Battalion. Nothing like reaching out and touching the bad guys from really far away! I learned a lot in my time around Field Artillery, or FA, Officers. These guys are as multi-functional as they come. They are “the Army’s experts in the coordination, synchronization and integration of joint and Army fires; they are leaders of Soldiers. [They] ensure synchronized, integrated, and effective fires, [and] Field Artillery officers are proficient in the Army’s two core competencies.” (DA Pam 600-3). FA Officers can command at every level in the Army, from platoon to brigade. Many FA Officers become Assistant Division Commanders. They serve in support of every maneuver element of the Army.
So what makes these guys so special? Why are they considered multi-functional? Well, these guys are:
- Experts in coordination, synchronization and integration
- They are team builders, skilled in leading people and collaborating with leaders
- They are imaginative, agile, and adaptive
- They are required to solve complex problems
Many of my colleagues in the Army have been Field Artillery Officers. Some of the complaints I have heard is about how to translate their skills into something for a civilian employer. I remind them that they are highly-trained and analytical-minded people. They have to think in the abstract, but be able to deliver concrete results. They can fit seamlessly into any organization (because that is what they do in the Army). They are leaders. They are team-builders. They are motivators. They are … multi-functional. Now that term seems to get a lot of people in trouble these days, and many recruiters say to leave that off your resume. I agree that “multi-functional” is a term that should be left off resumes, but I think being able to translate multi-functional into actionable, measurable results is absolutely necessary, whether on a resume or during an interview. The reality of job hunting and civilian employers as a whole is that they are constantly having to do more with less, so being multi-functional goes without saying these days (but still needs to be highlighted somehow).
Being able to seamlessly integrate into any organization is also a benefit these officers bring. In my first unit in the Army, I worked alongside the Fire Support Officer, and didn’t even know he was a Field Artillery Officer serving amongst tankers and infantrymen until after our first field exercise. The guy was flawless in his ability to look, act, talk, and work in the group. In my second unit (the Division Artillery brigade), almost everyone around me was a Field Artillery Officer. One of my current Mentors on both sides of my career (military and civilian) is a former FA officer from that unit. He taught me a lot about adding value to an organization by being able to integrate into their structure. My Field Artillery Battalion commander gave me a lot of leeway to plan, resource, and execute training, thus allowing me to expand my knowledge of their craft and better integrate into their structure.
Coordination, Synchronization, and Integration
I remind all my FA friends that although they are best skilled at coordination, synchronization and integration of fires, they need to drop that last phrase off. It is important in the military to deliver timely artillery fire onto bad guys, but in the civilian world, these guys need to emphasize the important skills of coordination (across teams and organizations), synchronization (of efforts, personnel, resources, and allocated time), and integration (well, I think I have already beat that to death). These soft skills are hard to quantify, but vital to the success of an organization – any organization. Coordinated and synchronized effort leads to a unified achievement of a goal. Having someone who leads that effort results in measurable, quantifiable solutions to an organization’s mission, values, profit, and bottom line.
Another quality that deserves mention is a Field Artillery Officers problem solving skills. As mentioned above, these guys and gals are required to solve complex problems. It may not seem like much, but FA officers think in terms of cause-and-effect, with emphasis on “effect.” Their ability to think about the results of their actions lends a lot of credence towards problem solving. When attacking problems by thinking “What will the effect of X solution be,” FA officers are already thinking two to three steps into the problem. The result? A better solution to the problem; one with fewer risks, and less consequences to manage.
Do these guys bring a lot to civilian employers? Absolutely! Are they a unique group of officers? Undoubtedly! The problem that FA officers need to realize is that civilian employers do not want to know that you coordinated X number of fire missions, resulting in X number of rounds delivered on target, and on time to destroy the enemy. They want to know that you were able to synchronize the commanders objective and intent to achieve the commander’s end state. Through the careful integration of multiple stakeholders and team members, FA officers are able to guide the employment of resources and assets in a way that delivers results at the right time and right place.
Kinda makes them important, huh?
Tell me your thoughts on this post. If you are a Field Artillery Officer, tell me if I am off-base. If you are an employer, tell me what you think I need to highlight. If you were a Field Artillery Officer and have found employment in the civilian workforce, tell me what you think and what your success story was! I’d love to hear more!