Field Artillery Officers: Multi-functional? Yeah, But Also So Much More!

“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

Multi-functional

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).

Seamless Integration

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.

Problem Solving

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!

Chemical Officers: What DO you do?

US Army Chemical Officers play a vital role in the survivability of the US Army in the most extreme, deadly, scary, and horrific extremes of warfare: chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare.  Despite the sound of that, Chemical Officers today are not engaged in offensive use of chemical, biological or nuclear warfare, but rather the defense against it.  Since ancient times, warring nations have sought to use any and all means to destroy each other – lobbing dead cows over the castle walls in medieval times, throwing scorpion- or snake-filled clay pots at enemy ships in ancient Roman and Grecian times, or even the use of the mysterious “Greek fire”.  The first real use of synthetically-produced chemical warfare occurred in World War I.  Times have changed since 1917, and even more rapidly since 2001.  Biological weapons and some chemical weapons have become very easy to acquire, and are being used by terrorists and nation-states today.  So the role of a Chemical Officer has become even more vital in the US Army.

But what happens when they bring their knowledge of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) to the civilian sector?  Where can they work and what can they do?

Today’s Chemical Officers are trained in the “development, integration, and employment of tactical capabilities that identify, prevent, and mitigate the entire range of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) threats and hazards through CBRN operations; that support operational and strategic objectives to combat weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and CBRN consequence management” (DA Pam 600-3).  They work at all levels of the military from platoon-sized elements (20-30 people), through Joint Task Force or Army Corps levels.  Today, many Chemical officers have hard science degrees (biology, chemistry, meteorology, chemical engineering, etc.).  This translates into very analytical-minded individuals.  They are also adept at consequence management and risk analysis/mitigation.  These skills are equally important in the civilian sector as they are in the military sector.

So are they best suited for government support after the military, like in the Department of Homeland Security?  Sure, that is one option.  But they can easily apply their unique skills to preventing chemical leaks in manufacturing plants, minimizing risks to local populations at home or abroad, analyzing risk in any environment, or even understanding the impact of weather on potential events.  They can be a safety officers, risk analysts, subject matter experts, or even chemical engineers, lab technicians, or general managers in a variety of non-military or government related career fields.

I spent my first five years as a chemical officer in the US Army.  I struggled with translating that skill into civilian terms.  I had to sit and think long and hard about what skills I learned that I could translate.  With the help of a recruiter, we translated that aspect of my military career into operations support.  A Chemical officer in a battalion (or higher) of the US Army is considered a special staff officer.  Special staff officers are specialists in their career fields.  They are primary advisors and analysts to commanders about a wide range of issues.  They are always members of cross-functional teams.  Chemical officers tend to work for the Assistant Chief of Staff for operations (who also oversees training, plans, future and current operations).  As such, Chemical officers bring their knowledge of operational processes (current, future and planning operations) to civilian employers.  Since they are in a variety of unit organizations, they must be experts not only in their field, but also in the organization they are assigned to, as well as its capabilities.  These unique officers are the epitome of multi-disciplinarian!

My experiences as a Chemical officer are mine and mine alone, but many other Chemical officers faced or are facing some of the same struggles I did/do now.  First, most Chemical officers are looked at merely as the Unit Status Reporting officer (a very important report that must be reported all the way to the Pentagon on the readiness of an organization to deploy and conduct its wartime mission), or the famed “bugs and gas” man (a comparison to their role in dealing with biological and chemical weapons, respectively), or (my favorite) the NBC (correctly stated as Nuclear Biological and Chemical Officer, but modified by those in the military as “No Body Cares” or “Night Battle Captain”), or more often than not, simply as the extra duty officer, ball planner, or action officer.

What I learned to do early on in my career actually came from a late evening USR preparation day.  I had everything ready to go to my higher headquarters, but my Operations and Training Officer, the Executive Officer, and Commander all had to have one final review of the information.  All three had been at a golf tournament for the whole day while I prepare the report.  At the end of the tournament, the three individuals showed up at our headquarters building and sat down around the table to review everything I had prepared for the last 8 hours.  My Training and Operations officer understood it immediately; my commander understood it shortly after him; my XO couldn’t figure it out.  After about 3 more hours (and some pizza and Dr Pepper’s delivered by my wife), I was finally able to get approval from all three to submit the report.  That experience taught me the important lesson of being an expert in your field and regulations related to it.  It also opened the door for me to get various training initiatives approved.

I used my unique position to talk directly to my commander to get approval for all my training requirements.  I worked them into routine training events my unit was conducting.  Since I worked directly for the Operations and Training officer, I already knew what was coming up, and I was able to talk to him about getting my training incorporated into his plan.  Since I talked to the commander monthly for the report, I was able to get all my requirements for my unit to be trained in chemical, biological, and nuclear/radiological survivability operations.  When I left that unit after fifteen months with it, I was well-versed in the employment of cavalry scouts, tanks, scout helicopters, and combined arms maneuver.  It was an adventure from which I gleaned a lot of knowledge and experience.

Did that help me land a post-military job?  Not directly (because I had eight more years of experience in another career field), but the training in operations and planning, risk analysis, and management that I experienced, did.  What I learned sixteen years ago set me on a path that led me here.

So how does this help civilian employers hire and retain these valuable military officers?  Remember, they are multifunctional, operational-minded, and analytical.  They thrive in uncertainty.  They are quick and adept thinkers.  They can fit into many roles in any organization (private, public, or government).

So next time you meet a Chemical Officer, make sure you ask them what they do.  The story may be inspiring, but be prepared to work it out of them!

I’ve also got to put the obligatory statement that these thoughts and experiences are my own.  My main source of information comes from Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3.  If you want more information about the Chemical Corps, a good source is the Chemical Corps Regimental Association, as well as general background information from Wikipedia.  Also the Chemical Corps School at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.

One more thing; throughout my time in the military, few times have I been able to relate to many people about my time as a Chemical Officer.  I was humbled to meet a member of the First Gas Regiment from World War II.  His experiences and stories left an indelible mark on me.  As our meeting came to an end on Veteran’s Day 2013, he pressed into my hand his unit crest – a unique emblem, and a selfless gesture.  I was moved by that man on that day.  Made me proud to call myself a Chemo!

Got any experiences you want to relate?  Share them here!  I’d love to have some comments about them!

PAOs: Superheroes, lifesavers, or master communicators? Maybe all three…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am an Army Officer, and have been for 15 years.  Somewhere in the middle of my time, I decided I needed to go a different direction.  The Army was reeling from a huge amount of bad press; Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, Army Suicide rates, to name a few.  Being in the Army and watching us take the beating in the nightly news was painful for me.  I decided I needed to find a way to tell America about the good in the Army, and that the bad stuff wasn’t the norm.  I transitioned into being a Public Affairs Officer.

That’s great, right?  I get to be a spokesperson for the Army, tell the Army’s story, be at the forefront of the media engagement process.  Yeah, none of that happened…well, not exactly, anyway.  I was trained for Public Affairs, but what did that actually mean?  What was I going to do or what was I supposed to do?

According to Department of the Army Pamphlet (DA Pam) 600-3 (), as well as the Army’s Public Affairs doctrinal publication, FM 3-61, (Army Public Affairs), the mission of Army Public Affairs is to “fulfill the Army’s obligation to keep the American people and the Army informed. Public Affairs operations help establish the conditions that lead to trust and confidence in America’s Army in peacetime and war.”

Army Public Affairs officers do so much for the military.  We are the commander’s communications expert.  Not with communications architecture; but with communications techniques for internal and external audiences, crisis communications, media relations, and a whole host of other things.  We provide “trusted advice and counsel on the public implications of the organization’s operations.”  We are the “primary capability supporting the commander’s task to inform, focusing on providing information to domestic and global audiences.”

Army Public Affairs Officers (or PAOs) are responsible for doing the following core processes:

  1. Advise the commander and staff
  2. Conduct Public Affairs planning
  3. Conduct public communication
  4. Conduct media facilitation and engagement
  5. Conduct Public Affairs Training

But what characteristics make Public Affairs Officers distinct from other officers?  Well, they must be proficient in their basic branches (PAOs are from all branches of the Army), must understand key participants in the information domain, and experts in social media platforms, just to name a few.  PAOs need to have the foresight and forethought to determine second and third order effects; they must be agile and creative thinkers; understand strategic vision and see the big picture; create collaborative understanding; enhance relationships and communications through cultural awareness; and apply ethical reasoning.

PAOs must also possess many soft skills, like interpersonal skills (including speaking and listening skills, leadership skills, and coaching, mentoring, and facilitation skills), conceptual and decision-making skills (which include sound judgment, critical and creative thinking, independent and able to make decisions with little or no supervision, and ability to work under pressure in high stress environments), and tactical and technical skills (like professional knowledge, judgment and warfighting, communication, counseling and advising skills, information management skills; internal, external, interpersonal, organizational, intercultural, and mass communications skills; innovative  and adaptive).

PAOs serve at every echelon of the Army from Brigade to the Pentagon.  They are uniquely positioned in brigades in order to best communicate the tactical employment of Army forces to external audiences.  They are positioned at Division, Corps, Army, and higher levels to communicate operationally and strategically.  They – we – hold a special place on a commander’s staff.

So how does this translate into a civilian career, you may ask.  Let me start that explanation with a story.  My civilian employer brought in a new plant manager several months ago.  We had a short conversation after he had been in the position for a little more than a month about what I do for the Army.  I explained to him that we are the communicators for the Army.  Our job is to communicate with the American people and Congress specifically about the Army’s mission both at home and abroad.  This manager then said to me, “Well, the Army has always sucked at communicating with people.”  I reminded him that in the last 15 years, we had rebuilt two nations and that feat cannot be done by kicking in doors and pointing guns in people’s faces.  It was during that conversation that I realized how woefully uninformed that he was.  And if he was uninformed, then how many other people and employers had no clue about what Army officers bring to the table (hence the early advent of this blog).

I have been doing my best in this organization to communicate the value of PAOs to civilian employers; from privately held employers, to globally operating ones.  PAOs can be a major tool in an employer’s kit bag for communicating with their employees, furthering safety awareness programs, enhancing training and understanding, and communicating employee concerns to management and leadership teams.  We can’t do that without being experts on the equipment they use, safety protocols and regulations, or interpersonal interactions between employees and managers.  One of the first things in did in this organization was to identify a passive way to communicate with their employees through safety videos on the breakroom televisions.  This technique is simple in that every employee must take a break at some time during their shift, and whether or not they watch the safety videos, in their subconscious mind, they are taking in the information.  I don’t have any statistics to back up my claim that safety has improved in the workplace because of the videos, but I can say that near-miss reporting and awareness in the plant has increased while actual incidents concerning injury have gone down.

PAOs are also skilled at crisis communication and media relations.  PAOs would fit in nicely in public relations firms across the country.  Imagine your company having a major accident where lives were lost, chemicals were spilled, food contaminated, or whatever worst case scenario would be for your company.  Are you prepared to deal with that?  Do you have an internal communications capability?  Do you have the capability to communicate with the media and surrounding areas about your issue?  Is your corporate office located across the country and they are disconnected from your issue?  Having a PAO in your midst would save you a lot of hassle and money (because hiring a PR firm may not be in the budget for emergencies).

I may not be an expert in everything, but I do know how to talk to the media without spinning a story or outright lying to them.  The people that surround your facilities or plants or whatever have a right to know, and in times of emergencies, a need to know, what is going on, what you are doing about it, and how you’re planning to prevent it from happening in the future.  Imagine Chernobyl occurring because of something going horribly wrong at your facility.  If you don’t prepare for disasters and how to communicate out of them, you run this risk.  Just look at Blue Bell ice cream and their response to a listeria outbreak in one of their facilities.  The impact was felt in all their plants, distribution centers, and retailers.  Denying the facts up front, only makes you look inept and you end up wearing egg on your face.

Hire a PAO.  They could just save your company…

Tell me your stories.  Let me hear the good and the bad.  What happened where you might have needed a PAO?  Leave your comments, and I’ll tell you what I would have done as an expert communicator for you!

What is an Army Officer?

What is an Army Officer?  What does he/she bring to a civilian employer?

 

I’ve been a US Army officer for over fifteen years.  I joined the civilian workforce in May of 2015.  There was very little transition for me.  I am what is referred to in the Army as “institutionalized,” and that isn’t a bad thing.  I’ve been in so long that my frame of thinking about almost anything is rooted in my training as an Army officer.  I think in acronyms and the military phonetic alphabet.  But, so what, right?  How does that make me an asset to a civilian employer?  What skill set, education, training, and transferable skills do I bring to the table?

 

Many people do not know this, but there are several regulations (the Army has regulations for practically everything) that outline the requirements for being a commissioned officer in the US Army, as well as unique skill sets that each ranks and branch of the Army (not everyone in the Army is required to carry a weapon and “close with and destroy the enemy in close combat”) must possess in order to advance or specialize in a career field.
The Army is definitely like no other organization (except other military professions).  We have our unique personnel structure, specialized equipment, and processes.  We even have our own code of justice.  But those differences are what allow us to bring a vast array of skills to the civilian workforce.  We have our own lawyers, doctors, mechanics, logisticians, operational specialists, public relations, and information technology specialists.

 

As an Army Public Affairs officer, when I transitioned out of the military, I found myself struggling to translate my skills to a recruiter.  Forget trying to do the same for a civilian employer.  I have training and skills that I can apply to virtually every job in the civilian market, as well as specialized training in my career field.

 

The manager (who has never had any exposure to the military) at my current civilian employer asked me one day, “what do you do for the Army?”  I struggled to explain it to him in a way he would understand, and how it was applicable to what we do.  It was then that I decided I would improve myself in this communication, and I also figured, go big or go home!  So, I decided to start this blog, share it with a wider audience, and open myself up for comment and/or criticism.  If my experiences are unique to me, then no one will read this.  I hope that I am not alone in my struggle, and that this blog will open up the opportunity for Soldiers to have some means of communicating their value to potential civilian employers.  It is also an opportunity for me to communicate directly to Human Resource professionals the unique value that Soldiers bring to their organizations.

 

So, what are some of the basic requirements for a commissioned officer in the US Army?  According to Army Regulation (AR) 601-100, Appointment of Commissioned and Warrant Officers in the Regular Army, they have to be able to complete twenty years of service before turning sixty-two, have a baccalaureate degree, have good moral character, be loyal to the US, have no civil convictions, obtain and maintain a SECRET security clearance, not be a conscientious objector, meet medical and fitness standards, and above all, be a citizen of the United States.

 

So what, right?  What does that mean for all the non-military people out there reading this?  Well, it means that when you get an Army officer, you get someone who is:

  • One of the 33% of the US population with a Baccalaureate degree or higher
  • One of the 12% of the US population with a Master’s degree or higher
  • Medically fit to work in the United States
  • Physically fit
  • Guaranteed to be employable
  • A loyal employee
  • Has good moral character

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Army Officers swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution”?  This is to signify that they are bound to follow moral, ethical, and legal orders, but also to refuse to follow orders that are contrary to what is in the Constitution of the United States, regardless of who issues them – including the President of the United States.

 

From my 15 years as an Army officer, I have had the privilege of serving with some of the most upstanding, trustworthy, and loyal men and women this country has to offer.  These citizens eventually transition out of the Army and will join the ranks of corporate America.  They will bring an amazing work ethic to any culture they join.  They will be able to work in any team you place them.  They will be some of the most respectful people you have ever met.   They are an amazing group of people that you can count on, no matter what.

 

If you want to read more about the oath of office for an officer, click here.  A good resource for understanding moral leadership in the military can be found here.  Finally, the stats above can be found here.

 

I hope this has been informative, and whetted your thirst for understanding what Army officers bring to the table.  I will be bringing you an introduction to the various Army branches of service, their skills and requirements over the next couple of months.  Stay tuned!

The Customer is Always Right? Not anymore.

We’ve all heard the old adage that the “customer is always right.” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that just isn’t true.  What is true is that the “customer always knows what he wants.” Let me explain.

In the business world, you have customers and suppliers.  Customers always go to a supplier knowing what they want.  It is the supplier who tries to influence what they perceive to want.  A customer goes to a car dealership.  He wants a car, but does he choose new or used? Leather or cloth? Rag-top or not? Car, truck, SUV, or something else?  All the customer knows is that he needs a car and that he has a budget he has to maintain.  It becomes the salesman’s responsibility to be the expert in his offerings and make sure that his customer gets what he wants.  The salesman has to ask certain questions to narrow the search down.  This helps the customer refine his perceived want.  If the salesman is good at his job, he can find the perfect vehicle for his customer without busting their budget and netting himself a nice profit.

As a supplier, it behooves us to know our products, offerings, services, or whatever.  Knowing what we can do for a customer – and by extension what we cannot do – ultimately leads to a win-win situation for everyone.  Even if it comes down to pointing the customer to a competitor (not necessarily the most ideal situation), we still win.  What we provide may ultimately end up being what that customer needs.  It’s kind of like another adage: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  Well, you can lead a customer to a product or service, but you can’t force him to buy it.  So always remember that your customers know what they want, you just have to prove to them that you are the best supplier for them!

Information versus Knowledge. 

So the other day I had a conversation with a buddy of mine that really got me to thinking. We were talking about the importance of information in today’s society. What follows is the postulation that kept me up later that night. 

It is said that knowledge is power. And some say that information is power. Well, I for one do not feel that knowledge or information are synonymous with each other. Information is knowledge with purpose. The building block of information is data. Pure, unadulterated data. When data is “translated” into something useful and has meaning and value, it becomes information. Information that has been further refined by a user’s experiences, observations, and opinions, it becomes knowledge. This is what becomes powerful. Knowledge, when shared and applied, has the profound capability to influence changes in behavior and actions. Thus, knowledge is power. 
But if knowledge is power, and power corrupts, does knowledge corrupt? The answer is yes. If you take a very basic and liberal interpretation of the word, then yes. Knowledge changes understanding. It alters ones reality in ways that break from our innocent interpretation of life and our surroundings. 
So the final point to make then, can one say that with great knowledge comes great responsibility? It is my opinion that yes, it does. With knowledge comes power, and you gain a certain “dominance” over others who do not have that knowledge (thus the interpretation that power corrupts). It is the person who understands the power of information and the resulting knowledge that influences others in positive or negative ways. Therefore, it is the possessor of the knowledge who has the responsibility to shape the future. Truly a great responsibility. 

Leadership

I came to a realization today. It has been over a year since the Army told me to “pound sand.” I had no idea what I was going to do. The circumstances were ripe for me to have a complete and total breakdown. I was emotionally unstable (having given over half my life in service to the country I love), on the verge of an invasive surgery (ACL repair with narcotics prescribed for the pain), and completely unsure of what the future held for me. 

Thankfully, the people in my life prevented that from happening. I came to realize that the reason I was selected for separation wasn’t because of my failures as a leader, but a failure of my leaders to do what they were supposed to do (like balance a budget, among many other things). I am emotionally stable today (but I still have my moments when I reflect on what happened), the surgery went well and today I can function well on the repaired knee (albeit with a brace often times), and I didn’t let the drugs take over (thanks completely to my wife). Today, I am still unsure about the future, but it isn’t as bleak anymore. 
One of the things I have been reflecting on is leadership in general. I have looked to my past to find good leaders who influenced me, good/great leaders of the past, and people knowledgable about leadership today. When I left the Army, I wanted so bad to continue to be a Public Affairs/Relations professional. After all, it was what I had been doing for the last eight years. When I returned home to Texas, the first job offer that I got was as a manager trainee in a manufacturing plant. It’s not what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, but there it was. I realized that I was hired not for the PR experience I had, or the education I had, but for the leadership skills I had learned and developed.
I have always questioned my leadership skills – did I do that right?, did I make the right decision?, what will people think of me now?, etc., etc. Well, several of the Soldiers I led have come forward and told me that I was a good, empathic leader. One who understands the people who work for him, isn’t afraid to get dirty with them, willing to take necessary risks, protects his people, and knows his role/job. One of those Soldiers stated, “you always had the best intentions, you’re incredibly smart, and you cared about the Soldiers…You have a wonderful personality, a wealth of experience and a great heart. You are a wonderful leader!” That was when I realized that I had been doing it right. It wasn’t that everyone else had said it before, or that they were wrong. It was the timing. I was more open to hearing it this time. Now I know in my heart that everyone else I had led was telling me the truth and not what I needed/wanted to hear. 
To those who have gotten me here, thank you. SGT Brady, SSG Coffee, SSG Harwell, SFC Albright, CPT Twitty, and CPT Springer: thank you for letting me learn and making me a better leader over time. LTC French, LTC Vacchi, LTC Weatherstone, LTC Thomas, CDR Schumann, LTC Bidjou, LTC Belinsky: thank you all for showing me what a leader should be. There are also those I want to thank for showing me bad/toxic leadership, but I will refrain from mentioning them by name. Rest assured they and the lessons I learned from them will not be forgotten. 

I plan to follow up with this to talk more about me and why I am starting my blog now.