by Command Sergeant Major Randolph Hollingsworth
On the field of battle all soldiers' lives are equally
precious, as they are in the sight of God, and each soldier's job,
no matter what it is, is as important as another, for it is the sum
of the efforts of many soldiers, doing their jobs, that determines
the success of an army's mission.
General Matthew B. Ridgeway
The theme of this issue of the Military Intelligence
Bulletin is MI support to Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR. In keeping with
this theme, I discuss preparing your unit for combat.
Preparing Your Unit for Combat
Preparing your unit for combat, as all leaders know, does not start
with receipt of the Warning Order. It commences with realistic
training and continues with a physical training program that tests
the endurance and stamina of every soldier in the unit. It begins
with soldiers having faith in their leadership, their equipment,
their individual skills, and in themselves. But most of all, it is
cemented by the NCOs tasked with
training and leading soldiers into battle.
I believe three vital areas must be integrated to successfully
prepare units for war. When fully integrated, they will produce
soldiers who are able to fight and win in any environment. These
three components of victory are training, faith in leaders, and
mental and emotional preparation.
The first component is training in accordance with FM 25-100,
Training the Force, and FM 25-101, Battle Focused Training. All
NCOs must understand these references inside and out. These field
manuals must not rest in a bookcase gathering dust. The same is
true with our FM 34-series; our NCO Corps must read and understand
them and then implement the training that supports MI doctrine. All
NCOs must understand that when they conduct training, they must
train on tasks that are critical to the unit's wartime mission.
When you train soldiers on their individual and crew-served weapons
and all our MI systems, ensure that they train to standard.
FM 25-101 discusses several important facts. These include
In addition to all the information the two FMs and our 34-series
manuals give, I believe that NCOs should be able to operate every
piece of equipment under their span of control. It is not good
enough to say, I am the Analysis and Control Element NCO in
charge. The ACE NCOIC must know single-source, all-source, and
remote work stations. Training still is, and always will be, the
responsibility of the NCO.
- NCOs have the responsibility to train sections, squads,
teams, and crews.
- Soldiers, leaders, and units must be proficient in the
basic skills required to perform their missions under battlefield
- The command sergeant major, first sergeants, and platoon
sergeants must also actively participate in leader training and
Faith in the Leaders
My second integral element of victory is that soldiers must have
faith in their leaders. When soldiers see NCOs who are always there
with them, who know their jobs, are honest and fair, have
integrity, and care for them, then they have faith in those NCOs.
A true war story will show you what I mean. In 1973, I was a
young soldier at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Every Monday morning
the company went to the motor pool to perform preventive
maintenance checks and services (PMCS). At the motor pool, the
soldiers conducted PMCS; all the NCOs except two went inside to
drink coffee. The two NCOs who observed our PMCS and made sure we
performed our tasks correctly were the same ones who went on every
field training exercise and were always the range NCOICs. Those
NCOs were the ones in whom every soldier in the unit had faith. We
cannot expect soldiers to have faith in our NCO Corps in combat if
they do not have faith in or respect us during peace. When your
soldiers have faith in your leadership ability, you have the battle
Mental and Emotional Preparation
My final component of victory also involves the NCO Corps. Your
task is to prepare soldiers for war mentally and emotionally. This
element may be the hardest part of my trio.
When was the last time you honestly evaluated your platoon,
company, and battalion to determine if your soldiers are mentally
ready to deploy tomorrow? And how would you change your soldiers'
lack of confidence in a piece of equipment? Would you start working
on a plan to improve your soldiers' confidence in the equipment? As
NCOs, we must project confidence in our soldiers' technical and
tactical skills and in the equipment that collects intelligence for
One other thing you (as NCOs) must remember is that soldiers have
more faith in their leaders when they know that someone is looking
after their families. Be sure they know who will help their
families if they need it. When soldiers believe that their leaders
have confidence in them, faith in those leaders, and are
well-trained, then they will be as close as they can get to being
mentally prepared to go to war.
ALWAYS OUT FRONT!