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.

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 partly won.

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 the commander.
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!