Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin


by Command Sergeant Major Randolph S. Hollingsworth
After visiting the many commands and talking with lots of soldiers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs), and their leaders, I have seen the tremendous capabilities and initiative inherent in our military intelligence (MI) NCOs. At the same time, I have noticed that the challenges our soldiers face are increasing in frequency and complexity. This is complemented by organizational and technological changes that bring into focus the need for raising their levels of technical knowledge and skills. NCOs need these increased levels of knowledge and skills to integrate a new generation of sophisticated systems and doctrine into the Intelligence Battlefield Operating System. Our jobs as NCOs is to make the systems work!
To meet these challenges successfully, the NCO has a major role to play. First, for NCOs to be effective, they must be technically and tactically competent. Second, they must be leaders and trainers at all times. With this in mind, I want to emphasize the importance of NCOs in making the steady transition to the new systems and doctrine.
Technical and tactical competence is the bread and butter of all NCOs. You cannot effectively lead or train if you do not Be, Know, Do. In particular, I challenge all MI NCOs to focus on their proficiency in the major system that they operate or supervise, whether a collection device, interrogation team, motor vehicle, or the All-Source Analysis System (ASAS). Plan to integrate the systems into your routine and make it happen. The price of this integration will be a great deal of effort and naturally a few mistakes. Make the mistakes and learn from them now, rather than on some future battlefield where the price is blood. The direct benefit derived now will be the discovery of new capabilities and limitations in ourselves, our soldiers, and our systems.
One concern I have is for the soldiers who operate our powerful information systems. I know that in order to maintain a unit as fully mission capable, it will require solid and strong leadership from the command sergeants major, first sergeants, and senior NCOs. Effectively employing the ASAS, for example, will require a true positive commitment, leadership, and a can do attitude to make it work. This new system is a real challenge because the skills and knowledge that enable us to succeed require a high degree of familiarity and experience with it. I have seen some outstanding leaders emerge as a result of their dedication and professionalism to obtain this familiarity. The point is that once these systems are given to us, our mission is to make them work! Just emphasize what you can do, not on how hard it is or what it cannot do.
All NCOs at each level need to ask themselves some basic questions about their focus. Do they have the right amount of realistic hands-on training? Do they understand the necessary context and doctrine? Have they planned for cross-training, practiced interoperability, and performed crew drills? These are the fundamental elements of any plan to develop and maintain a team's proficiency. This proficiency is the cornerstone of technically and tactically competent NCOs.
The officer will concentrate on the planning and resourcing of a mission; the NCO will direct the team and soldiers in the tasks. The soldier will concentrate on operating the tools of the trade. This means that the NCO's primary duty is to integrate, take on board, and focus the new tools of the trade. This is the concept on which our Army has been based a focus on getting the mission accomplished!
There are many techniques and procedures for leading and training. Each option has its pluses and minuses. But the bottom line is, Build your team, train your team, and care for your team. It is the best guidance we can give our professional NCO for today and the future.
I would like to acknowledge Master Sergeant Michael F. Fallon for assisting me in writing this column. Thank you for a job well done!