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                  your peers that others may not have the respect or intestinal fortitude to say to their face. However uncomfortable, as a peer it is your responsibility to police up your battles with tact. Everything we do or fail to do gets noticed, thus it is in our collective interest to help each other succeed. Only toxic leaders step on others to further themselves, so if you are striving to be the best do so on the basis of merit not sabotage.
Platoon leadership can be stressful and sometimes you need someone to talk to. Consequently you may find yourself acting as a therapist for your peers because no matter how stressful it is, no one should complain up or down the Chain of Command. Talking about daily problems with peers who understand, discussing different points of view, and bouncing ideas off each other makes us all better.
Peer Azimuth Check: Do your peers come to you for guidance and assistance more than you go to them? Would they advocate for you? Would they want to work with you again?
LOE 4: Your Chain of Command
I have three clichés to share about the role of PL as it relates to higher echelons: (1) Perception is reality; (2) Communication is key; (3) Victory is being V.A.N.I.
Perception is reality. The question is not if you will run into higher, it is when. I see my Battalion Commander twice a week, my Brigade Commander once a phase, and the Commanding General once
a cycle. You must be able to positively represent your organization at a moment’s notice. The
higher echelons spot check often, so if higher sees something wrong in your formation upon arrival,
it is a pretty good indicator to them that other deficiencies exist. (Broken Windows Theory)
Communication is key. Our job is to be conduits of information for our Chain of Command so
they can understand the environment in order
to make prudent decisions. We are the closest commissioned officers to the Trainees and the Drill Sergeants, so communication must be frequent
and honest. We need to understand their intent to execute properly, and they need to understand our situation to make informed decisions. You should always be looking two levels up and two levels down. That means understanding the Battalion and Company Commander’s intent and mission in
order to communicate the task and purpose to your subordinates.
Victory is being V.A.N.I. My Battalion Commander at BOLC, LTC Finch, taught me V.A.N.I. stands for Value Added, No Issues. If
your presence is value added to the organization without any issues, then you are on the right path. This means being proactive instead of reactive.
It means working hard to build and maintain professional relationships. Finally, it means making the organization better. Your individual excellence is not enough. My First Sergeant, 1SG Dolan, put
it best: “Working towards the success of others naturally results in the success of the company.”
Chain of Command Azimuth Check: Do you positively represent your unit? Do you predict what your Chain of Command wants before they know they want it? Do you honestly com- municate the situation on the ground? Are you V.A.N.I.?
“Love the one you are with; whatever unit and job you have, it is the best in the Army. If not so, make
it so.” (FF #30) No one gets it perfect on their first try so, in the words of Samuel Beckett, if you fail “try again, fail again, fail better.” I challenge you to utilize the azimuth checks as a tool. If you fail the azimuth checks I encourage you to check your ego at the door, allow yourself to learn, and then get after it. Everyone has something to teach you, so look for the golden nuggets and be prepared to pick them up.
Leading Soldiers is a privilege; leading a platoon of Trainees through BCT is an honor. If you squander the opportunity to have a lasting impact on America’s next generation of Soldiers it will be noticed by those around you: your Trainees, your Drill Sergeants, your peers, and higher. Whether you volunteered or were “volun-told” to do it,
you are directly impacting the quality of Soldiers that become part of our great Army. Attitude is everything and I challenge you to choose to look at your PL time here as an opportunity to grow and serve because “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” (Henry Ford)
1LT Ariana Rocha currently serves as a Platoon Leader in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 193rd Infantry Brigade.
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