Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 111

LEADING SOLDIERS (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division PAO) Soldiers from Troop C "Crazy Horse," 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, “heave to” against soldiers from Troop D, Forward Support Company's "Defenders," during a tug-of-war competition 17 July 2013 at Fort Hood, Texas. The Crazy Horse team proved victorious in the competition, which was conducted as part of the squadron's family day activities. Junior soldiers need to know their leaders from team to platoon level, even company level, primarily through direct interaction. Leaders at team, platoon, and company level are wise to use primarily active communication channels (e.g., face-to-face or telephone conversation) more than primarily passive communication channels (e.g., e-mail or text message). The message may be delivered, but confirmation may not be provided quickly. In executing operations at the company level and below, both information and confirmation that a message is clearly received are essential for accountability and mission success. In order to develop cohesive teams, leaders must actively communicate regularly and effectively with their subordinates. In addition, leaders should understand the time and place for using passive communication channels, and they should avoid overusing them. Soldiers’ proclivity for depending on communicating through technology was apparent to me during my time as a company commander from 2010 to 2012. During a month of consolidated training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in November 2011, I directed that cell phones MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 were not authorized for soldiers (staff sergeant and below) during the established training hours. There were two main reasons for this decision: first, the use of cell phones for sending text messages or using the Internet could become a training distraction; and second, I wanted to set conditions for personal, face-to-face interactions to take place. The latter reason was especially important because our unit had experienced significant personnel turnover following redeployment just six months before. As one might expect, this decision was not popular; it required daily leader inspection to ensure the directive was being followed. During a company after action review with sergeants and staff sergeants in early December 2011, many grievances were voiced about the logic of my decision regarding cell phones. Their argument was that I had taken their “power base from them” (their words) by denying their immediate access to communication during training hours. They believed that, void of instant communication with their soldiers, they were not able to adequately monitor whereabouts and maintain accountability. The over-dependency on technology was clear: if young 105