CompanyCommand: Building Combat-Ready Teams

Article excerpt

To: Company Commanders

From: Company Commanders

Leading Your Unit Through 'Reset'

One deployment rolls right into the next. Although doctrinally we should have time to "Reset" before beginning "Train up" for the next deployment, in reality these processes must occur simultaneously. As soon as we redeploy home after 12-15 months of war, we and our Soldiers have to reintegrate with our Families and civil society, receive and account for our equipment, welcome incoming Soldiers, say farewell to outgoing Soldiers and begin training for the next deployment. Sometimes we have to accomplish all this while reorganizing unit structures or changing home stations. Almost always, we undertake Reset amid a wholesale turnover in unit leadership, from squad to brigade levels.

Given the high operational tempo and fast-changing environment, our success is tied to our ability to learn from each other. Listen in as commanders who have been through Reset share their experiences and lessons learned, driven by their desire to help the Army excel during this challenging period in its history.

Mike Schmidt

C/3-71 CAV, 3/10 MTN

Prioritize to enable future success.

Reset is chaos. Mission-essential equipment is being pushed out for overhaul, key leadership is changing over, Soldiers are coming and going. All of this is happening simultaneously, and in the back of your mind you know that your unit has to be recocked and ready to fight in the next year or so. It is a daunting task.

I'd like to say that I aced Reset and set up my successor for success, but I would be lying. I came back from our extended deployment and knew that I would be changing out of command within the next month. I was burnt out and all too happy to go with the flow and maintain the status quo. It wasn't until months later, as I watched my successor and his first sergeant rebuilding the troop from scratch, that I figured out what I could have done to better set the conditions for their success.

In my opinion, the greatest asset a company commander brings to the fight is leadership. My three recommended priorities are not wasting Soldiers' time, physical fitness and training.

Don't waste your Soldiers' time. We were working half-day schedules during the first month back. Our primary focus was reintegrating Soldiers with their Families. During those half days, only the key leadership was engaged in doing something constructive. Too often, the rest of the Soldiers were sitting around, staring at each other, wondering why the first half of their day was being wasted. My lesson learned is to find something worthwhile for them to do. Give them missions such as building training records, uploading data into DTMS [Digital Training Management System], capturing lessons learned, scrubbing the company TACSOP [tactical standard operating procedures] and updating it with all the things your team learned while deployed, etc. Don't go crazy and keep them late doing this stuff, but do use their time wisely. They are still going to get home at the same time, but now each Soldier will go home satisfied that he did something worthwhile for the unit during that half day he had to spend away from his Family.

Physical fitness. We all come back from our deployments with our demons. Coping with those demons and preventing them from affecting your personal/family life is much easier when you keep fit. Additionally, the majority of your Soldiers are either going to stay and deploy again or PCS to a new unit where they will be judged initially on their level of fitness. Being physically fit will help them succeed either way. Physical training during Reset has nothing to do with becoming bigger, faster or stronger; it has everything to do with readapting to a healthy lifestyle and building a base for more demanding PT during train up.

Training. Although it is true that your Soldiers are extremely proficient at the tasks you did routinely during your last deployment, that proficiency does not directly translate into proficiency for the next deployment. …