Infantry Part II: The Key to Good Infantry is Training Squad Leaders
Quality squad leaders are made, not born. They are trained by other internal experienced NCO’s. The position of squad leader is the least experienced and the most junior of all infantry positions. Yet, it often is the most important on the field of battle as well as the least capable of supervision. Combat forces a largely independent action environment on the squad despite the finest communication technology available. In the heat of the moment, the squad reacts with deeply visceral, immediate impulsive responses to an enemy. The only control mechanisms are previous training and immediate leadership. And that is, inevitably, a squad leader.
When decisions regarding the promotion of a potential squad leader are suborned to paper qualifications of the perfect NCOES system, the people who most know and understand the faults and/or qualities of the man/woman are significantly denigrated. Yes-Joe has all the qualifications required so he gets promoted. Jack doesn’t qualify even though everyone knows he is the better of the two. Careerists will ensure that they block check requirements and can afford to subordinate their immediate supervisor’s authorities. Historically, we have seen this with every program that “centralizes” decisions from the immediate leadership to the perfect management model.
The most important factor a squad leader E5 has is the ability to actually lead troops in a positive manner. Knowledge of all the basic skills, individual and collective, empathy for and evaluation of subordinates, eye for detail and personal example are the keys to success. Most important, is the reservoir of confidence the squad leader, acting or otherwise, has retained with his/her troops.
Only immediate superiors can evaluate these qualities. A highly schooled, made all the block check requirements person, may look great on paper as “Highly qualified,” yet be a …read more
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