“Leadership” is a powerful word that can be described to be the ability to influence and motive a collective mass to the main purpose to meet a goal. Army leadership is a doctrine that has evolved due to new threats and ideas over time, but the Army often refers back to its’ origins. The foundations of Army Leadership have developed into creeds, standards, and procedures within the Army. These foundations are the core of Army culture. There are three other aspects of Army Leadership; foundation that is grounded in history, loyalty to the nation, and accountability to authority.
Firstly, the foundation of Army leadership starts with its historical roots. “The Army and its leadership requirements are based on the nation’s democratic foundations, defined values, and standards of excellence.” During the establishment of the Continental Army, there was not much training for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) for them to attain their rank. Every militia had its own rules and standards, this caused there to be little uniformity when different militias joined together. Friedrich von Steuben changed all that in 1778 with a letter of recommendation from Ben Franklin to George Washington. George Washington was impressed by Von Steuben’s military bearing and discipline, and by 1779 he has started training a company of 100 men on the basics of soldiering. He made all his ideas into a manual that all soldiers know as “The Blue Book”. He established what responsibilities and duties that NCOs should have to be successful leaders with clearer guidelines and expectations. The Blue Book helped Regimental Commanders identify qualified soldiers to select them for promotion. It was also the foundation for FM 3-21.5 Drill and Ceremony. From the Revolutionary War to World War II, soldiers who received promotions from the Regimental Commander would lose their rank when they transferred unit unless they were granted permission by the general chief of the Army. Today, the Army has evaluations that are transferrable unit to unit for an NCO to keep their rank.
The second foundation of Army leadership is loyalty to the Nation. Every soldier that enlists takes the Oath of Enlistment swears to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me.’ When the US President declares to send troops overseas, soldiers are expected to be ready to respond. When a leader approaches a tough situation that can test their personal morals, they are expected place the needs of the mission first. Leaders and their subordinates are expected to be loyal and to follow all orders given. This patriotic trait can be found in all the different creeds for the Army. For instance, in the “Soldier’s Creed”, the third line clearly states “I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values” this means to always be loyal to the US and all of its foundations. When a Soldier disobeys an order, then that soldier is not only disloyal to the Army but disloyal to the Nation and its people.
The third foundation of Army leadership is accountability to authority; also known as “Command Responsibility and Authority”. This is about leaders taking responsibility for themselves, their soldiers, and their actions. According to US Army retired LTC Joe Doty Ph.D., “Commanders have the power to delegate authority but not a responsibility to ensure their subordinates are trained.” Commanders are also responsible for establishing standards, resources, and expectations. They ensure that their subordinates can perform all the tasks by the commander’s intent. The NCOs ensure that soldiers are trained to perform these tasks. If the soldiers cannot perform, the NCO is the first one to be questioned. If the NCO fails to help meet the Commander’s intent then it reflects poorly on the Commander’s reputation. Leaders have to establish open communication between themselves and their subordinates to accomplish the mission at hand that meets the commander’s intent. This open communication is what establishes trust between leader and subordinate to accomplish the mission.
In conclusion, the foundations of Army Leadership have evolved, but it also refers back to tradition. Its strong foundation beginning with “The Blue Book” by Baron Von Steuben with his clear guidelines for what an ideal quality Non-Commissioned Officer looks like, loyalty to the nation are used in direct orders and expected to be followed, and accountability to authority is still a strong thing for both soldiers and NCOs to follow to meet the Commander’s intent.
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