One point that struck a chord with me was his philosophy on the definition of ‘Garrison Leadership.’ After listening to his talking points, I fully support his position; there is no such thing as garrison leadership. We need to remove the phrase from our vernacular.
Leadership is leadership, cut and dry. The things you expect from a leader in combat are the same things you should expect from them during the dwell time cycle. FM 6-2, the Army’s keystone field manual on leadership, makes no reference to garrison leadership. In fact, the word “garrison” appears once.
The adjunct term “garrison leadership,” in my opinion, is a term that was developed to define leadership, specifically, in a garrison environment.
However, it is no different from leadership in combat. Instead, it is the art of integrating garrison norms within the leadership requirements model; attributes and core leader competencies.
Over time, with increased duration and number of deployments, leaders have not emphasized those norms because they spend the majority of their effort training for combat.
With the end of the Iraq War and reduction of the number of Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, it is inevitable that Soldiers will have more dwell time and the emphasis of garrison policies and regulations will become, once again, important. Not that they were ever less important.
Leaders motivate, inspire and influence others to take initiative, work toward a common purpose, accomplish critical tasks and achieve organizational objectives.
In an effort to re-set the art of leadership in a garrison environment, and in particular Fort Polk, I would like to remind all leaders of a few garrison norms which are sometimes lost during deployments and thus feed the perception that we’ve lost our ability to apply leadership in a garrison setting.
The first is to take pride in ownership. Recently, the Post Command Sergeant Major, DPW Sergeant Major, and I rode around Fort Polk to identify those areas which need some grounds maintenance attention.
The challenge is not as great now as it will be during the growing season.
However, if we start now, ramping up in the spring and summer months will be easier because policing our areas will become habitual.
Grounds maintenance is a complex issue when you dive into budget constraints, contractual obligations and limited resources.
However, I’m confident that if Soldiers take pride in the areas in which they live and work, leaders can solve the issues. Some may call me naïve –– instead, I like the term optimistic.
Next is to take pride in America. Recently an ‘All Users’ email went out, reminding us of the proper respect paid to our nation during Reveille and Retreat.
I encourage all leaders to understand the proper actions and to help the less informed execute this drill through on the spot corrections.
The uninformed aren’t unpatriotic. They just need reminded about the pride we should have in our nation and the colors that represent it.
Finally, take pride in yourself. Soldiers are the Army in the community’s eyes. Become familiar with policies which govern on and off post conduct and dress, then motivate Soldiers to live up to those standards.
One of the best ways to instill pride in others is to be an example to them. If we, as leaders, create a positive environment and lead by example, Soldiers will follow.
Not all, I know, but those who are truly proud to be Soldiers will.
The post commander’s goal is to develop Fort Polk into the “Best Hometown in the Army,” and we can do it with everyone’s help.
This article is not meant to poke anyone in the eye, ruffle any feathers, nor belittle anyone’s leadership style.
Instead, I hope that it causes you to stop and think about what it is each Soldier, Family member and civilian can do to help make Fort Polk better when we leave than when we first arrived.
I’ve been stationed at Fort Polk for 15 of my 28 years in the Army. It has grown and improved by leaps and bounds during that time. It will only continue to grow and improve with your help.