The commander of the 1st Armored Division Support
Command confirmed the authorís belief that, in peacetime, Army leaders should get to know the Soldiers on whom their success depends in wartime.
commanders and first sergeants of the 1st Armored
Division Support Command (DISCOM) board a helicopter
that will take them to the leader professional development
I am the commander of C Company, the direct support
heavy maintenance company of the 123d Main Support Battalion,
1st Armored Division Support Command (DISCOM), in Dexheim,
Germany. For the past 6 months, my first sergeant and I have
been supporting numerous missions simultaneously. Our Soldiers
are spread out across U.S. Army Europe executing many important
maintenance missions that prepare other units’ Soldiers
and equipment to go to war. Many of the missions have come
with little or no notice, so we have had to stay on our toes
to ensure that nothing goes awry and that our supported units
have everything they need to make them successful during their
Because of our hectic operating tempo, we were
surprised when, in September, we received an operation order
telling us about an upcoming 2-day leader professional development
event that the 1st Armored Division DISCOM Commander, Colonel
Guy C. Beougher, and DISCOM Command Sergeant Major Patrick
J. Douglas had arranged for 4 and 5 October for all of the
company commanders and first sergeants in the DISCOM. As busy
as I was, I knew Colonel Beougher was even busier. How on Earth
would he have time to take 14 people on a leader professional
development event for 2 days?
Later, after I had adjusted my calendar and made sure everything was covered
for those 2 days, I sat back and pondered a few things. In the past, I had often
thought about how much the Army values the opinions of an officer’s senior
rater when, in reality, some of my past senior raters would not recognize me
if I were wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Another thought was that we all manage
unmanageable schedules, but we have to remember to do the things that are most
important, although those things may never be asked of us.
In the Army, we all have 36 hours of work to do for every 24 hours on the clock.
When we go to war and find that we have to trust our missions to people we don’t
know, we may wish that we had spent more time on events such as officer and noncommissioned
officer professional development and officer calls. We may wish that we had
spent a little more time counseling our subordinates and developing them into
logistics leaders. The fact that the DISCOM commander was taking the time to
get to know his subordinates reminded me of the importance of being able to
evaluate subordinates two levels down.
Leading from the Front
On the morning of 4 October, the company commanders and
first sergeants gathered in front of DISCOM headquarters
for an invigorating run while toting rubber M16 rifles.
Colonel Beougher was in the lead, as he was throughout the
entire training event. We kept a steady pace for approximately
3 miles. The whole time I was running, I kept in mind that
the man leading the run was approximately 10 years older
than I was. There was no way that I could feel sorry for
myself when my weapon grew heavy or the pace seemed tough.
His mindset illustrated why we must ensure that there is
time in our hectic schedules to “lead from the front.” Our
Soldiers notice everything that we do and where we spend
our time. If we are never around them and never get to know
them or check on what is going on, they will rightly assume
that we don’t care about them. The run helped ensure
that we were physically fit and mentally prepared to fight
and win on the next battlefield.
After the run and breakfast, we boarded a bus that would take us to the Hohenfels
Training Area (HTA) at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (formerly the
Combat Maneuver Training Center). During the 4-hour ride, Colonel Beougher showed
us how to use “hip-pocket training.” We played a quiz show-type game,
with questions from the –10 manual for high-mobility, multipurpose wheeled
vehicles (humvees). The game was entertaining, and we all learned things that
we didn’t know or had forgotten.
practice their marksmanship skills in the engagement
skills trainer. The device tracks shots from individual
weapons and provides feedback on accuracy.
At HTA, we headed directly for the engagement
skills trainer (EST), which is a multipurpose device designed
the indoor training of squad-sized
units on basic and advanced marksmanship and fundamental tactical engagement
skills. It tracked the shots from our individual weapons and provided accurate
feedback on how we were shooting. We were all impressed with the realism of
the HTA scenarios.
After the EST training, we donned 35-pound rucksacks and prepared to march
more than 3 miles to the site where two helicopters were waiting to pick us
kept a quick pace for the march, and stopped only once to rest. Colonel Beougher
knew a few shortcuts to the site, so we took a couple of jaunts off the beaten
path to save time.
Our timing was perfect; we reached the pickup zone at exactly 1530. In logistics,
timing is everything. I was lucky enough to get a seat in the helicopter that
had been decked out to carry the 1st Armored Division commanders, and the flight
After landing, we marched approximately 3 more miles to the village of Emhof.
We stayed at a quaint gasthaus called Kellermeiers that has a storied tradition
of housing many famous military leaders as they passed through the Hohenfels
area. After dinner, each company commander or first sergeant presented a 20-minute
briefing. The briefings highlighted the Army’s transition to two-level
maintenance, convoy leader training, live-fire exercises, in-transit visibility,
the transition of military occupation specialist 91W (health care specialist)
medics, the brigade support battalion task organization in a brigade, and training
at home station. A key lesson that we all learned was that, if your boss asks
for a 20-minute briefing, it’s a good idea to rehearse. Also, don’t
plan to talk for the full 20 minutes.
Beougher leads the DISCOM Soldiers in a 3-mile march
from the helicopter landing site to the village of
Emhof, which is near Hohenfels, Germany.
What to Do When Bad Things Happen
During the evening, reality hit home in the form
of a phone call telling us that one of our heavy equipment
transporters carrying an M1A1 Abrams tank and its crew had
turned over at the HTA. No one lost his life, and the injured
Soldiers would recover completely. However, we realized that,
even when we are gone, the world doesn’t stop turning
and things will happen during our absence. We must be sure
to take measures to prevent accidents, and it is vital that
the people that we leave in charge in our absence know what
to do when bad things happen. They need to know all of the
proper reporting mechanisms, and all relevant people in the
chain of command should have thorough contact information so
they and others can take action quickly. Nothing is more frustrating
than having an emergency situation and nobody knowing who is
When we were notified about the accident, we
discussed the situation with the 1st Brigade Combat Team commander
at the site and, after tasking the executive
officer and acting first sergeant of B Company to deal with the accident,
we chose to go on with training.
In the morning, Colonel Beougher and Command
Sergeant Major Douglas left the training site and went to the
hospital to visit the injured Soldiers and the
S–3 took charge of the training event.
Convoy Operations Training
The next day, we took our
bus back to the EST building, where we had a demonstration
of two Army training devices designed
to help train Soldiers on convoy operations—the
Laser Convoy Counter Ambush Training System (LCCATS) and the Deployable
Instrumentation System–Europe (DISE). Using the
LCCATS, Soldiers can engage full-scale, computer-controlled
targets set at various distances and placed in a
number of actual terrain and combat scenarios. The DISE is a combination
of live instrumentation
systems that provides fully instrumented training feedback. Using the
DISE, commanders can meet their training objectives anywhere, anytime.
also provides fully instrumented after-action information that supplements
The leader professional development event at
Hohenfels was a great experience. We left Hohenfels rejuvenated
and with more energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge
than when we arrived. Following Colonel Beougher’s example, we will be
sure to make time for teambuilding and creative training in the future.
Captain Stephen M. Crow is the Commander
of C Company, 123d Main Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division
Support Command, in Dexheim, Germany. He has a bachelor’s
degree in education from Ball State University. He is a graduate
of the Army Airborne and Air Assault Schools, the Combined
Logistics Captains Career Course, and the Combined Arms and
Services Staff School.
The author would like to thank Major David W. Banian, S–3
of the 1st Armored Division Support Command, for his assistance
in writing this article.