Monday, November 7, 2011

A Tale of Two Companies...

Bravo Company was led by 3 ROTC sourced officers (regular college education) and 2 Mustang sourced officers (former enlisted).   Charlie Company was led by 1 Mustang and 3 West Pointers (Military Academy, if you don't understand, PLEASE Google it). Each company would alternate the mission of protecting specific checkpoints along convoy routes while deployed to Iraq. 

One company would set-up on the checkpoint; highly visible, and nothing ever happened while they were at the checkpoint; but occasionally, after the tanks left, a roadside bomb was placed at the checkpoint and hit a passing convoy. These guys followed the exact interpretation of the mission (protect checkpoint 13 for 4 hours).

The other company would set-up in an "over-watch" position. This meant they would sit back away from the checkpoint but maintain a clear field of fire. If anything happened at the checkpoint, they would engage. For a while a lot happened at that checkpoint while the tanks were on over-watch, but eventually it slowed to a stop and convoys weren't hit the next day after that company's tanks had the missions. This company understood that the mission was to prevent roadside bombs, and sometimes it is better to not be obvious.

The end result, the "bad guys" learned to watch the checkpoints too. If they saw a tank sitting at the location and then left, they would know it was clear for the rest of the night. They would then approach to set-up the bomb. If no tank was visible that night, they left the checkpoint alone because they didn't know what was out there waiting. 

A side note (and another blog to share, perhaps) is never assume your opposition is stupid.

Why share this? Because the difference is a result of training. One company was trained in the "If I haven't explicitly been told 'no,' I can." The other company was from the "If I haven't explicitly been told 'yes,' I can't." 

I want to ask you as leaders to think about how your people are trained. Which camp does your leadership and training style fall under? Do you punish severely when someone takes initiative, or perhaps follows the spirit rather than the letter of your intent? Or do you reward for achieving something, for executing in such a way that the implied task (hey that was a previous blog entry, found here) was accomplished and not just the letter of the mission?

And for your benefit. Bravo Company was the one that set-up the over-watch positions. If you look at my background, I think you can figure out which company I was in.

1 comment:

  1. I like that one, I guess you know which side of the debate I fall on