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My Expectations and Guidance

By David S. Chang


10 June 2019    

MEMORANDUM FOR All 250th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion

SUBJECT: Expectations and Guidance for Lightning BN Staff, CO CDRs, and AGR Soldiers

1. Mission Command

IAW the Army’s Mission Command philosophy (Figure 1), commanders drive the operations process. My intent for battalion operations follows:

a. We achieve mission command when we: Build and maintain trust, maintain a continuous dialogue, and gain shared understanding. It’s more than just ‘shoot, move, and communicate.’ It’s about outcomes and results: Maneuver to a position of advantage, hit the intended target, share and have shared understanding.

b. I command the battalion principally through six people: The CSM, the four company commanders, the DCO, and the S3. This policy letter details my expectations of the battalion staff and commanders who report to me. It serves as a bridge between my leadership philosophy and your individual counseling, helping to achieve shared understanding so you can exercise discipline initiative to achieve my intent.

c. My role as the commander is and provide direction, guidance, and resources while synchronizing operations. I encourage subordinates to take bold action and accept prudent risks to create opportunity and to seize the initiative.

d. The battalion’s staff officers work for me and the company commanders. The staff’s job, under the guidance of the DCO, is to provide resources (equipment, support, time, manpower) and plans to the company commanders who execute the battalion’s mission or their separate tasks (Figure 2).

Figure 2

e. The Battalion CSM and chaplain all work directly for me as my special staff. I have given them an “all access pass” to look into all areas of the battalion, companies, staff, wherever. In particular, the CSM and I are, by definition, on the same sheet of music. When he speaks, you are hearing my voice. Smart officers and NCOs will seek his counsel: he’s been doing this Army stuff for a long time and he will help you.

f. Don’t keep anything to yourself; staff officers need to coordinate directly with their brigade and company counterparts; company commanders need to share effective TTPs and ideas amongst each other. None of us is as smart as all of us put together. When we are making the plan, all opinions are welcome, even ones that run contrary to senior officers and NCOs. Once I decide on our plan, though, I expect everyone to work together and accomplish the mission.

g. We plan all events IAW ADRP 5-0 and FM 5-0 using the Military Decision-Making Process and the BN DCO ensures that all BN plans are logistically and operationally synched. The DCO will also help resource and synchronize BN efforts to ensure their success, so company commanders need to keep me and the BN DCO in the loop with their plans and changes.

h. The BN staff will publish specific guidance at least 120 days before events that are BN-driven. The BN staff will publish a robust warning order immediately after the planning session that has enough detail for companies to base their training schedules on. The BN S3 (Lightning 3) will publish a detailed OPORD not less than 60 days prior to the training event and fight to defend it against unnecessary changes.

i. Companies will use the BN order and Troop Leading Procedures to craft their training schedules, which are due to brigade 90 days before the training event. Training NCOs can draft the training schedule, but Company Commanders must sign it.

j. Don’t make it up, look it up. Doctrine is the common frame of reference for all Soldiers and is “what right looks like” until proven otherwise. By establishing a common approach and language, doctrine promotes mutual understanding and enhances effectiveness. However, doctrine manuals are guides for action rather than sets of fixed rules. While doctrine provides an authoritative guide for leaders, it requires original applications adapted to circumstances. Apply no tactic rigidly. Effective leaders possess the ability to spot when and where doctrine, training, or even their past experience no longer fit the situation and then those leaders can adapt accordingly. Finally, ignorance of the correct/current doctrine is not a valid excuse for deviating from it or ignoring it all together. Know your doctrine; know your job down to the details.

(1) Staff officers need to read, understand and apply our key doctrine: The operations process in ADRP/FM 5-0, Mission Command in ADP/ADRP/FM 6-0, and Training in ADP/ADRP/FM 7-0.

(2) Commanders need to understand their doctrinal responsibilities to understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead, and assess (ADRP 6-0) as well as develop leaders IAW ADRP/FM 6-22. Understand Mission Command and its six guiding principles (Figure 1). IAW ADRP 7-0, the commander is central to planning, preparing, executing, and assessing training. Base your individual and collective tasks off Combined Arms Training Strategy (CATS). Use the correct Training & Evaluation Outlines (T&EO) to evaluate task proficiency or plan and resource a training event.

2. Leaders Lead from the Front

a. Commanders need to take charge of their unit, be proactive, anticipate problems, and do the right thing in the absence of guidance from me. I’ve already commanded a company, so I don’t intend to start commanding yours. I expect Company Commanders, Staff Officers, and the BN Senior Leaders to be smart, pivot quickly, work hard, and protect people’s time.

b. As leaders we bear the responsibility for any deficiencies or failures in our unit. Lack of equipment, money, or supplies, etc., are only excuses; great leaders show their worth when facing and overcoming adversity. We should expect each other to be competent, disciplined, proactive, and obviously, void of immoral/unethical/illegal activity.

c. Remember why we exist! Our organizational purpose is to provide timely, relevant, accurate, and synchronized intelligence support to tactical, operational and strategic-level commanders. Intelligence drives operations, and the maneuver commanders make decisions based on the intelligence we provide. If at the end of battle the units and commanders we support can’t depend on you, you’re a poor intelligence professional.

d. We can do anything, but not everything. Focus on excelling on our highest priorities from my command philosophy. There will be many demands that will detract from our primary mission, even things that come down from my office. I expect you to figure out how to keep those activities most crucial to combat readiness at the top of the priority list. For everything else, get in the middle. On the things that are not primary to our mission, just get in the middle. Don’t try to be on the top, or it will take too much effort away from the important things. Don’t be on the bottom, or I’ll have to send in the DCO, S3 or someone else and that will distract you. In other words, stay focused on the most important things; just be average on the things that don’t contribute. That way, you won’t distract your attention or attract the attention of others.

3. Developing Teams

a. After providing vision for the battalion, my most important job is to mentor and develop company-grade officers. I want to partner with company commanders and the DCO to mentor their young Lieutenants, teaming up to provide coaching and counseling to help them become effective Leaders.

b. You may be a part-time Soldier, but your service requires a full-time attitude and your daily attention. The M-Day chain of command is the only chain of command. The full-time manning carries out the intent of the M-Day Command Team between drills. Do not expect your AGR staff to operate autonomously between drills because they still need your guidance and support. The M-day primary staff officer or commander is still responsible for the success or failure of the tasks in their lane.

4. Inform and Influence Audiences, Both Internal and External.

a. Communication and trust are key in leadership. Always communicate both task and purpose to your teams/subordinates. If they know why they are doing something, they will do it better and be able to overcome problems or unforeseen circumstances easier.

b. I expect timeliness and accuracy in communication. It is the hallmark of effective Military Intelligence Soldiers. Be responsive to my emails and calls when I ask you for something or task you to do something; I don’t spam you or send you anything that I expect you to ignore. If I email you something that requires your action or acknowledgement, I expect a response by the end of the next business day. If I call you, I expect you to call me back at your first opportunity. Turn products in before their suspense or let me know as soon as you realize you won’t meet the deadline. Don’t make me chase you around for the resolution of some task or some answer I asked you for.

c. Use good Army Writing Style IAW DA Pam 600-67. Use BLUF and common language. If you can’t say it in 10 lines, your reader may not have time to read it right away. When talking, don’t use 10 words when 5 will do. Get to the point. I expect crisp, clear, and professional communication and presentation. Don’t read me your slides and when learn to be graphic and visually communicate information. I expect anything representing our Lightning Battalion to be professional. I do notice the small things.

d. Email is my preferred method of communication for routine matters because it is asynchronous and gives me written record of the conversation. If you email me, you can put NEED DECISION or NEED SIGNATURE in the subject line, otherwise I’ll assume it’s standard traffic. The disadvantage to email is that sometimes it leaves room for assumption or interpretation, so if you are unclear about something I have sent you or told you, ask me for clarification immediately. It’s ok to call or text me for clarification or if you don’t understand what I sent.

e. Per my Leadership Manual – Understanding Me, I do not like working with Grumblers, Know-it-Alls, Takers, and Negative People. Studies have shown that these traits will do three times more damage than someone who is a giver. If you can’t tell me what you’d like to be happening, you don’t have a problem yet. You’re just complaining. A problem only exists if there is a difference between what is actually happening and what you desire to be happening. Attitudes are contagious, so be positive.

f. If you need me to review, approve, or sign something, I intend to get it back to you within 24 hours, but you are still responsible for the action. “An action passed is NOT an action completed.”   If you sent me or the Battalion S1 something I need to sign more than 48 hours ago and I have not responded, it probably means your message or item got lost in the fray. Call me or email me and remind me; I promise that I won’t resent being prompted or shoot the messenger.

g. If I ask for your recommendation, I want your recommendation. Don’t tell me “I don’t know sir” or “it’s your call”. Tell me what you would do if you were me. Don’t be upset if I don’t follow your advice, though. In the end, I have to make the tough calls myself. Be transparent and honest. don’t tell me what you think I want to hear but tell me what I need to hear. Bad news does not get better with time

h. Meetings start on time; your time and my time are both valuable. I also try very hard to get meetings to end on time for the same reason. Let’s protect each other’s time!

i. Know my CCIR and Notification Criteria and call me when something happens (on or off duty) that meets it. These are my standing Notification Criteria:  I want to know if:  Any Lightning Soldier is injured on-duty requiring medical treatment; any Lightning Soldier breaks civilian law (above $300 traffic ticket), violates the UCMJ, or does something that will probably end up on the evening news.


David S. Chang

Award-Winning Entrepreneur, Wealth Manager and CEO | Chief Editor, Author, Keynote Speaker, Consultant | Political Consultant | Army Officer National Guard | Living To Fulfill Needs, Solve Problems, and Live Passionately!


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