Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mullen Visits Sergeants Major Academy, Praises Senior Enlisted Contributions

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 18, 2008 - A military's most valuable resources are its people and the experienced leaders who mentor and train them, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told senior noncommissioned officers here today during a visit to the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. "You are serving in an extraordinary time in our country's history," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. "Right now [the military has] the best soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines we've ever had, and it's that way, in great part, because of your service."

Mullen spoke to a group of nearly 700 of the U.S. military's top enlisted troops, congratulating them for being selected to attend the academy and thanking them for their service. He commended them for the leadership and the knowledge they represent.

Because of the high tempo of today's military, Mullen said it's important for the more-seasoned troops to focus on leadership, mentoring and sharing their experiences with new and junior recruits. Although the individual servicemember is the military's number one asset, the chairman said they're no good without strong leadership.

The admiral also praised the families for their support. The pace of deployment rotations may be hard on the spouses and children, he said, but their positive support allows the troops to focus on their mission.

"We have the most combat-hardened, most capable, fastest changing military that I've ever seen," he said, "and we could not do that without the support of our family."

In fact, Mullen gives military families much credit for the past year's success in Iraq. Violence there is at its lowest levels in nearly five years. Iraqi forces have grown more competent and self-sufficient, and some U.S. units have already redeployed without replacements.

"Family support has never been better," he said. "We've been unbelievably successful in Iraq. The change from a year ago is absolutely spectacular. [Success in Iraq] is still reversible, and it's still fragile, but the families made that possible."

Mullen concluded his visit with the academy by reiterating the importance of leadership in today's force and senior leaders to pass on their experiences to troops as they progress through the ranks.

"leadership is the most important part of your job as senior non-commissioned officers," he said. "You are a key group for our future, and our future rests on your shoulders."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Odierno Assumes Command of Coalition Forces in Iraq

By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 16, 2008 - Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno assumed command of Multinational Force Iraq from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus during a ceremony at al Faw Palace here today. The change of command occurs after incredible progress in the country, said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who traveled to Baghdad to participate in the ceremony.

"When General Petraeus took charge 19 months ago, darkness had descended on this land," the secretary said. "Merchants of chaos were gaining strength. Death was commonplace. Around the world, questions mounted about whether a new strategy – or any strategy, for that matter – could make a real difference."

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that a national intelligence estimate in January 2007 doubted whether Iraq could reconcile over 18 months.

"Here we are, 18 months later, and Iraq is a vastly different place," Mullen said during the ceremony. "Attacks are at their lowest point in four years, 11 of 18 provinces have been turned over – including the once-written-off Anbar province – to Iraqi security forces, who are increasingly capable and taking more of a lead in operations."

The Iraqi government is providing for its people, the legislature is passing laws and the courts are enforcing justice, the chairman said. "In more places and on more faces we are seeing hope; we see progress," the admiral said.

Mullen said he looks forward to working with Petraeus as the general takes over the reins of U.S. Central Command next month.

Petraeus put all the credit for the progress in Iraq at the feet of "the men and women of the coalition and with the many courageous diplomats and Iraqis with whom we have served."

Petraeus thanked the Iraqi civilian and military leaders for their leadership. "You have risked everything to help your country make the most of the opportunity that our forces and yours have fought so hard to provide," he said.

The Iraqi people also have made the strategy work, standing with the new Iraq against extremism, Petraeus said.

"You've endured tragic losses and countless hardships, but you've begun the process of repairing the fabric of a society ripped apart by the horrific sectarian violence of 2006 and into 2007," he said. "There will always be a place in my heart for the 'Land of the Two Rivers' and the people of Iraq."

Petraeus noted that when he took command he told coalition servicemembers that the situation in Iraq was "hard, but not hopeless." The coalition and Iraqi partners stemmed the tide of violence and helped Iraq step back from civil war, Petraeus said.

"Al-Qaida in Iraq, though still lethal and dangerous, is on the run and reduced in capability," the general said, "and militia activity – while still a threat as well – has been reduced dramatically."

Coalition troops adopted the counterinsurgency strategy wholeheartedly, and they played unconventional roles to bring about change in the land, Petraeus said. "You have, in short, been builders as well as guardians, statesmen as well as warriors," he said.

Odierno, who is beginning his third tour in Iraq, served under Petraeus as commander of Multinational Corps Iraq. Gates said the pair formed "an incredible team" in putting the troop surge and the new counterinsurgency strategy to work, and that Odierno "knows that we are at a pivotal moment where progress remains fragile and caution should be the order of the day."

"And as we proceed further into the endgame here," Gates continued, "I am sure he will make tough, but necessary, decisions to protect our national interest."

Petraeus will take command of U.S. Central Command in late October.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Gates Presents Awards to U.S. Leaders in Iraq

By Jim Garamone

American Forces Press Service

Sept. 15, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today recognized Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, a military-and-civilian team the secretary said has transformed Iraq. Before a dinner in their honor today, Gates presented Petraeus with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and presented Crocker with the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service – the department's highest civilian award.

Gates said he has never seen a better military-civilian team in his 42 years of government service.

"Under their leadership, Iraq has been utterly transformed," the secretary said. "Their individual leadership and accomplishments are stunning, and also self-evident."

Petraeus turns over command of Multinational Force Iraq to Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno tomorrow. The general took over command in Baghdad in February 2007, when the country seemed to be on the brink of civil war. Coalition servicemembers were taking high casualties, and the Iraqi people were under attack from al-Qaida in Iraq, criminal groups and Iranian-backed illegal militias.

He leaves to take over U.S. Central Command with the level of violence in the country reduced by 80 percent.

"It is safe to say we have not seen an American military and civilian capability combined this effectively since post-war Germany," Gates said. "Our nation has the remarkable ability to put forward the right people at the right time in fateful situations -- to find leaders who are able to do what many consider impossible. You two are such men."

The award for Crocker stated that his efforts allowed "the joint and combined diplomatic effort to re-energize the Iraqi political process, revitalize the Iraqi economy, improve national security and engage regional nations diplomatically."

Crocker worked closely with military leaders to formulate near- and long-term campaign strategy in Iraq.

The award took Crocker by surprise. He thanked Gates for the honor and said of his 18 months in Iraq that "there is no one I would have rather gone through it with than Dave Petraeus, and there is literally no one who could have done better than Dave Petraeus."

The ambassador said the achievements in Iraq are the result not of his efforts, but those of the people he led at the embassy and the servicemembers who did the tough work.

"Above all, they have been the achievements of the Iraqis themselves," he said. "When given the chance, they took it, moved forward, paid a huge price and helped create and then consolidate the security gains we now see."

Petraeus thanked Gates for his efforts in Washington on behalf of those serving in Iraq. Petraeus said Gates made tough calls in a timely manner, such as the 15-month deployment for Army personnel deployed in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, generating more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and pushing through production of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.

"These were critical ingredients in enabling what our troopers and Iraqi partners have been able to do here," Petraeus said.

Petraeus called Crocker "America's finest Arabist, and the greatest diplomat of his generation."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

America Supports You: Women Officers Get Leadership Development Opportunities

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Sept. 9, 2008 - Women who choose to serve their country as
military officers should be fully prepared to do so, and an organization has been working to fulfill that goal since 2003. "We stand behind this belief by providing programs that support and enable women to reach their full potential as leaders," said Susan Feland, president and founder of AcademyWomen. "Each year AcademyWomen hosts a leadership symposium to provide current, former and future women military officers the opportunity to network with like-minded colleagues and grow professionally."

Speakers from the
military and the public and private sectors offer their support, personal advice and motivation to the members through keynote addresses and panel discussions.

A career coaching and professional development workshop will preface this year's annual symposium, which is slated for October. These programs provide development opportunities, resources and a chance for discussion that will assist attendees in all stages of their careers, Feland said.

"In the future, AcademyWomen will host podcasts [and] tele-seminar series, which will provide insight into specific career paths, and share stories of success in a particular field," she said.

The group is moving forward swiftly on other technologies to help
women military officers develop leadership skills. It's developing an "eMentor" leadership program, and already publishes a quarterly online newsletter.

"Each edition focuses on topics of importance to our members and highlights the accomplishments of
military women officers and veterans," Feland said.

AcademyWomen also supports, and plans to conduct, research focusing on the professional development of women officers in the
military, their transition to civilian careers, and which professions they choose subsequent to their military service.

The organization is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Face of Defense: Soldier Credits Success to Father's Inspiration

By Army Sgt. Jody Metzger

Special to American Forces Press Service

Sept. 8, 2008 - "Well boys, should we fix the table or make skis out of it?" the father asked, glancing from the broken wooden table to his two young sons. He had chosen to teach a lesson to his children instead of reprimanding them for breaking the table.

Army Maj. Lance Hamilton, who serves here with the 4th Infantry Division, smiles with fondness when remembering moments like this that remind him of the happiness he shared with his father, Stan Hamilton.

Growing up in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., the Hamilton brothers batted, swam, ran and tackled their way through their younger years. Thanks to their civil rights activist father, they remained steadfast and loyal to academics. Stan's philosophy for his sons was that if you didn't get A's, you didn't participate in sports.

Hearing that ultimatum as a boy motivated Hamilton to pursue scholastic endeavors for the reward of being able to play sports. As gifted athletes, Hamilton and his brother, Harry, were excellent football players, playing all the way through high school. Harry earned an athletic scholarship to Penn State University; Hamilton wasn't far behind.

After graduating from Penn State, Lance Hamilton went on to study law at Yale University. He serves here as the 4th Infantry Division's deputy staff judge advocate. Looking across his desk nestled within the main headquarters of the 4th Infantry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad, he said he knows his hard work and his father's deep-seated faith have paid off.

Hamilton said he had not set out to join the Army. In fact, after graduating from Yale with a law degree, his dream, like many other young lawyers, was to work for a big law firm. In 1991, shortly after graduation, Hamilton began his clerkship with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Petersburg, Fla. Following the clerkship, he went to work for a law firm.

Then, in 1996, a restless Hamilton got a phone call from his brother, Harry, who surprised him with the news that he had just enlisted into the Army's elite Staff Judge Advocate Corps. Idolizing his brother, Lance set out in his brother's footsteps for a second time in his life and joined the Army.

Looking back on his decision to leave civilian law, he emphasized that he couldn't have made a better choice.

"I had a renewed sense of vigor when I left the private sector and felt like I was serving the greater good again," he said. It's been like living in his father's household again, he noted, "always helping and serving and doing for others."

"And finally being able to do it has felt for me like being put into an elite class," he added.

Serving in the Ivy Division family, Hamilton said, he's found it easy to relate to concepts the division commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey W. Hammond, espouses. They're influenced by lessons learned on the football field, a background they share and take great joy in remembering.

Just as his athletic background taught him to succeed as part of a team on the field, those influences have also lent themselves to the staff judge advocate office, Hamilton said.

"Every time I'm in charge of anything or keeping an office of valuable people, I have always taken it back to my athletic roots as far as building a team [is concerned], because if you have a cohesive team working together, then it is much easier to accomplish your mission," he said.

Hamilton said he is captivated by the strong leadership style he sees within the 4th Infantry Division. He noted that Hammond's influence on the division mirrors his own ambition of success and teamwork.

"That is where we get motivation in the office – having good leadership, which always helps," he said. "It's easy for me, because SJA is great. The chain of command, all the way up to the [commanding general], is really oriented about the team concept and taking care of one another."

Army Capt. Liz Waits, an attorney in the staff judge advocate office here, said Hamilton encourages everyone in the office to maintain a balance of work and play.

"He has a great attention to detail," she said. "On one side, he really pushes us to meet a high standard, and on the other, gets us out and playing flag football."

If athletics shaped Hamilton into a success, it was his father's belief in helping others that separate him from the rest, the major said. His father's community service and sense of justice while single-handedly raising his two sons and their young cousin were remarkable, Hamilton said. "My dad always reminded us: 'I don't care how many yards you ran or how many tackles you've done, if you don't think about your fellow man and do something for those less fortunate, than you are nothing in my eyes,'" Hamilton said. "He was always looking for what you are doing for the greater good for society, for your country."

Stan Hamilton -- father, military veteran and civil rights activist -- gave more than he took. His teachings to his sons came from the back-breaking idealism of a street minister whose goal was to help others less fortunate.

"It is all I remember him doing," Hamilton said. "He was running street programs for various churches throughout the community, looking to help those who have fallen through the cracks of society."

The ministry his father spearheaded was dedicated to helping people whom the social services had forgotten or overlooked. Social services, for as much as they helped the community, could not help everyone, Hamilton explained. As a result, the ministry was dedicated to helping those who were left behind.

"My father would do it in a fashion that went beyond what the social services could do for the people. There are a lot of people who didn't qualify for the services. There were always those that wouldn't fit somewhere in the middle, those that have children and are working but not making the cut, and they fall through the cracks. "

The freely smiling Hamilton has won many trophies in his life. Yet, "being the son of an incredible man" is his most treasured reward, he said.

"One day I hope to be half the man he was, and if I am half the man he is, than that would be an accomplishment," he said. "If my sons would feel half as much about me as I feel about my dad, I would leave this place a happy man."

(Army Sgt. Jody Metzger serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad Public Affairs Office.)