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Jack Moroney (RIP) 04-03-2007 07:22

Building your Own 18A
 
Prior to the establishment of the 18 series officers would retain their basic branch and would move in and out of SF assignments. In some cases this was much to the detriment of their careers (assuming they were career minded and looking for high rank) and in other cases much to the detriment to the SF soldier who worked well with most officers and but excelled with good officers. There were also good points because it brought in experience on how the big army and conventional units worked which is necessary in carrying out FID and UW missions. SF also had a chance back then to grow their own officers because the executive officer was a LT and either learned what the business was all about, was culled because he was not suited for SF, or knew that it was not for him which spared the SF soldier the horrors of having to deal with an idiot in later years (for the most part). You also had officers coming into SF at various stages in their career and could have Group Cdrs, Company and Battalion Cdrs without any prior SF experience. The same was true of the various staff assignments.

I was more fortunate than most. Throughout my career I commanded two conventional companies, two A-Teams, two B-Teams, and Special Mission Unit (SF Bn Cmd) and the Training Group. Scattered in there were conventional Battalion S3 and S4 assignments, SF Bn XO and Group S3 assignments and the normal "professional development" schools and special training events. Now I lay this all out for one reason and that is over my tenure in military the only real feedback that many officers ever see is what is written on their efficiency reports but remember that those are written by other officers whose values, qualifications, and mindset drive them to look to things that are important in their eyes or are important by branch or unit standard. I use the term standard loosely because when you realize who is rating whom that standard becomes very subjective. During the course of my years in the service I have only worked with very few folks from my conventional assignments more than once but have repeatedly worked with folks on subsequent assignments in SF. This is what brings me to the point of this thread. I have often heard from those with whom I have worked what it was that enabled me to be able to do what I wanted to do as a commander. But it was all a retrospective and had there been something that should have been changed it was not apparent to me at the time, which could have made the unit function better and allowed me to be more effective as I moved through my career. I think that it is important that you all take the necessary steps to inventory your own strengths and weaknesses from a soldier's perspective and not just from some manual written by officers for officers. What you do now that SF is a branch will either stand you in good stead for the remainder of your career or haunt your sorry 4th POC forever; there are rarely second chances. Now I am not talking about your career progression as reflected on your OERs-that is an officers view of what officers do what I am talking about how you are perceived by your NCOs which is the most important measure of you as an SF officer. Remember SF officers are a different breed, we for the most part do not fit the profile of what a typical officer is in the conventional sense (e.g. while we do know how to raise a pinky when drinking tea in the officers club, we more importantly know how to sip rice wine through a bamboo straw without offending the host). So what is important is for you to understand what your SF NCOs are going to expect of you as a Team Leader, Company Commander, Battalion Commander and Group Commander. I know, you all think that I have lost my azimuth here, but what you do now as a Team Leader is going to have an impact on how you function in the future and it is the building block for not only your career but the future of those that are going to have work in spite of you or excell because they will be able to work with you. Rmember, SF is a small community and step on your crank once and everyone will know about it not only in the unit in which you showed your 4th POC but in every subsequent assignment. Having laid the ground work for this, I would like to have some of the NCO QPs here to lay out what it is that they expect from SF officers at every level so that you understand what this business is really all about. There are some very finite distinctions between what is required of you as an officer and what is necessary for your team (A,B &C) to succeed just like there is a big difference in knowing when to assume command or take command. For those QP NCOs who wish to take part in this, here is your chance to build your own 18A.

x SF med 04-03-2007 07:40

COL Jack- excellent post. Following instructions from the O post...

1. An SF Officer needs to straddle a fine line, approachable, one of the guys, but also slightly apart (in garrison) in order to muddle through the mire of military politics.
2. He must also understand that he is learning as well as commanding, and has lots of years of experience in his team (A, B, C, or Grp) - not all of it pure SF knowledge.
3. Taking command vs. assuming command - tough call - a good O knows when and how to do either or both at the same time - and also when not to (not to get into the oddities of FID/UW/GW when he may 'lead from behind' due to rapport, cultural issues).
4. He has to understand all of the specialties, but not be an expert in any one, while having expertise in all.

A short summary would be a very dichotomous Officer - able to be one of the team, a Renaissance man in some respects - cuturally (bounce from good ol boy to effete gentleman, without pissing people off) intellectually, and militarily- not your typical conventional officer - more than and less than that.

Defining an SF Officer is like defining an SF NCO - difficult at best - next to impossible in most cases, because there is that indefinable SF-ness that is key.

Okay - that was rambling and semi coherent - anybody want to help granularize it?

edited for spelling

incommin 04-03-2007 14:57

First off, good post COL Jack!

I expect an officer to utilize the knowledge and experience of the NCO around him.

I expect an officer to fight for his personnel.

I expect an officer to have no concept of what a "yes man" is.

I expect an officer to have the knowledge and skills to make decisions that will best accomplish a given mission and also take into consideration the lives and safety of the personnel involved.

I expect an officer to succeed and advance without leaving boot marks on those he led.

And I pretty much expect the same thing from senior NCO's.

Jim

7624U 06-30-2007 10:40

Quote:

Originally Posted by incommin
First off, good post COL Jack!





I expect an officer to have no concept of what a "yes man" is.

And I pretty much expect the same thing from senior NCO's.

Jim

The two things I highlighted in red are key the senior NCO's need to advise that Commander, they are the checks and balance, the senior O's may realy be out of touch with reality. ( Not thier fault ) they are making policy from what they belive and are told. And at the same time Commander's need to trust what the NCO's are telling him ( dont replace a guy just because he does not conform to your way of thinking.)
It's a sad truth we have alot of (yes men) around latly and anyone that rocks the boat is replaced.

Jack Moroney (RIP) 06-30-2007 12:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by 7624U
It's a sad truth we have alot of (yes men) around latly and anyone that rocks the boat is replaced.

I am really sorry to hear that. I could understand that, although I could never accept it, back before SF became a branch. You would have thought that we would have outgrown that petty crap. There are many times you have to rock the boat just to clear the water and debris out so it floats again. Otherwise everyone manning a paddle just has to pull harder to make any headway. I blame this on officers making SF their career rather than their profession.

howardjd1 02-19-2008 23:09

If you had to build an 18A from scratch what would their past experiences be like?
 
I don’t really want to jump right into this thread with my question—but “Building your own 18A” is along the line of what I and I’m sure many others in my position are curious on.

This is a question directed to all Quiet Professionals both officer and enlisted and really no one else:

For current and prior 18A’s:
1. Looking back at the beginning of your career what do you wish you would have done to better prepare yourself as an 18A?
2. Current- What do you plan to do to make yourself a better equipped 18A and leader?


Everyone else:
1. What are the best qualities, experiences, background, etc. you have seen in prior 18A’s that really make them stand out from the rest?


Using the search button I know there is plenty of great advice for how to be a good 18A once you become part of the team but what I’m looking for is--if you had to build an 18A from scratch what would their past experiences be like? Example: Prior MOS, Battalion, Post, prior service, ROTC, OCS, USMA, and the possibilities go on for a really long time.

The reason I ask is because I aspire to become an SF Officer and now is the time I want to begin building a strong base to go that direction with my career. It’s easy for me to assume what would make the best and most well rounded 18A but we all know how much assumptions are worth.

Also, I know this is a very complex question which is really subjective to each person’s experiences but for me the answers will be invaluable!

Thanks in advance for all responses!
-Jason

Jack Moroney (RIP) 02-20-2008 06:37

Quote:

Originally Posted by howardjd1 (Post 200258)
[U][B]IThe reason I ask is because I aspire to become an SF Officer and now is the time I want to begin building a strong base to go that direction with my career. It’s easy for me to assume what would make the best and most well rounded 18A but we all know how much assumptions are worth.

Also, I know this is a very complex question which is really subjective to each person’s experiences but for me the answers will be invaluable!
-Jason

Jason,

You have a couple of hurdles that you have to get through before even worrying about a future as an 18A. As you noted, this is a very complex question that will vary with each individuals experiences and the settings in which they found themselves. Often, success is a two edged sword. Those for whom the 18A served (the troops) and those under whom he served (the bosses) will each have a different perspective. While that is true for any unit, there is a third dimension and that has to do with the perceptions and realities of those outside of the unit that he may have been advising, training, leading from other countries or other agencies. There are different approaches and "rules" for each with a level of complexity that his way beyond the scope of this thread.

As far as preparing yourself to become an 18A, there is no magic formula because everyone is different: different strengths and weaknesses; different innate and learned abilities; different moral, physchological and physiological
characteristics. I think your first step is to define in very clear and unambiguous terms why you want to become an 18A and evaluate yourself in terms of what it is going to take for you to make a total commitment to meeting and maintaining the core values and standards that make up a special forces soldier-not the MOS specific stuff, not just the physical requirements, but the basic attributes that epitomize Special Forces.

sleepyhead4 02-21-2008 09:15

Jason,

Listen to COL Moroney. Although having a goal of becoming an SF Team Leader is commendable, you need to understand why you want to be an 18A...even going as far as writing down your reasons and motivations so that you can refer to it when Big Army kicks you in the nuts, and you feel like quitting. Having those reasons will motivate and guide you to do your best in your job, as an Infantry PL to a company XO, even as a staff officer.

Good luck on your journey and enjoy your time.

howardjd1 02-23-2008 12:44

Thank you COL Moroney and Sleepyhead for the responses. Both of your posts really hold great advice. I especially like these pieces:

COL Moroney
“Often, success is a two edged sword. Those for whom the 18A served (the troops) and those under whom he served (the bosses) will each have a different perspective. While that is true for any unit, there is a third dimension and that has to do with the perceptions and realities of those outside of the unit that he may have been advising, training, leading from other countries or other agencies. There are different approaches and "rules" for each with a level of complexity that his way beyond the scope of this thread.”----This is just pure wisdom, and while the topic has somewhat crossed my mind before, I have to honestly say I never really thought to deep into it.

And Sleepyhead
“even going as far as writing down your reasons and motivations so that you can refer to it when Big Army kicks you in the nuts, and you feel like quitting.”----Excellent point because from prior experiences I can relate!

Old Coach 03-08-2008 09:09

Wow
 
I have to re-iterate what howard said, great posts.
I have had sit down's and heart to heart's with SF NCO's but never with an 18A. I have just watched and observed, taken the good aspects and remembered the bad.
Some good food for thought.

Calvengeance 01-24-2009 17:58

I really appreciate this thread.

I was wondering if anyone else had any more input.

JJ_BPK 01-24-2009 18:35

Unfortunately, The Colonel is not with us now. He passed on last Fall.

But there are many many posts by Col Moroney, on this site, use the search function and you can learn and enjoy the wisdom he left behind.. It will never get stale or out dated..

RIP..

7624U 09-12-2009 22:46

10 more things
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Calvengeance (Post 245760)
I really appreciate this thread.

I was wondering if anyone else had any more input.


I will add a few more tidbits and things I used to tell some of my Captain students before they went on in the rest of the Q-course.

1. You are the face of the team, So represent the team well and dont bitch about your team to the chain of command. The team is yours so make it the best team in the unit. If you do a good job you will get better missions and more schools. Better missions and more schools will give the team better moral and you will reap all the credit.

2. When you show up on your team Ensure you get a handle on all your team property and demand you see everything you are going to sign for. Your Sr 18B and Sr 18E. are the two guys you need to get with the most and be in a good working relationship with. Nothing will get a heat round sent your way like not having accountability of Weapons and Commo Equipment.

3. You are the voice of reason on the team, If the team thinks of something stupid to do. IE swim accross a river into a restricted area Etc. Dont be afraid to say something before they do it. Don't make it a order eather just convice them its not a good idea. But if that doesnt work you may be forced into a lawful order. Don't worry they will thank you when they sober up tommorow.

4. Write it down or you will forget when you shouldent.

5. Opfund (refer to #3 before you buy something)

6. A good Team Sgt won't let the team call you anything but Sir or Cpt lastname. This is nothing personal it will keep the team from slipping up and losing your credtibility to the host nation personel. don't get butt hurt over it.

7. Use your 180A if you have one or he will use you :D
(What I mean by this is he will gladly let you do all the paper work and go fishing)

8. Time is short on a team. Make it fun or you won't make it.

9. Smile and wave to the masses they have no clue what rank you are maybe your someone important and every elder will invite you in for tea.
( Drink It ! thats why you have a 18D)

10. Have 2 terps with you one to talk and one to listen off to the side and write stuff down for later use. Or to see if the terp talking is B.Sing you.

rltipton 09-13-2009 20:00

Here are 4 I haven't seen yet.

If you want to earn a spot with the team work like a member of the team. When the boys are humping the gear out to the pallet you should have your ass out there humping gear too. Nothing will piss them off faster than gripping & grinning with the BC or finding something else to do when there is manual labor to be done. You'll be surprised how many O's feel that is below them.

While you are in the Qcourse learning to write concept letters, go visit 7th or 3rd Group S3 and get a couple copies of real concept letters and show up with them ready to go. Take the boys to Midsouth or Griffin Group, go to Key West for a week of Marops training or mountaineering in Colorado. There is a ton of shit you can do out there that you can do to build camaraderie with the boys. It sucks when every deployment is combat. Get off Ft XXXX between trips and have some fun, don't just run the old fellas into the dirt (we know you will anyway).

If you want to spend as much time on a team as possible, have a plan for it when you sign in. Try to time it so you get a school that will keep you around another year or so like SFARTAC (Sp?), Scuba, or Halo. My old Det Cdr had damn near 4 years team time when he made the major list. I've had 2 that pulled over 3 years on a team.

Take lots of pictures. You only get one go around then it's staff weenie forever & ever Company and above.

Dozer523 09-14-2009 08:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by rltipton (Post 283615)
Take lots of pictures. You only get one go around then it's staff weenie forever & ever Company and above.

RL, you have such a warm, sensitive side.:p
Print 3x5's and pass those pictures out at team parties to the kids and the wives (if they don't have kids, yet). Nothing says "You're appreciated." Like a kid saying, "Whoa, my Dad does that?":cool:


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