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Old 08-25-2018, 09:51   #10
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Spring Lake, NC
Posts: 3
From a current (JUN 2016 - JUN 2019) 18A Cadre

I am a current 18A cadre in A/1-1 SWTG(A) (the only entry-level SFQC MOS committee that is not in 4th Bn, 1st SWTG(A)). I arrived at the 18A MOS course after ~2.5 yrs as a Tm Sgt from ODA 0324 (084 for us pre-4th Bn team guys), and here is a snap-shot of what I've learned after my current two years of experience training company-grade officers (a few 1LTs once in a while) to be successful 18As:

We are governed by a myriad of regulations and requirements to instruct and evaluate a number of 18A Critical Tasks, (18, to be exact--thank you GWOT). But as my fellow cadre and I analyzed the list, we arrived at four basic and achievable actions for our day-1 18As. They are complementary to each other, and the following list is not intended to imply any sort of precedence between the observables:

1) Demonstrate Army Values-based, ethical leadership
2) Communicate effectively via face-to-face engagement or operational reporting
3) Plan deliberately using either MDMP or TLPs dependent on METT-TC
4) Manage resources and mitigate risks

I would like to add to the discussion that although a combat-arms background may provide young officers with an advantage regarding leadership of subordinates in high-risk/high-stress environments, there are some things that combat support and combat service & support CMFs also provide an advantage towards. For example, during our FID and UW FTXs for our 18A students, there may be a situation with a partner nation force that requires some creative solution on how to acquire logistics (class-I, -V, -VIII, -IX) that might take a former 11A a little bit longer to think through while a former officer from one of those backgrounds could present a more creative and sustainable solution based on previous experience. But when a partner force needs to kinetically affect a complicated objective, well, let's just say that there's nothing like a good, old-fashioned FM 3-21.8 (formerly FM 7-8 for the gray-beards in the group) raid.

I believe that the majority of the students' learning takes place as they critique and discuss with each other rather than have me stand before them and lecture for hours on end. We facilitate discussion and provide other perspectives based on our experience. We will take tactical pauses in training throughout the entire 16 weeks we have them to ensure that they are provided with immediate and relevant feedback so they can either continue to march or reset their approach if they chose to engage from a less-than-ideal position. This is normally observed in their KLEs with FID or UW counterparts during the FTXs, or during their classroom planning exercises. The intent is to ensure that they not only recognize what they did wrong, but why it was and how they could go about correcting it.

I've heard the term "failure-based learning" thrown around, but I don't think other instructors that use that term fully understand all the implied tasks required to optimize that model. Undoubtedly, most of us--past, present, and future Green Berets--learn the hardest of lessons in training through making mistakes. But the last experience that teachers, coaches, and mentors should impart on their charges is how to do something rather than how not to do something. Otherwise, we run the risk of deploying SFOD-As into the operational environments without a single reference point or guide while expecting them to "make it happen."

This has been the mentality for quite some time. Hell, this is how I was raised in SF (graduated as an E5 18E in APR 2006). But I believe the current fight necessitates a change in tactics. The next Green Berets must be prepared for their future...not our past.

jjaflague is offline   Reply With Quote