Mentoring Discussion via Internet as of 10 November 2005

[Editor's note: in early September, Greg Wilcox, a retired Army LTC with three Vietnam tours, sent out an e-mail requesting comments on the subject of mentoring.  Here is that message along with several of the replies from the thread.] 

In early September I sent out a message asking others for ideas on “Mentoring” for new lieutenants. The distribution list was fairly diverse, and the responses were very interesting.

In the text below, I have compiled the substantive responses to date for those that may be interested and those for those whose names have been newly added to the distribution list. I have included the names of the responders in these messages with their permission.

There seem to be several important vectors to mentoring in addition to the informal nature of the beast: mutual confidence (two-way-street); one-way mentoring (might be leadership); peer mentoring (e.g.,; bottoms-up mentoring (e.g., platoon sergeant training his platoon leader). There are some other very interesting vectors brought up such as the civilian-military connection that has been relatively unrecognized in the past which might bring about a more holistic approach. There have also been cautions added such as the fact that some may not be qualified to mentor. My original thought on this topic seems to have fallen off the scales as the discussion developed; that was, “How can we retirees contribute to helping young officers and young NCOs understand their environment and give them a non-threatening ear as well as advice?”

It would seem to me that there is substantial “meat” in this discussion series to warrant a conference on the topic of mentoring. We should be looking for a sponsor and a platform.

Further, I would not like for the discussion to end here. Use this distribution list to offer any comments that you would like as to your ideas and the potential implementation of a future conference on this topic. Hopefully, we will be adding people to the distribution list as the discussion gains momentum. Perhaps a better sorting of the ideas rather than a chronological listing of e-mails would help as well.


Greg Wilcox


Initial Message on Mentoring from Greg Wilcox to distribution list on 2 September 2005


I talked to my son Paul last night and for those of you who don't know, Paul is going to be training newly commissioned officers in the Basic Officers' Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Benning. This is a new 6 week rigorous infantry tactics training course that every Army officer has to pass before he can go on to his branch basic officer's course.

Paul told me he has been in touch with Don Vandergriff and John Poole for advice on how to train new lieutenants in relevant infantry tactics. Both have been extremely helpful in this regard, and for that I thank them sincerely.

My question is: how do we set up some sort of mentoring program that would be more widespread? Beneficial, informal, one-on-one type advice to junior leaders seems to be missing in the whole leadership equation. In fact, the leadership that should be providing this mentoring seems to be over-engaged doing other things.

The Army, in particular, seems to be having problems at this particular moment in history as it rapidly morphs from 33 to 43 brigades, fights a hot war, and sets up all kinds of new schools and training courses. And there is an exodus of more experienced captains. So there are lots more inexperienced officers out there that perhaps could use someone to talk to.

We have something called for captains to talk to each other via the internet and for lieutenants to talk to each other. What we don't have (in my opinion) is some form of mentoring. It seems that the Army has done away with "happy hour" where some of this went on, but I am talking about more lasting relationships. It seems to me that this is something that old retirees and other interested parties might be able to do - if even only on-line or over the phone. I can't speak much to the other Services, but I would imagine that the right kind of mentoring might be of interest there as well.
I've observed some informal mentoring at the Boyd round table at Ft Myers every Wednesday night, but that seems to have been drying up lately. Bill Lind has been successful in doing this with a number of Marine officers in his revisit of the Small Wars Manual. But it seems to me the concept of Mentoring itself is, if not dead, moribund.

In fact, there is not much written about "mentoring" in the organizational effectiveness manuals or how to lead guides. It happens more or less based on personalities, and this seems to be a phenomenon in and of itself. Yeah, generals mentor their aides, but they don't usually mentor the rest of the herd...with some few exceptions. And military fathers mentor their military sons until the sons are sick and tired of it... And military school instructors mentor many of their students long after the schooling is over. But just maybe it is something that needs more study, or perhaps I need to find the references that are already out there that I simply don't know about. I'm more about "doing" than "study" but we can learn from any study.

Mentoring: Is this something worth talking about? Mobilizing? Executing?

Comments? Ideas on how to "informally" institutionalize mentoring?


1. Message to Wilcox from COL XXX, USA Ret. 2 Sep 05

Greg, what is really meant by infantry tactics? Are we talking about the kind of paramilitary police operations we conduct today? Or, are we talking about something else?

My reason for asking is simple: UK Army may offer the best approach to this training if it is indeed paramilitary policing by infantry. Marines have paid some considerable attention to the British model. I do not think the US Army has, but I simply do not know. British run good courses on these things. Has anyone asked the British Army about their preparation for these kinds of operations?

Based on what I hear from people on the ground in Iraq, my impression is that roughly 90% of the US Army force never leaves the bases. Only 10-15% leaves the bases and, then, only for brief patrols (scheduled around mealtime believe it or not). In most cases, there is very little presence outside of the fortresses at night. Again, if true, what is this course really supposed to accomplish?

You are right. The captains are voting with their feet. It will get worse not better. Only a severe economic down-turn will save the Army. Sadly, that too is coming, but not for another 12 months or so. Cheers,

2. Message to Wilcox from XXX, retired Navy Capt and now a consultant 2 Sep 05


My immediate response is for you to go to JMW's web page: and review the 6/7 case studies found there at JMW Library.

Our challenge is to rapidly rehabilitate the capacity of a combat leader to learn something and then take his/her actions from what learned. John Tillson has just completed a study and has a report on how to train young combat leaders in a transformational leader skill we refer to as "Adaptability". I would be quite pleased to participate in any activity which enhances the capacity of our active duty military leaders to do something quickly which actually allows them to think newly and adapt quickly to the very challenging environment of 4th generation the way 5th generation warfare will soon be in our reality and we do not even have the thinking skills to begin to ponder its impact on our children's lives. The perfect example of how bad it is can be found in Chuck's current message to me. We are losing quite a number needlessly with "frontal assaults with horse Calvary against barbed wire, machine guns and arty".......when will we learn and adapt???

Our readiness as a Nation to respond effectively to the Katrina type challenges in our future is another example of the appalling gap in our capacity for senior leader thinking and action. I may be reached in Trinidad, Tobago at 868-741-9215.
Looking forward to the dialogue.

3. Message to Wilcox from XXX, Col, USAF, Ret. and consultant on 2 Sep05.


XXX., John T., and (at least I suppose) many others can certainly help you more re mentoring than I can. However, that said, I think the fact that what was once simply a natural, intrinsic process within the institutional culture of the military seems now to have withered away to the point where it has to be explicitly reintroduced says an awful lot about today's military. Needless to say, what it says carries implications (none of them good) far beyond the specific mentoring issue.


4. Message to Wilcox from LTC XXX, ARNG on 3 Sep 05

Absolutely VITAL, wish I could have had somebody to confide in, and
right on about military father/son dynamic. As a CAS3 instructor, I
occasionally engaged in the 'mentor' role beyond course graduation.

Too much Hi Tech focus, not enough on the 'human' touch, something
lacking in society as well as military.

Keep up this discussion!

5. Message to Wilcox from LTG XXX., USA (Ret.), author of many studies and reports on leadership, 3 Sep 05

Greg, I'll send more info later. It is a subject that the G-1 and CSA and CGSC folks have spent a lot of time on over the past several months. Basically it's spending constructive time with subordinates which, as you and Paul know, is a part of a larger leadership challenge. One good article on some of the concepts is in Parameters magazine, Vol. 32 (2004) "The Road to Mentoring: Paved With Good Intentions" by Martin, G F et. al. Best wishes,

6. Message to Wilcox from XXX, USMC (Ret.), author on tactics, 3 Sep 05

Greg—There is mentoring and then there is mentoring. People who know nothing about the evolution of small units should keep to their areas of expertise. Unfortunately, most vets do not realize what they don't know. … I have offered for years to talk to any young officer about tactics. Less than ten have initiated such a phone call or e-mail. The offer stands. God bless and keep the faith.

7. Message to Wilcox from XXX, 3 Sep 05

Let's stay on this mentoring issue. ROTC, OCS, and USMA ‘should be’ places where process starts but shouldn't END...........I'm going to read an MSI leadership book and see what Cadet Command paid for in terms of how Mentoring was articulated and/or neglected.

8. Message to Wilcox from CPT Paul Wilcox, USA, Instructor, Basic Officers’ Leadership Course, on 4 Sep 05


Great stuff. I still haven't seen a POI (for BOLC II), but I will actually start showing up at the company on Tuesday and expect to see some sort of training calendar including POI stuff.

I talked to my old company XO the other day. He asked me what kind of stuff he should be looking at to prepare for IEDs in Iraq. I was shocked that 4ID hasn't broken out any of the historical data from the last tour nor provided the guys on the ground with intelligence updates on the current situation. I told him to get with the old 1st BDE S2 and the old 3-66 S2 and get copies of our enemy situation templates. That is, after all, how we figured out when and where to emplace counter IED and mortar ambushes at night. That's what happens when you loose most of your combat experienced leaders in a division. Isn't this the kind of thing that MAJ Vandergriff is trying to stop from happening? Not very good mentoring on my part, as I should have introduced him to that stuff when I was still in command.


9. Message to Wilcox from Col Chet Richards, USAF (Ret.), Consultant, and author of Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd Applied to Business, on 5 Sep 05


I raised this with a friend of mine, Ph.D. management consultant, who said he had set up two formal mentoring programs for companies he worked with. I asked him how well they worked. He said, "not at all." Once you get a formal program in place, then the program becomes the focus - bureaucracy, paperwork, forms, PPT briefings, etc.

His assessment, and I agree, is that mentoring is extremely important, but it has to be organic, not glommed onto an organization. In healthy organizations, it will happen automatically. It's primarily a matter of leadership. It the top folks mentor, and if people see that successful mentoring is one of the ingredients in promotions and assignments, then it will become ingrained. Mentoring is obviously more important when leadership is assessed 360 degrees than only from the top down.

Best to you guys and happy holidays!

Best regards,

10. Message to Wilcox from MAJ Don Vandergriff, USA (Ret.) author of two books: Spirit, Blood, and Treasure and The Path to Victory on 5 Sep 05

Greg, et. al.,

My apologies for the delay. I have been finishing a home gym/remodeling
(Another hobby I took on vice paying someone for a half-ass job at high cost),
dry walling is a pain in the ass (still worth the pain).

"Mentoring" is one of my favorite subjects among the many I am critiquing now.

First, mentorship cannot be tasked, assigned or regulated-"top-down;" it is a two way street. Those who are to be mentored must first accept being mentored.

IT cannot be assigned or automatic because the Army says so. That is the normal knee jerk, bureaucratic, centralized reaction to any intangible issue that is hard to understand but easy to put on a power point slide.

Again, as we have all talked about, investment in people, particularly your junior leaders has long-term pay off. The problem is, we still have a personnel system that rewards performers, but few leaders. Performers achieve the short-term results the system is set up to look for, but many times undermines and even destroys unit effectiveness.

While I am thinking about the need to align commands with unit life cycles, I must mention a good example of this when it does happen.. YYY talked a lot to me about mentorship, really should be synonymous with teacher. He also said due to change of policies that went into effect in November 2003, he got to keep most of his team. Yet, despite the great three hour talk we had, he has not been interviewed by one person from CALL, HR, CSA staff, or anyone to gather the lessons from a three year command guy. YYY told me it was just right.

Also, the right command climate and culture has to exist to encourage mentorship, which might mean sometimes, protecting those you mentor at the possible cost of your career, again, in order to see the long-term benefit of someone you believe in. The ultimate secret of mentorship though is when you are mentoring or teaching to those when it does not come across as such. It might be no more than a junior or peer (yes you can mentor a peer) assuming they are hearing "war stories" when in fact you are teaching them a lesson.

One other aspect, at some point in the evolution toward becoming mentally yet subtly selected as a mentor by someone else, the mentor or mentor to be places them in a situation that requires trust being proven both ways. This can come in any type of situation, but it must occur to more or less seal the acceptance part. It could be indirectly, like a junior observing you "walking the talk." The same can be the opposite, when someone has "talked to talk" to a junior, then the junior observes that they do not walk that talk. This happens a lot (I hear through e-mails and visits), especially when the assuming mentor changes colors when his rater or senior rater come around.

But, again it is not something that can be done by signing a quarterly junior officer professional development plan form (JOPDP).

Anyway, I hope this helps. Also, again, thanks Paul for the great feedback.

Good to be back again talking.


11. Message to Wilcox from LTG XXX on 5 Sep

Just one immediate item on "mentoring." That is a crappy name. It seems to imply some kind of sponsored favoritism. "Coaching" is better, but also not perfect. Best regards, Walt

12. Message to Wilcox from LTC XXX on 5 Sep 05

General Grange (1ID Cdr) made a start at senior level leadership and mentoring with Mangudai, get all field grades OUT of offices, take 'em out to basic soldiers skills.....uh, LTC, can you still read a compass or what, or know how to open an MRE????

I saw Pentagon channel report on 25th ID Cdr taking all field grade and above leaders only on div run, maybe a start, but not enough.

I thought cdrs had staffs so they could get OUT and do green tab leader/team building??

14. Message to Wilcox from MAJ XXX, USA (Ret.) whose son has just returned from Iraq.

I have a friend, another Mentor who constantly beats me up on Mentor, who
was a person not a gerund!!

Anyway we have been down this road a lot. When I started in the Army those senior to me seemed not only shocked that myself and others showed up but were generally accommodating of our idiosyncrasies, to a point. What you and Woody did for us was constantly force us to confront new problems and figure out the solutions ourselves based on long standing principles. In the late 80s and early 90s this began to be replaced by a new zero tolerance and prescriptive approach to leadership. Failure was not an option. Senior leaders relied upon assured prescriptive methodologies that really meant
that leadership was replaced by industrial supervision. Also you dared not talk about a problem or a weakness with superiors or peers as it could easily be used against you. Interpersonal relationships have now lost the personal and everyone is in a high threat environment. No clubs, no parties, no Hails and Farewells in the evening only lunch and no family intermingling. What is happening now (or actually not happening if you
examine the statistics for relevance but being used as a PC show trial) at the Air Force academy is emblematic of the culture war within the services.

Further the future development of the Army is left to those comfortable at Fort Leavenworth and Monroe that have not participated in current events. The long line of those with valor ribbons I saw at Fort Sheridan as they were RIFed after Vietnam while there graduate school attending and Pentagon contemporaries were promoted seems to be being replaced with those who have fought hardest self selecting out and just going home. Only 25% of the officer corps has served in combat since 911. Yet we have 95% to major and near 90% to LTC. It is no longer competitive. Those who follow the
checklist and go to CAC, AWC or pentagon need not go to war to succeed. This effects our ability to understand what is coming and prepare because nodding our heads and saying Yessir Three bags full to leaders padding their resumes to some of the thinking I hear is insane.

13. Message to Wilcox from LTC XXX on 7 Sep 05

Army has a site, FYI

a 'wink and a nod' at the problem?

14. Message to BG XXX, USA (Ret.) on 7 Sep 05

Sir, there seems to be a SEVERE lack of Mangudai (correct spelling?) style leadership and mentoring in senior levels starting at Major and up.

The 25th Div I saw (on Pentagon Channel) did have a Field grade and above leaders run with Div Cdr, but that's not SOP anywhere else it seems.

GO and field grades MUST get it together, get OUT of their offices, TACS, TOCS, go to field, do basics like your staff did, PISS on 'em if they whine.

It's RISE AND SHINE, not Rise and WHINE.

15. Message to Vandergriff from XXX on 7 Sep

So, mentoring could improve in cohesive units? Apparently NO mentoring, bonding in LA, NO gov't....incompetence reigns...

Reading Aubrey/Mauritin series, Master and Commander (author Patrick O’Brian), and key theme is having a 'Happy Ship', and not throwing discipline by the board (even Aubrey flogs when he must), but exercising leadership by example, etc.

16. Message to Wilcox from LTC XXX, ROTC on 7 Sep 05


Apologize for being so late in answering this. I think you are right on target here. Is it worth doing / talking about? Absolutely! Good mentors, or a single good mentor, are often the very thing that keeps someone in uniform during the hard times. YYY was my first mentor--my first TO&E company CDR in Korea. He was a damn mentor--he took the time to do more than fulfill the obligations / responsibilities that COs have to LTs--he went the extra mile, shared with me stories about his life, why he made certain decisions, why it was so important to maintain standards, how to be hard yet fair without being a dick. For years afterwards, when I had an issue / problem or quandary, I'd think "what would Hadfield do?" Shit, I still do that at times, and he's retired a couple years now. . .

There are problems, however, when attempting to put structure to a mentorship program or to mandate it--I read an article on this years ago--perhaps in IN magazine?--that hit it on the head. You can neither force people who do not have the skills to become good mentors, nor can you force people who aren't looking for a mentor to accept one. I have no idea how you get around that truth. The best mentors are those who simply care--they give a shit--and because they do, they share their perspectives with those who they believe can learn and gain from the experience. For even the very best of these, it becomes more difficult at times--times like right now, when everyone is scrambling just to get the missions done. Only so many hours in a day . . .

I don't know if any of this helps, but would like to share this; the very best mentor I ever saw was GEN (R) Shinseki--he was also one of the very busiest men I ever worked for--3-4 hours sleep a night, if that. What made him special was that he found ways to mentor even as he was accomplishing the business of the day. Every time I was around him, he was teaching even as he directed/managed, tasked people and assigned missions. His "guidance" was also mentoring. Not so much in content, but in the way he issued the guidance. Perhaps my perspective was that of a speechwriter, and he took more time with us because he knew, in order to really help him, we had to have some perspective on the "why" of shit. But looking back, I don't think that was it. He seemed to be doing it with everyone--speechwriters, aides, special assistants, action officers, briefers, you name it. I've actually talked about this with others who were there at the same time, and they seem to agree.

If we don't mentor (and I think we are certainly trying to do that with cadets in this program--class is where it happens best, but also in one-on-one counseling), we are in big trouble. For what it's worth . . .


17. Message to Wilcox from XXX on 9 Sep 05

Most of our educational and development programs lack the tools needed to develop a Mentor-like relationship. Most are merely GIGO like undergraduate programs where you need only listen and repeat back.

Special Forces training programs and CAS3 have always been exceptions to that in that they were experiential and relationships developed within groups and with advisors/instructors that were open and provided life long resources that filled that advisor friend function. Unfortunately CAS3 is gone. BOLC could, if properly structured, fill this function as long as it is experiential and not check list oriented. Every care to make this happen needs to occur as this will bring officers from all branches together early in their careers and form the basis for cross branch relationships that will be critical in the uncertain environments that UA, UEx and UEy envision.

The function of coach/advisor/Mentor used to be filled in ROTC by the Special Forces NCO. In ROTC the only one who did not write your evaluation leading to your commissioning status was the NCO and this provided a freedom to be absolutely honest, objective and truly compassionate to the cadet on the part of the NCO that the officers could never achieve. Believe there is an old 1940s movie about an old NCO named Martin at West Point who clearly served the same function there.

On the civilian side the only program that serves the function of promulgating life time Mentor-like relationships that I have found is the Department of Defense Executive Leadership Development Program (DoD ELDP). I have attended the Army Management Staff College Sustaining Base Leadership and Management Program that is ok but does not fill the bill on the civilian side. I have been privileged to be able to serve as a team advisor for ELDP for three years and have seen the impact of the relationships developed in ELDP carry on into the field for years. As we go into NSPS and Military to Civilian replacement the development of civilians must become much more like how we would ideally develop officers.

18. Message to XXX from Wilcox on 9 Sep 05

The old West Point NCO's name was Marty Mayer. Good pick-up on that!
Likewise, there is an unwritten law in the NCO corps that the platoon sergeant is responsible for training the new platoon leader. Everything is unwritten, but this again is a mentoring whether we want to call it that or not.

Not sure I agree with you about the fact officers have to write OERs and therefore don't make the best mentors. I think it is a culture thing. If mentorees are afraid of OERs then the whole org is in real trouble.

Whether or not we can pick up on this in BOLC depends very much on the leadership and what they do with it, as you say.


19. Message to Wilcox from XXX on 9 Sep 05

When I taught ROTC there where times from a discretion point of view where it was wise to talk with my NCO and then he would work things out with a cadet where my presence may have been a little intimidating. There are many cadets and junior officers where you can have that trust needed to form a truly interactive coaching relationship, but in today's environment that is a rare commodity. I felt I had that with you, with my first PSYOP BC, LTC YYY, with LTC YYY, COL YYY and YYY. But it became rarer. MG YYY in his own strange way and YYY (If he didn't call you shit head during the day at least once with great feeling then you felt unloved) also were good coaches. But the (GO name deleted) syndrome in the 90s really hit hard and it became a much more zero defects mentality.

I believe he was the Courtney Massengale of our times.

20. Message to Wilcox from XXX businessman, professor, and journalist and participant in Boyd Seminar in Maine, July 05.


The issue of learning via mentoring is surely central to all complex roles not just the military. It is simply learning by experience. My early life I was an investment banker - there is no course you take for that. You are assigned to a senior guy and you stick to him like a limpet. You do all of his grunt work but boy do you ever learn.

So how do you do this now? There may be a technological answer. I have been involved in providing a blog/intranet for a large food franchise company that has as it central role creating a space on eternal AAR - increasing the conversations take place not between Corporate and the Line but between the line and the line. This is where new products, new processes and problems are worked out. The senior franchisees are becoming the learning leaders.

I know nothing of military culture now - but if we gave you guys such a tool would you be interested in trying it?

21. Message to Wilcox from COL XXX, USA (Ret.), West Point Professor, author of several studies on the Army Officer Corps

Greg, great question, and you are looking in the one of right places for the answers, among the retirees. Of course the best place for mentoring to occur is via the chain of command. Unfortunately that does not happen now because of the pace of operations. Bn Cmdrs perceive that they don’t have time to spend informally with junior officers, and in many cases they don’t. The Army is doing too many things at once for mentoring to occur also. Commanders tied to Blackberries are not tied to “senior-subordinate developmental relationships,” which is what mentoring really is. So your idea of using retirees is a good one. It would have to be a very decentralized approach, post by post, even unit by unit, with retirees volunteering and junior officers volunteering to seek a mentor. In my own experience the relationship works very well. I am doing that now for 15-20 former students who asked me to be part of their network of “older officers” from whom they seek ideas, guidance and, occasionally, consolation.
All best,

22. Message to Col XXX (WP Prof) from Wilcox on 9 Sep 05

One of the things that interests me is the peer-to-peer mentoring which I think is ongoing within  and I was involved with them early on, and I think this is a great institution if we can keep it going. It is happening more and more in business as well.

But it is the elder/junior coaching that interests me more. Not sure us old retirees are really up to the full measure of this as we were trained as conventional warriors. We even fought conventionally in Vietnam, an unconventional war if there ever was one. This GWOT (by whatever name) is definitely not a conventional war. LTC John Poole, USMC Retired and author of several tactical books, pointed out to me that lots of us should not, in fact, be mentors. He may have a point.

In that vein, however, we do have a sort of informal mentoring that is going on. For some reason, and may God bless them, the NCO Corps has continued the unwritten law that it is every platoon sergeant's responsibility to make his platoon leader the best f'ing lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Now we all know there are serious problems here. In many cases the lieutenant doesn't recognize the "coaching". In other cases, the platoon sergeant just isn't interested, and in a third case we may not want a particular NCO coaching a young lieutenant, but for the most part it actually works. And as we leaven this Army with combat experience in Fourth Generation Warfare, maybe that is where we get the experience to mentor our junior officers, from below.....

Still, we have this leadership responsibility, and I would give my right arm to be able to be a part of this idea, as I am just vain enough to think that I could help at least a couple of these young officers. But it won't work extracurricular, and it won't work formally. You well illustrated the current pitfalls. It used to just happen at beer calls. We don't do beer calls any more. It isn't PC. So I'm really floundering with respect as to how to help. Maybe the best I can do is surface the issue - and continue to defy the rules and go to beer call every Friday night - despite the fact that there is no one in the O Club at Ft Myer any more.

Thanks for the job you are doing for our cadets and young officers - now leading the fight in OIF/OEF, a fight I feel we have to win.


23. Message to Wilcox from XXX on 9 Sep 05

Greg, I strongly disagree with your Marine Corps colleague re our ability to mentor the Army Lts of today. Mentoring, rightly understood, is not about TTPs! It is about the larger role of the officer, its moral content, the necessity of leading by example, of being the moral exemplar, etc., and it is encouraging and inspiring LTs by relating stories of our learning experiences, educational narratives as they are called.

24. Message to Wilcox from Capt Dan Moore, USN, Commanding Officer and PNS, NROTC and former squadron commander, on 9 Sep 05

It's proven useful to develop an outward focused instructional approach using classroom and field instruction to help prepare future military leaders for what Robert D. Steele recently asserted could be "fifth" generation warfare (5GW?):

Capabilities built upon small-unit continuous learning, adaptation and evolution. Where small civilian and military teams at the edge of the network do much of the sensing, thinking, adapting, and deciding and are not simply pawns on a giant electronic chessboard.

Our traditional classroom method (a top-down approach involving a "professor") seeks to pass on to our graduating NROTC seniors knowledge from a classroom course originally developed by VADM Jim Stockdale USN & Joe Brennan, "The Foundations of Moral Obligation" at the Naval War College and augmented by Boyd's lectures and conversations, John Poole's books and Horatio Nelson.

It appears that most people apply the concept of mentoring only in a top-down approach where someone (the professor at the top) has gained knowledge and passes it on.

But what about when there is little knowledge and what little knowledge that exists is evolving real-time at the edge of the network --- among the networks most junior ranking members?

That is an opportunity for bottom-up mentoring via field instruction (discovery, experimentation, testing and evaluation). This allows the most junior members of the network to become "mentors" to everyone else. For me, internet chat rooms like "company commander" are an informal attempt to provide bottom-up or at least peer-to-peer (horizontal?) mentoring.

Recently I had the good fortune to observe an on-going US-Jordanian initiative: "Integrated Air-Ground Operations at the Platoon Level: An Operational Assessment using Rugged, Low-Cost, Fixed-Wing Manned Aircraft" involving an observation aircraft the SB7L-360 Seeker -- a small two seat prop manufactured by Seabird Aviation Jordan.

In a matter of two weeks a small air-ground team developed new knowledge about air-ground integration at the platoon level involving convoy escort and border patrol (this knowledge existed for many years but has been allowed to atrophy and so must be re-discovered).

It's now down to a handful of people in the US and Jordan and an initial estimate of less than $10M away from the possibility of creating a regional air-ground learning center in Jordan where coalition police and platoon commanders could begin to significantly expand their existing capabilities as described in the following three paragraphs:

1. Increasing numbers of SEEKER aircraft and trained aviators under the control of small-unit civilian and military commanders in Iraq -- with institutional support from an air-ground learning center in Jordan -- could expand coalition capabilities in a matter of days and months to include bottom-up, event-driven, combined-arms and culturally-tailored intelligence capabilities.

2. These capabilities could be built upon small-unit continuous learning, adaptation and evolution. Where small civilian and military teams at the edge of the network do much of the sensing, thinking, adapting, and deciding and are not simply pawns on a giant electronic chessboard.

3. SEEKERs (small 2-man fixed wing aircraft for the Iraqi Army) -- thoughtfully manned with one aviator organic to a small-unit and the other with years of local cultural knowledge of a particular neighborhood and city -- could allow increasing numbers of small-unit leaders to significantly increase unit-cohesion during combined-arms operation planning, execution, analysis, and synthesis while also producing a variety of timely and culturally-tailored intelligence products available to civilian and military commanders at all levels.

We wouldn't be at this point today if it weren't for the dedicated efforts by many of the people whose names are on this list.

Warmest regards & V/r to All – Dan

25. Message to Capt Dan Moore from LTC XXX (USANG) on 10 Sep 05

Great points, mentoring also comes from peers AND subordinates like my Platoon Sergeant in 1ID, SFC XXX, who told me 'be yourself LT' which meant don’t fake it, be comfortable in your own skin.

Army has but hasn't checked it out enough. It would seem that students might rely upon savvy mentors in academia who can ‘light the way' perhaps and curious how mentoring might occur in cohesive units, like ships and Army's new focus on modular units.

The mentoring chain has been severely strained in the Army, and majors caught in the middle, and too much 'zero defects' mentality, throw 'em under the bus........

26. Message to Capt Moore USN and LTC XXX USANG from MAJ XXX, USA, Professor at USMA, Iraq Veteran, and student of change.

It has been a while since I have done any serious study of, and thinking on, the subject of mentoring -- following this e-discussion has enlightened me on some of the "new developments" and ideas regarding mentoring.

As I see it, mentoring is the informal relational tie-that-binds and integrates our more formal leader learning and leader development models, such formal academic learning, training, and experienced-based learning (all three of which I combine under one rubric -- "Education." I would be a bit cautious to regard any one of these components of our leader education model as in and of itself, "mentoring." Mentoring is that largely intangible and one-on-one (bi-directional) relationship between a senior leader and a junior leader that translates the educational experiences of a professional within a profession into a world-context. We typically think of this relationship as uni-directional -- top down, with only the senior leader having something to convey to the junior. This has always been wrong -- only one half of the process. And given today's "generational shift" in warfare, and our nations' entry into perpetual war, the bottom-up mentoring is of a significant importance: a means of "re-warrioring" our senior ranks in the art and science (tactics) of 4GW/5GW ("post"-modern) warfare.

Now here's the cautionary warning: let us not make the mistakes of the past and lean too far to the tactical realms, and end up promoting a purely tactical mentoring philosophy. If we completely turn our focus now on bottom-up mentoring (same holds true for "education" in total), I fear we as a military profession may end up as an "over-tactified" profession – a profession expert and well experienced in the conduct of combatives, but ignorant of the higher operational, strategic, and political "purposes" of who we are as a "profession" and why we do what we do in the conduct of war. We could easily become a "means-driven profession" rather than a "purpose-driven profession" -- the results of a sin of omission on our part . . . . omission of the "rest of war-policy" that lies above, around, and beyond the tactical martial acts of warfare.

If this were not enough to concern ourselves with (i.e., keeping a road and holistic balance within our professional education and mentoring models), we actually need to be thinking and expanding these models well "beyond" the martial functions of war-policy . . . . incorporating the civilian side of war-policy into our leader development models, operational doctrine, and organizational force designs (top down; bottom-up, and all between). That's real heresy that we are taking about . . . .and the true revolution in military affairs lies within this foreboding nexus.

It’s hard to dive into a discussion like this, when we all may not have a full knowledge of one another -- where we are coming from in terms of what shapes our discussion comments. The risk of translation of message error is high. So, I hope that you all will take my comments in light of us really not knowing the "full story" of one another.

I have attached a primer of a project that I am working on this year that is as good of an initial way of introducing "who I am" to all of you, as any. Best to view first as a slide show (for the builds) and then view the notes pages, for additional narrative. All comments most welcome. The link to force development (Modularity) and Mentoring is evident within.


27. Message to Wilcox, Vandergriff, and Col GI Wilson, USMC, from Col Mike Wyly, USMC (Ret.) on 11 Sep 05. [Col Wyly was one of the Boyd acolytes and co-author of The Maneuver Warfare Handbook as well as several articles/essays in the Marine Corps Gazette and other professional publications.  He is currently Executive Director of the Bossov Ballet Theater.]

All - My chapter, "Teaching Maneuver Warfare" in Maneuver Warfare: An Anthology edited by Rich Hooker and published by Presidio Press in (ABOUT) 1993 (maybe '92 or 94?) was designed partly as an idea about how mentoring for up-and-coming infantrymen might proceed with guidance and wisdom from people who'd done it. It would be an invigorating experience for both for the mentor and the mentoree. I wish I had time to develop it further. I think my chapter has some useful info for anyone putting together such a program. I have the book somewhere and I think it's still obtainable.

Col., USMC (ret)

(Wilcox Note: Hooker’s book is available and I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it. Just to give the reader a taste of what Wyly is talking about, he states that maneuver warfare is fighting without formulas. He prefers to start students in the field where the experiences and atmosphere is most like that which will prevail in combat. He suggests that the teacher may be surprised by the students when asked what they discover from an operation. He also suggests that we as teachers must make sure our warriors are up to the harshest intellectual demands of combat – making tough decisions under stress and in doing so, we ought not dwell on process but rather content. His formula for doing that is training in the field with frequent feedback. Admittedly, this is a poor précis of his classic essay.)

28. Message to businessman XXX from MAJ XXX, USMA, on 11 Sep 05

As I am beginning to see it – Its’ All War!

Instead of seeing it in terms of a “spectrum of conflict” that is bifurcated between “war” and “nonwar” (policies of foreign wars versus policies of domestic nonwars), we need to see it all more seamless and holistically . . . . as a spectrum of consequences (a spectrum of war-policy). Its all about “political discourse” and different levels of that discourse – some functional and others non-functional (i.e., major combat operations).
So, in this light, to your question of whether we should be looking similarly at gangs, etc. as we do to other types of “combatants” – I say absolutely! I have attached a short brief on tribal engagement operations – a plan we enacted in Northern Iraq back in 2003 (101st ABN Div). This plan approached consequence management as a seamless continuum of war-fare (a policy form). When we consider our own gang problems and “militia” problems in the US in this light, we can begin to appreciate our own homeland as a potential theater of conflict – a domestic theater of war – where any crisis (i.e., a Hurricane) can incite a myriad of different types of “political discourses” between the local populations and the authorities . . . .some functional and healthy and others dysfunctional. Our responses must be full-package responses under the conditions of this new contemporary operating environment (which, again, sees less and less of a demarcation line between foreign and the domestic).

Our mentoring and education models must be retooled to promote understandings of these new realities.
Sounds like we are all in the process of forming the agenda of a much-needed symposium on 4GW/5GW-era education and mentoring of Holistic warriors.

29. Message to MAJ XXX, USMA, from Vandergriff on 11 Sep 05

Amen. But even the draft of joint warfare manuals operations and tactics separate operations and stability. I edited them to be one evolution of an operation, which could even begin with stability or preemptive stability.

Greg is going to post the comments I made on mentoring to a smaller forum last weekend. (See item 11 above) I basically say that mentoring cannot be mandated from the top, but is a two way street, and furthermore, must be seen as one of the utmost investments an organization can make, in its future leaders and thinkers.


30. Message to MAJ XXX, USMA, from businessman XXX on 11 Sep 05

We are on the same page. Idea - in the past soldiers had to get the best view of the ground. Maps became ever more important. Now most conflict is tribal or cultural. We need culture maps not just in Iraq but in our cities and even in our schools.

Tactics focused on how to use ground well - for instance city fighting demands even more specialized knowledge and is often counter intuitive - is the best way into a building from the roof? So new tactics demand knowing how to work through culture. Here is a summary of the best thinking I know 

Here is another excellent piece. 

I fear that the US has a special problem in working cross culture. Your own culture is so prominent that you can be like the old British Political agent having dinner in Burma in his dinner jacket! As someone who has spent 4 years in parts of Africa, 3 years in Saudi Arabia and 20 years in the UK, I observe a self-referencing aspect of American life that makes "seeing" other cultures very hard.

Also I think that there is a problem that all large bureaucracies have (DOD FEMA etc.) Large bureaucracies are also obsessively self referencing. We all know that cooperation is not how you act in a bureaucracy. Surely any warrior has experienced this inter service. Why is air support such a problem? Surely it is not technical but cultural.

In this context I see Eisenhower's achievement in a new light. He may not have been the best General but he was surely an ace coalition leader. Imagine the cultural problems that he had to cope with and the prima donnas!

Surely there is a good conference in here somewhere where the idea of conflict being tribal/cultural is the starting point; where understanding that culture trumps ground, where seeing that the new tactics must be cultural; where to discover ones' own culture is key etc

At the end of the 18th century, a group of soldiers recognized that war was too technical to be left simply to gentlemen. So schools like West Point were set up. Now "wars" are too cultural to be left to engineers! We need a new school I think


31. Message to Capt Moore from Timothy Fitzpatrick on 12 Sep 05.

I agree with Capt Moore’s (NROTC) methodology.

While serving as an ROTC MSIII instructor I tried to use the Experiential Learning model and use zero Didactic instruction as the Tactics Officer. My MSIII class was to prepare the cadets to succeed in platoon leadership positions at Advanced Camp and in essence be confident and competent platoon leaders when they graduated. I stole this idea in large part from Greg Wilcox (Mentor!) who had us slinking around the area for our tactics training.

I was supposed to meet T-Th at 0800 to 0930 in an assigned classroom. I never met in the classroom. Instead the leadership for the next problem (not class) would receive a warning order three weeks out and then an OPORD two weeks out for their problem. I gave the cadet PL a grid coordinate in the woods surrounding the campus that we had renamed the Battlefield. We also provided all of the study resources because the cadet leaders also had to teach the required skill for that week and set aside rehearsal times. We met at 0630 rather than 0800 and the morning was executed as a tactical problem that each week introduced new elements from the required Military Qualification Standard I and other common or infantry skills required for the problem. They operated as a platoon with squad leaders, team leaders and PSG positions (didn't have 40+ cadets but so we had small elements).

To assist me I had commissioned LTs awaiting degree completion as assistant observers. Each period of instruction ended in the Cadet PL conducting an AAR with the rest of the cadets with new orders being issued at the end. Sometime that day each cadet in a leadership position had to come in with a self evaluation to me and then have a discussion on their performance.

We had an inclement weather plan. There would be inclement weather and we would still meet at that grid coordinate unless you had to swim to get there (we only canceled for hurricanes). I also received great complaints from professors all over campus about the stinky, sometimes mud covered, sometimes shivering camo painted cadets smelling up their classrooms. It was a great recruiting tool.

In our area all ROTC detachments spent weekends doing this kind of lanes training on the exact terrain that would be used during advanced camp at Fort Bragg using the exact scenarios to be evaluated at camp. They did all of their land navigation training on the exact terrain of the advanced camp course. I made sure that for every event we never used the terrain at Bragg unless as part of the Host School requirements. We also used Camp Geiger and Camp Lejeune USMC Infantry School land nav courses and ones we made up in our area rather than Bragg terrain.

The cadets all received above average ratings on tactics, field leadership and land nav but more importantly learned skills that could carry beyond a specific event and that emphasized the process of coping with problems rather than the specific outcomes.

My first "Victim" will attend the War College next year after having commanded a Battalion (Ok he went Transportation not Infantry but it still counts)

Tim Fitzpatrick

32. Message to his staff from LTC XXX, PMS, on 12 Sep 05.

See below—read Tim Fitzpatrick’s message (above) closely; this is the kind of thing that Don Vandergriff was good at—getting folks out of the classroom, teaching by doing, keeping the motivation level up. Think about how we can integrate / continue this type training, and let me know your ideas before the end of next week.

FYI, this e-mail string was generated by a question to a bunch of people soliciting their ideas on the importance / execution of mentoring in the Army. I think the opportunity for mentoring is greatly increased when you do this sort of training with instructors who care, get to know their cadets, and are with them during execution.


33. Message to all RE LTC XXX message to his staff from LTC XXX (USANG) on 12 Sep

BRAVO!! Another reason for staff rides, visit outside of classroom, ‘asym' see beyond the chalkboard, etc. As former ROTC and AC/RC CAS3 instructor, I always tried to 'get away' when possible, get off the 'res', break free of the PowerPoint and podium when possible.

34. Message to XXX from XXX on 13 Sep 05

Good news...........there is a way out of the box you point to and as you know its "thinking out-of-the-box". Now this is tough work because its rare that anyone ever shows up who can train/develop a leader to do this...............actually you could take the
case that few are really interested in the possible pathway to a "breakthrough" in mentoring as they would have to take a brief holiday from their attached view (do a certain level of violence to their present mindset) and actually consider what I pointed to in my message attached. Have not had one piece of feedback yet!!

Now since you alone have pointed to the critical element and well baked cliché re "out of the box" I'm offering a pathway to you................ which you may have not, as yet considered.

Let me know what you think having pondered the case studies found at (JMW LIBRARY).

Would value your view, insights, perspective or what learned after you have accomplished the coaching I offer.

35. Message to Wilcox from LTG XXX on 13 Sep 05

Although I like the term "coaching" better than "mentoring" (which carries some favoritism baggage), the basic Idea I think is to give constructive performance feedback along with advice about the professional--and sometimes personal--future. This is of course a basic essential leader behavior. But all kinds of studies and personal experiences tell us that "mentoring/coaching" is rarely adequately done in the eyes of the mentoree. The methods are fairly clear, and manuals and web sites tell us how to do it. The problem seems to remain: "there is no enough time" to do it. What that really means is that the institution does not demand it, expect it, and reward it. Recent studies show that lack of "mentoring" and lack of constructive performance feedback is not only a problem at junior officer levels but also a problem with senior officers (including all levels of generals.) I know the current senior leaders of the Army are aware and concerned. The issue is how to fix it. My bias is that it is not a classroom/TRADOC problem primarily. Senior officers need to model the behavior, TRADOC schools need to ensure that we know what "mentoring" or "coaching" is, and Army systems of reward need to include "coaching" as a key item in OER's and other reports. All command climate surveys need to include an item on the local support for "mentoring/coaching." It is good and healthy that there is continuing interest. All best wishes,

36. Message to LTG XXX from businessman XXX on 13 Sep 05.

Mentoring always suggests a power differential. What about more peer to peer or group learning?

Let’s look for a moment at running a checkpoint well or entering a building that has a family in it in Iraq. There are surely several perspectives here. The squad wants to return home alive and unhurt and they want to perform the mission well. The Captain has a broader perspective as does the Colonel that add on the political risks etc and the higher mission goals. Isn't it better is all these are linked and a holographic picture developed?

37. Message to All from Wilcox on 13 Sep


General XXX USA (Ret.) created what I think was the first network discussion group before the advent of the internet in the early 80s. It was called "Delta Force" (before the creation of the SF group by the same name) and the topics ranged the gamut from weapons to morals. You joined a group which most appealed to your interests. For example, I was in the tactics group if I recall. Individuals would write a short paper on a topic of interest and the paper would get circulated to other groups for comment. I still have the critiques of the papers I wrote, and I never will forget the chaplains' group criticizing my paper which suggested we take the weapons out of the arms room and put them back in the barracks with the troops where the troops would become familiar with their own individual arms. There were many papers on the future soldier, organization, and tactics and even strategy. Some were good, some bad, but all were interesting.

XXX ran "Delta" out of the Army War College for a while until he was told he had to shut it down as it was perceived as elitist by some who had complained to the Army Chief of Staff. That was the point that I got off the "equality" train.

I thought the ideas that were created on this early network to be not only inspiring, but also a learning tool (mentoring).

The commentaries were rank independent, vertical and horizontal. And the criticisms were honest and sometimes pretty brutal. Reminds me now of the observer controllers when they first started out at the NTC. Nothing was held back. The feedback was considerable and worthy.

It could have become an epiphany for a cultural revolution in military affairs, but it died too soon a death.

Maybe something like the "Delta Force" could be used to remotely "mentor" over the internet - a la for peer mentoring? We might even be able to really accommodate Ike Wilson's "holistic" approach to mentoring.

There may be no substitute for one-on-one "coaching" as General XXX suggests, but these relationships are very subjective and in my opinion, cannot be "formalized". As a matter of fact, it strikes me that some subordinates consider their mentor to be someone who doesn't even know that he is a mentor. This, to me, is real leadership. I've shared mentors with my peers in combat, and XXX was one our shared mentors. I'm sure to this day that he didn't really consider himself to be a "mentor" at the time, and it doesn't really fit the book descriptions of mentoring. It is also more than just "setting the example". It is extraordinary and inspirational behavior that is communicated in many different ways. It is also something different from charisma. There is a give and take, spoken or not. And there seems to be another characteristic. This relationship whether one-sided or with full awareness, seems to last a long time - in memory if nothing else.

Such mentoring is also apparent in the world of business and especially academia. There are some interesting thoughts and ideas on the jmw web site that XXX posted today. We are also getting great inputs from the Instructor crowd.

One of the most striking commentaries however has been the bottoms up mentoring. We are in a bottoms-up war. The SMEs appear to be the junior officers and NCOs who know what is going on more so than do the senior officers (with some exceptions). I just attended a conference on Joint Urban Operations Training needs at the Joint Forces Command, and by far the greatest contributions came from an Air Force and an Army Sergeant Major both of whom had been involved in the battle of Fallujah. They were able to cut through all the suppositions and tell us pachyderms of the training needs for Joint Urban Operations. While this isn't necessarily mentoring, it is an indicator of the bottoms up learning that we can enjoy in a open forum. Consider the fact that today, many of the platoon sergeants have the equivalent of a master's degree if not the real thing, and the young lieutenant is just out of college -- to say nothing of experience....
I sort of like the term "mentoring". I don't think of it as favoritism at all, or maybe I don't put as much stock in "fairness" any more. It has special meaning to the mentoree, and it has more substance than "coaching" in my book. But I agree with XXX, we need to pin down what we really think mentoring is somewhat better. You've had my 2 cents worth, and I'm still just a long-in-the-tooth student of all this.

Appreciate all of your comments.

38. Message to Wilcox and LTG XXX from YYY on 15 Sep 05

This thread has led to a great deal of discussion here at the office and has sparked a renewed interest in this on my part.

One question I have been mulling with our current force structure is what does this mean regards the role of civilians (GS, contractor, and retirees). With Military to civilian conversion of staff positions that will make decisions critical to warfighters, how do we ensure they develop the insights needed to inform their work? How do officers learn the role of civilians and provide leadership in a mixed or predominantly civilian staff?
In a forward operating environment with large numbers of civilians?

I am a DoD Executive Leadership Development Program Team advisor and this will be a hot topic during our upcoming training program as we also have two military officers on my team this year.


39. Message to Multiple Addressees from XXX on 15 Sep 05

There are some great insights being generated in this recent exchange below.

Recommend a slow, thoughtful and deliberate reading and ponder of what is being pointed to. I am confident that there is an element in this exciting dialogue which involves the NEW DISTINCTION for leader development present in John Tillson's report to the Under Secy for Personnel and Readiness........that being ADAPTABILITY".

Note the reference to JMW's web site and case studies found there, about ¾ through Greg's epistle below.

40. Message to XXX from LTC XXX (USANG) on 16 Sep 05

While I was at Leavenworth for my Northrop-Grumman BCTP training, CGSC had an elective where majors applied staff skills and problem-solving techniques working with local civilian companies, and that was initiated by LTC (P) XXX, now at Naval War College. There was an article in the Lamp about it, but just an example of an
effort at the student level to interface and share with others, something VITAL to future planning and response to disasters with civil and military organizations to meet new and challenging threats by man and nature.

The Guard and Reserve have unique insights regarding the civil/military world and going back and forth between the two, as I've noted as a former AC soldier, and AC/RC CAS3 instructor.

41. Message to XXX from COL XXX (USMA) on 19 Sep 05

Your question (How do civilians learn the role of officers, and vice versa?) is pregnant with immense implications! I study the Army from the perspective of a vocational profession. In that view, Officers are members of the Army Profession and so are NCOs and DA civilians... at least that is what we said in the 2d Edition of our book (see attached). But the issue is not so simple as definitions. Professionals do their work from the basis of their expert knowledge; without the large body of abstract expert knowledge they have absorbed, there can be no professional practice (and they are therefore, bureaucrats). So analytically, the question is: are the bodies of knowledge held by the military Officer and the DA civilian (at equivalent ranks, years of experience) congruent? If not, how much do they diverge? Is the divergence complementary in that two of them working as a command team can fully execute the responsibilities of command? These are questions to which I do not know the answers. But someone, somewhere, must as they underlie the decision to proceed with military to civilian conversion. Hopefully someone on this list can inform me.

All best,

42. Message to COL XXX (USMA) from businessman XXX on 19 Sep 05

There is no doubt in practice that civilian and military cultures are different
Is not the new issue that in the past war and hence the military culture trumped civilians when conflict broke out but now in low level conflict the environment is neither war not peace but some awful blend

Is this not the reason that at some level some civilians and some military have to also blend?

43. Message to XXX and XXX from Mr. Chuck Myers, aerospace pioneer and (way) out of the box thinker on 19 Sep 05

Toward "outside the box thinking and actions" it would help if we had some examples where the "outside the box thinker" was recognized and rewarded by the government or industrial bureaucracy (while he/she was still alive).

Have lots of examples of the opposite, i.e., being penalized/ostracized.


44. Message to COL XXX (USMA) from LTC XXX (USANG) on 20 Sep 05

Not to get 'fuzzy and cuddly', but three key principles of Zen philosophy and leadership are to exhibit:

Clarity - to know what's truly important

HUMILITY (allows each generation - boomer, X, etc. - to extend respect

Courage - obviously moral courage, like when Gunnery Sergeant smacked Capt. Chuck Krulak's head in Vietnam to get him out of pitying a dead RTO (one of three vignettes told by GEN Krulak in address to CGSC Students that was Mandatory viewing as part of CAS3 POI in ethical decision making)

Sensai (I believe that is correct spelling) is oriental concept of learned master and perhaps there is room to examine that dynamic of something more than just trainer/student, but goes into more than how to perform a martial arts move, but philosophy, culture, how to develop strategy by playing GO, etc.

45. Message to Wilcox from LTG XXX on 20 October

It seems that "mentoring" or coaching or tutoring or whatever we call that interchange of information designed to assist an individual is always a two-way street. But there is, however, the expectation that the mentee (?) can gain something in particular from the relationship--that the coach has something of value to add. I do not think both are at all equal in terms of expected developmental assistance, notwithstanding that common sense and research tell us that the teacher learns a lot by teaching! Thanks,

46. Message to Wilcox from XXX on 2 November 2005-11-04

Just finished with the leadership program's training session that I support

Very powerful experiential based program as far as personal growth. Being an advisor is far tougher than being a student! Some are moving rapidly in their careers, deliberate steps on well chosen rungs but going "into the Box" soon after long periods of no troop time. People skills and polished presence do not overcome physics and physical condition or tactical competence. Even a great planner and natural leader has to be able to execute tactically and more importantly survive. Some had no troop time/supervisory time and never have been selected as raters, supervisors or principle leadership positions despite their individually incredible technical backgrounds. Their feedback sessions were designed to be Socratic in that they had to come in prepared to discuss where they were on self knowledge, communicating, building teams and military knowledge. Interesting in that all really knew their weak areas but really didn't want to discuss, gloves off, where they were. It took a while but for most we got there and I think it was the first time most got to really no kidding lay out in all its rawness where they were. Pretty emotional as the focus is on how each of us can better support Warfighters, but I think went well. I sincerely believe that they would never have talked so honestly to someone in their own food chain.

None had a Mentor. They had well placed individuals they could call on but only in a Rolodex way. Asked them to examine their pasts and look for the last individual they did open up with and frankly discuss their development and it turns out it is retired instructors/teachers. They intend to re-establish those ties as they feel a former senior mentor now retired will be spirited enough to give them tough assessments but too old to smack them around physically (I guess we old guys need to keep that in mind and go back to carrying canes for that purpose) or hurt their careers in some way.

Bottom line is we all need someone to get honest feedback that we can trust. The system will not issue you one unless you are supremely fortunate, a 1%er or have a retired Drill Sergeant as a dad or uncle.