How We Learn

Welp, I owe you all an apology of sorts. 

I have not posted a new video or comic in some weeks.  Though I have plenty of excuses to levy, none of them are worth the lack of content provided.  I will have a new video out before the New Year, I promise. 

The problem I keep running into is that I hate leaving specifics out.  Now that I am in the supply and components section, I feel like that if I leave anything out, I am dooming you potential hand receipt holders to some level of failure and, even worse, financial liability.  I don’t know why I shoulder the responsibility of your pocketbook, but for some reason, I do.

But that brings up a very interesting, albeit unintentional, topic.  As officers, How far do we take the development of our peers and subordinates? 

Many of you will agree with me that the Officer professional training courses are lacking.  Whether this is intentional or not, I don’t know.  But, in my opinion, this is reflective of the expectations of what officers are supposed to be/do.  Officers self-develop.  Officers learn on their own and find the knowledge that they need to accomplish their mission.

I don’t agree with this sentimentality, on a personal level.  To a certain extent, everyone needs to self-develop.  No one can count on others to provide the knowledge they need to survive in this world and become successful.  However, when you have an institution as large as the US Army, you would think that it serves its own interests by preparing its people to assume the accountability and responsibility that they decide to assign to them.

No, in real life, political expediency (not just politics in a Democrat-Republican, CNN-Fox News kind way) nearly always takes front seat.  This is both an institutional problem (within each corps or branch) and an overall military problem. 

Here are a few examples:

EO and SHARP training is mandated to an exacting degree.  Several hours per quarter must be spent training these subjects to every member of the United States Army.  Yet, there is no hard-fast requirement for training Property Accountability, PMCS, or Training Management.

In Quartermaster and Logistics PME for officers, two weeks at a minimum are spent on petroleum management and the theory of petroleum operations.  Two days are spent on property accountability.  No days are spent on training management. In fact, more time is spent reviewing laundry and shower procedures than training management and property accountability.

OPD/LPD sessions at battalion and above level are often focused (at least in my experience) on historical battle rides and exceedingly specific subjects that are branch specific rather than administrative or problem focused topics.

How does this change? I don’t know for sure, but I have some suggestions.

1. Work hard and prepare training

It is so easy to pull some random PowerPoint training session pulled off of google or to steal it off of the share portal.  Spend 10-20 minutes (at best) reviewing the material, then off you go!  You are the subject matter expert.

This is not how training works.  This is not how experts and professionals teach others.  But I find it hard to blame others fully for this, as those few that could competently put together a training session are usually overburdened with other work.

But, should you find yourself with the need to teach a class, do yourself and those who you are teaching a favor.  Build the lesson yourself.  Do the research yourself.  You will find yourself not depending on the slides and teaching relevant information, rather than reading slides and going over only the seemingly applicable highlights.

2. Leave your ego out of it

Everyone loves to do it.  Finding a way to highlight how good you are, or conversely (if you are a douchebag), how bad everyone else is.  Hoarding information or making others feel stupid for not having knowledge or the wisdom to know what they don’t know.

Acting this way will only lead to others despising you and your lesson.  On top of that, you will end up setting up a mental attitude that leads to ignorance of others abilities and needs. 

In short, don’t be a toxic asshole.

                                                                            Yea, don't set others up for failure

                                                                            Yea, don't set others up for failure

3. Define what is important, and what is not

You are a big boy.  You are in charge.  There are going to be few others that can really figure out what training is important to your unit’s operations than you.  There are a few ways to accomplish this. 

You can use a METL assessment; defining your key tasks and training on those.  Or you can identify key weaknesses by observing the day to day operations.  However you do it, figure out what is important.  Just because it is a weakness does not mean you need to spend time on it.  I am very weak at PMCS’ing LMTV trailers.  I have very little to no need to use them.  So why waste my time?

Sure there are those items that you must train by regulation regardless of your strength or weakness.  But only you can develop your priorities. (Note: This whole part more applies to unit training rather than leader training, but the concept still applies).

So, here is the crowd interaction part.  What do you think about professional development training?