News: Battalion commander leads from the front
Story by Capt. Murray Shugars
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq — The commander of a Mississippi Army National Guard battalion accompanied his Soldiers on a convoy security mission from Contingency Operating Location Q-West to Forward Operating Base Warrior, Nov. 24 and 25.
Lt. Col. Kerry Goodman, a Meridian, Miss., native who commands 2nd Battalion, 198th Combined Arms, out of Senatobia, Miss., used his own truck and crew to roll with members of 1st Platoon, B Company, 2/198th CAB out of Greenwood, Miss.
Goodman said he regularly joins his convoy security missions to supervise, to improve his battle-space awareness and to help him see from his Soldiers perspectives.
"A leader has got to go with the Soldiers to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing," said Goodman, "but my main reason for joining missions is to be out there with my Soldiers and experience what they experience and understand what issues they are having."
Goodman's presence raised morale, said Staff Sgt. Robert E. Cullom, a squad leader and, during this mission, a scout truck commander.
"We like to see commanders out here with us," said the Flowood, Miss., native. "Having the battalion commander take time to be here definitely helps morale. It gains our trust and respect."
Sgt. John F. Diviney, a gunner from Spokane, Wash., serving as non-commissioned officer in charge of Goodman's vehicle crew, agrees that the time Goodman spends with the troops is good for morale and builds trust.
"I've known battalion commanders that hardly ever went out the wire," said Diviney. "You have to respect commanders who get out there with the troops, and lieutenant colonel Goodman goes out a lot. When he's talking to the Soldiers, you can tell he understands enlisted life, and the Soldiers can tell."
Goodman said that every leader is either a good or a bad example to the troops.
"One of the most valuable lessons I ever learned about leadership I learned from a bad platoon sergeant," said Goodman. "He was the worst leader I ever saw. He was never around for us. He was overweight. He was not tactically or technically proficient. I was young and could have learned the wrong lessons, but instead I learned what not to do from his bad example. I learned the importance of leading by example."
Another benefit of being with the Soldiers is that it allows the commander to recognized outstanding performance, said Goodman.
"If I see something that deserves recognition, I have the privilege of giving an impact award," Goodman told his assembled Soldiers before departing Warrior for the return to Q-West.
Goodman bestowed two Army Achievement Medals, one to Cullom and another to Staff Sgt. Jonathan A. Parks, a scout truck commander from Grenada, Miss.
"These NCOs identified a possible improvised explosive device and did an outstanding job of dealing with it," said Goodman during the brief, Nov. 25, ceremony in the COB Warrior Central Receiving and Shipping Point yard. "They established security in the area, radioed a detailed report and requested (explosives ordinance disposal) support and air cover. When the EOD and air cover arrived, Staff Sgt. Parks and Staff Sgt. Cullom played key roles in coordinating that support. They were vigilant and professional. They did nothing less than what I expect. Even though the IED turned out to be a false alarm, they did the right thing, and this was an excellent experience for the entire convoy."