News: Squad Leader for a Day
Story by Spc. Jeff Shackelford
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - For more than a year, squad leader Sgt. Jeffrey Nault, assigned to the 797th Engineer Company, located in Barrigada, Guam, has been mentoring his Soldiers to be professional, disciplined, and train each other in a unique way.
The vertical engineer calls the concept “Squad Leader for a Day.” He said the idea came to him during his unit’s last combat support training exercise.
“I came up with the idea because my guys are always asking me questions and wanting to know why things had to take so long or be done a certain way,” said Nault. “I thought the best way to show them would be to give them a sense of responsibility.
Nault said putting a Pfc. in an acting squad leader’s position is a great way to develop their confidence and other leadership skills needed to be mission ready.
“I normally work my way up from the lowest to my assistant squad leader and continue the cycle everyday,” said Nault, a native of Sinajana, Guam.
Nault said the assigned squad leader’s responsibilities continue throughout the day and including sensitive items accountability, weapons maintenance and ensuring all assigned tasks are completed.
“This gives them a better idea of what it’s like to be in a leadership position,” said Nault. “They learn communication skills and how to process information. I’m there to back them up while they are squad leader, but I want them to make the first decision and take responsibility for their decisions.”
Nault said that it was challenging to implement, but that the Soldiers adapted quickly.
“In the beginning it was difficult. They had a lot of questions but after they sat through some briefings and they did it, it was easier for them,” said Nault. “Now when I assign them a task, they just do it.”
Nault’s new developmental training has produced results. He said the Soldiers are bonding and assuming more respectability for themselves after being in the squad leader’s boots.
“The Soldiers like the leadership position and are demonstrating values needed for training and forward deployment,” said Nault.
Spc. Paul Anthony Atalig, a vertical engineer with the 797th said that this is a good tool for Soldiers and should help with Combat Support Training Exercise 91.
“This is my first time as squad leader. So far I like the experience,” said Atalig. “I think this is a great way for the lower enlisted to gain experience as a leader.”
CSTX 91 is a sustainment-focused training exercise developed for units in Train/Ready year-3 of the five-year Army Forces Generation model.
With many of the units participating in CSTX 91 becoming available for deployment next year, the remote training environment Fort Hunter Liggett provides offers rugged terrain, realistic training opportunities and living conditions soldiers may face while deployed.