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    Gen. (Ret.) Petraeus talks leadership with 364th ESC

    Gen. (Ret.) Petraeus talks leadership with 364th ESC

    Photo By Capt. James Kim | MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Staff members of the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. James Kim 

    364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

    MARYSVILLE, Wash. – Staff members of the 364th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conducted a Video Teleconference (VTC) session with Gen. (Ret.) David H. Petraeus and discussed his insights on leadership and experience with the U.S. Army Reserve.

    The 364th ESC has command and control of more than 40 Army Reserve units located in six states that provide combat support and combat service support. As a Ready Force X unit, the 364th ESC is part of the ever growing need of the U.S. Army Reserve to deploy quickly to support active duty and other units in theater. As the threat around the world continues to evolve and the U.S. Army Reserve is focused on being an integral part of the total force, Gen (Ret.) Petraeus’ words of wisdom and experience were more valuable than ever. Here are some of the highlights of that meeting:

    364: What were your experiences with Army Reserve units coming into your area of responsibility?

    Petraeus: Well, first of all, let me give kudos to the intrepid Major there who exercised such impressive initiative in contacting me via LinkedIn to ask me to do this session. Well done on that!

    My experiences with Army Reserve units during the war years were good in the early years and very good as the years went on. During my four years in Iraq, for example, which included, two, three, and four-star commands, my experience with Reserve units was increasingly very positive. In truth, once we entered the third or fourth rotation of Operation Iraqi Freedom, virtually every Reserve unit in theater had already been deployed at each once. And by the time we conducted the Surge, in 2007 and 2008, most Reserve units had very experienced and strong leaders, staff members, and soldiers. The sheer tempo produced enormous experience, given the training conducted during the so-called “Road to Deployment” and then the operations during the actual deployment. And after a certain point, the component became indistinguishable because everyone had considerable experience.

    The challenge now, of course, is how to maintain as much of that readiness without folks being called up for a year or so every few years. The good news is that the reserve component has lots of people who have had lots of time downrange in recent years. But over time, I suspect you will have company commanders who have not deployed, you certainly will have a lot of Lieutenants and junior Non-Commissioned Officers who will not have deployed, and that will be the challenge going forward. Of course, that has always been the challenge, though the amount of experience that the leadership will bring to this will help a great deal – even as the focus of training shifts to include more emphasis on combat with near-peer competitors, vice with insurgent and extremist groups.

    364: What were your expectations from your subordinate lower echelon staff?

    Petraeus: The military obviously has a very well-established military decision making process, and what we wanted was staff members who were competent in the tasks of that process in their respective grades. We wanted those on our staffs to have had the individual preparation on the Military Decision Making Process, in addition to the professional skills one looks for in a headquarters. The only way you get this, of course, is by performing the tasks of the MDMP over and over and over again. What we found, particularly after a unit had already been down range for a deployment, was that it was increasingly indistinguishable whether a unit was Active or Reserve. Everyone at a certain point had a level of expertise and experience that made it pretty hard to tell the difference between the components.

    364: How has your leadership style changed as you transitioned from Army to CIA to your civilian career?

    Petraeus: The big insight, I think, is, that when you’re asked what your leadership style is, you shouldn’t try to characterize it as, e.g., “I’m fair but firm,” or “I’m a micromanager,” or “I’m hands off, positive or negative, or whatever.” You should explain that you seek to provide the leadership style that will bring out the best in each of those who report directly to you, on an individual basis, and to bring out the best in the overall organization, collectively, as well.

    We are all different, and bringing out the best in each individual and each unit varies from one to another. It may be, for example, that you need a pat on the back once a year, whereas I might need one once an hour, and somebody else might need one even more than that. So your leadership style has to vary from individual to individual and organization to organization. And context and situational factors matter in each case.

    Beyond that, I have long felt that, generally speaking, we should base our dealings with people on an assumption that each is trying to do the best he or she can. I’ve always felt that was a good approach; invariably, most folks will respond favorably to such an approach.

    If you talked to people who worked for me over the years, you will find some Division or Corps Commanders who will say, “Petraeus was the most hands off guy I’ve ever worked for in my life; he just gave us some general guidance and some left and right limits and let us get on with it.” However, some others will no doubt say, “I never met a guy who micromanaged and could get into details the way he did.” But that would be because the guy that got the micromanagement needed it; meanwhile, for those I assessed didn’t need it, I didn’t provide it. So it’s always about how to create a context for each person individually for him or her to be all that they can be and how you do that for the organization collectively. You also often want to make it appear that you have a light hand on the reins and also such incredible confidence in the ability of those that lead the subordinate units, while at the same you’re your strive to provide energy, example, inspiration and direction.

    As the VTC session came to a conclusion, Gen. (Ret.) Petraeus ended with one final advice for the leaders of the 364th ESC, by saying, “Leading a huge organization and being the strategic leader, you are the person who decides; you have to get the big ideas right. If you don’t do that, all that is done will be building on a shaky intellectual foundation. In fact, during the Surge in Iraq, I often noted that the surge of ideas was more important than the surge of forces.”

    Gen. (Ret.) David H. Petraeus served 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from July 4, 2010, to July 18, 2011. His other assignments include serving as the 10th Commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) from October 13, 2008, to June 30, 2010, and as Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) from February 10, 2007, to September 16, 2008. As commander of MNF-I, Gen. (Ret.) Petraeus oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq. He later was director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2011 to 2012.



    Date Taken: 07.22.2019
    Date Posted: 08.06.2019 23:45
    Story ID: 334806
    Location: MARYSVILLE , WA, US 

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