Focus on the Mission | – Leader Development for Army Professionals

Focus on the Mission

Command Sergeant Major Schmitz, currently serves as the Battalion Command Sergeant Major for the 297th Military Intelligence Battalion. He has served in all leadership positions from Squad Leader to Battalion Command Sergeant Major. Some of his leadership achievement include: serving as a Drill Sergeant and his induction into the Prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Leadership Club. He enjoys sharing his leadership experience with others and assisting them in developing innovative and meaningful solutions to the complex issues facing today’s military leader.

Mission—We hear that word quite often in the military. Every unit has a primary mission, and the Army expects the unit to be able to accomplish this mission when called upon. For the 513th Military Intelligence Brigade that mission is to provide tailored, multi-disciplined intelligence and intelligence capabilities in support of CENTCOM, ARCENT and other commands, to defeat adversaries, promote regional stability, support partners and allies and protect U.S. interests. The Soldiers and civilians within the Brigade accomplish that mission extremely well on a daily basis. From an Intelligence Analyst working in the Theater Ground Intelligence Center producing fused intelligence, to an agent working in the Qatar Resident Office developing contacts within the region, everyone is focused on developing and producing intelligence products in support of a commander’s intelligence needs within the CENTCOM Area of Responsibility. In fact, the Soldiers and civilians within the Brigade accomplish this mission so well that the Brigade is praised constantly for the support we provide to various customers. Let me say that a different way… The Brigade and its subordinate Battalions and Companies garner praise for the hard work and competence of their Soldiers. The Soldier is the reason those missions are completed and the reason this Brigade is known as the premier Military Intelligence Brigade in the Army.

Unfortunately, I believe that some leaders in the Army as a whole have lost our focus on that last point. Our mission is accomplished by the Soldiers. There is not one lone NCO, Warrant Officer, Officer, civilian or enlisted Soldier who gets it done all by him or herself. It takes a concerted effort by the team to make any organization, and the Army, move ahead. In my mind, when I use the word Soldier, I am referring to all of those individuals who are working on a daily basis to make the their unit the best. That being said, when I hear someone make a comment like, “But Sergeant Major, that (whatever that is) will interfere with the mission”, I get a chance to explain how our Army works. While each unit definitely has a stated mission, there are other ‘missions’ that must be accomplished to ensure the unit’s mission can be accomplished. Numerous times I have heard how having Soldiers in the motor pool doing maintenance interferes with the mission. I say that without those vehicles, generators, and associated equipment maintained, and without the training that goes along with that maintenance, our Soldiers are not fully prepared to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States.

On several occasions, I have heard leaders of the intelligence mission state that they do not have enough noncommissioned officers to effectively accomplish the intelligence mission. I recognize that this fact may be true. However, when an NCO needs to counsel a Soldier, inspect a barracks room, or train junior enlisted Soldiers, I am told that it will detract from the intelligence mission. Counseling Soldiers and showing them what an NCO is supposed to do is the only way to grow more NCOs. If we focus solely on the intelligence mission, and forgo any of our other ‘Soldierly’ duties, we are producing excellent intelligence technicians, not noncommissioned officers.

Events like unit Organization days, Warrior Competitions, NCO induction ceremonies, Soldier and NCO of the quarter boards, and Change of Command and Responsibility ceremonies are just as important for any unit, and the Army as a whole, as preparing a product summarizing the election process and status in Egypt or determining the barracks utilization within a brigade. Without the former, our Soldiers may not get the full meaning about what it is to be a part of the Army: the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. I have been asked why, in my opinion, we cannot keep mid-grade Soldiers in the Army. I believe it is because we moved away from doing those things that instilled pride in the service and a sense of history and belonging to the Army. Many of the senior leaders in the Army today are senior leaders because they experienced those ‘distracting’ tasks when they were junior enlisted Soldiers and junior officers.

In the end, I always point out to the leaders in my organization that intelligence is not our only mission. It may be our primary purpose for existing as a brigade, but there are a multitude of other tasks required to complete our directed task. Those other smaller missions are what are enabling us to accomplish our intelligence mission today and they make up the experiences that our Soldiers need to ensure we can accomplish our intelligence mission in the future. I am sure that this one fact holds true throughout the Army.

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posted on 06/18/2013 under Articles
Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • MSG Owens

    Good Article CSM. Totally agree. Always Forward, Yield to None.

    MSG O


    Good article I believe soldiers can avoid the monotony of doing the same thing everyday by doing interesting stt training and quarterly joint or field exercises. Even weapons qual and pt is complained about interfering with the mission. Command maintenance is important but extremely time consuming with a lot of standing around so I feel people on this one.

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