Back to Basics: Leota puts focus back on Soldiering fundamentals

| February 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Command Sgt. Maj. Frank M. Leota
Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army-Pacific



I will begin using this “Back to Basics” monthly column as an initiative to assist Soldiers to begin focusing on the fundamentals of Soldiering and leadership.

Over the past decade, we have become more adaptive and vigilant. Our tactics, techniques, procedures and combat experience have made us successful against our adversaries.

We have had a high operational tempo in support of overseas contingency operations, but we have inadvertently become untrained in several areas, at all levels.

Getting back to the basics is an essential key in developing a strong and knowledgeable Soldier and leader. Our Army and leaders deserve that, and we, as leaders, have an inherent responsibility to our Soldiers and to the Army.

Now that we’re home

As we begin to transition from deployments to longer durations at home, we will begin to focus on and re-enforce the fundamentals of basic Soldiering, such as military customs and courtesies, traditions, and drills and ceremonies.

Basic leadership is the fundamental key to having a unit with standards and strong disciplined Soldiers who represent our units and our Army in a positive manner.

Disciplined Soldiers — who uphold our Army values, customs and courtesies, and traditions — continuously represent all of us as ambassadors to our Army, country and community, so we must return to the basics in all we do.

Having the fundamentals of leadership and training, and enforcing standards and discipline, will only solidify our professional Army that we proudly serve. These fundamentals will give validation to our profession of arms.

Hence, getting back to basics is a change of mindset, but, more importantly, it is about leadership. It is setting the conditions for our future leaders in our Army to be trained, disciplined and ready to take on any mission assigned, just as our leaders in the past have done for us.

We are the best Army in the world. Our standards and discipline are unmatched.

The keys to our success are the fundamentals.

Survey shows

USARPAC recently conducted surveys and queries of more than 500 Soldiers stationed in Hawaii. The surveys and queries referenced military customs and courtesies, traditions and basic soldiering.

What we have discovered is 44 percent of our Soldiers did not know the official name of the Army’s song, 40 percent of Soldiers did not know what actions to take during retreat to the colors while in uniform and not in formation, and 62 percent of our Soldiers stated they are allowed to remove headgear at the gas station (under cover).

Qs, As and References

The following questions and answers cover basic information that every Soldier needs to know. Learn more by reviewing Army Regulation 600-25, “Salutes, Honors and Visits of Courtesy,” and Field Manual 3-21.5, “Drill and Ceremonies.”

Q: What Army regulation covers salutes, honors and visits of courtesy?

A: AR 600-25.

Q: Salutes are not required to be rendered or returned when the senior or subordinate, or both, are what?

A: In civilian attire. They are also not required when engaged in routine work if the salute would interfere; when carrying articles with both hands as to make saluting impracticable; when working as a member of a detail, or engaged in sports or social functions where saluting would present a safety hazard; when in public places, such as theaters, churches and in public conveyances; or when in the ranks of a formation. (AR 600-25)

Q: When lowering the flag (retreat), the flag is folded (cocked hat) and treated as a cased color. Do persons meeting the flag detail salute the flag?

A: No. Once the flag has been folded, it is treated as a cased color and not saluted by persons meeting the flag detail. The flag will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect but not be rendered any sort of honors.

Q: At the last note of retreat, what will happen?

A: A gun will be fired (if available) on military installations, followed by the playing of the national anthem or sound of “To the Colors” (using a drum and bugle corps, a bugler, or recorded music) concurrent with the lowering of the flag. The flag will be lowered to ensure completion at the last note of the music.

The same respect will be observed by all military personnel whether the national anthem is played or “To the Colors” is sounded. (AR 600-25)

Q: What is a review?

A: A military ceremony that is used to honor a visiting, high-ranking commander, official or dignitary, and or permit them to observe the state of training of a command. It’s also a ceremony to present decorations and awards, to honor or recognize unit or individual achievements, and to commemorate events. (FM 3-21.5)

Q: What are the five types of commands in a drill?

A: There are four types of commands in a drill: two-part, combined, supplementary and directive.

Most drill commands have two parts: the preparatory command and the command of execution. In some commands, the preparatory command and the command of execution are combined; for example, fall in, at ease and rest.

Supplementary commands are oral orders given by a subordinate leader that reinforce and complement a commander’s order.

Directives are oral orders given by the commander that direct or cause a subordinate leader to take action. (FM 3-21.5)

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