LDRSHIP in an Army of O.N.E. , Essay by CPL Charles D. Wells

LDRSHIP in an Army of O.N.E.


  *FM-1: The Army*


Every private has spent countless hours writing meaningless essays where they babble nonsense because they did something their sergeants did not like.  This is not one of those essays.  I am going to try to make an argument.  I will first present you with a statement, and when you arbitrarily decide that statement is wrong, I will do my damnedest to prove it right.

There are three major Army Publications, one military website, and one civilian leadership program I will use in this essay.  They are:

  • FM 7-21-13     Soldiers Guide
  • FM 6-22          Army Leadership
  • FM 7-22.7       The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide
  • Tradoc Command Website
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People


The Army of ONE

The point I am making is that the Seven Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage all remain at the core of soldiering but change as a soldier progresses.  Remember that an Army of ONE is Officers, Non-commissioned officers, and Enlisted

Young enlisted can learn about the Seven Army Values by thinking about specific examples (such as duty or respect). The NCO’s (and up-and-coming NCO’s), on the other hand, must learn how to grow and maintain it through actions and good decisions.  Officers, because of their education, and their freedom to think outside the box, have access to civilian leadership techniques.  In fact, most college ROTC programs require classes in “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Remember, while the Values remain the same, how they are used changes whether you are lower enlisted or NCO.  This is reflected in the subtle differences between the above-mentioned FM’s.



FM 7-22.7 recommends that NCO’s “stand by your soldiers’ honest mistakes,” allowing them to sink or swim on their own merits while learning from their mistakes.  It means allowing them to work it out themselves so they earn the respect and loyalty of their peers and their supervisors.  Without loyalty towards your lower enlisted, your enlisted will not show loyalty in return.

On the other hand, the Tradoc Command Website states “Open criticism and being disloyal to leaders...  …destroys the foundation of the organization and results in diminished mission accomplishment.”  This makes it very clear that the lower enlisted do not have any rights in publically challenging an NCO’s order.  Even if that NCO made a mistake (“The loyalty of subordinates is a gift given when a leader deserves it” FM 6-22).

A single poor decision from either an NCO or an Enlisted can turn this into a cycle of backbiting and finger-pointing.  An Enlisted may try to earn the loyalty of his fellow enlisted and the respect of his NCO’s, but may make an honest mistake.  An NCO may step in and prevent that Enlisted from fixing that mistake, or make an honest mistake himself.  Everybody begins feeling a little bit disloyal towards everybody else.

Of course, this can easily be avoided by using good judgment.  Good enlisted acknowledge when they are wrong, and good NCO’s do their best to help Enlisted accomplish the mission and work through whatever mistakes get made.



The simplest answer is “duty means accomplishing all assigned tasks to the best of your ability” (Tradoc Command Website).  That is exactly what an enlisted believes Duty is, and is the minimum that is expected from every soldier.

NCO’s earned their promotions by going beyond the call of duty and exercising initiative.  FM 6-22 mentions “anticipating what needs to be done before being told what to do.”  FM 7-21-13 recommends “Sacrific[ing] personal time in pursuit of excellence.”

An interesting thought is that duty is nothing more than some intestinal fortitude combined with the Warrior Ethos.  A heavy force of will that keeps us on track and keeps us moving towards whatever mission we are trying to accomplish.   A tenacity of purpose.



From reading the Field Manuals, Respect is the most fundamental building block of trust, and trust is the most important element of cohesive teambuilding.  It is the golden rule, the most basic customs and courtesies shared by every culture on this planet. Something every soldier expects. 

According to 7-22.7 it’s the professionalism and mutual considerations that allow the noncommissioned officers to work smoothly with each other and higher headquarters, and the enlisted to maintain a standard of training that will allow them to survive on the battlefield.

It envelopes everything, including the way you give orders, the way you interact with your peers, the way you respect the bounds and limitations of another human being (personal space, personal property, use of language or gestures, etc).   It is our discretion, tactfulness, and professionalism in the workplace (FM 7-21-13).


Selfless Service

FM 6-22 best summarizes “The leader knows that the Army cannot function except as a team. For a team to excel, the individual must give up self-interest for the good of the whole.” 

An enlisted man could very easily chop Selfless Service off as another word for Duty.  Both the Tradoc Command Website and FM 7-22.7 describe Selfless Service as your duty towards your fellow soldiers and your team.

It is important that leaders do not confuse Selfless Service with Duty.   FM 7-21-13 proposes the following points:

  • Focus your priorities on service to the Nation.
  • Place the needs of the Army, your unit and your fellow soldiers above your personal gain.
  • Balance the mission, your family, and your personal needs.
  • Accept personal responsibility for your own performance.    

Ultimately, FM 7-22.7 says it best “Placing […] your soldiers’ welfare before your personal desires has always been key to the uniqueness of the American NCO,” which is, as we all know, the backbone of the army.

An officer may point out that this concept of Selfless Service extends throughout American Society, and is what makes the United States of America the greatest country in the world.  Community leaders, the Roosevelt New Deals, and even the American Work Ethic is based upon the ideal of selfless service.

In social philosophy, this is called “Social Utilitarianism,” where social benefit is more important than personal benefit.   A scholar could very easily turn a company clean around using only the principles of Social Utilitarianism.


Both the Tradoc website and 7-22.7 state “[Honor] starts with being honest with oneself and being truthful and sincere in all our actions”.  An honorable individual does not delude, confuse, or deny himself the truth.  How can an individual or team be truly mission capable if he/they cannot accept the facts the way they are.  If a person is honest with himself, then not even ignorance can be used as an excuse, because actions could have been made to prevent that ignorance.

 “Stonewall” Jackson "What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death" (FM 7-22.7).  This goes far beyond the concept of “face,” where a persons public image is the primary concern.  Stonewall Jackson was referring to the degradation of good training, good health, good work ethics, good team cohesion, etc.  Degradation is anything that takes away from Mission Readiness.

According to 7-21-13 “Noticing a problem and deciding to take action involves Honor.”  Those problems are probably an example of or a cause of degradation.  To ignore or reinforce a problem, or to prevent someone else from solving a problem, is dishonorable.  It takes away from Mission Readiness.  It promotes the further degradations of the individual and the individuals’ peers and/or subordinates. 



Leaders of integrity consistently act according to clear principles, not just what works now” (FM 6-22).  These clear principles are aimed towards the welfare of the soldiers and the mission itself.  Quickly sending the most accurate information up the chain of command regardless of personal embarrassment is essential for mission accomplishment.

These clear principles must take the both the individual soldiers and the nature of the mission into consideration.   Its easy to get caught up in what seems to work right now, even if it may cost the group in the long run.  Again from 6-22 “Identifying the underlying maintenance issues and raising the quality bar could ultimately save Soldiers’ lives.

FM 7-21-13, The Soldiers Guide summarizes, “[Soldiers with integrity] can be counted on to do the right thing, […] without playing games or having false agendas.  […] As your integrity develops, so does the trust others place in you.”  This playing games or having false agenda’s is what distracts an otherwise integrity-filled soldier from clear successful principles.


Personal Courage

Again, this is one of those values that grows as a soldier progresses.  It starts out in every enlisted as the physical personal courage as “overcoming fears of bodily harm” (FM 7-21-13).  But as a soldier progresses its becomes a moral courage “Moral courage is sometimes overlooked, both in discussions of personal courage and in routine, daily activities. Moral courage often expresses itself as candor. Candor means being frank, honest, and sincere with others while keeping your words free from bias, prejudice, or malice.”

Being willing to stick your own head out, or to take point, or to observe a problem and try to step up and solve it before it gets worst requires personal courage.  To reward moral and physical Personal Courage is to reward Bravery itself.


Civilian Leadership Techniques

All seven of the Army Values are reflected by soldiers’ actions and decision making ability, loyalty is earned by taking just and fair actions, duty itself is nothing more than taking appropriate action, respect shines through actions not words, etc.

Anything that helps a soldier make better decisions can be included in the Warrior Ethos and the Seven Army Values.  One especially useful tool for making appropriate actions and making good decisions is the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.

Be Pro-active. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow. Covey also shows how man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self; think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him: It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about stimulus and response. Between stimulus and response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.

Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on "true north" principles. Covey recommends formulating a "personal vision statement" to document one's perception of one's own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed.

Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at short-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear not to be urgent, but are in fact very important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed upon in advance, rather than prescribed as detailed work plans.

Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought that satisfy the needs of oneself, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.

Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in rejection of that advice. Thoroughly reading out your own autobiography will decrease the chance of establishing a working communication.

Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that when synergy is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-satisfaction: Regain what Covey calls "production capability" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.


What My Mother Taught Me:

These famous quotes, applied to the ARMY of ONE paradigm, reflect the best application of the BE-DO-KNOW approach to METL.

Perhaps sergeants must BE in order to be able to DO.  But could it be the opposite for the enlisted?  Perhaps the lower enlisted must be able to DO before they can BE!

And if the NCO’s are BEing and then DOing, and the Enlisted are DOing and the BEing, then maybe the only thing the officers will ever need to do is twiddle their thumbs and go DO BE DO BE DO.


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