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January 2013

Bringing the Boardroom to the Battlefield

From @StaffRideGuy NEWSLETTER Ft. Gordon MP Detachment includes NCO's on Staff Ride

April 24, 2013

35th MP Det. conducts a staff ride on Sherman’s “March to the Sea”

Capt. Erika Chew

35th Military Police Detachment

published: April 6, 2012

Staff rides represent a unique and persuasive method of conveying the lessons of the past to present day Army leadership by visiting terrain where the historic encounters took place. This type of training event brings to life examples of leadership, tactics and strategy, communications, use of terrain, and above all, the psychology of Soldiers in battle.

In an effort to revitalize a leader development program and build team unity, officers and non-commissioned officers of the 35th Military Police Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, U. S. Army Garrison conducted a staff ride along Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Savannah Campaign, better known as “March to the Sea”.

“I believe what I enjoyed most about the staff ride was the morale builder that it became,” said Sgt. John A. Basilio. “We were able to pull noncommissioned officers and officers from the different sections and come together to learn about history. Most of the time we only communicate when it involves work so this was an opportunity for us to work together and communicate in a relaxed atmosphere to achieve the whole story on what occurred during the battle.”

Staff rides are typically comprised of junior and senior officers, but the command decided to expand our staff ride to include both junior and senior noncommissioned officers and officers ranging up from young sergeants to the director of emergency services. Realizing that junior noncommissioned officers are tasked to perform vast duties in today’s fight, we thought it would be a great opportunity to gauge their reflections on battlefield decision making, tactics, leadership, and training principles. The junior noncommissioned officers were able to articulate and describe in great detail a tactical analysis of the battle field and its key leaders. The signal historian Steven Rauch was very impressed and commented on how their tactical depictions matched that of the students from the U.S. Army Signal Center of Excellence.

The Civil War Savannah Campaign encompasses many leadership styles and traits raging from Major General Sherman’s innovative thinking on the battlefield to Brig. Gen. Kilpatrick’s haphazard approach to tactical situations. Though the Civil War is over and long gone, its vivid memories will remain throughout our American military history. One amazing way that military leaders’ best learn from history is through continual study and the execution of staff rides.

Staff rides were developed by German leaders in the late 1800s and introduced to American war colleges and officer courses in 1906. Leaders use staff rides today to help them understand past military operations, military decision planning, and tactical techniques. The staff ride was successful because it focused on three key principles; ( 1) the study and analysis of a historical battle and campaign, (2) a detailed outline of specific events and key members while briefing on the historical site, and (3) a lessons learned discussion conducted by leaders and correlation to today’s operational environment. Even though technology and weaponry have changed, the key concepts of strategy, leadership, and training have proven to be unwavering.

“ The staff ride was a very interesting event that allowed the growing teamwork between the ranks and different sections of the Law Enforcement Center,” said Sgt. Brad Peacock . “I believe that Soldiers [specialists] and below should be given the opportunity to experience this event. Overall it was a great experience and would be privileged to join on another staff ride.”

A staff ride is great for professional development at all levels and it is an amazing team building event. There cannot be a generation of leaders that ignores history for they will end up a generation of leaders that repeats past mistakes.


Quick Links

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An intensive, experiential learning-based, leadership exercise conducted on the site of the "bloodiest day" in American history. The battle ended all hope of foreign intervention and was a major strategic Union victory, but the decisions, indecision, blunders, and perfectly calculated risks are a rich source for studying leadership in action at the pinnacle.
Structured around the Saratoga Campaign, 1777, this staff ride explores the most decisive strategic encounter of the Revolution, pitting the vainglorious, but diversely talented British General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne against the flagrantly ambitious and resentful Northern Continental Army commander, Gen. Horatio Gates. Minutes from Albany in an almost untouched condition amid beautiful surrounding (and manifold attractions).