[October 15, 2018] Being technically and tactically proficient is military phraseology meaning that to exercise leadership one must know how to perform their job inside and out. “Are you technically proficient?” That’s what I was once asked after I embarrassed myself after getting my platoon lost in the woods.
For my peer group who had just graduated from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. the question my company commander asked me was discomforting. We had been instructed in the specifics of platoon operations; how to move in a tactical formation, to employ machineguns, and to ensure our men were ready for combat. I had not passed his test.
Tactically it meant to be ready for combat was ensuring we knew how to move in a wedge formation; to have all weapons pointing outward, to properly space the men at least 10 meters apart, and to center myself near the radio operator. This allowed me as the Platoon Leader to control the movement of the formation and provide maximum protection for those in the platoon in case of enemy contact.
Technically it meant that I knew all individual and crew-served weapon systems, how to work the radio, encoding procedures, and the best way to employ the anti-tank missiles. I also had to know the proper amount of ammunition, food, water, and batteries for each man to carry and a myriad of other equipment condition and maintenance actions.
Leadership was the grease that allowed all the many parts of my platoon to work together smoothly and efficiently. This meant that everyone was ready for combat; that we were where we were supposed to be and when we were supposed to be there. Being technically and tactically proficient took more effort than I had imagined when I was in school at Fort Benning. Leading soldiers in combat was an experience that stretches the ability of even the best leaders.
It matters not whether you are a combat Infantry Platoon Leader, a corporate team leader, a college vice president of academic affairs, or a fundraiser for a non-profit; knowing how to do your job is essential. Furthermore, a leader must have the highest of ethical and moral standards for himself and those in his care. Anything short of these standards means at some point the leader will fail both himself and his followers.
Leaders who are not technically or tactically proficient will embarrass not just themselves but all those in their organization. Failure is not an option.