Being Technically & Tactically Proficient

By | October 15, 2018

[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.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Being Technically & Tactically Proficient

  1. Watson Bell

    Leadership is not about glorious crowning acts or achievements. It’s about keeping your team focused and on a goal to do their very best. This is true especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. Then it’s about standing back and letting your people shine. I’m paraphrasing Chris Hadfield who was smart on what it takes to be a great leader.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    Very informative blog article today, Thanks.

  3. Jerry C. Jones

    ‘I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.’ by Alexander the Great. Wonderful quote and one that several layers of meaning. All of which reinforces what General Satterfield has written here. Let’s all pay close attention to such leaders.

  4. Danny Burkholder

    Excellent points. I would like to add that before you can be good at what your responsibilities are, you must recognize that you have to do certain things. Being technically and tactically proficient is one thing Gen. Satterfield has given us to contemplate and, yes! execute.

  5. Martin Shiell

    Outside the military, this is largely an overlooked subject. It would behoove us to read about the subject on military websites to learn more about it and to apply this concept to everything we do; work in the civilian world, a student in school, a parent at home, etc.

  6. Tony B. Custer

    Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    1. Jonathan B.

      I like Gen. Satterfield’s article better. What’s important here I think is that there must be something to ensure that leaders know what they’re doing in their leadership roles. I’ve seen many leaders who are extremely technically proficient but terrible at the tactical part of their job. This means a big problem is coming and they will not be able to handle it.

  7. Bryan Lee

    One of the worst possible scenarios in an organization is leadership that is not technically nor tactically ready to do their jobs. I’ve seen it and the destruction and failure it causes. Terrible places to work, like this, are more common than anyone should expect.

  8. Albert Ayer

    To provide good ‘technical and tactical’ leadership training means that there must be a great leader at the top of the company. Leadership is, indeed, the lubricant that makes all the parts of the company work together smoothly.

  9. Danny Burkholder

    Great article. I learned something today as I do nearly every day I read this blog. Thanks.

  10. Forrest Gump

    Thanks, Army Captain for the testimonial that the US military teaches how to do your job as a leader. Many organizations do something similar but overall, in my opinion, this is not what most organizational leaders do. Look at Universities for example. They provide no leadership training whatsoever. That partly explains how the rise of the snowflakes occurred. They also don’t have any backbone.

    1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

      Good point. If you don’t provide some type of leadership training, you will not get good leadership development.

  11. Army Captain

    From your first day in the US Infantry course, I will attest to the fact that they drill this into you over and over. Leadership is truly about knowing your job. We call it being technically and tactically proficient.

    1. Jonnie the Bart

      Thanks Army Cpt for giving us some feedback on this subject and thanks for your service.

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