Shoot, Move, and Communicate

By | October 18, 2019

[October 18, 2019]  It’s not easy being in the military.  You have competing priorities with complex assignments and demanding commanders.  To be successful, you have to think hard about your mission and your teammates.  In battle, you have to shoot, move, and communicate.

“Think, think, think, that is what we are trying to install because your mind is the biggest weapon Soldiers have in battle.” – U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Fairchild, 2nd Platoon, A Co.1

In the U.S. Infantry, you shoot to destroy the enemy, keep moving to avoid being hit, and be where the enemy doesn’t expect you and communicate with your higher headquarters, so they know what’s going on.  I found this very difficult to do.  Calling my higher headquarters didn’t seem important when you’re trying to keep from getting killed; the immediate firefight takes precedence over telling someone what’s happening.

I was wrong.  Communicating with your higher headquarters is just as important as the firefight itself.  The reason is that others who know what’s happening – based on you talking with them – can come to your aid.  Information communicated with the higher also helps commanders understand the overall situation better and can then direct other units properly.  Doing so ensures a higher probability of success on the battlefield.

It may not be obvious, but this idea applies to everything we do.  At your job or with family and friends, doing what you’re supposed to do (the “shoot”) means to do things (the “move”), and talking with them to keep others motivated and happy (the “communicate”).  Soldiers have a hard time adapting to this combat requirement also to do things, but through practical exercises and classroom discussion, they learn to do so.

In one of the last live-fire exercises my unit conducted before deploying to Baghdad, Iraq, we were running a convoy through its paces.  As expected, we were hit by “enemy” forces that forced our convoy to stop (not good in a real situation).  While we returned fire (with blank ammunition), our convoy commander was calling in the attack to our higher headquarters.  We failed the exercise because we failed to “move.”  The next day, we didn’t repeat the mistakes.

While in combat, our unit was able to pass through an ambush.  Thanks to the training we had on “shoot, move, and communicate,” we survived.  Realistic training builds confidence and provides a toolbox of goodies that can be used to conduct a difficult mission.


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.

19 thoughts on “Shoot, Move, and Communicate

  1. Crazy Dude

    Reminds me of my daughter-in-law who just had a baby. My son and her have not told us much despite being glued to their Facebook. Interesting that they can’t shoot, move, and communicate.

  2. Wilson Cox

    “Live fire” training, oh boy does that bring back memories of my army days? Great blog! 👍

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      I’ll say for sure. Being in the US Army was one of my first times that I had to juggle a bunch of priorities; doing them all at the same time but one of them being most important and me not knowing which. Stressful but ultimately satisfying. Good comment Wilson.

  3. Jerome Smith

    In my opinion, most folks can’t juggle more than one thing at a time, much less ‘shoot move and communicate.’ Maybe that’s why it’s a leadership skill and not for everybody. Just a thought, maybe we could get someone to comment on this from the US Marine or Army perspective who was in combat. Thanks everyone. Have a great weekend.

  4. Greg Heyman

    This is why VISION is so important. One must clearly articulate what needs to be done, with what resources, and within a specific timeline. Then just let your people do the work. Simple, you would think.

  5. Max Foster

    Correct, the hardest part is to let your ‘higher headquarters’ know what is going on. Often the HQ is a bit useless but there are times when they actually fulfill their intended function and can help. This is why it is so important to understand the commander’s intent (your bosses vision) about what is expected. Otherwise, you are just working toward no goal in particular.

    1. Harry Donner

      Right on target with your comment, Max. I agree that telling your superiors (in the organization) is important but also you must let those up and down the chain of command know and those at your side laterally.

    2. Tracey Brockman

      In my opinion, I have found that there will always be competing priorities. That is why we have a hierarchy in all organizations. Those at the top bear the responsibility and therefore must also set the priorities. I once had a team leader who gave us 25 priorities not rank ordered. When questioned, she said she wanted them all done NOW. Well, that didn’t last long.

      1. Wesley Brown

        The hardest thing to do is to sort thru what is the most important. That is why good judgment is so necessary.

  6. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Nothing like an awesome article to start my day. Well done. I’d never heard of this before and now, well …, my colleagues at work are going to get a dose of it.

  7. Army Captain

    This is exactly what we do both literally and metaphorically. Knowing your priorities, technical skills, and your boss’s intent helps immensely.

    1. Scotty Bush

      More designed for the combat arms than for support personnel. So, I do understand what you mean by ‘metaphorically’ because we do things this way (but just don’t call it that).

      1. JT Patterson

        Hi Scotty. Correct. Combat arms is where the phrase originated.

    2. Dale Paul Fox

      Good to see you back on Army Captain. And thanks again for reinforcing the article of the day.

      1. Army Captain

        Hi Dale. Thanks for jumping in. I always give it my best.

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