[October 14, 2020] There will be times as a leader you will be the bait to attract unwanted attention and the enemy’s firepower. During my first combat tour of duty, my small unit was tasked to build a small engineering project “outside the wire” to attract an enemy insurgent cell’s attention.
Overlooking my unit was a Special Forces sniper team. They were “casting” for the terrorist fish that would undoubtedly see and smell my engineering team, and then go in for the kill. Fortunately for my team, all worked out well, and no terrorist unit showed up. The SF folks were disappointed they didn’t catch any fish that day.
As a leader, we will all get the chance to be out front, the tip of the spear, leading from the front, or – as in this case – the bait. It’s a dangerous position. We will take and always have those who take hazardous duty to achieve our mission, preserve our organization, and protect our communities, families, and nations. Only the strong can do such a thing; good nerves are optional.
To be the “bait,” one must be resilient, have courage, and keep in sharp focus on what is happening around us. It readers real leadership and dedication. Only those leaders who can be trusted, work with little supervision, and have the audacity to make creative, tactically correct decisions under fire can do the job of being the good bait.
Leading from the rear is a more straightforward job. The methods we use are more than just a leadership style like so many have argued. Leadership is an art and is driven by the personality of those in charge. Our mission will determine the veracity of authority and the degree to which we give value to the organizations we belong to. Good leaders accept all missions assigned.
A mere two years later, back in the warzone, I witnessed a U.S. Marine gun team acting as bait for a much larger Marine unit. Their job was to flush out an insurgent who had been posing as an Iraqi Army Colonel. He had infiltrated several units as he feigned needing help. The gun team was aware of the deception, and when a man fitting the description approached, he was immediately apprehended.
Imbedded in the insurgent’s clothing, they found two hidden pistols. It was clear he had prepared to kill the Marine gun team. The gun team had succeeded in being the bait that day. I’m sure they were happy with the outcome. Sending people into harm’s way is difficult, but a necessary part of good leadership.
Expect one day to be the bait.