Now I understand why I had to read 200 pages of the History of Sea Power back in 1972. We study the past to repeat what works. A lesson to learn for any leader.
I will be leaving early tomorrow morning en-route to Gettysburg to learn more about leadership. The preparations for this trip required the reading of resources specifically a book entitled "Killer Angels" and my team has adopted General Buford. So this post is about leadership and learning from the experience of the past. So what have I learned?
See reference below:
Late in June 1863, the divisions of two great armies roamed Maryland and Pennsylvania. In retrospect, their confrontation at the crossroads of Gettysburg seems almost inevitable. However, the outcome of that confrontation was largely the work of one Union officer. This officer was born in Kentucky to a Democrat family. He would lead the First Division of Union Cavalry under orders to secure the crossroads in the vicinity of Gettysburg. How he executed these orders ensured the Union Army the best chance of victory in the upcoming battle. He serves as a case-study in the theoretical and practical applications of tactics and strategy.
Buford's leadership prior to the battle ensured that his troops were well prepared and ideally positioned for the Confederate advance. The leadership and defensive concepts he employed remain relevant today.
Buford’s objective on June 29th was to secure the town of Gettysburg for consolidation of the Army. As such, Buford avoided prolonged combat when encountering a Confederate force (Longacre, p. 181). Another inconsequential clash occurred on the following day, June 30th, against a reinforced Confederate scouting party. Buford’s subordinate commanders viewed this as a positive sign, indicating the enemy’s unwillingness to press the issue. But Buford differed and correctly inferred that the lack of enthusiasm for fighting on the part of the Confederates indicated they had a better option than a hasty fight (Longacre, p. 182).
To confirm his suspicions, Buford conducted his own extensive reconnaissance of the terrain around the town. He talked with civilians and personally visited far-flung elements of his own forces, or pickets as they were called, to gather the most complete assessment of the enemy. He came to realize that a substantial force under General Hill was as close as 9 miles away (Longacre, p. 181–182, 184). Buford’s supervision of his forces on the eve of battle was comprehensive, and several aspects of what are today known as the US Army’s “troop leading procedures” were evident in his leadership example. Buford set up his undersized element to force the Confederates to attack multiple superior defensive positions throughout the day.
Longacre, E. (1992) The Cavalry at Gettysburg: A Tactical Study of Mounted Operations during the Civil War’s Pivotal Campaign
Zeitz, C. (2015). Architect of Battle: Buford at Gettysburg. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@privatesnuffy/architect-of-battle-6a538c0b1199
Bush orders Operation Desert Shield
On August 7th in 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush orders the organization of Operation Desert Shield in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2. The order prepared American troops to become part of an international coalition in the war against Iraq that would be launched as Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. To support Operation Desert Shield, Bush authorized a dramatic increase in U.S. troops and resources in the Persian Gulf.
Extracts from Chapter 13 of Annapolis Creed
MAG-26 had a ½ squadron of CH-53 Stallions left. The Marine Corps needed another Helicopter Group. The plan was to merge air reserve units to MAG-26. Reserve units only have approximately 3% of their war-time table of equipment. The rest of the resources are stored away in Barstow and Albany Marine War Reserve Stockpiles at least in theory.
I loved a challenge, and this was a big one. I was mobilized before my unit and given orders from the Wing S-4. I left my family and flew to North Carolina to assess the situation with MAG-26 at Marine Corps Air Station New River. I was now Major Smith, and I was going to war. My primary job was to assess the availability of support for the arrival of HMLA-773 from Belle Chase Naval Air Station.
Upon arrival, I met Colonel Michael J. Williams, the commanding officer for MAG-26. He had no idea of the problems associated with the transfer of the reserve units. I told him I was here to prepare the transition. I went to the S-4 officer, and again he was in the dark about what was going to happen to them. I went to the supply officer for the group and found a new young second lieutenant. This butter bar had no conceptual understanding of Marine Reserve supply procedures and had never heard of the War Reserve.
This was a big problem. I went back to discuss this with Colonel Williams and recommended that if he wanted to merge and deploy on time that I could do so if given the authority to oversee the operations. I called back to the 4th Marine Air Wing and asked for additional support. They sent me Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Brown from HMH-772. He flew out in the next 24 hours, and we began the work to determine the balance of equipment to retrieve from the war reserve and to place the necessary requisition from Barstow and Albany. We planned the movement of two HMLA (Huey & Cobra’s), two CH-46 squadrons, and 1.5 CH-53 squadrons to build MAG-26 into an operational group. We ordered the supplies and equipment for the deployment. MAG-26 had an excellent embarkation team which ordered the aircraft for our deployment into Jubayl Saudi Arabia.
In three weeks GySgt Brown and I had ordered and positioned the table of equipment for the attaching reserve squadrons. But now.....
Extract from Chapter 13 - Operation Desert Shield
I had finished my job of getting MAG-26 together and resumed my duties as the supply officer for HMLA-773. The living conditions were austere in scalding climates above 120 degrees, and we lived in tents for the entire time in Saudi Arabia. There were porta poddies along the perimeters in Jubayl, and the local vendors provided their imitation of hamburgers. The meat was not hamburger or anything close to McDonald's or anything else back stateside.
Reserve Marine pilots mobilized because of the war suffer immensely in pay. Most were airline pilots making six figures or had businesses. The Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act did not make up the vast difference in monthly pay. Many officers resigned their commission instead of reporting for duty for Operation Desert Shield. We arrived via C-5 aircraft and Boeing 747 for personnel. I stepped out of the plane in Jubayl with not one bullet to shoot if needed. Someone had not done the math correctly, and the units in the rear were on ammo rations for the first three weeks. (Yep in a war zone with five bullets, LOL!)
Despite the popular belief, it does rain in the desert, and we paid the price for this experience. When Saddam H. started launching those damn Scud missiles, the alarms would sound, and we were so scared of biological weapons that everyone started putting on their NBC gear each time. But one night after digging foxholes it rained all night, and then the alarms went off and guess what? Every Marine who jumped into the foxhole ruined their protective clothing. Nuclear, Biological & Chemical (NBC) personnel changed the rules after that night. Marines were instructed to only put the chemical suit on when ordered to do so by an NBC specialist.
Most of the casualties during Desert Shield happened because of accidental discharges from cleaning weapons. I returned to my tent one day to find a bullet hole three inches above the head position of my sleeping cot while stationed in Jubayl in December 1990. We weren’t supposed to be here anyway. MAG-26 was meant to have been deployed to Al Mishab Air Field, but something was seriously wrong. I was a logistics officer and a darn good one. The air wing did not assign or seek to find logistic officers. Instead, they would assign a pilot to the position. This was all right during peacetime operations. But in war time this was a big mistake. Things were about to change....
Quick message from the author:
Just like in the movie National Treasure there is a book of secrets and another true purpose for writing this book. In 2004, thirteen years ago I became a teacher because so many students were failing math including my youngest son, John. I had to reteach him during Christmas break both Algebra and Geometry. My other Grandson Nick was also having problems with math and because I tutored him he was able to graduate from high school. So I had a decision to make about sitting on the sidelines or doing something about it. So at the age of 50 I decided to become a teacher. I taught eight years at the San Jacinto High School and for the past five years I have been teaching at the Mountain View Alternative High Schools (Mountain View High School, Mountain Heights Academy, and San Jacinto Adult Education). For three days a week I teach for 13 hours a day.
Why? Because I want to change and find the solution to help every student to have success in learning mathematics. This is my quest and my life long mission. For the past thirteen years I have changed my method of teaching because it did not reach everyone. Too many students were failing and not having success. During the last two years I discovered a hidden secret key to unlock learning of mathematics. Those strategies are in the book on display and hidden in Chapter 18 of Annapolis Creed. If you have children who are struggling or struggled in the
Extracts from the Introduction of Annapolis Creed...
My growing personal mindset was developing over my lifetime. If only I personally understood the concept of a growth mindset when I was raising my children. I always believed in my son's ability to learn. I know today that if I would die today that they would be OK. The reason for writing this book is to share the importance of growing a mindset. Developing a growth mindset can help anyone to have success in learning and life (Dweck, 2006).
Parents need to believe and realize that it's never too late for their children to experience learning success. This book was written to tell my life story up till this date in time of writing and also to provide specific advice for students who have a difficult time with mathematics. I reveal in the final Chapter little know strategies and methods to improve student academic outcomes based on my experience during the past 13 years as a public school teacher. Students, parents, and educators who follow these guidelines will impact students academic performance outcomes. The strategy and guidance show step by step actions to increase the likelihood of success in school including mathematics.
Do you ever dream? I have an idea about breaking the bonds of mindset slavery shackled to the brains of far too many people (especially children) in America attending public schools. The achievement gap in education exists because of a slavery mindset. However, no significant accomplishment ever happens without setbacks, diversions, decisions, failures, and modifications of strategies. Perseverance and struggle in making the dream a reality has never failed throughout my lifetime. At the end of each chapter in this book is a personal lesson learned quote.
It is the development of my growing personal mindset that allowed me to believe that I could become the 17th Company Commander and to be chosen the Color Company Commander in 1976 although the mathematical odds were against me. Are your dreams focused? Do you know how to use your dreams? Do you have a vision? What is your creed? My destiny in 1972 was to enter the United States Naval Academy. I am Dr. Jordan B. Smith, Jr., and this book is about my creed at Annapolis. I am still Annapolis Creed! I live my life today using the experience while at the United States Naval Academy from 1972-1976.
I-Day 1972 will remind all those who have experienced being outfitted with their first uniforms of the changes their bodies underwent during their Academy experience.
Life at the Annapolis (Extract from the book "Annapolis Creed")
"It would have been impossible to predict what would happen during the next four years. I will share with you an insider's look and description entirely different from the scenes in the movie “Annapolis.” Honestly, this film was nothing like being a midshipman at Annapolis since it focused only on the Brigade boxing championship. Being a midshipman at Annapolis for the majority of Black men in 1972-1976 presented many different challenges. Annapolis had its own philosophy, climate, and culture. Only after you’ve experienced the grueling rigors of Plebe Summer, and after you have faced the responsibility of leading other midshipmen and after you have thrown your hat into the air at graduation will you really know what the Naval Academy experience is all about. Make no mistake: my four years at Annapolis were very challenging, firmly structured, and designed to drive myself well beyond my perceived limits. I had lived in Saint Louis, Missouri my entire life. I had never been on a road trip out of Missouri, and the trip to Annapolis by car was an experience. So in June 1976 my dad, mom, and my brother drive to Annapolis. I did not know it at the time, but the person who was really scared was my mom, but I did not know exactly why till much later. Maybe she already knew the history of the Naval Academy and the fate of the first six African American men who entered the gates of Annapolis. Five of the six would leave after resigning for undisclosed reasons falsely noted as academically deficient and one would graduate after 105 years" (Smith, 2017).
"I had never been to a military base before, and I got my first look at a United States Marine carrying a .45 caliber revolver as we approached the main gate. There were no salutes just a quick checking of driver’s license and a copy of my orders were viewed by the gate sentry. There were hundreds of people on the campus. The first thing I noticed that the campus was surrounded by water. I made no connection to the water and why swimming would determine how I spent my next six months due to an event scheduled for me the first day of training. When we got out of the car, there were escorts dressed in the white Navy uniforms. My dad loved everyone calling him “Sir.” In 1972 no African American was called "Sir" by someone who was white. These Navy Midshipmen seemed like a replica of the Stepford Wives Club” but in uniform. All the men in uniforms were built the same and wore their uniforms exactly the same way. My dad had traveled nearly 840 miles and 13 hours to deliver a $600 check for my uniforms. The rest of my education was paid for by the United States government and the sweat equity of my mind and body" (Smith, 2017).
Dr. Jordan B smith jr.
I attended the U. S. Naval Academy from 1972-1976 earning a B.S. in Mathematics. Served 20 years both active and reserve in the US Marines. Veteran of the Desert Shield/Storm. I earned a MAED and Ed D. specializing in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix in 2015. I graduated from CBC High School in Clayton, MO in 1972.