Civilian Volunteer Teams: The Leadership Issue


I received the following email from a multiple-Alumni ‘Doc.’ I’ll give full attribution if he gets back to me and allows it. The email is an example of the quality of student that we have through MVT classes: on the whole, intelligent, professional and socially aware. As he states, this is both an overall strength, and when it comes to combat, a potential weakness:

Having spent the last few months reflecting on the training I have had the honor to receive at your various classes (CTT, patrol), I have found that one particular message has crystallized in my mind. It is an obvious but subtle lesson that was not clearly articulated until the last day of Patrol class.

Universally, the individuals who take the initiative to train and prepare for unrest are intelligent, motivated self-starters – exactly the type who may be called on to lead in a time of disruption.  This very attribute can make for difficulties in the smooth and coherent operation of a small infantry unit.

In combat, there can only be one leader.  Questioning and explanations have a place in training; but, for example, when running a live drill like an assault, rapid and complete obedience to the leader’s commands is imperative.  In the real world, hesitation or dissent can have fatal results.  Trust and faith in leaders is not optional.

Now, this trust is earned through experience and shared suffering, but a firefight is not a time for democracy.  This seems blindingly obvious, but we saw the results during our retreat from the last day’s raid in CP class.  A simple “line up – single line by squad” command turned into a squabble about who stood where, while the simulated QRF was inbound to destroy us all.

This lesson is blindingly obvious to all with military experience, but to individual-minded civilians it is not.  This is one aspect that will be the Achilles heel of cobbled-together small units in future.  I would ask that you perhaps write your thoughts on this for the group, and perhaps increase your emphasis on this small but critical point during classes.

Thanks for all you do

Well, I have touched on this in many ways and many posts in the past. Some would make this a political point – the so called ‘anarchist’ or ‘voluntarist’ point of view where they see doing anyone else’s bidding as ‘submission to the man’ or collectivism, or alternatively they will only fill their part in a team so long as it is voluntary, which is code for “I’ll undermine the leader and fuk it all up just as soon as I get a little upset.”


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