U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa empowers change at the squad level during semi- annual summit

Current and soon-to-be squad leaders from several units under U.S Army Southern European Task Force, Africa came together last week to expand on their knowledge of what it means to be a squad leader.



By Sgt. Tianna Field U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa Vicenza, Italy Apr 26, 2022
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VICENZA, Italy – Current and soon-to-be squad leaders from several units under U.S Army Southern European Task Force, Africa came together last week to expand on their knowledge of what it means to be a squad leader. Learning how to build trained, disciplined, fit, and cohesive teams aligns with the U.S. Army’s non- commissioned officer strategy. The squad leader summit took place 19-22 April, 2022 on Caserma Ederle. The summit was designed with the U.S. Army’s ‘This is My Squad’ initiative in mind, the initiative’s core values call for the empowerment of first-line leaders to take ownership and be accountable for morale, discipline and cohesion at the squad level. TIMS aims to compliment and expand upon the ‘Not in My Squad’ campaign aimed to help junior leaders work to prevent sexual harassment and assault. “The summit provides an opportunity for 60 soldiers to come together and become better educated on the art and science that’s associated with building effective teams,” said Sgt. Maj. Sean Horval, lead facilitator for the summit. Each day focused on a single lesson topic: leadership, the performance triad, and communication. These lessons combined videos, lectures and breakout group activities designed to guide conversations and foster mutual understanding. Summit attendees also did physical training together each morning that focused on teaching leaders better ways to build and execute PT plans to increase results and decrease injuries. Both the TIMS and NIMS initiatives take a bottom-up approach to change and improve Army culture, emphasizing that to effectively implement new Army policies, change must start at the squad level. TIMS outlines that leaders intending to build a cohesive, trained, disciplined and fit squad, must first know their soldiers. Lecturers at the SETAF-AF squad leader summit underscored that squads built upon trust as well as discipline and training combine into units that are ready to fight and win. “What I hope you get out of this is the importance of being an engaged leader,” said Maj. Gen. Andrew Rohling, commanding general for SETAF-AF. “What that means for you as a squad leader is that you know every single one of your soldiers; their families, their goals, their hobbies, what stressors they have in their lives. Squad leaders should know these things. That’s a leader who gets out and talks to their soldiers and builds trust with every individual they lead.” Every aspect of the summit sought to remind attendees that trust builds cohesion and cohesive squads are less likely to face issues of sexual misconduct, behavioral health, or training failures. Each lesson, PT activity and group discussion circled back to the idea that squad leaders who are empathetic and caring while still displaying clear expectations and standards for discipline and training are more likely to leave a positive, lasting impact on the organization. “This week we had discussions about the integration of power and influence, about the power of emotional intelligence and what that means to empower rather than to simply delegate, said Horval. “This summit is all about building better leaders so we can have more cohesive teams that are fit, and ready to fight.”
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