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Expected end-state for achieving vision and effectiveness

I need help with question number 1
1. What is the critical leadership problem facing the 56th HBCT Brigade Commander and how will you improve the organization? Please follow outline
a). Key players and interest: who are the key players and what are their interest (Interests include need, wants, desires, concerns and fears)
b). Facts and assumptions: for understanding this case study.
c). Paradigms: what are the paradigms or mental models of the players (cultural background)
d). Problem identification: what are the main issues or problems facing the key players
e). Case study analysis: key decision what would you do?, implications and consequences: second and third order effects of the decision making, what have you learned from the case study?

Analysis: Apply critical-thinking skills to identify, explain, and defend the selection of the critical leadership problem. Use relevant facts and assumptions from the 56th HBCT case study to support your argument.

Synthesis: Describe the process you will use to solve the problem and improve the organization based on the readings and lesson material from L100.

Outcome: Describe your expected end-state and how that will help you achieve your vision for the organization and measure effectiveness.

Case Study
"The 56th Heavy Brigade Combat Team"

You are LTC Wood a promotable lieutenant colonel who commanded a battalion in the 56th Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT). One month ago you returned to the 56th HBCT after a 2 ½-year absence to assume the Deputy Brigade Commander's (DCO) position. While you are excited about getting reacquainted and acclimated with your old unit, you know that a lot has happened, including a deployment, in your absence.

The 56th Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) returned from Afghanistan 55 days ago and is now in its RESET phase of the ARFORGEN process. The 56th's parent division headquarters and the other three divisional BCTs did not deploy with the brigade. Instead, the 56th HBCT worked for two other divisions during their deployment and with a number of other BCTs. Further, due to operational needs and capability shortfalls in another brigade, the 56th detached one of its combined arms battalions for thirteen of the deployment's fifteen months. The brigade has been back at home station for almost two months; Reintegration Training and block leave are complete. As you settle into your new position and surroundings, you realize that few, if any, of the HBCT staff remains from your last tour with the unit. Further, many of the current HBCT staff will PCS in the next few months. The change of command for five of the six battalions is scheduled in the next 30 days. Your initial conversations with COL Domingo, the brigade commander (BCO), LTC(P) Johnson, the outgoing deputy brigade commander (DCO), and CSM Howell, the brigade command sergeant major, were positive. All appear to have genuine concerns about the actions needed to improve the brigade and prepare it for the next mission.

You remember that just three short years ago, the 56th HBCT was considered among the best maneuver brigades in Forces Command. By all measurements, the brigade excelled. Morale across the brigade was high, as it seemed the brigade attracted the best of the officer and non-commissioned officer corps. Leaders wanted to lead, Soldiers wanted to soldier, and a supportive family atmosphere existed among the battalions. There was a strong work ethic. Problems existed, but there was a prevailing attitude that all could be resolved. More often than not, the problems were solved at lower levels and rarely reached the brigade command level. Competition within the brigade existed, but it was positively oriented toward the success of the brigade. Frequent coordination occurred among peers to share information, resources, and lessons learned. Often, the brigade and battalion officers would meet informally for happy-hour type social events. Although these were definitely social occasions, the leaders could not help but discuss ways to improve their brigade. Leaders shared information freely with little regard for ownership or competitiveness. Brigade officers were often ridiculed by their peers in the division as "whackos" who always wanted to discuss "work" issues. Often, the battalion and brigade commanders were active participants. A similar environment existed among the battalion and brigade NCOs.

Just prior to your departure as a task force senior trainer at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Germany, the 56th HBCT received notification that its deployment location changed from Iraq to Afghanistan and that the deployment would be 15 rather than 12 months long. As a battalion commander, you took pride as you observed all leaders pitching in to "make it happen." Although some officers, non-commissioned officers, Soldiers, and families voiced concerns about the impact the deployment's length and the significant change in operating environment could have on the brigade, all were committed to making the transition occur as smoothly as possible. Soon after the notification and your departure, the brigade experienced a change of command. The new brigade leadership team assumed responsibility for the predeployment train-up period. Your remaining brigade contacts indicated the transition and train-up seemed to go as well as could be expected. The 56th completed its Mission Readiness Exercise (MRE) at the National Training Center and deployed for war.

While the majority of the brigade took block leave over the last month, you have had the opportunity to review a number of historical documents, attend routine battle rhythm events, speak with members of the brigade, and walk around the brigade's footprint.

Your review of the brigade's historical unit status reports (USR), shows that the 56th HBCT completed all necessary training and received its required equipment prior to departure. The HBCT deployed with a personnel strength of 92 percent, and an assigned strength of 105 percent. The commander's comments specifically highlighted that brigade leaders and Soldiers were well-trained and qualified. The majority of the non-deployable Soldiers remained at home station for medical reasons that came to light within 60 to 90 days prior to the departure date. During the deployment, the brigade redeployed over 100 Soldiers for non-combat-related medical problems. While the installation's medical providers addressed many of the non-deployers' medical concerns, a significant number of non-deployable Soldiers remain on unit roles. Additionally, since returning, the number of medical non-deployable soldiers has slightly increased above pre-deployment numbers.

The brigade's historical records from Afghanistan reveal that the unit was fairly successful in accomplishing all missions. The documents suggested that violence in the 56th's sector did not significantly increase, nor did it decrease, and casualties in Afghanistan were considered light with one critical exception. Security of the populace and US forces was a major priority that was accomplished very well, but the records indicated the HBCT's ability to support the host nation was mixed, with limited success in training Afghan Army units and police forces. It appeared the HBCT staff was able to manage day-to-day operations effectively, but struggled with their ability to capitalize on opportunities and to anticipate potential threats.

Approximately five months into the brigade's fifteen month deployment, a suicide vehicle-borne IED (SVBIED) attacked a patrol in one of the maneuver battalion's sector. The attack killed the brigade commander, brigade command sergeant major, and one of the Battalion Commanders as well as wounded several other Soldiers and Afghan Security Forces. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, LTC(P) Johnson assumed command of the brigade until the arrival of COL Domingo and CSM Howell. The division headquarters assigned LTC Baker, a battalion command-selectee already commanding a MiTT team with the brigade, to assume battalion command.

Another document you reviewed was a comprehensive report with the findings of a Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) study conducted for the 56th in Afghanistan. From all accounts, the HBCT performed as well as possible in Afghanistan, and the leadership performed well given the circumstances. However, the official record also indicated significant challenges requiring attention. The extensive study identified several specific issues that may have an impact on the BCT's future effectiveness. You highlighted the following sections of the report.

Multiple and often incompatible communications systems hampered command and control throughout the brigade. At battalion and below levels, the varying battlefield, electronic, and environmental conditions required leaders to carry multiple radios to communicate effectively. Further, the dispersed nature of multiple Combat Outposts (COPs) and Joint Security Stations (JSS) created significant digital network challenges for the brigade's network technicians. The digital network frequently crashed making communication loss between the brigade and subordinate battalion headquarters a normal, if not daily, occurrence. While tactical satellite (TACSAT) and high frequency (HF) radios provided some redundancy, the limited number of systems and frequencies available to the brigade in some cases created operational and personal friction.

Personnel authorizations on the battalion staffs were not sufficient to allow 24-hour operations over a sustained period. Often, battle captains were taken "out of hide" to conduct the mission, resulting in unqualified and untrained personnel attempting to perform battalion tactical operations center functions, especially during the evening hours. This contributed to increased friction between the brigade and battalion staffs.

The DCO's role was not clearly defined. During the brigade's deployment, the DCO was tasked at different times to supervise the military transition teams (MiTTs) operating within the brigade's battlespace, synchronize the operations of the brigade support battalion (BSB) at a different forward operating base, be the "voice" of the HBCT to the media, LNO to coalition forces, and act as a BCT chief of staff. These varied missions for the DCO created confusion within the brigade, and this confusion created the perception of a weakened HBCT command structure.

The modular BCT structure, first implemented during your time as a battalion commander, continued to create training challenges, especially within the combined arms battalions. Whereas previously the maneuver battalion commanders and staffs were able to focus on traditional infantry and armor skills (e.g., Bradley and tank gunnery, individual infantry and armor soldier skills, infantry and armor platoon skills), the same commanders and staffs were required to attain and maintain proficiency at planning and executing individual and collective skills in areas outside their areas of expertise. Moreover, the report identified subject-matter expertise, once resident within the maneuver battalions, was diminished within the maneuver battalions. The impact of this additional complexity and burden was identified at all levels of leadership. The Army's decision to augment the brigade with three MiTTs just prior to the MRE required the leaders to rethink combat organization.

The Afghanistan environment placed severe demands upon available manpower. Specifically, the need to protect the population and expand operations in previously unsecured areas increased the need for infantry squads. As a result, armor, engineer, artillery, and other Soldiers filled the void performing typical infantry tasks and not their own military occupational specialty (MOS) core competencies. Soldiers from the Forward Support Companies also augmented maneuver platoons as vehicle drivers and as alternate Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) within the maneuver battalions.

The 56th HBCT trained for the wrong mission-essential tasks during its training ramp-up for deployment to Afghanistan. The brigade trained exclusively on their assigned M1 Abrams, M2 Bradley combat platforms (focusing on gunnery skills and qualification) prior to deployment and during stability operations. However, upon arrival in theater, operational necessity required use of seven different mine-resistant armor protected (MRAP) variant vehicles in lieu of tanks, Bradleys, and up-armored HMMWVs. The brigade had few assets available at Bagram Airbase to execute drivers' training during RSOI, requiring the creation of a drivers' training program to train drivers during the first few months in combat. Further, the number of "patrol sets" required to support the operational tempo (OPTEMPO) affected not only the maneuver units, but the brigade's special troops battalion (STB) and the brigade support battalion (BSB). The brigade STB was specifically affected due to a lack of critical MTOE authorizations for the battalion staff to support both brigade and battalion operations. The dispersed nature of the battalions required the BSB to spend increased time on the roads resupplying outlying locations. Lastly, during pre-deployment train-up, the artillery battalion provided indirect fire support for the cavalry squadron and combined arms battalions' tank and Bradley platoon qualification tables. The six months dedicated to supporting this mission, including both an internal artillery gunnery certification program and the direct support to maneuver platoons, limited the amount of time available at the platoon and battery level to train on dismounted infantry and patrolling skills.

The stability operations mission created unique issues for the 56th HBCT. Although the size of the HBCT staff had a positive effect on shaping operations within their battlespace, the additional tasks associated with resourcing and supporting the MiTTs from members of the BCT staff created a "dual-hatted" staff, which reduced the staff's effectiveness.

You also received a 360-degree commander and staff assessment of the 56th HBCT from the Center for Army Leadership's (CAL) Leadership Assessment and Feedback Program. A summary of trends from the assessment indicates that the staff had the trust and confidence of the subordinate units. It revealed the NCOs display confidence in their abilities and have a good tactical and technical knowledge. On the other hand, the assessment revealed that commanders share a lack of willingness to include subordinates in decision-making, and they fell short of expectations on developing subordinates, coaching, and counseling.

The last historical document you reviewed was the brigade's Reset plan and timeline. A careful study of the document reveals that the brigade is currently at R+55. According to the DA G3/5/7 Reset EXORD for the brigade's redeployment, the brigade has another 125 days in the "Reset" Force Pool before transitioning to the "Train/Ready" Force Pool. Of immediate concern is the pending arrival of the unit's containers and redeploying equipment not turned in to Army Material Command (AMC) in Afghanistan. The ship arrived at the port ten days ago and immediately began downloading equipment to rail back to home station. Equipment is expected to start arriving and be complete over the next two weeks. Of critical importance is the turn in of ancillary equipment (NBC, NVGs, and Radios) to the Special Repair Teams beginning in ten days. The Special Repair Teams are expected to keep the brigade's equipment for the next 4 to 6 weeks to complete technical inspections and repair.

You attended the AMC ARFORGEN synchronization conference last week for the HBCT that included representatives from FORSCOM, Department of the Army G1, G3/5/7, G4, G8, AMC, and the division staff primaries; there, you learned from the PM HBCT representative that because the BDE turned in all of its combat platforms (tanks, Bradleys, M113s, Paladins, and TOC equipment) at Bagram during redeployment, you will not receive your new issue for at least another 90 days. Further, PM TOC told you that the brigade will receive all new TOC equipment (tracks, tentage, and C2 systems), but he did not think the equipment would be ready until for another 85 days. The CECOM representative also provided less than optimistic information regarding reset of the brigade's satellite communication packages. Because the brigade chose to forego much-needed system upgrades prior to the last deployment, the majority of the components on the existing satellite trailers are out of date and no longer under warranty. Additionally, the Army is fielding new communication trailer systems over the next three quarters of the fiscal year with the brigades not scheduled for delivery until just before R+180. Lastly, the AMC representative informed you that the ancillary equipment (wheeled vehicles, trailers, water buffalos, MHE, etc.) the brigade turned into AMC prior to the deployment as left behind equipment (LBE) will be ready for reissue over a 7-week period beginning at R+80.

While the information provided at the conference seemed pretty grim, the Division Chief of Staff, who attended the final outbrief, pledged to both COL Domingo and you that he would remain on top of the Division G4 and G8 to ensure that program managers and AMC upheld their end of the Reset agreement and returned equipment as soon as possible.

The manning section of the reset plan looked about as optimistic as the equipment reconstitution section. The brigade was just about to end the DA mandated 60-day stabilization window and begin shedding people as they PCS'd to new assignments or ETS'd out of the Army. Most significantly, the change of command ceremonies for five of the brigade's six battalions is slated to occur in the next two weeks. LTC Baker, commander for one of the combined arms battalions, and COL Domingo, will remain in command for at least the next 12 months because they took command while in Afghanistan. On a positive note, about half of the field grade officers in the battalions will remain in the brigade because they deployed late after completing ILE or their division staff time. Generally speaking, the battalion XOs all appear competent and have a good understanding of their battalion's strengths and weaknesses and brigade-level systems. The brigade did receive some replacement personnel during the deployment, but can expect to fall to below 65 percent strength overall and less than 30 percent strength in key MOSs, especially senior noncommissioned officers until at least R+120. The DA Reset EXORD states HRC is not required to fill the brigade at 80 percent available strength overall and 75 percent senior grade until the end of our Reset window (R+180).

Major Volar is the Brigade S4. The S4 section performed poorly during the last deployment. While MAJ Volar appears to be a good officer that knows the technical aspects of supply and maintenance management he suffers from a lack of understanding of how to run his staff. His staff is seen as one that lacks to commitment to the ideas and direction of the Brigade Commander. The Battalion Commanders also complain of a lack of support from the S4 section when it comes to critical supply efforts to support operations. The S4 section also has conflict with the Division G4 that has lead to an adversarial relationship.

Major Springsteen, the brigade's S6, appeared to be the least likely officer to complain about workload. However, last week after a particularly stressful staff meeting, he commented, "Sir, I know you are busy, but I have to talk to someone. I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. Nothing we do on this staff seems to be good enough and staffing actions never seem to get the time they deserve. We're not allowed to make routine decisions at our level, and it seems we jump from one crisis to another with no apparent vision, goals and objectives. I thought when we returned from Afghanistan the pace would improve a bit, at least for a short while, and allow me to once again get acquainted with my family. It has been far from that! I even had my leave shortened to support the division command post exercise. A division CPX for crying out loud! We just returned from combat! We were told the division's new staff needed to resolve some internal staffing procedures, so they scheduled an out-of-cycle training exercise. Given this division's 24/7 mentality and helter-skelter attitude, I would almost rather be back in Afghanistan. At least there everyone knows they have to work 24/7, and no one really expects to know what will happen next. Plus, you don't have the family wondering why Daddy isn't home. Even my wife, who basically ran the brigade's Family Readiness Group (FRG) when we were deployed and is a very dedicated Army wife, is about to throw in the towel."

Last week, you witnessed an exchange at a BCT command team meeting. The commander and command sergeant major of one of the brigade's combined arms battalions provided COL Domingo and CSM Howell a detailed review of the effect of the installation's "red cycle" on their unit training plans, receipt of equipment and execution of the reset of personnel and equipment, reestablish garrison systems, and leader and incoming Soldier training to address shortfalls identified in Afghanistan. The battalion commander stated, "We're caught between a rock and a hard place because we tell Soldiers to reconnect with their families after being away for fifteen months, then pile so many competing requirements on the plate that they have to work until 1900 each night to meet turn-in suspenses. When you add on red-cycle taskings, the problem increases because you have fewer Soldiers to do the same amount of work. When I have to defer equipment turn-in for two weeks or keep Soldiers late telling them it's more important to guard motor pools and ranges than recover our equipment from war, we all lose credibility. Soldiers know the difference between activity to keep them alive, and make-work."

The battalion CSM added, "This is worse than I've ever seen it. It seems we cannot catch a break on the ever-increasing extra duties and work details. When I mentioned this to the division CSM at his last senior NCO call, he dismissed me by saying, 'we have had red cycles throughout my 26 years in the Army. They'll always be here, so live with it. Quit complaining! You guys have been nothing but whiners since you returned from Afghanistan!'" In support of the battalion's argument, CSM Howell described his attempt to convince the division CSM of the impact the red cycle was having upon the 56th. He expressed his frustration and stated, "I'm not sure why the division seems to have different interests than we do. I once thought we were all on the same team, but now I'm not sure." After hearing this, COL Domingo turned to CSM Howell and asked him to once again talk to the division CSM. He stated, "We have got to try and get a handle on this quickly. I'll talk to the division commander. Meanwhile, let the BXO know of your discussions with the division CSM."

Your experiences with the officers in the brigade S3 shop were positive. All appeared professional, cooperative, and well-motivated by LTC Rockwell. However, recent comments to you by two battalion S3s indicated a dictatorial side to the brigade S3. They indicated Rockwell's unwillingness to consider new ways of approaching the diverse training needs brought by the reconfiguration. Moreover, Rockwell indicated if they took their concerns to their battalion commanders (one of whom was fairly new) they would regret it. When this was mentioned to LTC(P) Johnson, he stated, "Hell, that's just Rockwell flexing his muscle. There's no better brigade S3 in the division, and everyone knows it. Those battalion officers need to quit sniveling and get to work."

In a private conversation last week, CSM Howell shared with you, "I'm worried about my senior NCOs. They appear competent, but I don't see any results from their work. There appears to be little teamwork among themselves and their officers. When I ask them why they don't speak up and get involved, they ask, 'Why should I? Nothing ever comes of it.'"
Finally, your informal conversations with friends within the division suggest the 56th gained a reputation in Afghanistan for being very "heavy-handed" in dealing with locals. While the characterization started during the initial relief-in-place/transition of authority (RIP/TOA), their behavior took a marked downturn after the death of the brigade command team and battalion commander. According to several sources outside the brigade, this approach appeared to inhibit the brigade's ability to conduct host-nation responsibilities. One of your more trusted sources stated emphatically, "Johnson's negative attitude of the Afghanis created a cancer among some within the brigade, and it's still there. You need to be very careful."

The past few weeks have been a blur for you. You understand the brigade has undergone numerous changes and know significant challenges lie ahead. Fortunately, the information you received from historical records, CALL and CAL assessments, and conversations and observations with leaders throughout the brigade and division provided some much-needed information. You are scheduled for a meeting with the brigade commander to provide your assessment of the brigade's status and to chart a course for the next few months. His major concern is where to start. He knows there is not much time before the brigade will be back in the rotation for deployment.

One Week Later


You are the Deputy Brigade Commander, LTC(P) Wood. The BCO has asked for your assessment of the Brigade, a recommendation for improving the organization, and how you propose to measure success. He also asked for a recommended vision statement based on your assessment and where you see the Brigade in the future. You have one week to prepare your assessment of the brigade including identification of the critical leadership problem facing the brigade, the process you will recommend for solving the problem and how you will measure success related to your proposed vision.

Solution Preview

OK. This was a substantial amount of research. Think of it as an extended outline of an approach.


What is the critical leadership problem facing the 56th HBCT Brigade Commander and how will you improve the organization?

Key players and interest: who are the key players and what are their interest (Interests include need, wants, desires, concerns and fears)

Key players first: the heavy brigade itself. It seeks survival, victory and, to a lesser extent, safety. As a unit, it has an interest in keeping people healthy, and to be deployed at least at 90%.

Mid level officers, many of whom have a career in mind and do not want to be associated with a sinking ship, especially if includes perceived human rights abuses abroad.

Afghan soldiers and civilians who have the most to lose under incompetent American leadership, many of whom, of course, would much rather Afghan forces take care of local problems. Near constant warfare since the early 1970s has created several generations of scarred boys and men who know guerrilla life and nothing else (Lamb, 2008).

All enlisted personnel, since they are in the immediate line of fire, considered more or less expendable, and have the most to suffer under incompetent leadership.

Colonel Domingo and CSM Howell, both of whom are in a different line of fire: they are the ones called onto the carpet for subpar action. Not to mention the fact that they have to be liason to Material Command, local elites, and any problems with enlisted personnel. Maj. Springsteen and those like him also need to be included. His complaints are justified, though placing blame is largely impossible (unless you blame the politicans who start these wars, see Lamb, 2008)).

Yourself (deputy commander Wood), who does not want to get sucked into the falling morale and poor performance that has infected the Brigade. Any desire to make an impact has everything to do with the length of deployment, violence overseas, local opinion, American public opinion and morale. The lower morale becomes, the harder your job becomes.

The ARFORGEN staff, whose job can be extremely difficult, especially with trauma cases. Since their mission is to introduce predictability and stability in assignments and missions, the facts of this case are not making their lives easier.

FORSCOM and its public relations mission, which is quite significant, especially concerning local problems in Central Asia. These guys will have to fudge some of the facts so as to make US forces seem more professional than they are (at least under present circumstances).
The tech staff of the Brigade, whose job it is to keep the poor communications systems and satillite hookups working. We can include the MITT team too, since the worse the American reputation becomes, the harder any kind of local recruiting will become.

The families of the men overseas who cannot help but be disappointed and angry at the workload, which cuts into the already short RESET time. This, of itself, can cause severe morale problems.

Facts and assumptions: for understanding this case study

Only a summary can be given here.

First, there is the lack of clear mission, purpose and end goals. Military brass are not meant to be political, so their opinion on these do not count. Mostly, platitudes from politicians and staffers, often woefully ignorant about obscure parts of the world, lay out the ideological materials (Cordesman, 2012).

Second, there is no good reason to hold that local populations have any interest in Americans, non-Muslims and modern ideas in their scarred country. There is also no reason to believe that the parties, financed and led by the US, are considered even remotely legitimate. All anti-American parties are banned in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reality is that the longer the US stays in the area, the more resented they will become, and that will create a chain reaction of violence. These are the same people who ...

Solution Summary

The critical leadership problems facing the 56th HBCT Brigade Commander. How to improve the organizations are given.