Troop Support commander discusses leadership with Rutgers cadets

By Shawn J. Jones DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The commander of Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support emphasized the importance of military fundamentals to ROTC cadets at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Feb. 23.

Army Brig. Gen. Charles Hamilton advised the cadets that to be successful, officers must ensure their units are highly fit, highly trained and highly disciplined.

“There can be no negotiation on those three,” Hamilton said.

He emphasized how physical fitness, endurance and stamina have a positive impact on a soldier’s ability to perform both combat and non-combat missions, and how it is the officer’s responsibility to ensure continuous attention to fitness.

“You want them to be physically fit and as strong as possible,” Hamilton said.

He also suggested the cadets continue to hone other fundamental skills. He said the prevalence of GPS technology is eroding land-navigation skills. Since soldiers cannot count on GPS being available in every hostile situation, they must remain proficient in working with map and compass.

One of the cadets said he appreciated the general’s advice.

“The biggest statement that stood out to me was that every solider should be a combat solider,” said Nicholas Scherer, who aims to become an active-duty infantry officer. “I believe this is true because we will not always know what comes next, and each soldier needs to be prepared for the worst, no matter what your job title says.”

The general also cautioned the cadets to avoid the life-changing mistakes that can derail careers. He said fraternization could undermine young lieutenants who learn they have many of the same interests as the soldiers they lead.

“You guys will have so much in common, you won’t believe it,” he said. “It’s OK to be friendly, but not OK to be friends.”

He said nobody is perfect and mistakes will happen, but the key is to avoid life-changing mistakes.

“We expect you to make mistakes, just don’t keep repeating them,” Hamilton said.

He also advised the cadets not to overreact to their soldiers’ mistakes. Going off the deep end and assigning extreme punishments may cause senior officers to doubt a junior officer’s ability to handle increased responsibility.

“You have to handle it,” he said. “If you handle it like a normal person, you’re probably going to be fine.”

Scherer said he values senior military officers who visit the cadets and offer their perspectives on leadership.

“When experienced leaders come and take time out of their busy schedules to speak at our ROTC program, two things hit home to me,” Scherer said. “The first shows that the leader is humble and wants the best for the Army, so I immediately have the utmost respect for him or her. In addition, these senior leaders remind us young, soon-to-be lieutenants that the principles of leadership remain the same regardless of the size or type of your unit.”