Tag: Leadership

U.S Army 2017 Best Sapper Competition


The 2017 Best Sapper Competition just finished up a few days ago.  The Best Sapper Competition was started in 2005 as a means for military members in the Combat Engineer skill areas to show off their training and skills. This three-day competition is open to Soldiers and Marines, E-4 and above. At least one competitor on each team must have earned the  Sapper tab.

Organized into 50 two-person teams, the competitors compete in a 50 hour, fifty mile course, completing grueling physical requirements and many technical skill events. The competition is designed to not only determine the next “Best Sapper” team, but to also challenge and test the competitors’ knowledge, skills, physical prowess and mental fortitude. By the final day, the competition has been whittled down to the top 20 teams. My nephew, Staff Sgt Brendan Gilbert, and his fellow team member, Staff Sgt Jacob Brittian, made it to the top 20 … beating out 30 other teams. They finished in 11th place, which is quite a great accomplishment.  We are all very proud of them … all of them.

To wear the Sapper Tab, a Soldier must graduate from the Sapper Leader Course operated by the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. The Sapper Leader Course is a 28-day course designed to train joint-service leaders in small unit tactics, leadership skills, and tactics required to perform as part of a combined arms team. The course is open to enlisted Soldiers in the grades of E-4 (in the Army, specialist) and above, cadets, and officers O-3 (Army, captain) and below. As students can come from any combat or combat support branch of the service, female soldiers are permitted to attend, but priority is given to engineering, cavalry, and infantry soldiers.  The course is divided into two Phases

The first 14 days cover general subjects including medical, land navigation, demolitions, air and water operations, mountaineering,  landmines and weapons used by enemy forces

The remaining 14 days cover basic patrolling techniques and battle drills that emphasize leadership. The subjects include urban operations, breaching, patrol organization and movement, and reconnaissance, raid and ambush tactics. It concludes with a three-day situation training exercise, and five-day field training exercise. These missions are a 60/40 mix of engineer and infantry missions. Each training event is graded and scored. To graduate, a sapper must earn 700 out of 1000 points in order to wear the sapper tab.

All of our military service members deserve our respect and gratitude. Events such as this demonstrate just how well-trained and dedicated they really are.

A Run of Bad Luck!?

An old high school teacher, Leonard Keyes, once one told me that, “luck is when preparation meets with opportunity.”  I have always thought that a rather true and profound statement.  So bad luck must then be when poor preparation meets with an ill-timed risk? 

I do not blame Obama for the badly entrenched wasteful spending habits of our government.  Congress has indeed been financially out of control for the past 40 years or so.  It is not a Republican problem or a Democratic problem at all.  However, it is a liberal-progressive versus conservative problem.  The progressive movement dates back to Teddy Roosevelt.  While I admire Teddy Roosevelt for many things, he was also a progressive-minded elitist.  What progressives fail to understand is that there is  simply not enough money in the world to solve all the worlds problems by just spending more money. Throwing money at a problem to make it go away has historically never worked and simply creates more problems for us down the road.  Also, the “receivers” of the money become addicted to all the free money and riot when told the “gravy train” cannot continue. 

Liberal-progressives are very, very good at spending other people’s money.  Not so much when it comes to their own money! 

 Times are hard for everyone right now and even churches are suffering.  People are not able to put  as much in the offering plate these days. Therefore, the church cut its funds for ministry outreach because of needed repairs and upkeep for the church itself.  One woman, from a particularly wealthy, very-liberal couple, (they own several cars, an airplane, several homes, and lots of extravagant jewelry), was visibly upset by this.  She was adamantly insistent that the church increased the outreach budget.  When it was humbly suggested that if she would like to increase her contribution, so the past spending level could be maintained, she grew strangely quiet.

Conservatives tend to ask you to use the money you already have wisely … before asking for more.  To be careful “stewards” of the funds we entrust to them.  However, in the case of our government … they just try taking more.  The government has kind of forgotten the concept that they work for us.  We do not work for them! 

So the reality is that, fiscal irresponsibility is not a Obama created issue.  However, while he did not create the problem, he has greatly worsened the problem by doubling and tripling down on old failed economic policies and irresponsible government spending.  Yes! George Bush’s administration  overspent to.  George Bush was not a conservative!

It is also important to remember that Congress (and not the President) controls the purse strings, and congress has spent in an out-of-control frenzy for at least 4 decades.  You can run on credit cards just so long before the end of the month comes … folks, the end of the month is here!

So about this bad luck.  Obama was a popular candidate with many votes who did no real “pre-vote” research.  He was charismatic and good at saying what people wanted to hear.  Most progressives are good at being popular because their “position” is poll driven.  “What do I need to say to get elected?,” is the question they ask.  Then it becomes, “What do I need to say to get re-elected?”  What they need ask is, “What is actually good for the country?” 

I also think that in 2008, many voters, especially independents, did not really vote FOR Obama.  They voted AGAINST Bush!

What is leadership? In a football game, when the quarterback looks down the field at the opposing defense and sees that the other team’s defense has keyed to his offensive play and has adjusted; he is in trouble.  Does the quarter back just say. “Darn, that’s bad luck,” and run the play anyway.  Or does he adjust or change the call?

Stuff happens in the world!  Arab Springs, earthquakes, hurricanes, markets crash!  Remember the Arab oil embargo in the early 70s or the Asian market collapse in the late 90s.  I remember in the late 70s the impending “ice age” everyone was all in a panic  about!  Stuff happens!  A president should lead through these bad times … to take charge and lead the way.  Not to sit back and point the finger!  Obama is no leader!  What did he ever lead before he his election?  Nothing!  He was an obscure college professor and community organizer with ties to Saul Alinski and a hate-filled black liberation theology preacher. Obama managed to become a senator with the backing of the corrupt Chicago political machine.  He was a senator who voted “presented” the majority of the times he voted while in office.  He had never “led” anything!

He was popular because of his charm, his charisma, his clever puppeteer, and because he was the first real “black” candidate for president.  He mistook his personal popularity for a mandate.  I guess he felt his charm would allow him to “bridge” all problems and persuade the entire world to “just get along.”  Unfortunately for him, this has not been the case. 

Did America become the great nation it is because of luck?  Or was it due to hard work, fighting for what we believe in, acceptance of personal responsibility, and the freedom to try to succeed as an individual, and yes, even sometimes to fail?  Do we let America fail and simply use “bad luck” as an excuse?  I certainly hope not.  Most Americans do not want to live in the kind of America envisioned by George Soros, Saul Alinski, and Michelle and Barack Obama.  Those that do should just move to France, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, or maybe Sweden.