Is becoming a military tactical operations leader right for me?
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How to become a Military Tactical Operations Leader
Wars are now led by smaller formations, placing a greater burden on lower-ranking officers. Tactical operations leaders should be at least 21 years of age, although most soldiers at that age do not get as much authority as a tactical operations leader. What should a person who is in charge of dozens of people and millions of dollars of equipment bring to the table? A famous study in 1959 found that the seven characteristic of an effective officer were higher intelligence, higher self-confidence, adaptability, dominance, extroversion, sensitivity to the desires and viewpoints of others, and a lower level of conservatism. Additionally, with so many men under their command, a tactical operations leader must learn to delegate since successful operations require that decisions be made at the lowest level. A tactical operations leader must also have the ability to mentor the soldiers under his command.
The qualities desirable of a tactical operations leader are different in war and peace. One study found that professionalism was ranked by soldiers as #1 in war and #2 in peace, but honesty was ranked #6 in war and #1 in peace, and openness was ranked #9 in war and #3.5 in peace. In essence, in wartime the most desirable characteristics are leadership skills, psychological stability and military skills while in peacetime they are military skills, management skills, and honesty.
Tactical operations leaders set the tone for the morality of their subordinates' actions. This is particularly difficult in counter-insurgency situations like Iraq or Afghanistan where the enemy does not play fair and there is a constant feeling of being under threat. Morality can be contrary to operational effectiveness. While it is tempting to say, "I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by six," civilians are the ones who tell you where the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are.
Some knowledge of telecommunications and human resources is also required. This individual will take risks. There will be a need to manage people of widely different backgrounds. A tactical operations leader will remember that he is his soldiers' leader, and not their friend. Friendship is also not available from this individual's superior, the company commander, who is a mentor. Even if a tactical operations leader disagrees with some of the decisions of the company commander or dislikes their leadership style, they are obliged to follow orders.
A tactical operations leader must maintain the highest levels of organization within their platoon. Morale is one of the most important aspects of a platoon's ability to complete a mission, and this is the responsibility of the tactical operations leader. This can be achieved by scheduled rest and regular meals.