From the 104th Training Division (LT)Commander

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Hello Timberwolves,

On 6 August, I assumed command of the 104th Division (Leader Training). It is a great honor and privilege to serve as the Commander of the 104th and to be a member of the Timberwolf team. I look forward to seeing you in action as we execute our mission.

The command has an incredibly important mission of training and developing future Army leaders. In this area, we cannot fail and will not fail. Although the coronavirus has disrupted our Cadet Summer Training plans this year, U.S. Army Cadet Command & the 104th DIV (LT) have adapted with Operation Agile Leader. I look for all Timberwolf Soldiers to continue to be flexible as we continue to adapt to the ever-changing environment. In addition, our support to the basic combat training mission is also vital to the Army’s success. The last time that I was involved with Basic Combat Training and Cadet Basic Training was more than thirty years ago when I went through each of them.

My BCT experience began when I enlisted in the Army in 1985. My plan was to gain job experience in the electronics industry and to get off the family farm in Wisconsin. Basic training at Ft Knox was my first time out of the great state of Wisconsin, and I actually got to sleep-in one Sunday since there were no cows waiting to be milked every morning. However, my initial basic training days were a struggle because of my lack of drill and ceremony skills. I was constantly out of step, and this upset my Drill Sergeant to no end. He would call “left flank march” and I would take out all of 3rd squad with a right flank march. I still remember him saying, “Private Fischer, your country *## is not going to make it.” Luckily, my other drill sergeants recognized my performance in other areas, and I did graduate. As it turned out, our team took first place in the drill and ceremony competition…while I performed kitchen patrol that day for some reason. Shortly thereafter, I was off to advanced individual training to get my job experience.

As I mentioned earlier, I was in the electronics field. However, my military specialty was a dying field. I had signed up to be a tele-typewriter repairer. Think a typewriter that can send messages. You may find a few of them out there in the Smithsonian museum. A few years later as I neared the end of my enlistment, there were surprisingly few openings for typewriter repairers with everybody focused on these things called computers. Fortunately, I had proven to be a decent Soldier and I was offered an opportunity to go to the United States Military Academy. At the Academy, my enlisted time enabled me to successfully navigate many of the initial challenges, and I actually did not hurt anybody during drill and ceremony! I specifically remember the senior trainers who ran our Cadet Summer Training providing active leadership as they instructed us on many of the same tasks that our command teaches today such as the hand grenade range and the rappel tower.

Although my experiences may have occurred many years ago, we still operate under many of the same principles. Active caring leadership throughout training can confront and overcome any challenge. The Chief of Staff of the Army recently highlighted three areas (sexual assault/harassment, suicide, racism / extremism) that are a challenge to our Army as they break trust and harm our Soldiers. We as leaders need to be active leaders and confront these issues immediately. This ties into the Army’s “This Is My Squad” mantra, where if Soldiers in a unit really get to know one another, they’ll look out for one another, they’ll better understand one another, and they’ll notice when something seems “off” with one of their teammates. Let’s work thoughtfully and unwaveringly to ensure that our squad and our Army is free of sexual assault/harassment, suicide, and racism/extremism.

I hope that this short article provides you with a bit of my background and also highlights the importance I see in our mission and what we need to do to continue to be successful. As we execute our mission and support each other, we will undoubtedly be training future Army leaders. Go easy on them if they struggle to stay in step. Timberwolf 6 out.

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