The Army is beginning to train us for the future and future battles, the Soldier 2020 model places emphasis on the squad level. Squads need to do more tasks on their own. For a squad to fulfill the requirements of Soldier 2020 they will need to be resilient through tough times. It is a leader’s role to understand aspects of resilience, how to build it within the squad, and the role you play. At a basic level, resilience is broken down into five dimensions.
Resilience is the art of taking any situation life throws at you and keeping a positive attitude to help you perform at the highest possible level. The five dimensions of resilience are the physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual dimensions. The physical dimension encompasses everything from exercise, nutrition and training.
The emotional dimension is, as we all say in the Army, hunting the good stuff. Hunting the good stuff means finding the good in every situation and applying it to even the worst of situations. The family dimension is where all of your support comes from. The family dimension is where you feel safe and comfortable. You go to your family first when having tough times; a strong family bond is vital. The social dimension is how you interact with others and with whom you choose to surround yourself.
When a social connection develops with trust, that relationship is family to some individuals. These friendships may not be relatives but you feel safe and like you can run to them in times of need. The spiritual dimension is important due to the fact that is holds a person’s views and values. The spiritual dimension contains an individual’s religious views. This dimension includes the beliefs of the person, what they consider right or wrong.
A leader must first understand resilience in order fulfill his responsibilities as a non-commissioned officer. It is a leader’s responsibility to look out for the well-being of his subordinates. Resilience directly affects units from the individual, team and squad level up to the highest echelons. By being knowledgeable in all aspects of resilience including the five dimensions, you support the unit’s transition into Soldier 2020 plan.
There is no one set way or method to building resilience. Like many things, it will often be dependent on the situation. Your subordinate’s personalities and behaviors are a major factor. As a leader, you must get to know your soldiers and their response to different methods of teaching in order to tailor your training to fit them. Team building exercises are great for building unit cohesion and boosting morale.
A major contributing factor to resilience is the work environment. A negative work environment will crush morale and make soldiers not want to be there. If someone does not want to be in an uncomfortable situation, their interest and work ethic will suffer and vastly influence unit readiness. A leader should find a way to make work a fun and positive environment while still accomplishing the mission. The simplest form of doing so is to create healthy competition for a reward.
When subordinates know they are working for a reward for performing at their best, they will excel and exceed standards. By creating competition amongst teams, you improve your overall unit’s effectiveness from the lowest echelons first. Your knowledge as a leader will affect future leaders for generations to come. A big part of being able to teach others about resilience is to share your very own experiences of moments you had to be resilient.
By using your personal experiences and sharing them, you become more approachable by others in their time of need. My main personal experience with resilience was after being injured for five months, finally receiving surgery on my knee. After my surgery, I sat in my room suffering in pain and feeling sorry for myself. I started eating unhealthy foods and drinking heavily to numb the pain. After a visit from a close friend, he looked at me in disgust and said, “What are you doing man, snap out of it.”
It was that night that I had realized, he was right. I had let the surgery get the better of me and let myself go. I started to push my recovery only to be told a few months later that I was looking at a possible medical retirement due to being on profile so long. I used that to fuel me to push myself harder and harder every day and come back post-surgery and seven months after surgery, pass my Army Physical Fitness Assessment instead of the projected 12 to 18 months.
The Army is adapting and preparing us for perhaps the biggest change in its history. Soldiers, teams and squads will have more responsibility than ever. As leaders, we must know how resiliency affects the unit at all echelons, the basic principles of resiliency and how to implement tasks and training in our everyday lives’ to increase resiliency. The most resilient teams will create the most resilient squads and produce the most efficient units.
- Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, AR 350-53 (2014)