Category Archives: Leadership

Mindful of the Future: Courage in Counseling

Bourbon & Battles is pleased to welcome Aaron Lawless as today’s guest author. Check out Aaron’s bio below the story!


Once upon a time, there was an extraordinarily inept young lieutenant. Following a long string of mishaps, he was banished from a line company to a post on the Battalion staff, where he theoretically could do no harm. For a while, he flailed about, desperate in his quest for a mentor to save him, until he latched onto the Battalion Commander. He remained pretty much useless, able to help negotiate an end to a long-running feud between the XO and S3, but only by involving the Brigade Commander. Time went by and the young lieutenant found himself in the middle of major combat operations against an invading force. The lieutenant bumbled his way through the conflict with a few lucky successes. He guided a SOF mission behind enemy lines to rescue some State Department VIPs, managed to single-handedly destroy some enemy armor with a hand grenade, and was promoted. Soon thereafter, he left military service and joined the staff of an up-and-coming Senator from his home state. When the Senator had to temporarily go into witness protection, our clumsy hero was left with proxy voting power, which he promptly bungled by proposing emergency powers legislation that allowed the former chief executive of the republic to stage a military coup and declare himself a supreme dictator. Continue reading Mindful of the Future: Courage in Counseling

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“I Do Not Read Recreationally,” A Reflection

To be clear, these are not my words. Read on for the source.

For those of you unfamiliar with my professional path outside of the words on this blog, I have prioritized educating, training, and inspiring future leaders of America over Bourbon & Battles for the last year. I break that silence today for some reflection inspired by a single written comment from a student.

To get to know my newest group of students last week, I asked each of them to fill out a bio card. One of the pieces of information I asked for: favorite book. I mostly wanted to see what authors and titles inspired this cohort—military history and more military history abound, as did some classics, and more than one mention of 1984. Shamelessly, I also wanted to see if I could use their recommendations to add some more tomes to my “to-read” list. Turns out, I did.

But to my instant consternation, I received this answer on one bio card: “I do not read recreationally.”

giphy1giphy2giphy3 Continue reading “I Do Not Read Recreationally,” A Reflection

Guest Post: Education Opportunities in the Army

Bourbon & Battles is pleased to welcome Nathan Lunde as today’s guest author. Check out Nathan’s bio below the story.


There are many reasons a person would choose to join the military. These reasons can include patriotism, sense of social duty, family tradition, need for a job, sense of adventure and the list is as varied as the members of our Armed Forces. A big motivation for joining the military is the education benefits that are made available to active service members as well as veterans. There is a myriad of programs which can be used to assist with paying for education, and it is important that members and veterans alike know what those programs are in order to ensure that they are fully utilized and the individuals are able to make themselves more competitive amongst their peers in the civilian and military work force.

The goal of this post is to outline some of these programs. I will address some of the benefits offered by the five services but the focus will primarily be on the benefits afforded to those who currently serve or have served in the US Army.

Continue reading Guest Post: Education Opportunities in the Army

E-to-O: Enlisted Commissioning Programs & the Problem with Credits

To complete my Public Policy master’s degree, I chose to develop a policy analysis aimed at improving enlisted commissioning opportunities at my university. The Army’s version of these programs is Green to Gold. (In the Navy, it’s STA-21, MECEP in the Marine Corps, and the Air Force has a few programs under the enlisted commissioning umbrella.)

The general problem is that my school doesn’t support prospective enlisted-to-officer candidates very well, though they want to—that’s where I come in. I sent out a survey just this week to several university admissions offices and various ROTC programs (of all services) to ascertain trends and capture best practices. Although the work is far from over, a concerning trend is already clear: many troops don’t have credits for core college courses. Continue reading E-to-O: Enlisted Commissioning Programs & the Problem with Credits

Captain Dad: On Being a Modern Parent Leader

Parents are the leaders of families. This is not a new concept, and it has been recognized when considering things like parents’ role in leading their kids’ education and upbringing. The tie between parenting and leading outside of the household is also fairly easy to see, and you can check out other pieces that identify the similarities between leading kids and adults (written by a former SEAL), note the boost to leadership parents receive, and list the numerous lessons learned from parenting that are applicable to leadership. Not to be forgotten, The Military Leader ran a piece a couple years ago about this very topic. (A version of that same post also ran on Task & Purpose.)

All of that is to say that the body of literature on parenting vis-à-vis leadership is fairly saturated. But even after reading much of the existing work, I found little mention of some of the comparisons I had in mind. I don’t claim to be a stellar example of either a leader or a parent, but I can certainly see the overlap. So, here’s my contribution to that “scholarship,” with a mind especially to company grade leadership and the help of the TV show Modern Family:

Continue reading Captain Dad: On Being a Modern Parent Leader

#Reviewing JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents [The Strategy Bridge]

Godfrey Hodgson. JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.

JFK and LBJ Cover.jpg

I am pleased and grateful that the fine folks at The Strategy Bridge published my very first historical book review. Click here to read what I think about Godfrey Hodgson’s JFK and LBJ: The Last Two Great Presidents.


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Guest Post: The 8 Lessons of Leadership I Learned from Brewing Coffee

Bourbon & Battles welcomes Alex Licea, today’s guest author. This post was originally published here on June 14, 2016. Check out Alex’s bio below the story.


Like most of my colleagues, I enjoy a cup of coffee each morning. While my experience with the brewed drink won’t inspire me to write a book about coffee any time soon, it has left a profound impact on me, and in some ways shaped me as a military communications professional and leader.

Before I get to those lessons, let me set up the scene.

The date was October 1, 2013. The government had shutdown for the first time in nearly 20 years. Continue reading Guest Post: The 8 Lessons of Leadership I Learned from Brewing Coffee

Adjutant Advice #2: Ask What the Acronyms Mean

This is the second in a series of posts aimed at answering some of the most frequent questions or issues new officers would have when I was a battalion S1/adjutant.


Today’s “Adjutant Advice” is less advice from an adjutant and more advice as an adjutant. AG soldiers rarely find themselves assigned to an AG or HR (human resources) unit, so very often we are permanent party visitors to a different branch within the Army, each with its own individual identity, doctrine, and set of acronyms.

This scenario is also true of many branches besides AG, including intelligence, logistics, signal, medical, and ministry soldiers, among others. And the further you advance in your career, the greater chance you stand of being assigned to a unit as the sole member of your own branch. To be an effective member of the team, you have to put the effort into learning your operating environment. Continue reading Adjutant Advice #2: Ask What the Acronyms Mean

Adjutant Advice #1: Write Your Boss an Introductory Letter

This is the first in a new series of posts aimed at answering some of the most frequent questions or issues new officers would have when I was a battalion S1/adjutant. They don’t represent any official guidance, just pointers and advice. I welcome any input about each topic from those wiser and more experienced in the comments and/or on social media. I also welcome your own questions if you’re a new lieutenant or cadet curious about personnel, military courtesy, or protocol-type things.


When you are a brand new lieutenant, your focus and training is usually about being the best platoon leader you can be. That doesn’t leave much room for protocol and traditional formalities, especially when text messages and emails are the norm these days.

So it isn’t surprising that lieutenants at their respective Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) would often email or call me to ask: should I write an introductory letter to the battalion commander. The answer is always yes. Continue reading Adjutant Advice #1: Write Your Boss an Introductory Letter

Garrison Tips for the 21st Century Army Leader!

Today’s Army is one of innovation and technological marvels. While we continue to fight the battles of our day, Army leaders must ensure that troops stay in tiptop readiness form while in garrison.

Follow these tips to be on the cutting edge of our fighting force! Continue reading Garrison Tips for the 21st Century Army Leader!