Category Archives: Military

Hanging Around the Flagpole

At the end of my final semester in grad school, I have noticeably trimmed back B&B content for the sake of focusing on my thesis and other school work. But when a piece of research jumps out at me, I feel compelled to write, as with my last post in February regarding college credits for military service members and veterans. This time is like that. Continue reading Hanging Around the Flagpole

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

Bourbon & Battles: One Year In

During Christmas Break one year ago, I wrote a piece for PMJWire, the blog for PolicyMatters Journal, which is the student-run journal for my school, the Goldman School of Public Policy. In that blog post, I argued for including women in registering for the Selective Service. Not satisfied with whatever audience that post would reach, I decided to share the post on Medium—my first self-published piece. I published a few more things on Medium, but it wasn’t long before I bought BourbonandBattles.com.

So began Bourbon & Battles Year One.

Continue reading Bourbon & Battles: One Year In

On Running and Leadership

I ran a 10k Monday. I’m not bragging—it wasn’t a special event or a race, just a slow 6.2 miles because I wanted to. (And because of the whole “PTing for fitness in the Army” thing.) I’ll be the first to tell you I’m no PT stud, so it wasn’t a particularly inspiring 10k, but I felt good afterward, and I started to think about some of the ways running is like leadership.

And while I’m not the first to draw the comparison (see this, this, this, this, and this), I argue that there is much about leadership you can learn from running. Some of my thoughts are a stretch, but some might make sense to you. Strap on your PT belt and have a read: Continue reading On Running and Leadership

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

On Partisan Bubbles and Military Nonpartisanism

If retired Marine Corps Reserve veteran Rob Riggle taught us anything about the city of Berkeley, California, it was that it is a “bastion of liberal thought.”

Riggle’s Daily Show satire piece wasn’t too far from the truth. And while Berkeley the city is a whole lot more crazy-left than Berkeley the university, where the Army has graciously allowed me to matriculate for its Advanced Civil Schooling (ACS) program, we’re still talking about dark shades of blue.

On another end of the spectrum, there is a military culture typically characterized as conservative (although some would argue that it is not as conservative as might be expected). Like outspoken liberals in Berkeley, emboldened conservatives affiliated with the military (active duty, separated, retired, or even family members) are just as likely to righteously preach partisan politics from the soapbox, particularly on social media. Continue reading On Partisan Bubbles and Military Nonpartisanism