Retired Maj. Gen. shares experience with 15th SB officers

Story and Photos by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley
15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas — Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Shadley was a special guest speaker at the 15th Sustainment Brigade’s latest Officer Professional Development class at the Community Events Center here, October 31.

Shadley, a Vietnam veteran, spoke to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) officers on a variety of topics centering on his observations in leadership and the four points of the Tim-Tom Theory: competence, character, chemistry, and curiosity.

The Tim-Tom Theory comes from the ideas of Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and retired Gen. Tom Hill.

Shadley said that almost everything that officers do has been done before, so they should look for those people with experience and use their ideas and existing materials.

“I haven’t had an original idea in my life,” he said.

Shadley explained what he meant by competence.

“Our objective in the sustainment business is not to make all the dots green,” he said, referring to the green marks indicating a task’s completion on briefing charts.

“Red dots are green dots that aren’t ripe yet.”

Shadley reminded the officers that it wasn’t their job to make sure tasks our merely completed, but completed correctly.

The retired general encouraged 15th’s officers to write everything down in notes, ensure that they are knowledgeable on all the technical systems involved in their jobs, and that they are properly managing their time.

“I have just taken 18 minutes of your life and I can’t give it back to you,” he said in illustration. “Time management is critical.”

He also warned about the trap of averages with a story of a friend who drowned after falling in a hole filled with nine feet of water in a river which averaged three feet.

“Precision, in our business, is critical … don’t wing it.”

Shadley urged the leaders to look at current operations, future operations, and plans, saying that battle drills are key.

He told them that it’s better to have “ed” at the end of your words than “ing,” explaining that it’s better to have already worked on the situation than to be working on it.

Shadley also explained the importance of knowing one’s boss.

“If you have to wait to be told or asked to do something, you’re too late,” he continued.

He spoke of the changing expectations that Soldiers have of their leadership.

“Uncommon valor is becoming common with our enlisted Soldiers,” he said, telling a story of a young Soldier with three purple hearts after living through 22 improvised explosive device explosions.

He explained that Soldiers expected their officers to exhibit strong values.

“You don’t lose your integrity, you give it away,” he said.

Shadley also urged everyone to be accepting of people who are different from themselves and to keep a good attitude regardless of the situation.

In closing, the Vietnam veteran suggested that everyone should live by the 1st Infantry Division’s motto.

“No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great – duty first!”


Retired Maj Gen Robert Shadley
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Shadley speaks to 15th Sustainment Brigade officers at an officer professional development class at the Community Events Center here, October 31. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 15th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs)