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Public Affairs : Cadet Leadership Series Part I

LeadersGraphic.jpgAfter a successful Cadet Summer Training Program, a new group of leaders from the Corps of Cadets were selected to brigade, regiment and company level assignments. Many had served prominent positions in the task forces for Cadet Field Training and Cadet Basic Training and during or shortly after were notified of their new jobs. In the first of this leadership series, the Pointer View interviewed Class of 2014 Cadets Lindsey Danilack, first captain; Jae Yu, 3rd Regiment commander; and Erin Mauldin, 1st Regiment commander.

By Mike Strasser
Assistant Editor
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 4, 2013) —

Pointer View: What was your immediate reaction when you were notified about your new position?

My original reaction was a sense of relief to finally know. The anticipation of what position I would receive was high throughout the last few weeks of summer. I knew that the other candidates up for the position were extremely qualified and each of them could definitely handle the position. I was told by the Commandant of Cadets on Aug. 1st. I was very excited and eager to start. I also found out I was working with a very confident and competent team, so I knew this year would be successful.

Yu: Just a few seconds before I was about to step into a Commander’s Update Brief, a brief where each staff member and company commander brief the regimental commander on their plans for the upcoming days, I received a call from Lt. Col. Shannon Miller, the regimental tactical officer for third regiment. My heart rate instantly spiked as I answered the phone. He notified me that I would be the regimental commander for third regiment, the Wolfpack Regiment. As the regimental commander for Cadet Basic Training, I had a good understanding of the responsibilities and duties this job entailed. However, to be given an opportunity where I can influence a regiment of cadets for a whole academic year felt like a true privilege and a blessing.

Mauldin: I received the voice message from Lt. Col. (John) Cross (the 1st Regiment RTO) after three days in the field doing a training exercise with my CTLT unit and I was ecstatic. I am honored by the opportunity to work with him and my fellow cadets throughout the regiment who hold leadership positions.

PV: A leadership conference before the start of the academic year brought all the key leaders together. What was the purpose?

Danilack: The brigade staff and regimental command teams met in Washington Hall and created a brigade and regimental vision for the Corps. The vision was founded off of four rooted words: cohesion, trust, professionalism and rationalism. These four words are values that the brigade staff came up with that help define a good team and a good leader. They are what we embody and what the Corps can expect from us.

Yu: Additionally, we discussed the pertinent issues and problems within our Corps and potential ways to solve these issues. Following the brief by the commandant, members of the 3rd Regiment staff and I got together and laid out our game plan on how to tackle the upcoming academic year. This initial training was imperative not only because it laid out the groundwork for Reorganization Week, but it also served as the first opportunity to build that strong bond between our leaders of 3rd Regiment.

PV: At this training, you’re seeing all the new brigade and regimental leaders selected by the academy’s senior leadership. What’s your personal assessment?

Yu: The committee that chose this year’s crop of brigade and regimental leadership could not have done a better job in choosing the right people for each position. We have inspiring and competent cadets in our leadership positions that will guide the Corps in the right direction.

Mauldin: I have been nothing but impressed by the commitment the cadet leaders of the Corps have shown—from the brigade level to my fellow regimental command and staff teams to the battalion and company levels. It has been a pleasure to work with them so far, and I can’t wait to see them grow (and grow with them) this semester. Our challenge will be to remain motivated and mission focused, carrying this positive momentum throughout the more challenging parts of the semester.

Danilack: I will be honest, this year’s crop of both brigade and regimental leadership are superb. Each member of the team is top of the class, cares about the development of the Corps and would sacrifice their time and effort for the betterment of the Corps. I anticipate having the most successful academic year West Point has ever seen, and that is due to the hard working, dedicated people in leadership positions.
Class of 2014 Cadet Erin Mauldin, 1st Regiment commander.
Class of 2014 Cadet Lindsey Danilack, Corps of Cadets first captain. Photos by John Pellino/DPTMS

Class of 2014 Cadet Jae Yu, commander of 3rd Regiment.

PV: Throughout the 47-month journey cadets observe how previous leaders served the Corps. In addition, key leaders are provided a continuity book from previous cadet officers which relate their experiences in those positions. How do you draw from the experiences of others and how do you make the position your own?

Danilack: I believe that everyone has their own leadership style and vision for the Corps. I will be able to utilize certain aspects of past first captains experiences, however, I will have to decide for myself what works best. The Corps is changing and evolving over the years, so it is my job to provide leadership for the Corps that is tailored to societal situations, current issues, and current trends. I also believe that it is important to work well with your staff, who each have their own personalities and leadership styles. This means I must adapt so that our cohesion and trust on brigade staff is on point at all times.

How will you use this position to positively influence the Corps?

Mauldin: My most important mission as the commander of 1st Regiment is to establish effective communication and follow up on our regimental vision—giving the battalion and company teams the guidance, support, and freedom of maneuver necessary to develop cadets within that vision. I serve as a conduit between the RTO and brigade, ensuring that our vision is nested within their intent. Given their priorities, I aim to foster a climate of dignity, respect and open communication where cadets take personal responsibility for their development as officers and embody stewardship. I seek to set the tone for the regiment in those basic principles, and empower my staff, battalion and company teams to use this as an opportunity to work on their own leadership and help to train the regiment in line with the academy’s mission.

PV: Until now, what has been the most rewarding leadership experience you’ve had and explain why?

Danilack: First, over the 2012 summer I was a Cadet Basic Training 1 squad leader. This experience was so rewarding because I was able to learn about my new cadets on a personal level. I was able to find out their strengths and weaknesses and constantly develop them on an individual level. I could not be more proud to see the successes achieved from my new cadets that summer. Second, I was the CBT1 regimental commander this past summer. This experience was extremely rewarding due to the fact that I learned so much about myself and about being a commander. I was provided the experience to speak to crowds of over 2,000 people, I was able to make decisions that affected every new cadet and cadre member, and I was able to interact with the senior leadership of West Point.

Mauldin: My time as the commander of the Summer Garrison Regiment was a challenging and ultimately rewarding leadership experience. I worked with an outstanding team of people and mentors, and I learned a tremendous amount about both large organization and personal leadership. The most exciting thing for me was to see people embrace their positions and responsibilities—and then run with them. Running a garrison unit with very different populations and supporting the other Cadet Summer Training events was challenging, but ultimately helped us to maintain a sense of purpose. My experience impressed upon me the need for the commander to set a positive, professional, yet friendly tone—and I thank my team for having helped me to accomplish that.

Yu: The most rewarding leadership experience I’ve had at the academy was this past summer as the regimental commander for Cadet Basic Training. The opportunity to influence a brand new class (Class of 2017) in a positive manner was truly an honor and a privilege. The new cadets, cadre members and I worked as a team to make Cadet Basic Training a successful training experience. Not only did the Class of 2017 receive great training in basic soldier skills, but our cadre members learned more about themselves and grew as leaders, something we stressed during the leadership detail.