Responsibility and Leadership with Army Lt. Col. Keith Miller
Published January 24, 2023
The purpose of the United States Army is to deploy, fight, and win our nations wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force. The Army’s mission is vital to the nation because being able to defeat enemy ground forces and seize control of land and vital resources helps to deter our adversaries.
I’m Lieutenant Colonel Keith Miller, United States Army.
My journey into the Army is interesting, although hardly unique. I grew up with stories of Arthurian legend, of heroes fighting for those who couldn't. As I got older, I felt that my duty as a citizen was to give back to those who could not protect themselves, either because they were incapable, had family obligations, or desired to follow a different path.
Inspiration was easy to come by in our household. My father was in the military for 25 years. He served as many of our other family members. Their acts of service through selfless sacrifice, strong moral convictions, and adherence to a code of honor are the frameworks I try to live by. And today, my twin brother and I are both serving as lieutenant colonels.
Very few decide to join our armed forces and, through doing so, we gain purpose and are provided an opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures. We get to go beyond our nation to see how wonderful it is and help those in need throughout the globe.
Our nation’s Army, is made of ordinary citizens like you or me, has a long and illustrious history of sacrifice and victory. Its purpose remains constant: To deploy, fight, and win our nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt, and sustained land dominance by Army forces across the full spectrum of conflict as part of the joint force.
The Army’s mission is vital to the nation because we can defeat enemy ground forces and seize and control those things an adversary prizes most – its land, resources, and population.
After my commission, I served for over a decade as a cavalry officer, including two tours in Iraq. I was responsible for locating enemy positions, clearing zones, and conducting route reconnaissance.
Following this, I started to explore the idea of becoming a strategic intelligence officer. I was excited to learn that it would allow me to serve with our various intelligence agencies and experience the more clandestine side of warfare.
A strategic intelligence officer has a holistic view of various national security threats, including terrorism, unconventional warfare, and hybrid warfare. We look at all regions of the world, especially current hot spots such as Russia, China, and the Middle East.
There is a crucial difference between our work and tactical intelligence officers in the various service branches. A tactical intel officer might say, “A Russian force is moving near the border with Ukraine.” A strategic intel officer asks the more nebulous question, “Why and what are Russia’s motives?”
We frame larger issues for senior leaders throughout the government and Department of Defense. We also have the opportunity to work in or with multiple agencies, such as the FBI and CIA.
Above all, I believe in trust. Earn the trust of your subordinates, peers, and superiors. Take ruthless responsibility for your actions and empower your people.
Leadership begins with being a good follower, when needed. To accomplish the mission and take care of your people, you must support the team and give them a chance to lead. For example, people often say, “It’s not my fault when things go wrong. The boss told me to do this.” This is wrong; you should support your leader and own tasks that were assigned to you. If you have an issue with a decision made, have the personal courage and fortitude to approach those in charge and suggest alternatives.
The other attribute of a good leader is the willingness to jump in, take charge, and assume responsibility. Often people do not want to take responsibility for fear of failure. However, by taking responsibility for something, you have the chance to make it your own and build a common purpose towards mission success.
Yet, it comes back to trusting and empowering your people. You must give them clear guidance and expectations and provide the resources needed to succeed. Still, you don’t always have to provide specifics. You want to enable creativity, to instill a want of responsibility and the drive to win.
The United States Army is the greatest ground force on the planet. It comprises ordinary citizen-soldiers, driven by a shared vision regardless of their backgrounds, life circumstances, or childhoods. That is humbling. The mission of defending our nation binds us all together as brothers and sisters, regardless of our differences.
By joining the Army, I feel I have a chance to give back to the Nation, to repay our people, find a larger purpose, and be a productive citizen.