No Ceremony, No Problem: Leadership and Listening Rules for New Commander

By Sgt. 1st Class Emily Anderson | 94th Training Division-Force Sustainment | July 22, 2020

FORT LEE, Va. —

A ceremony does not define a leader, and Lt. Col. Eddie Smith, the new commander for the 2nd Brigade (Transportation Corps), 94th Training Division – Force Sustainment, understood this when he recently stepped into the brigade's top leadership position without the standard change of command ceremony because of the stringent requirements of COVID-19.

In Smith's new role, he is focused on how he can make a difference versus the missed opportunity to be officially welcomed to the command during a ceremony involving the passing of the guidon, which signifies the passing of leadership of the unit.

"I've had the opportunity to command at every level thus far, from company to now brigade. Commanding is one of the most fulfilling positions within the Army," Smith said. "I hope to continue what my predecessor started. I want our brigade to be the best brigade in instruction, metrics, and professionalism."

The 2nd Brigade (TC) is one of five brigades subordinate to the 94th TD-FS, responsible for training Active Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers across the United States in four transportation-related military occupational specialties and multiple phases of noncommissioned officer professional development courses.

However, Smith, a native of Dallas, Texas, knows that his role is not just about meeting specific metrics but also about being a transformative leader who will help the brigade make long-lasting strides.

"I have the opportunity to influence change and make the organization better than when I arrived," he said. "I can help Soldiers complete their goals. I enjoy mentoring junior officers, helping them reach their full potential, pushing and inspiring them to go a bit further, but never breaking them."

Smith will be leading a team that provides command and control functions for multiple battalions within its purview to assist with the mission of training combat-ready Army transportation professionals.

"In a recently-new operational environment rife with a seemingly insurmountable budget and movement restrictions, national conflict, tension, fear, and confusion, the brigade is determined to come together as a team and outperform itself and others," said Maj. Kristy Hedrick, operations officer for the 2nd Brigade (TC).

Hedrick hopes the new commander brings, "a renewed vigor and positive influence to facilitate placement as the 94th’s number one brigade in all facets," she added. "He is the kind of officer you want in command."

According to Hedrick, the "2nd Brigade has a history of producing resilient, time-tested leaders." She knows that Smith's "wealth of knowledge and experience, coupled with an attitude of professionalism and excellence," will only add him to that list of extraordinary leaders.

Additionally, Smith goes into the position understanding the importance of not only leading but listening as well. He plans to be the supportive and servant leader needed for his Soldiers.

"I've always been told that if you're the smartest person in a room, then you're in the wrong room," he said. "Being a leader means being able to get the most out of your subordinates, helping them reach their goals, and thus reaching my own."

He continued to talk about how he plans to be there for his team. For Smith, "leadership is not just a position. It also includes caring for your Soldiers, knowing your Soldiers, and growing your Soldiers," he said. "I want them to know they have someone who cares not only about the job but also cares immensely about their well-being."

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