The following article was published by the Picatinny Public Affairs Office upon the occasion of CSM Doug Maddi’s participation in Picatinny Arsenal’s Leadership Speaker Series. If you have questions or concerns you would like addressed by CSM Maddi, please submit through our “Ask the CSM” link on the PEO Soldier website.
Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Maddi’s first encounter with combat was Operation Just Cause in Panama, back in a time when “night vision” was generally the product of a flare fired into the sky.
Having experienced combat in every decade since the 80s, Maddi has seen wholesale revolutions in the equipment and technology supporting the Warfighter.
Many of the products Maddi has used in combat were first developed right here on Picatinny, which inspired the basis of his Leadership Speaker presentation at the Lindner Conference Center on March 13.
As Command Sergeant Major (CSM) for Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, Maddi has been making routine visits during the past six months to Project Manager Soldier Weapons and other Arsenal organizations that support the PEO Soldier mission.
While attending a recent ARDEC brief, Maddi was impressed with the sheer number of Picatinny products that have helped him throughout his career as an Airborne Ranger serving in Ranger, airborne, air assault, light, and armored units.
Sharing a range of “war stories” from his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Maddi spoke about everything from the revolutionary Picatinny Rail, to ballistic computers, gunfire detection technology, and gunner protection kits.
Each story provided insights into how Soldiers employed the products on the battlefield and how they made a difference in the lives of others.
Maddi related one story about the recovery of a “Jackal” Explosive Hazard Pre-Detonation System — or “mine roller” as the Soldiers call it.
During his 2012 combat tour in Afghanistan, one of Maddi’s distribution platoons was operating in a deadly canyon road laden with switchbacks and a history of improvised explosive device (IED) emplacements.
The platoon was carrying out its mission to resupply an infantry unit operating in the region when the lead vehicle hit a “huge” 220 kilogram IED.
The crew was shaken badly by the blast.
The best part of the story for Maddi was that he could talk about a comical four-hour recovery effort knowing that the driver, who is a wife and mother, and her whole crew survived thanks to that piece of equipment.
“The enemy had planned to end the day in a much different way,” said Maddi. “I like the fact that I can laugh about the recovery of a mine roller.”
Maddi has been a longtime student and practitioner of leadership, having served tours as a company First Sergeant, Battalion CSM and Brigade CSM during the Global War on Terror.
As Maddi challenged the audience to hit the books and reflect on the kind of leader they want to be, he admitted that being a student of leadership can be hard.
“You learn through repetition or you learn through trauma,” Maddi said.
Jokingly he added, “Sometimes I had to learn simultaneously through repetition and trauma.”
His leadership roles over the years have provided Maddi experiences at the tactical, operational, and strategic leadership levels of the Army.
Maddi emphasized that it is important to recognize that the person at the lowest levels of the tactical organization is often working just as hard, if not harder, than the senior leaders at the strategic level of the organization.
Also key for Maddi is that for an organization to successfully get through the hardest of times, it is essential for leaders to understand the demands being placed on the leaders at levels below and above them.
This is particularly important for tactical leaders who need to understand that strategic leaders are dealing with considerations that are well beyond the scope of what the tactical leaders can see from their level.
For Maddi, leadership is ultimately about getting people to “work together to achieve one vision, one direction, one purpose.”
From the perspective of a Soldier who has seen it all, Barbara Machak, executive director of the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center’s Enterprise and System Integration Center, asked Maddi what he would like to see next out of the engineering community.
“Target acquisition is huge — the linkage between target acquisition to a projectile,” answered Maddi, who went on to express both excitement about what has been achieved with smart munitions in larger calibers along with a strong desire to see such technology integrated into the Infantryman’s small arms.
Maddi also emphasized the importance of lightening the Soldier’s load, which is primarily driven by the need for water, ammunition, and armor.
Maddi challenged the engineers in the audience to think bigger and beyond just kit. Whole new notions are needed to solve the challenges posed by weight.
“How do you lighten water” asked Maddi. “Water is not the problem. Water is the solution. It’s the only known solution for hydration of the person. How do you hydrate a Soldier with as little weight as possible?”
For Machak, hearing the kind of feedback provided by Soldiers like Maddi is invaluable. Such feedback provides a natural sense of pride and accomplishment in knowing that you have helped Soldiers.
More importantly, it provides engineers insights regarding how Soldiers employ Picatinny’s products on the battlefield.
“We build equipment to meet a certain set of requirements,” said Machak.
“To hear back how it’s actually used in the field opens your eyes to help you think about how you can make it better. There’s always room for improvement.”
The appreciation is mutual as was evident for Maddi in his closing remarks and his belief that Picatinny will continue to strengthen its legacy long into the future as the source of many significant contributions to the Warfighter.
“Thank you for what you have done for me personally and the Soldiers I have had the pleasure of leading,” said Maddi.
“And thank you for what you’re going to do, because I know this ARDEC is going to provide that next great thing for the Warfighter.”