Learning Leadership through Command Experience

Dr. Christopher E. Larsen

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”  – Aristotle


That Aristotelian premise is the inspiration for TacComp Media, LLC (TCM). We can talk about leadership all day long through lecture, case studies, and classroom discussion. This is well and good. Meaningful concepts are explored. Yet at the end of the day, our student leaders aren’t one step closer to mastering the art of leadership.


The glaring disparity is an utter lack of the opportunity to command; for student leaders to make a decision while situated in an authentic problem. Too, our student leaders haven’t yet failed. Without failure, how can our students explore the gap between their intended plan and their actual performance?


Therein lies the dilemma. How do we simultaneously offer student leaders command authority over an authentic problem (read: real-world consequences), and yet create a safe place to fail? Failure is already humiliating enough. Throw real-world consequences into the mix, and the potential risk cannot justify the return on investment.


What university allows medical students to practice open-heart surgery on real patients? Which commercial airline allows student pilots to begin flying with real airplanes and real passengers?

The answer is, none. So instead, these institutions use complex learning simulations.


TCM began construction of the Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) near Osage Beach, Missouri in early 2013. The purpose of the CMTC is to develop leaders through live simulation of battle command. At the CMTC student leaders gain platoon and squad command experience while situated in authentic problems to solve.


The CMTC is a safe place to fail. Indeed, failure is purposely sought in order to rectify theoretical underpinnings of leadership, as well as to explore the gap between the mission plan and the mission performance through the After Action Review (AAR).


The CMTC offers turnkey solutions for existing leadership programs. The CMTC is exceptionally appropriate for military prep academies seeking to gain observed assessment of their student leaders while under the pressure of high-stakes, time-urgent decision-making. And the CMTC staff offer fully developed MSEL for training exercises as well as OC-lead AAR sessions.


The CMTC boasts two platoons of Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES 2000), AR15 series weapons, blank fire adapters, blank-fire-only STANAG magazines, and M200 blank ammunition. MILES permits force-on-force battle at a half mile and beyond, in all weather and visibility conditions.


The CMTC also maintains battle operating systems for client training. This includes AN/PRC series radio communications, AN/PVS series night vision devices, plus Tritium lensatic compass and topographical maps for navigation.


The CMTC facility includes a tactical operation center (TOC) in MECC shelters with attached S-250 communication shelter; Modular General Purpose Tent Systems (MGPTS) with electricity connections for classrooms and sleeping quarters; an on-site kitchen with mess tent; and an open-air latrine complex with flush toilets and showers.


Leadership is mastered through command experience. At the CMTC, TacComp Media creates a safe place for student leaders to command, fail, and master the art of leadership.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *