Well what can I say about teamwork? lots. Teamwork is what wins. Teamwork is what makes the game really cool. Teamwork makes your team a unit and a force to be reckoned with. Sounds great, right? Well it should but the truth of the matter is that almost no teams playing rec/scenario paintball have it.

Are they teams? Not in the real sense. They are individuals wearing the same color armband. That’s about all.

So how do you build a team?

It’s more than just a group. It’s trust. It friendship, but more than that it’s respect for each other. The military spend hundreds of thousands of dollars teaching teamwork. Constant training, schools, exercises, mock missions and practice. There is a saying that you will fight as you practice. Its very true, When things go to the dogs the team will naturally fall back on training. It becomes automatic…

Every team needs a leader
(every soldier has a sergeant)

Now this is not always the team captain either. Normally from inside the team a leader will emerge. They are unofficial but the rest of the team looks to them when they are in a bind. I’m sure you have seen it. Someone is in charge but the team listens to someone else, maybe the old guy. Why? Because that person is technically and tactically proficient and looks after the team as a whole. They are the picture of a team builder.

To build this team you will practice. As practice gets better, your group will start to feel and act like a team. Each player will know the weak and strong points of each other player and the leader had better take that into consideration when planning a movement.

One of the important parts of being a leader is using your people to their fullest but not outside of their capabilities. You will have to know who can do what well and who can’t.

Its easiest for me to explain this through an incident from my past. You military folks out their will surely recognize the official leader in this as we all had one of these winners.

There was an exercise. Our objective was about 30 Ks away. We were on course traveling on foot. A military squad in decent shape can consistently make 4-5 mile/hour with full gear. Maybe a little faster if pushed. Anyway we had this objective we have to be at at a certain time to meet the helicopters for pickup. To get there we needed to hump it down the road.

My squad leaders did their final checks and when they gave me the heads up, we moved out. Our LT, (the official leader) moved out with the headquarters platoon and we all headed in the same direction to the pickup point. The LT was really pushing his group. He was of course out front. I think when these guys come out of school they beat into them “LEAD FROM THE FRONT.” Ok, that’s fine and correct, but that doesn’t always mean way out front. You will end up finding when you look over your shoulder that you are only leading yourself because you have left everyone else behind. And it doesn’t always mean physically out front either. Anyway he was constantly on the radio wanting to know “What the #$%& I was doing falling behind with my platoon.” I acknowledged we would catch up and once off the radio continued on the pace we were keeping.

Remember, a unit is only as fast as the slowest man.

I had a heavy platoon. We carried a lot of gear, much more than the Lt’s group but we moved on. After a couple hours the LT gave up and ordered me to report to him as soon as I got to the rendezvous point “Whenever that was.”

Great I thought. Another ass chewing. Well a few more Ks down the road the LT’s column was on the side of the road sitting down taking a break. His people were wore out. Several had their boots off and were nursing hot spots that would become blisters in a few more miles. My platoon just walked by. We didn’t stop. We didn’t need to.

At the rendezvous point we waited for the “Rabbit” to show up. His folks came dragging in looking pretty wasted. As soon as he dropped his gear he wanted me. Man was he pissed.

“You’re not motivated Harris. You can’t keep up. Why were you falling behind? What the hell is wrong with you?”

I thought a minute, remembered what the old Smaj (Sergeant Major) had taught me. Took a deep breath and responded.

“Sir, I wasn’t falling behind. You ran away from the column. Your men are wasted. What good is it to get to the battle first is your people are combat ineffective when you get there?”

He glared at me but I figured I was too deep to stop now so I went on.

“My platoon was here on site, on time, and combat ready. I have no injuries & my people are fresh. Sir, I know how far to push my people and we accomplished the task on time.

I could tell I had stepped way over the line. The LT was just about to go off again when the CO walked up. He spoke directly to me ignoring the LT.

Oh did I mention this was a new 2nd LT?

The Capt. looked over at the LT’s men sitting down with their boots off again clearly burn’t out and asked. “Harris, what is you opinion on this cluster #@@#?”

I told the Capt. just how I felt. Luckily he was one of those rare commanders we all wished we could move with from post to post. He was a career officer. Had been enlisted first and was a no B.S. CO.

After I had given my after action report he turned to the LT and said.

And it’s something I’ve always remembered fondly.

The Capt. said, “LT?, you better listen to Sgt Harris. He’s going to pull your ass out of the fire one day. And just remember, that platoon sergeant over there you want to hang, has been promoted 6 times in his career so far and you had better learn that your advancement is dependant on him and others like him. Listen to your sergeants young LT. They know what they are doing.”

The Capt. turned and tried not to smile as he walked off and I just about floated the rest of the day.

What is this all suppose to mean? Just because your the leader of your team doesn’t mean you are really leading. Your team will let you know when you are leading because they will follow. Look to the players the rest of the team looks to. They know what’s going on and realizing that is the first step to building a real team and not just a bunch of players with a colored armband.

Written by:   29RSavoy (pronounced 2-9 ER- Savoy) of: