Meet the commander: Smith discusses leadership style, vision for future Print E-mail
Thursday, 11 July 2013
Special to GUIDON

Q: Are you glad to be back on Fort Leonard Wood? Did you miss anything about living here?
A: Yes. The biggest things I missed were the people and the daily interaction in training and supporting our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.

Q: What kind of leader are you?
A: Engaged. The only way you get to know people is by learning who they are. The only way to know who they are is to spend time with them.

Q: What do you expect from your troops?
A: I expect them to treat people with dignity and respect. I expect them to treat others the way they want to be treated. I expect them to uphold the standards they are asked to uphold.

Q: What can your troops expect from you?
A: A smile every day, upholding standards, holding people accountable and having fun while doing my job.

Q: Where do you see MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood going in the next two years? What are your priorities?
A: There are three great regiments here. They are one-of-a-kind capabilities that exist nowhere else in the United States — or the world. Whether it’s the Special Victims Unit Instructor course, Hazardous Response Material training, Humanitarian Demining or the training at our Counter Explosive Hazards Center — these are a small microcosm of things that happen here — these things are one-of-a-kind in the entire military. I’m going to keep us moving down that road and inform others of the great work we do here. Some people don’t know that these things exist on Fort Leonard Wood. Part of my job is to tell that story.

Q: What do you like to do with your free time? Why is time-off important?
A: The philosophy for command that I have is lead, care, train and maintain. The higher you go the less free time you have. You have to plan to do things you want to do. The Army is part of your life, but everyone has a personal identity. That’s why on Mondays I tend to ask people what they did last weekend. I want to know because I want to make sure you are doing stuff other than work, and I want other people to hear. We are a Family. Think about the amount of time we spend at work. If you don’t know the person to your left and right, that’s sad.

Personally, I like to sleep in my spare time. If I could take a nap every day I would. I like to read, fish, workout and hunt when I have the chance.

Q: What kind of dog do you have?
A: I have a labradoodle named Buddy. He is a 99-pound labradoodle that thinks he is a person. He is very well trained.

Q: If there is one thing you want the Fort Leonard Wood community to know about you what would it be?
A: There are so many things. The most important thing I think is that I am just like you. I’ve just served longer. I am invested in Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen, civilians and Families. My focus is on developing people. I’m just like everybody else, except I have two stars. People invested in me to get me to where I am today, and I will continue to invest in others.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges for Fort Leonard Wood?
    A: This is not only a Fort Leonard Wood challenge, but a military challenge. How to stop sexual harassment and sexual assault in our ranks. In our profession, we have high standards and values; sexual assault and harassment violates everything we stand for. These behaviors are a total lack of respect. My job is to make sure that we treat it like we do any other threat and that we make sure that we, as a community, don’t tolerate it and fight to eliminate it. I look at this as preying on somebody who is weaker and vulnerable; I have kids and I would never want this to happen to them.

Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Relationships matter. It is important to establish and cultivate relationships. As we move from place to place, we need to make those relationships grow. This is my third time back here and a lot of the same people I began relationships with in prior assignments are still here and we’ll get those rekindled. I don’t look at people as Soldiers, Marines, Sailors or Airmen. We are all one team serving our nation. The civilians also serve. And Families serve. Relationships across the entire team — and communities as well — are so important to maintain.

A lot of people see that I am a two-star general. They don’t see the road I took to get here. I always tell people not to let their current path determine what their future is going to be. When I speak to groups I like to ask if there is anyone present who does not have a problem. Nobody raises their hands. Every body has challenges, but the challenge is not any greater than the willingness or ability of other people to help you through it. Any challenge that any of our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, civilians, Family members or contractors have, there is somebody on this base that can help you through it. If anybody is having an issue please don’t hesitate to ask somebody for help. Even if it has to be Maj. Gen. Smith. I may not be able to solve it for them, but I can get them in touch with people that can.

There is nothing more important than being a part of a team to make our mission successful. I am proud to serve with all of you.  

About Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith
Family: wife, two daughters and a dog


-Georgia Southern University ROTC

-Georgia Army National Guard

-Air Defense Artillery Battalion, Chemical Officer, Headquarters platoon leader

-82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Center director, Division Artillery, Desert Shield and Storm, company commander

-Personnel Command future readiness and company grade action officer

-23rd Chemical Battalion, Korea, S-3 (Operations) and executive officer

-Joint Staff: J5, Bio Weapons Convention Protocol

-83rd Chemical Battalion, Fort Polk, La., commander — Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring and Iraqi Freedom 

-Army G-8 deputy division chief Full Dimension Protection

-National War College

-3rd Chemical Brigade commander, Fort Leonard Wood

-G-3, 20th Support Command (CBRNE), Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.

-25th U.S. Army CBRN School, Fort Leonard Wood, commandant and chief of chemical

-20th Support Command (CBRNE), Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., commander 
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 July 2013 )