I was really tempted to title this, “We just got a letter!” Images of Steve from just danced in my mind as he sang, “We just got a letter! We just got a letter! We just got a letter, wonder who it’s from?!”
Anyone? Ok. Hopefully I’m not alone in this.
I digress. To the original story.
“What battalion are you going to?”
“Yeah, I heard from my battalion! We’re going to 2-1!”
The chatter of my BOLC classmates aroused my curiosity…and my anxiety.
How does everyone know what battalion they’re going to? I haven’t received a message from anyone…
THEN FINALLY. I received a message on my e-mail:
“Please complete your 5434 on ACT for sponsorship.”
My eyes gleamed and I did a little dance because I finally received a sponsor from my unit!
Angels sang in the background…I had a home.
Suddenly, something stopped me mid-chorus. An important reminder of something I had to do…
Remember who you are, Simba.
No. Wrong memory association.
Something about…a letter.
A distant voice from one of my mentors whispered in the recesses of my mind. “Oh Ive, and when you’re at BOLC, send your battalion commander a letter of introduction.”
The Air Defense gods’ light shined upon me as my memory replayed this scene in my brain.
The BOLC instructors previously mentioning a memo format for the introduction letter on the BOLC share point might have been helpful too…
Either way! THE LETTER. The letter to your company commander and battalion commander sets the foundation for your first impression with the woman or man that will become your senior rater. If the odds are in your favor, these same individuals will become your close mentor throughout your time as a platoon leader. Thus, in the words of your favorite NCO or university professor, it would behoove you to write an introduction letter to your battalion commander at least two months prior to your report date.
The introduction letter should reflect your personality, but of course, keep it professional. I suggest you outline your college background and familial background, report date, and any accomplishments relevant to your time as a platoon leader or future duty. I mentioned a lot of my study abroad experience, for example, to emphasize my cultural awareness because I would work in Korea.
You may also include how you plan to contribute to the team and your leadership philosophy. My letter did not include much of the latter, but since you should provide a memo of your leadership philosophy to your platoon, take time to reflect and write about your leadership approach and emphasize your willingness to learn and work as a team player to the commander.
Limit your letter to one page to restrain from writing a small autobiography.
Below I included my letter from BOLC and my Battery Commander’s letter from Captain’s Career Course.* Notice that my Commander included his experience as platoon leader and executive officer. If you have any prior job experiences or military background, include it as well!
You may notice that I mentioned which battery I wished to work with. Perhaps to some this request may seem presumptuous, but I currently work with Delta today, so it worked out! Create your own opportunities.
I know it may seem a little silly or arrogant to think that this letter is that important, but imagine how impressed you might be if your NCOs put forth the effort to formally introduce themselves to you in a letter. In a land where “perception is reality” unfortunately pervades as the underlying justification for snap judgements, take advantage of the opportunity to shape your leaders’ perception prior to meeting you. Don’t skip this very easy step! Happy writing and good luck!