E

Interview Protocol

A subgroup consisting of six members of the National Research Council’s Committee on Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders conducted a 1-day, interview activity at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) in Quantico, Virginia, on December 7, 2010, to gather data on the characteristics of decision challenges that Marine small unit leaders face in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal of these interviews was to gather data on the types of decisions faced by small unit leaders conducting enhanced company operations and distributed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Members of the committee subgroup asked the interview participants to describe and comment on the kinds of decisions that they had made while conducting kinetic and nonkinetic operations in the field. The subgroup agreed to keep the interview responses anonymous and did not collect any identifying information from the interviewees, except for rank and deployment experience.

Members of the subgroup designed an efficient, team interviewing approach so as to maximize the amount of information gathered while minimizing the burden on MCCDC staff. The interview protocol that was followed is summarized below.

PARTICIPANTS

The subgroup interviewed junior officers and noncommissioned officers with recent deployment experience in Iraq or Afghanistan in leadership positions at the company, platoon, and squad levels. The interview pool, selected by MCCDC, included captains, lieutenants, sergeants, and one corporal. Twenty-four small unit leaders were selected for the interviews.



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OCR for page 107
E Interview Protocol A subgroup consisting of six members of the National Research Council’s Committee on Improving the Decision Making Abilities of Small Unit Leaders conducted a 1-day, interview activity at the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC) in Quantico, Virginia, on December 7, 2010, to gather data on the characteristics of decision challenges that Marine small unit leaders face in Iraq and Afghanistan. The goal of these interviews was to gather data on the types of decisions faced by small unit leaders conducting enhanced company operations and distributed operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members of the committee subgroup asked the interview participants to describe and comment on the kinds of decisions that they had made while conduct- ing kinetic and nonkinetic operations in the field. The subgroup agreed to keep the interview responses anonymous and did not collect any identifying information from the interviewees, except for rank and deployment experience. Members of the subgroup designed an efficient, team interviewing approach so as to maximize the amount of information gathered while minimizing the bur- den on MCCDC staff. The interview protocol that was followed is summarized below. PARTICIPANTS The subgroup interviewed junior officers and noncommissioned officers with recent deployment experience in Iraq or Afghanistan in leadership positions at the company, platoon, and squad levels. The interview pool, selected by MCCDC, included captains, lieutenants, sergeants, and one corporal. Twenty-four small unit leaders were selected for the interviews. 107

OCR for page 107
108 IMPROVING THE DECISION MAKING ABILITIES OF SMALL UNIT LEADERS SCHEDULE Three interview teams of two committee members each scheduled interviews with two small unit leaders per session, for a total of 24 interviews. 1 Each inter- view lasted approximately 90 minutes. INTERVIEW QUESTIONS Each session began with interviewees being asked to give oral consent with respect to the following points of procedure: · Individuals were welcome to participate in the interview at their own choice. · Whether an individual participated was to have no effect on that person’s status or performance evaluation. · Participants could choose to withdraw from the interview at any time. · No identifying information was recorded. · No risks were anticipated. For background information, the interviewees were asked to provide a brief description of their assignments in the Marine Corps so far, their deployments over the past couple of years, and their role during their most recent deployment. Each Marine was also asked to describe his or her recent experience in distributed operations, including the major tasks for which the interviewee was responsible and that person’s experiences with intelligence, logistics, and command and con - trol. Then, each Marine was asked to share a particularly challenging event that he or she had experienced as a key participant when deployed. The interviewee was also asked to describe what he or she thought would be the most challenging event or situation that he or she could face on a combat assignment. Each Marine was also given the chance to discuss anything that he or she wanted to share before concluding the interview. RESULTS After the interviews were complete, the subgroup performed iterative qualita- tive coding on the interview responses to identify key themes in the interviewees’ accounts. No evaluation of the individuals was undertaken. 1 One of the Marines was unable to participate, and so in the end, 23 Marines were interviewed.