NEWS | June 29, 2020

Col. Woodrow Miner: A Bold Commander

By Sgt. Nathaniel Free, 801-716-9162 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

In a small room at Utah National Guard headquarters in Draper, Utah, accompanied  by a few masked friends and family due to COVID-19 restrictions, Lt. Col. Woodrow Miner, commander, 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, was promoted to the rank of colonel, June 17, 2020, with a date of rank May 21, 2020.

Miner assumed command of the 204th MEB as a lieutenant colonel on Nov. 2, 2019, after Brig. Gen. Michael J. Turley was appointed to the position of adjutant general.

At his promotion ceremony, Minor first recognized his family and peers for their continuous support.  

“Ultimately, I appreciate my wife, with everything she’s been through,” Miner said. 

His wife had the honor of pinning on the new rank.

“It’s a great honor to command a brigade,” Miner continued. “My staff, officers and NCOs make me look good. I’ve been fortunate in my career to surround myself with good people.”

After Miner was pinned with the new rank, Turley took a moment to outline three aspects of leadership that he considered fundamental.

“First, be clear about what you’re trying to do,” Turley said. “Make sure your orders, verbal or written, are fully understood. You do that through back briefs, rehearsals, and you check to make sure your people know where you want to go.”

Turley used Lord Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade” as an example of an order that had been misunderstood, causing some six hundred troops to charge into the “valley of death” during the Battle of Balaclava.

Turley’s second point was “Be bold.”

“We didn’t make you a colonel and put you in charge of a brigade to sit back on your haunches and not make big decisions or accept some risk,” Turley said. “You need to be out there pushing things to the limits. You’ve got to be bold, otherwise we’ll find a machine or an algorithm to do what you do. We need Woody Miner to be a bold commander.”

Turley’s final point was that “commanders need to be accessible.” He explained how to be accessible through a technique he called “Napoleon’s corporal.”

Napoleon Bonaparte reportedly had a corporal shine his boots during battle plan briefings with the leaders of his army, knowing that the corporal would overhear the details of the plans. After the briefings, Napoleon would then ask the corporal if the plans made sense, and only if the answer was “yes” would he carry out the plans.

“You can get feedback by asking someone outside your staff about the orders that have been given and what’s going on in the unit,” Turley explained. “Use Napoleon’s Corporal to make yourself accessible and understand what’s going on inside your unit. If you can be clear, be bold and be accessible, you’re going to be a successful commander and colonel.”

In less than a year since Miner assumed command of the 204th MEB, the unit has faced unprecedented challenges. As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, the 204th MEB was among the first units in the nation to conduct remote training with “teledrills.” Then, when George Floyed protests in Salt Lake City turned violent, the 204th MEB was standing ready to respond in less than forty-eight hours.

“We are a premier brigade and there is no limit to what we can accomplish together," Miner said.

According to Miner, the 204th MEB is always prepared for growth.

“The rank provides me with a greater opportunity to mentor junior soldiers,” Miner later said about his promotion. “I feel a greater responsibility to lift and promote others to my level.”