Brigadier General R. Scott Dingle Interview Transcript

The following is a transcript of my interview with Brigadier General R. Scott Dingle. To find links to the audio files and more information about the interview, please click here.


These transcripts are made possible by a gift from the NNEAHE.




Bonica:
Welcome to The Forge, General Dingle.

BG Dingle:
Mark, thank you for you and The Forge having me with you guys. It's an honor to be on The Forge.

Bonica:
You earned you bachelor's degree from Morgan State University in sociology and English. Why did you choose to go to Morgan State and what drew you to sociology and English?

BG Dingle:
My decision to go to Morgan State was a last-second decision. Initially I was going to Syracuse University to play football. I was on track athlete in high school and I was going to play football at Syracuse on a football scholarship. My senior year, I had a knee injury. I tore my medial collateral ligament, and then again during that same season, and then again during track season.


At that point, I decided that I did not want to go to Syracuse to re-injure my knee. My confidence wasn't there to play major Division 1 football, so at the last second I decided to go to Morgan State University who had a huge track program and I was also a track athlete so I decided to go there to run track. To try to rehabilitate my knee and then see if I would go back to play football. Morgan State was in Maryland. It wasn't too far from home and yet it wasn't too close so I selected Morgan State University.

Bonica:
Okay. What drew you to sociology and English as your majors?

BG Dingle:
My dad was a law-enforcement officer and initially I was going to follow his footsteps and get into law. I initially wanted to be a lawyer and thus the sociology base and the English minor was my focus to lay the foundation to go to law school after I got my degree so I selected sociology.

Bonica:
Okay. What drew you to military service? How did you get involved with Army ROTC?

BG Dingle:
That's the living testimony to my recently deceased father, Raymond I Dingle. The power of a father's will is what resulted in me getting the ROTC. I had no desire to be an ROTC growing up. My father was a retired tech Sargent from the air force and also retired from the US Lease. Growing up, he always emphasized military service and said, "You know I want you to go to West Point," and he was pushing West Point my whole high school years.


I was recruited as a football athlete and I said, "Dad, I'm not going to West Point," and VMI came to recruit and I was talking to the VMI coach. It was right before they transitioned from an all male school to adding females. Talked to the coach and my dad was there. He says, "Look, VMI, that's just as good as West Point. I want you to go to VMI." I was talking to the coach and I had no intentions of going to VMI and I asked him. I said, "Do you have women at the school?" and he said, "Nope." I said, "No, I'm not going to an all-male school. I'm not going. Can't do it."


The coach was like, "No, we've got cheerleaders and the school's right there. We're integrating. We're getting ready to switch over." I really just didn't want to go to a military school and I said, "Nope, I'm not going." My dad blew a gasket. He was so upset with me. "You're throwing away a big opportunity. Being a commissioned officer is an honor to serve your country." I said, "Dad, look. I'll make a deal with you. Let me go to the school that I want and I promise you I'll take ROTC." I made a promise to him and that's what got me to ROTC.

Bonica:
No kidding. Okay. You received your commission through ROTC. At what point did you decide you wanted to go into active duty?

BG Dingle:
I went to Morgan on track. Running track on track scholarship and a few schools were still recruiting me to play football. I left Morgan State and went to Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland to test out my knee if it could hold up to then transfer to Penn State to finish playing football with my quarterback who was trying to get me up there.


Went to Frostburg, did very well, did not do ROTC there. I played there that one semester, had a very good year, and my intent was to go to Penn State and transfer, but at the time, again, a young college student in love and my wife, who was then my girlfriend, was at Morgan. She couldn't transfer to Penn State saying, "Scotty, you're going on scholarship. I don't have the money to go to Penn State."

Bonica:
Sure.

BG Dingle:
Morgan was also recruiting me, so love brought me back to Morgan State. I came back to Morgan State and got in the ROTC program which led me to deciding to make a career or rather a family decision based on the career in the military. I got to a point my junior year and my senior year I said, "Well, you know I got to take care of my wife and my family, and there's no better way to do it than coming into the military," and I decided to come into the military.

Bonica:
You had decided while you were an ROTC earlier on that this was maybe even going to be a career. That early you had decided that.

BG Dingle:
It wasn't that early. It really was later. As I was going through ROTC, the thing that I discovered being a football and track athlete in college the majority of my time was there. Even I was not the best ROTC cadet. My peers will tell you, but I wasn't the worst because I was just always busy. Scotty was either playing football, running track, and I was a stand-out athlete.


My PMS, professor of military science at the time would say, "Scotty, you're a natural leader. I just need you to stay in the program because that's what the military's about." He was probably one of my first mentors that were trying to encourage me that ROTC and leadership is a natural fit for me. He would just not let me throw in the towel even when I wanted to throw in the towel because I didn't have the time. One thing led to another and again, I said, "Okay, I'm going into the military based on that input and mentorship."

Bonica:
Now you were commissioned as a Medical Service Corps officer. Was this something you asked for or was it a surprise?

BG Dingle:
It was a surprise. I initially was going to be an MP. I was going into the military police as a reserve. Again, going back to my father and the criminology and law foundation. As I was going to NP reserves, my initial sights was on trying to play professional football, and so when things started to get out of line between me and my coach. We had some contention points there and me going to football and spending time practicing, getting ready, I decided to go on active duty while I was a full scholarship football player. Making that decision, we switched. I had to redo my accessions packet and put in for active duty and it came back Medical Service Corps which was a total surprise because it was tough to get into Medical Service Corps in 1988.

Bonica:
I've had Colonel David Bennerman on the show previously, but for listeners who haven't heard his interview, can you briefly explain what is the Medical Service Corps and what does a Medical Service Corps officer do?

BG Dingle:
The Medical Service Corps is a part of the Army Medical Department so we're dealing with healthcare. It's a wide diversity of medical administrators so we talk about the medical administrators that is a lion's share of the Medical Service Corps. We're comprised of the administrative, the scientific, and other specialties ranging from management, and other support elements to Army Medicine.


It could range from healthcare administrators, operations officers, medical logistics, healthcare comp trollers, personnelists,  biologists, medical evacuation officers, and on, and on. Those medical specialties that are not the physicians, that are not the nurses, that are not the dentists, or the healthcare providers. We are the administrators that again are the cornerstone to Army Medicine and healthcare.

Bonica:
You were commissioned in 1988. What was your first assignments on active duty after you did your officer basic course?

BG Dingle:
My first assignment was a platoon leader. I was in a forward support medical company and it was an ambulance platoon leader in the 194 Separate Armored Brigade and the 75th Forward Support Battalion.

Bonica:
For people who are not familiar with those terms, what's an armored brigade and a support battalion and what does an ambulance platoon leader do in that organization?

BG Dingle:
An armored brigade is again one of the army's operational tactical units that basically deal with combat made up of armored vehicles or tanks. Very large formations. The support battalions are the support assets that help provide the support to soldiers in combat. In this case, we're a medical company and so the medical company, we provide the medical combat service support or combat health support to all of those war fighters, armored infantry men, and so forth out on the battlefield.


My specific position was initially as an ambulance platoon leader and that means that I had ambulances track vehicles because it was an armored brigade so I had armored ambulances that provided the evacuation for anybody that's injured in combat or on the battlefield and that was my responsibility as an ambulance platoon leader.

Bonica:
Is this a typical first job for a young Medical Service Corps officer?

BG Dingle:
It is. Normally a Medical Service Corps officer, as a second lieutenant, can find themselves as a platoon leader and it could be in a medical company, ambulance platoon leader, or a treatment platoon leader. The treatment platoon does the actual oversight of the treatment of a casualty once evacuated to the hospital itself or it could be in a medical platoon that has each of those elements on a smaller element or a smaller basis as a battalion aid station and an infantry battalion.

Bonica:
Okay. What was it like transitioning to active duty and really being an officer now? You had gone through ROTC. My experience is ROTC does a pretty good job of preparing cadets to become officers and work in combat units, but what was it like? What was most surprising about really doing it and really doing the things you were trained for?

BG Dingle:
It was an awesome experience. I had a tremendously great experience transitioning from college to an active duty Medical Service Corps officer. The reason I say that is because, in my mind, at that time, it was still the same thing almost as being a college athlete because I was so used to being a captain of the team, or whatever it may be dealing with a teammate, and building teams, and understanding the plays, and the camaraderie of being a college athlete was the same thing that I found in the military.


Now I find myself as a platoon leader, it was the same thing. I'm the captain of that platoon. The leader. We have teammates and it was about camaraderie. We had a mission. We had plays that we had to run. The army's physical too, so the PP and all those team building events that we would do as a platoon, and a company, and a battalion, it was just a great experience and a lot of fun.

Bonica:
How many people were you responsible for at that time?

BG Dingle:
My platoon initially the ambulance platoon, we had about thirty-eight personnel in my platoon.

Bonica:
Wow. Okay. Did you find mentors in your first units? If so, who were they? Not necessarily by position perhaps.

BG Dingle:
My mentor in my first unit was first and foremost my platoon Sargent. When you get to your first assignment as a platoon leader, the senior NCO in the platoon is your platoon Sargent. That is normally one of the closest and first relationships that a platoon leader has because you're brand new into the United States Army. The platoon Sargent is the senior person member in that platoon. Normally anywhere from ten to twenty years of active duty service and then here comes this young, brand new lieutenant platoon leader that comes in.


When the relationship is connecting and clicking, that becomes your first mentor. In my case, my very first mentor was my platoon Sargent as well as my company's first Sargent. My company's first Sargent when we first met and after the first month or so, if you saw my leadership style, and my competitive edge that I would have, or that drive so to speak. My first Sargent pulled me in and said, "Hey there Lieutenant Dingle. You have potential. I'm going to teach you. You're going to be all   right." He pulled me in and started mentoring me, and I've never forgotten any of those lessons from him or my platoon Sargent.

Bonica:
What kind of lessons did they teach you? What kind of things did you learn from them? Can you give an example?

BG Dingle:
Yes. Leadership. As a platoon leader, as a second lieutenant, as an officer, as a solider we first and foremost have to set the standards in everything we do. That we are in a fish bowl so to speak and that those soldiers and their families are depending on us. That the scope of responsibility and that mantle that I was carrying that I had to carry it and run a race with excellence in everything that I've done.


As I did that, that I'm not to do it by myself. That it wasn't about me, myself, or my ego, but it was about me, and my platoon Sargent, and the team. Once again reinforcing that team concept which I already just loved from being a collegiate athlete. Those played a tremendous impact at my leadership style itself through the rest of my career even through today.

Bonica:
I'm assuming you had a three or four year commitment when you first came on active duty. At what point did you say, "You know, this is kind of fun. I'm going to stick it out for a while," and stayed past that?

BG Dingle:
I think it was my second assignment when I went from the platoon leader to Fort Eustis. Then at the same time, Desert Storm/Desert Shield was kicking off. Just watching the efforts of fellow soldiers, service members, and civilians running around this thing called Desert Storm/Desert Shield. It was new to me and to a lot of my peers. Again, I was able to watch the camaraderie, and a team concept even as soldiers were deploying for combat. I just thought that that was one of the most admirable and honorable things that any American could do in service to their nation. At that point, I think I was sold. I said, "This is it."

Bonica:
Shortly thereafter you were a company commander at a hospital at Fort Eustis and then you were a company commander again with the 3rd Infantry Division I believe it was?

BG Dingle:
That's correct.

Bonica:
Okay, so company command is often a crucible for young officers. Why is company command so important in army culture and what did you learn during your two experiences that helped shape your future career?

BG Dingle:
Company command is like that first where the rubber meets the road thing of leadership in the military when it comes to the empowerment and having the uniform code of military justice which means you have the power to implement and instill justice, punishment, in response to violations to laws, regulations, and et cetera which controls and impact the lives of soldiers and their families.


As a company commander, now having the legal authority to not just only lead, but also to hold the unit and the organization to a standard as directed by the Army Command Policy is just an awesome position to be in. As a young officer, as a captain, you have now taken all of your leadership tenents that you learned as a platoon leader, and then those developmental positions, and seven times out of ten or eight times out of ten, most officers want to strive to be that leader of that company.


It's like that red badge of courage being a company commander. Leading, and developing, and training the company. That's just a phenomenal experience which is why we drive towards that. Both of my company commands I had one in the hospital at Fort Eustis, Virginia and then my second one was in Germany in 3rd Infantry Division. Again, the lessons learned with me it's always leadership lessons. It's always the reinforcing thing going back to what my first Sargent taught me that first unit.


It's about building the team and mission accomplishment. Leadership getting us all together and as we view that, we're supposed to lead and soar like eagles. They always used to tell me that we had two options in leadership positions like company command and everything that we do. They would say, "LT, you can either walk with the turkeys or you can soar with the eagles. As a leader, walk with the eagles. Don't you walk with these knuckleheads and these bad people that also you will find and run into." That has been some tenets that have just stuck with me and lessons that I've learned which always goes back to leadership and being a humble servant/leader in every position, every capacity that I enter.

Bonica:
After your time as a company commander, you did stint as a medical planner in the 3rd Infantry Division and then you went back to Fort Sam Houston, the home of the Army Medical Department where you were an instructor, and then went back to be the chief of the first army division's Medical Operations Center. At what point did you decide you wanted to be a 70H and operator? What drew you to the operational side of Medical Service Corps rather than working in one of the principally hospital-based AOCs like 70C, which was my former AOC?

BG Dingle:
Good question. During my first company command at McDonald's Army Community Hospital at Fort Eustis, I was on the path to becoming a either a patient administration officer or a 70A which is what I wanted to really look at. Especially being in the hospital setting. Ironically, I also thought about the 70C. I think it was at Syracuse University that I said, "Wow, I'm getting back to my original school of going down that way."


Those three AOCs and what I was looking at as a young lieutenant, I was blessed with the opportunity of taking that first company command as a first lieutenant. It was right before the commander selected me to take the command. I was serving as the adjutant and as Desert Storm was kicking off, he said, "Well, before I put you in command, Scotty, I need you to be the chief of Plans, Training, and Mobilization Security," which was a 70H job. He said, "You go over there, work that job there and then I'll put you in company command."


I didn't really know what the 70H area was and as I went down there, he said, "Well Scott, you're the best prepared to this also by the way because you're coming from the 194 Separate Armored Brigade. You have that tactical experience, and then you have that leadership style that could keep us together." When I went down to that job I was bitten by the bug. I was like, "Wow, 70H is what I want to do." It was the excitement, up-tempo, the responsibility, and then conducting the operations   in this case not only for the hospital, but for the entire installation of Fort Eustis as it was going through the mobilization and deployments.


Basically it blew me away and at that point I said I wanted to be a 70H. I started pursuing that, was selected for the pilot course of the Combined Logistics Officer Advanced Course. That further reinforced the operations now Multi-Functional Support Operations of the 70H branch itself and taking that second command it just gets reinforced from the operations perspective my desire to be a 70H and then that's the path I pursued is I took on the medical planner job through AIV and then coming back after doing the instructor at Fort Sam at in fort's armored division in the DMOC.


Again, doing the medical planning at the division level and working with some great leaders like then Major General Casey and Brigade General Odierno and Lieutenant Colonel Nadia West. All superb leaders who went on to be our senior leaders in the army reinforced our level. That opportunity to do the 70H job with such great leaders who empowered me basically again just said there was no AOC formula but to be a 70H because I really enjoyed it.

Bonica:
Just very briefly, an armored division is about what? 20,000 people?

BG Dingle:
Roughly, yes.

Bonica:
So what were you doing? What does it mean to be a medical planner for an armored division?

BG Dingle:
For that one, as the chief of the Division Medical Operations Center, I worked for the division surgeon and the division surgeon at the time was again our Surgeon General now, Lieutenant General West who was then Lieutenant Colonel West I was then Major Dingle. We did all of the medical planning and operations for that entire divisional footprint. Those 20,000 soldiers. If anything happened, we deployed, we're responsible from start to finish the medical planning, the medical operating, and the medical executing providing combat health support to those 20,000 soldiers in that division itself whether in garrison or deployed environment.

Bonica:
After your tour with the first armored division, you were selected for a school called Command and General Staff College in-residence, which is pretty unusual for a Medical Service Corps officer. Not only that, you were selected for a further military education in a program called the Army's School of Advanced Military Studies, which I think is even more unusual. How many Medical Service Corps officers get to go to SAMS in any given year? It's not very many, is it?

BG Dingle:
No. I was blessed to be the first Medical Service officer to be selected for the Advanced Military Studies program, otherwise known as the School of Advanced Military Studies. I was the first Medical Service Corps officer to go through the course. It was a phenomenal experience. The SAMS cadre also then Colonel Greer also realized the importance of having medical planners involved in the School of Advanced Military Studies and then opened up the next year for three Medical Service Corps officers to attend and then the following year, another officer, and then the following year, another.


Right now we have about twelve active duty SAMS officers in the United States Army Medical Department. We've had a total of thirteen to have gone through the program since my initial matriculation through there in 2002. It's been a phenomenal honor and a tremendous experience to get through SAMS. It's not very many. We're trying to get more, but it's a very tough school to get into and it's not guaranteed that we'll get in, but we're trying.

Bonica:
Okay. Is it true that the graduates are called Jedi?

BG Dingle:
That is true. The graduates are called Jedi Knights because after the year of intense training you feel like you've been in Star Wars, and have been trained by Yoda with the magic of critical thinking, and the art of operating and planning from across the spectrum for one entire year. Philosophy. Again, it's just an amazing year, so when you come out, they have invested and deposited so much into you to make you be a operational strategic critical thinker, planner, and operator that they referred to as Jedi Knights.

Bonica:
That's a phrase used affectionately I believe in the Army because the graduates of the school are regarded with such respect because it is such a challenging school. After you graduated from SAMS, you went on to the 18th Airborne Corps. Folks would know it better as The Parent Unit 4. The 82nd and the 101st. There you worked a series of plans and operational positions. In 2002, you deployed to Afghanistan as a planner in support of operation Enduring Freedom and then in 2004, you deployed again to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Can you talk about what it was like to plan and coordinate the delivery of health services in those combat zones?

BG Dingle:
It was a tremendous honor. The first deployment to Afghanistan, which was pretty much within the year after I had graduated from SAMS, I deployed in the position of a ground combat planner. In the SAMS world, as that Jedi Knight, they teach you to do combat plans and operations. Logistical plans and operations, not just medical plans. In the capacity, they did not look at me as a medical officer.


My boss, then Colonel Hodges now Genera Hodges, was like, "Hey, Scotty, you're a combat planner. You're rolling with us. Let's go. You're not a medical planner." There I was responsible for doing the ground combat plan for phase three operations which were the PRTs. Provincial reconstruction teams. That is the construct that basically governs how Afghanistan and that theater is set up now. Again, a huge honor to be the planner in charge of that while I was there and it was just a phenomenal experience. A phenomenal exposure for that entire planning job.


When I went to Iraq, that is when I did the medical plan. As the surgeon's office for combined Multi-National Corps Iraq surgeon’s office. There we were responsible for the entire Multi-National Corps or the theater of Iraq. All the medical plans and operations. Again, it's just another tremendous experience having already worked up in the G3 as a ground combat planner, coming back after being an ex o, executive officer, for the area support medical battalion, a lot of my same relationships were still there on staff.


I was able to do or inculcate that medical plans into the Airborne Corps and the Multi-National Corps in Iraq in matters where we were not able to do that before. It was again, a great experience and again another great team-building opportunity and effort to be a part of.

Bonica:
With Iraq, you were working with other countries' forces, not just US forces.

BG Dingle:
Exactly. Again, it was the same as in Afghanistan and Iraq - it was all of our again NATO and allied partners that we were working with.

Bonica:
Wow. What did you learn from working with other countries' militaries, and military planners, and leaders?

BG Dingle:
It was interesting. One thing that I learned was that we have to be inclusive. Sometimes we can be like a lumpy soup and not really blend. It took an intentional effort for all the staff to make sure that we just didn't do it our way. That we were keeping our partners, and our allies also on the radar, and incorporate it into our plans, and synchronize them into our operations because in our mindset, which is, "Okay, we've got it. We can just run out and we can just do it." The US way.


Again, the lesson that I learned was, "Okay, wait a minute. We've got to take into account our partners. Our multi-national forces that we're doing these plans." Sometimes with the language barriers and the different methodologies of executing tactical operations, it presented some, not difficulties, but just some hurdles that we had to clear so that we could make sure that we were inter-operable, and synchronized in executing the mission.

Bonica:
You came back from Iraq and you were assigned to the Office of the Army Surgeon General working as a planner and later as executive officer for the Healthcare Operations Office. The G3, as it's referred to. One of the organizations that actually reports to you now. Why does the Army Surgeon General have a Healthcare Operations Office and what does the G3 do?

BG Dingle:
The Healthcare Operations office and the G-3/5/7 basically is the engine that runs the command. The operations deal with everything that happens on the day-to-day execution of the healthcare mission whether operation planning, or execution, or healthcare delivery in our hospital operations, or basic care. Integrating, making sure things go smoot,h or delivery of dental care.


Those are all the things that fall under the G-3/5/7 at the macro level. When you start getting down into the weeds, when you talk Army medicine, it's the G-3/5/7 that basically touches every aspect of the delivery of Army Medicine. There's much more to just delivering that Army Medicine, which is an operation. It comes into every aspect from the entry to the exit. It all falls under the G-3/5/7 or the operations which is why the operations is such a large organisation in any type of unit because of the magnitude and the scope of responsibility. Of execution of the mission itself.

Bonica:
While you're at OTSG, the Offices of the Surgeon General, as we call OTSG in the Army, you are selected for battalion command and you commanded the 261st Multi-Functional Medical Battalion. What was the difference between being a company commander and a battalion commander?

BG Dingle:
As a company commander, you basically had about 80 soldiers. Your scope of responsibility as you're just executing the medical mission of conserving the fighting strength or providing healthcare in combat. As a battalion commander now, the scope of responsibility expands. Now instead of just having a company, you can have anywhere from five to twelve companies dealing with1,000 to 4,000 plus soldiers underneath your command, and control, and your responsibility.


As that battalion commander, now the scope spreads out. Now you have different units whether it's a forward surgical team, or a dental capability, or preventive medicine, or medical logistics, or optometry. All of those type of different medical units will fall underneath the mission command of that battalion itself.


The scope of responsibility expanded tremendously as a battalion commander and then with that it's not just a mission itself, but it gets into the number of soldiers and family members that you are responsible for that health and welfare. It's a tremendous opportunity and a very exciting job.

Bonica:
Being a battalion commander is significant and it's often a make or break assignment for officers. Most officers never get selected to do battalion command at all. What surprised you most about your experience as a battalion commander?

BG Dingle:
I think it always goes back to leadership. The lessons that I learned. In this case, with the battalion command, being removed from the company level, because now you have company commanders that are engaging the soldiers, the battalion commander's a little more removed, and you don't have the day-to-day impact at the actual executing level in those companies.


Yet, one of the greatest things I learned was that even as a battalion commander, one of the greatest influences that the leader has is on the climate of the organization. On the morale, which all goes back to that esprit de corps, and that pride in the unit that can build and develop into a tremendous synergy. My priorities always when I go into command is of course mission first but soldiers always.


As we execute the mission, I always want to build that team mentality that I learned as a platoon leader that when you build a team you can still have fun. I learned as a battalion commander that even as a battalion we can have that esprit de corps, and that fun, and unit pride that can be beyond compared imagination and that's what we did the Spearhead Battalion at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I had a tremendous fun time and the soldiers did some amazing things in support of our country and our nation.

Bonica:
After your successful battalion command, you got the chance to be a brigade commander for the Army Medical Recruiting Brigade. What does that do? What is the role of that organization?

BG Dingle:
The Medical Recruiting Brigade is responsible for the recruitment of all of the healthcare providers into the United States Army. Again, all of your doctors, dentists, nurses, every  medical professional AOC, that's what the Medical Recruiting Brigade does. The brigade has a footprint of the entire globe and world even through internationally. We are engaging the healthcare professionals who are already physicians as well as the students matriculating through the various colleges and medical schools with aspirations to be doctors.


Our job is to recruit them to come into the military itself. One thing unique about the Medical Recruiting Brigade also is that the mission also had the Chaplain Recruiting Mission so I was also recruiting all of the army chaplains into the military which the footprint for the chaplain recruiting is the entire globe. Wherever there are seminaries and wherever there are professional clergy, the chaplain recruiters are engaged in recruiting, telling the army's story.


I also had the Special Operation Recruiting Battalion mission which we recruiting inside the service, the military army. All the special forces, the warrant officers, the rangers, the explosive ordinance folks, and all the specialties to come from the army ranks to convert over to those different specialties. It was tremendous job and we had a tremendous experience over there.

Bonica:
That's neat. Is special forces normally a part of the Medical Recruiting Brigade's portfolio or is that more because of who you were?

BG Dingle:
Well, when I took over the brigade, I was the first command select brigade commander in 2010 to take the command of the brigade. At the time, it was a unique circumstances where they needed to place it under a certain leadership. In this case, it was under the Medical Recruiting Brigade. Again, when I was there the leadership felt comfortable with keeping that mission under me with the special operations recruiting as well as the chaplains.

Bonica:
Interesting. After your first brigade command, you went back for more military schooling at the National War College. After War College, you came back to the G3 again and you were selected for a second brigade command, this time as the commander of the 30th Medical Brigade, which is located in Germany. What does a medical brigade do and what is the mission of the 30th Medical Brigade specifically?

BG Dingle:
A medical brigade again provides the combat health support to its supported unit or organization. In this case, the 30th Medical Brigade is assigned in Germany to the United States Army Usurer. The 30th Medical Brigade supports the United States Army Usurer as well as the United States Army Africa Usaraf is which also in their footprint or their area of responsibility.


Brigades will be assigned every responsibility to provide the medical support and planning for that specific areas. The 30th Medical Brigade as you mentioned, is in Sembach, Germany in the Kaiserslautern area. Again, we provide the support to all of Europe and usurer the European forces that are deployed over there.


What's unique about the 30th Medical Brigade is that there's also a tremendous relationship with also the NATO forces and our allied partners. Again, just another tremendous opportunity that through scope just touched every NATO country, and allies, and just experiences of a lifetime as you now deal with NATO operations and all this stuff and excitement over in Europe.

Bonica:
That's great. All of Europe, all of Africa. Any medical planning that had to be done for either of those theaters, that was up to you?

BG Dingle:
Yup. As the brigade we basically were the leaders. The surgeons that are on those army service component command elements, in this case, United States Army Europe and United States Army Africa. They're the ones overall responsible for the planning piece. The 30th Medical Brigade, we were the force provider that would do the executing of all those missions and supporting those two footprints.

Bonica:
In June of 2015, you came back to the Office of the Surgeon General to be the deputy chief of staff G-3/5/7. I'm assuming at this point you had been promoted to Brigadier General?

BG Dingle:
I was still promotable. The Surgeon General pulled me to get back here.

Bonica:
Okay. How many Medical Service Corps generals are there?

BG Dingle:
Well, right now with the selects that just came on the last list, we will have five Medical Service Corps general officers on active duty, which is a phenomenal historical high.

Bonica:
I asked that question because I want listeners to realize there aren't a lot of you out there. Five out of the entire Army that are Medical Service Corps. It's a pretty unique thing. We talked a little bit about the G3 a few minutes ago. You mentioned how broad the scope is. How do you go about organizing the planning for all of those functions? You were talking about everything from providing dental care in a fixed facility., a brick and mortar hospital in the United States to providing healthcare for deployed troops in combat. How do you manage all those different missions?

BG Dingle:
It goes back to the very first lesson that my first Sargent taught me that this was team building. You have to have empowered, capable, tremendous leaders that have the oversight over the barriers, operations, directorates, divisions, and branches. Which is again one thing that's just phenomenal as you know, about the Army experience. Again, we develop leaders and they are developed through the job developing positions. They grow into leaders who are capable of executing their are of expertise.


In this case here, with a G-3/5/7 that has such a large scope of responsibility, I have a tremendous team of leaders. Each of my directors which I also charge them to identify the talent and the leaders to be the division and the branch chiefs. Again, we have a lot of help from the human resource commands which provides the Surgeon General's Office with the best talent because this is the strategic synergied location for army medicine.


Again, I just have a tremendous team of leaders. We have a great team that is synchronized that allows us to execute an amazing level of operations, and plans, and responses on behalf of the Surgeon General as well as all the healthcare beneficiaries and populations that access Army Medicine.

Bonica:
Can you give a couple of quick examples of the kind of specific plans that you're currently working on or operations you're currently overseeing so that people can get a sense of the scope that you're handling?

BG Dingle:
One of the big ones, which basically is on the major radar of our Congress, our Senate, and our leaders is the access to care. When you talk access to care, which means the beneficiary population. Those who are able to access and use army medicine, or the military health system itself, or hospitals, and receive care, and be outsourced. That access to care, and how well that is operating, or how slow is it operating, or how long it make take to get to the point to get done. The overall access to care mission is one of our key points and priorities that we're really trying to work the planning, and fix, and streamline to assure that that beneficiary population has the best care. That's one of our major plans that we're doing.

Bonica:
Okay.

BG Dingle:
Another point. The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program which primarily they had previously belonged over to the Army G1, substance abuse and providing the care, and intervention, and all that other stuff, and the counselling. That program is getting ready to come back over to Army Medicine. Another plan that we are working in a transition for Army Medicine to resume the oversight of that Alcohol Substance Abuse Program to support those soldiers and beneficiaries who use those services also.


Another one is the surgical. We're also working not just the fixed facility of surgical capability, but also a expeditionary surgical capability. Almost like a forward surgical team. When you talk the professional filler system is what we call it when we take our healthcare professionals out of our fixed facilities and we provide them and field units or units that go deploy and support hospitals for surgical teams who provide the care to those divisions in combat and forward on a battlefield or on a field of operation.


Those come from those fixed facilities. Those professional fillers to help round out the unit. We're also working some initiatives from our medical command, our Surgeon General's perspective, the medical command our hospitals providing those outside the box surgical capabilities that can help the force multipliers to the joint force and in itself. Again, that's just three of probably hundreds of plans that we're working across. Almost every area of responsibility when it comes to executing the military health system in Army Medicine.

Bonica:
Those are great examples. What goals do you have for your organization? Looking at the 357 as an organization, what are you pushing them to achieve?

BG Dingle:
I see us simply put as the 411/911 organization of the command of the army when it comes to Army Medicine. We want folks to turn to us for the information because we have to have the operations and the plans to execute. Then also as the 911 operators also because in the event of emergencies and crisis, whether it's the zika virus or whatever it may be, we're the first responders who have to respond not just with the planning and the forecasting, but also into executing and ensuring that we are returning those infected or impacted by whatever it may be back to full, deployable health and ability to do their mission.


I see the G-3/5/7 again as the 411/911 synergizers to make sure that everything is synchronized in accordance with the commanding general, Lieutenant General West our Surgeon General and Med Comp commander with her vision and her mission to continue to be the world's premiere healthcare organization as we provide healthcare support to the United States Army.

Bonica:
What do you worry most about in your role? When you're laying in bed and staring at the ceiling, what keeps you from sleeping at night as G-3/5/7?

BG Dingle:
I'm a triple A type personality, so my mind is always running making sure that there's no ball that's dropped. Again, even though we have a tremendous team, there's just so much that we do. The thing that I worry about is making sure that every last one of those of those things, those plates are still spinning on that stick. Not to allow one of those plates to be forsaken because out attention is drawn to some other priority as dictated by the mission, or our leadership, or whatever the focus is directed to us by our civilian leadership that those plates don't drop.


I'm always thinking about, "Okay, in my smallest branch, section, or department, are they maintaining that plate spinning? Is there anything that we need to emphasize to make sure that they're giving them support that plate is not going to fall of that stick and keep spinning.

Bonica:
What do your non-Army Medical Department colleagues least understand about the Army Medical Department? When you talk to armored officers, or infantry officers, what do you find yourself correcting about their impressions of the Army Medical Department?

BG Dingle:
The scope of the mission. The enormous magnitude of responsibilities from a point of injury on a battlefield to the fixed facility rehabilitation, or wounded warriors support, or center for the intrepid. Again reassembling and putting our soldiers, our warriors back together and giving them the ability to be deployable and to remain in the game and on the Army team. Even just being able to maintain the daily living capabilities that we've often forsaken. It's just the enormous magnitude of what we do.


Oftentimes, they don't see that, but when they're exposed to it, the capacity now starts to come into their understanding. The capabilities start to come into their understanding. It often is too much for them. "Okay, wow. You aim that high, you just have too much. You guys can have it." Paula Webber, one of our former Surgeon Generals said it best when we went through the Walter Reed incidents and she talked about we're still at the warrior transition commands and they sent over infantry officers and armored officers to be the commanders within our medical units, which was historically done by our medical Service Corps officers and other AMed leaders.


During the first change in command, I sat there and I said, "Wow man, I just realized all this planning we're doing, we're giving it over to these armored infantry men who don't understand Army Medicine and I'm angry." Not right because they were throwing all these resources and making this successful by giving them three times of what we gave to our AMed company commanders and leaders in charge of medical holding us and getting warriors back to fit through a process of medical evaluation.


She said to me these words, "You know, Scotty, don't worry about that just because what this is going to do, it's going to show that armored officer, that infantry officer who does not understand army medicine, the magnitude and the enormous responsibility that we do each day as healthcare providers and teammates. It's going to open their eyes and show the army something that they often take forsaken and overlooked." She was so clairvoyant. That's exactly what it has done and that's the biggest thing that we face is just showing them a challenge that they don't then understand is teaching them about the enormous magnitude and impact of what we do on a day-to-day basis.

Bonica:
That was a pretty deep insight. I think I would have reacted the same as you.

BG Dingle:
I would like that.

Bonica:
well, let's transition and talk specifically about leadership. What would you say is your leader philosophy?

BG Dingle:
Wow. My leadership philosophy is setting a professional leadership excellence and synergistic teamwork in everything that we do. That professional leadership excellence is everyone's responsibility as we execute whatever it is that we do. Whether it's a civilian contractor, the DA civilian, or the military officer or NCO that we have a responsibility to maintain our bearing because of the leadership that is inherent into our various positions.


We execute that with professional leadership excellence. The impact which has been exponentially across the beneficiary population, across the service itself. The military health system and all the joint services sisters itself. That's where professional leadership excellence comes into play. The synergistic teamwork is also so important because in everything that we do regardless of the job, that it's not about one person, but it's about building the team to accomplish the mission.


When you have a synergistic team with all those forces just magnifying the effort synchronized with this synergy that just makes it that much more explosive and that just blows it out the water. With that, my priorities personally are my family, my finances, and fun. That fun impacts every last thing that we do. We have that professional leadership excellence, a synergistic teamwork that we're building as we do it, but as we do it we're going to have fun and the camaraderie that makes this the premiere place that we want to be which also feels a pride in what we do as we execute the AMed mission, which in a nutshell is my quick philosophy.

Bonica:
Okay. What are the characteristics and behaviors of a good leader and how do you aspire to those yourself?

BG Dingle:
The two most important to me is servant leadership. I say that because oftentimes when folks think of leadership, they think of the king. You have the king ruling over the kingdom or the queen ruling over the kingdom and the kingdom and the queendom bow down to the king. Well that's not actually correct. I see that those that are empowered in leadership positions it's just the opposite. The king or the queen has the responsibility to make sure that everyone that is under their authority that is within the king or the queendom, that their needs and their responsibilities. Their functions, their requirements, their resources, their everything is met.


Now the king is now the servant to the kingdom. The queen is servant to the queendom. Servant leadership has us putting them first to make sure that the team or the family, the organization can accomplish its mission which means that servant leadership's serving others regardless of the position, the title, the level that we are serving up with a tenacity, a passion, to empower them to be able to do their mission. To be able to accomplish their jobs, or to fix their problems.


Servant leadership is so important to me when it comes to leadership characteristics and behavior. After that, everything just falls into place because with that type of dedication and loyalty, an ethical correctness that there won't be any wavering or any violations of a UCNJ or leadership styles because we are now not thinking about self, that self-service is what is driving us.


We're now thinking about the team and others which again makes what I think and love about the army so special because it deals with leadership and in my view, it's a certain leadership to make sure that the team is taken care of. When a team is taken care of it will accomplish any and every mission and will remain as the premier the army in this globe and on this earth.

Bonica:
What do you look for when you're evaluating leaders?

BG Dingle:
The integrity. The competence. The knowledge. The ability to lead a team. The teamwork to name a few. Those stick out. Are they loyal to the team and to the mission? The technical and tactical competence. You've got to have and build a trust within the organization itself. You have to be ethically and morally astute and correct with what you're doing. Those type of characteristics jump out to me because again there are also some bad leaders out there that just have the opposite which are focused on self, which again to me is often very readily seen and has a negative impact on organization and teams.

Bonica:
What leadership council do you most often give to young leaders?

BG Dingle:
It's funny, it changes over the years. Now I can say it's three things. One) don't lose your bearings. That's one as leaders that I push to everybody. I normally given them a ball bearing when I do it. Everybody that works with me has a ball bearing. That bearing I tell them is symbolic of our leadership. It's symbolic of your military bearing. It's symbolic of your professional, your mental, your spiritual, your integrity. Everything that you do.


That bearing is perfectly round to remind you and us that we're not perfect. The bearing is round, but we're not perfectly symmetrical where we're not going to make mistakes. The smaller that bearing is, it takes an effort to hold it in your hands. That's the same type of effort we have to approach our jobs each day as we strive for excellence. We can't lose our bearing. At times, we're going to drop our bearing. We may get quick-tempered, but we have to realize that other people are always watching you. When you drop that bearing and you say that wrong thing, you've now impacted that soldier, that civilian, that leader, or even that person that's   looking to you as that service member or DA civilian, or government employee adversely as a leader because they saw you to do the wrong thing or to say the wrong thing.


You can't lose your bearing because it's a fish bowl effect that they see you and as a leader, everything is magnified. You can have an impression on people, so you've got to do the right impression. Don't lose that bearing. You can't lose that bearing. Then I'll break it down and each one has a different meaning. The B is belief in yourself and God. E is endure tough times. A is accept responsibility. R is remain unconquered. Don't you quit. I is identify with others who aren't selling. N is never quit. G is give to others. Don't lose your bearing.


Then also the thing is like a bearing itself. Individually, it's symbolic, but the bearing if used with other bearings, is able to reduce friction and you're able to move things, and glide heavy, and move heavy weights, and display stuff.  Which goes back to again that first lesson of teamwork. Bearing individually is good, but yet it takes a team of bearings to be able to move that weight and displace that problem. The second thing is I talk about is important versus urgent.


There was an article written by Colonel Bloom, a retired brigade commander at the end of his career. He said, "As you go through your career, you cannot forget the important things as you build your military success. Your health, your family, your loved ones, your children, the team itself." So oftentimes us as leaders and officers, we're so driven by the mission that we don't take care of the things that are important. Having just recently buried my father in Arlington National Cemetery last month and lost my mother two years ago.

Bonica:
Sorry for your loss.

BG Dingle:
Thank you. You don't have that time to recapture. We spend a great amount of our time with experiences in the United States Army of traveling the world, seeing great things and great places. As we're building our own families and being taken away from home, we often forget about mom and dad and you can't forget about them. You've got to call them and take care of them while they're still here because you can build your military career and focus on those urgent things and forgetting the important things like loved ones and health.


That's what Colonel Bloom wrote about and often I use that as one of my pillars that I communicate to leaders. Have fun as you are focusing on the success of your military career, but don't forget the things that are important in your life. Your health, your spouse, your children, your family, your loved ones, mom and dad. Build your success, but don't let that success take you away from the things that are important.


Then the last one is always give back. Build a bench. Mentor, coach, and teach. It's a responsibility inherent with what we do in our various capacities. All this great training that we receive is for us not to just keep it yourself, but who are we bringing up and teaching behind you and inspiring the young net generation of soldiers and heroes to serve our great nation.

Bonica:
I love the bearing metaphor. I'm going to definitely have to write that out because I think that's really great. I know I've kept you. I know you have something you have to go do, so I think that's a great place to leave off at. Thank you so much for your time today. This was great.

BG Dingle:
Well, Mark, thank you. Ironically, I got to run up here now because we're doing our leadership lecture series. Each month as part of my professional developments to our G-3/5/7 team, I bring in our senior leaders for about an hour to tell their stories. Give us a leadership lecture and tell us your story and your background and then what is your leadership philosophy so that we can deposit into our leadership DNA.


Then we do that after like this morning we had our esprit de corps run so we ran the Woodrow Wilson Bridge this morning from Virginia to Maryland and it's run at your own pace and we run in teams and with groups, and those that walk walk. We do a different place each month whether monuments or the National Cemetery for us to learn about what it is, but also to build teams. This is our team-building base here, so I've got to run up here and open this up for the lecture series.

Bonica:
Well, thank you again so much.

BG Dingle:
Yeah, Mark. It was a great honor and thank you for having me.




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