Colonel Dave Rowland is a US Army infantry colonel with a variety of worldwide deployments, including multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan with Airborne, Ranger, and Stryker units. He has published several articles in AUSA’s Army Magazine and the Washington Journal of Modern China. In 2019, the Army specially selected him to build, equip, train, and deploy one of the Army’s newest organizations for their inaugural deployment to the Indo-Pacific region in less than two years. Dave and his wife, Amy, have four children, Zachary, Abigail, Isabelle, and Andrew.
In 2019, US Army senior leaders urgently needed an organization to work with its partners and allies to meet White House-directed national security objectives. Green Light Go! provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) formed and developed into this essential organization, eventually venturing off to the steppes of Mongolia, the humid jungles of Indonesia and the Philippines, and the pristine beaches of the Maldives.
National security practitioners, leadership development professionals, and contemporary historians will be fascinated by these insights into the inner workings of a nascent Army organization as unit members navigate through complex obstacles. Never before has such an unlikely group been able to accomplish so much in a short time frame while capturing the essence of entrepreneurship.
1. Writing a book is no small feat. What was the most challenging part? What part of the process was the easiest?
The most challenging part was understanding the process. I didn’t have anyone in my immediate network who had written a book. Learning what I needed to do, from getting a Department of Defense security review to editing and working to find a publisher, was all new.
The easiest part of the process was researching the topics since I had access to most of the relevant material. I lived the story I wrote about.
2. Why tell this story? Where did the inspiration strike?
I wrote the story to tell defense industry professionals, business leaders, and the American people that our Army’s noncommissioned officers and officers can do more than follow orders and execute assigned tasks. They can exhibit entrepreneurial skill sets and are versatile and adaptable leaders in many settings. Essentially, I wrote Green Light Go! to honor them.
Inspiration struck when I was in Mongolia, looking out my window at the barren steppe struggling to emerge from winter. Throughout the previous year, as we attempted to build, train, and deploy our nascent organization through our ups and downs, people said, “Someone needs to write all this down.” At that moment, I decided that person needed to be me. I had no idea the journey that decision would take me on.
3. Most people don’t know much about the publishing process. What did you know before? What have you learned?
I didn’t know much about publishing at all. I knew about self-publishing and the traditional few big publishing houses.
I learned so much about the publishing process. I learned I would comb through my manuscript multiple times with various editors, publishing takes months longer than anticipated, and finding the right-sized photos is challenging.
4. What has been the most rewarding part of the writing or publishing process? And what has been the most surprising or complicated?
The most rewarding part of the writing and publishing process is knowing that I’m contributing to the body of knowledge for business leadership and military history. Of course, having my physical book in my hand certainly made me smile.
The most surprising part of the publishing process is how much marketing is needed to get the word out about one of thousands of books published daily, weekly, and monthly.
5. What aspect of the book are you most excited about? What do you hope readers will learn/take from it?
I’m most excited about some of my readers finding their names in the book and showing their friends and families.
I hope readers will appreciate the challenges the characters overcame and that people can be entrepreneurial even while working in a bureaucracy.
6. Borrowing from Sophia Bush’s Work In Progress podcast, what would you say is a work in progress in your life?
I have lots to work on in my life. The one that requires the most work is being a good Christian and following Jesus. It’s something I must work on every day. As far as it relates to Green Light, Go! I need to translate it into valuable work that helps people be better leaders and managers in military organizations and businesses.