Hi Chad - welcome to SMF, and thank you for serving our country, sir!
May I first suggest, as a newbie to smoking, signing up for the free 5-day eCourse that's offered through the forum? That'll get you off to the right start ...
Regarding your temp problem, how much charcoal are you using in the pan? Are you using a pre-lit container of lit charcoal to your coal pan, prior to sealing up the smoker? I've got an ecb like yours as to many here on the site. Tons of mods you can make to the little thing to get it tweaked how ya want it.
Good luck, and happy smokes!