General offers advice to field grade officers
April 11, 2013
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 11, 2013) -- As commanding general for Allied Land Command, based in NATO headquarters in Izmir, Turkey, Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges told students in Fort Leavenworth's Command and General Staff College April 4 that he expected field grade officers to have six attributes.
They must have sound judgment, have initiative and be willing to take risks, be a team player, have mental and physical toughness, possess imagination and creativity, and have the ability to communicate, he said.
"Shame on you if you're not willing to stick your neck out there," Hodges told the students.
Hodges, who has more than 33 years of service in about 25 different duty positions, currently leads a 28-nation, three-star enterprise. Allied Land Command is the leading advocate for soldiers and land forces in NATO, responsible for ensuring their effectiveness and interoperability within a multinational command structure.
NATO, Hodges said, is "the world's partner of choice when it comes to security." Its 28 member nations and 40 partner nations span the globe -- from East Asia to Western Europe, from North Africa to the South Pacific -- and represent a population of more than 1.2 billion people.
Hodges said that around the time of the 2010 NATO Lisbon Summit, nations in the alliance agreed to reduce the number of major headquarters from 11 to six, and staff from 13,000 to about 8,800.
These reductions require working in cooperation with other alliance countries and knowing how to build a team, he said, noting that NATO presents a vehicle for nations to act together to deal with security challenges of the future.
"While the current budget climate may be a clear driving factor in NATO's transformation, it is supported by the realization that after years of conflict, reform is needed in order to ensure that NATO has the proper command structure to deal with tomorrow's issues," he said. "NATO's transformation will lead to a more lean, robust and flexible command structure that is able to adapt to the type of operations we can expect in the future."
He told students that he took exception to a recent column by retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Baron titled "Military Brain Drain," which was published Feb. 13 in "Foreign Policy" magazine.
In a March 27 rebuttal column in the magazine titled "Army Strong," Hodges wrote that Bruno had suggested "current and former Army general officers are either dismissive or indignant at the notion that the best and brightest junior and mid-level officers are choosing to end their service."
Hodges told the students that he had not experienced that at all.
In his article he wrote: "After working hard to grow quickly, we are once again undertaking a reduction of force, but this time Army leaders are determined to retain the very best talent while respecting and appreciating the service of all. The bottom line is that the Army is adapting to conditions it helped create and has committed resources, research, and training to ensure retention of its best officers and sergeants."
In an interview after his speech, Hodges said that although he cared that some people have left the Army, he really cared most about developing the potential in every officer so that they can be the best they can be.
"We have a roomful of people here who are really talented, and we're doing OK," he said. "Fort Leavenworth is doing a great job of making sure we are developing the leaders of the future."