TRADOC CG talks leader development
April 11, 2013
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (April 11, 2013) -- "We've had some toxic leaders in this Army, and I think most of the people in this room can probably pick out who they were," Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in Fort Eustis, Va., told Command and General Staff College students April 8 in the Lewis and Clark Center's Eisenhower Auditorium.
The four-star general was at Fort Leavenworth to talk to the students about such topics as preparing for tomorrow, transitioning, leadership development and the Army as a profession.
As the Army transitions out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, TRADOC is concerned with paving the way of the future through an Army of 2020 initiative. It focuses on leader development, training and equipment; strengthening the foundation of the Army profession; developing agile and adaptive leaders for an uncertain future; modernizing doctrine; revolutionizing learning throughout the Army; improving training; and ensuring that tactical small units overmatch the enemy.
Cone said that during the Iraq War, the Army had somehow gotten to a point where it had decided that it "had to get it right, to the point that we put delivering results ahead of the way those results were delivered."
That was a mistake, he said, noting that the Army was responsible for not only making sure a job gets done, but that it's done in a way that supports Army values.
To that end, leader development in the Army is a top priority, Cone said.
"I think we're at a critical time in our Army's history as we look at this transition from being an Army of execution to an Army of preparation," he said. "It's my job at TRADOC to think about what happens next."
The Army has to invest in the kinds of systems that prepare the Army of tomorrow, he said.
"There are a lot of folks who would like us to continue into the future doing the things that we've done for the last 10 to 12 years, but I've got to tell you, the world is about to change, the world is already changing," he said.
"Are you going to adapt or are you going to tell war stories to one another ... for the next 10 to 12 years? That's the challenge."
Many such challenges will face the Army of 2020 and beyond, Cone said, both on the world stage and within the Army. For example, as the country faces budget restraints, leader development must be adapted to utilize the strengths of the next generation of soldiers with different skill sets while eliminating their weaknesses.
"You will not tolerate short-changing near-term readiness," Cone told the students. "None of us want to do that. We all want to go out and serve in units that are ready and prepared."
For the last 12 years, the Army has "run the biggest battle labs in the world," Cone said. "One was called Iraq and the other was called Afghanistan. Where will the ideas for the future come from when you're not engaged in combat?"
The Army as a profession is at the center of TRADOC's thinking, Cone said.
"Do we promote people in our Army based upon their qualifications or based upon the Army's need for people at a certain grade?" he asked. "We went from select, train, promote to select, promote, train."
Promoting soldiers without training them first can lead to toxic leadership, he said.
"Leaders are toxic sometimes when they're not taught how to properly lead," he said, adding that training management is another top priority. "The fact of the matter is that field training management takes place at the battalion and brigade level and it has to do with accepting risks."
At the conclusion of his speech, Cone urged the students to contact him if they had views that differed from his.
"If you think there's something that I need to add to my message, that I need to take away from my message, or an idea that you have, I challenge you to send me an e-mail," he said. "Best of luck to you. You've got the world ahead of you. God bless and good luck."