Ready and Resilient seeks culture change
December 11, 2013
By NICK DUKE
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Dec. 11, 2013) -- Col. Larry Reeves, the Army Resiliency Directorate's deputy for campaign management, visited Fort Benning Dec. 4 to speak to a group of Maneuver Captains Career Course students about the resources the Army's Ready and Resilient Campaign provides to Soldiers, Families and civilians.
While the campaign is intended to synchronize 57 Army programs, such as Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and the Army Suicide Prevention program, in order to increase readiness and resilience Armywide, Reeves said the campaign's true goal is to change the culture of the Army.
"In a nutshell, the Ready and Resilient Campaign is seeking to change the culture of the Army," he said. "Based on 12 years of conflict, we want to capitalize on some of the good things we've done, but also to shore up some of the areas where we have some weaknesses.
"When you look at what we've done for the last 12 years and the operations tempo that we've put our Soldiers and our units through, we've gotten away from some of the base leadership things that the Army has prided itself on. When you look at some of the behaviors that are being exhibited by Soldiers, Families and civilians, whether it is the suicide rate, substance abuse or sexual assault and harassment, you see that we've got to change the culture of the Army. We've got to get leaders more involved with their Soldiers and Families so we can mitigate some of these challenges that we face with our force."
Reeves said the effort to change the Army culture through the Ready and Resilient Campaign is a three-phase effort, with Phase 1 underway.
Phase 1 consists of policy changes and synchronization of various Army programs and resources under the R2C banner.
Many of the 57 programs offer assistance to Soldiers and Families who are facing personal challenges, whether they are physical, emotional or financial. Reeves said the key is identifying Soldiers who are facing personal issues, and getting them the appropriate help.
"When we identify a Soldier that is at risk, part of the leader's job is going to be to peel the onion back, so to speak, and determine what the real problem is," he said. "Is it something that we can help with internally? Or is it something that we need to go get professional help for this Soldier?"
However, Reeves said the campaign also faces the challenge of reducing the stigma associated with reaching out for help. He said Soldiers can often see asking for help as a sign of weakness, something he hopes leaders will begin to address.
"The first thing that brigade-level and installation leaders can do is model this behavior," he said. "This is all about creating resiliency and coping skills. In many cases, we have Soldiers and Families who haven't had the benefit of learning how to cope or deal with problems. So, our leaders have to model this behavior. We talk a lot about getting help being a sign of strength. So, we need leaders who are getting help to stand up and say that they're getting help."
Reeves said once the conditions are set appropriately, the campaign will move into Phase 2, which is when the effort to change the culture will truly begin.
Reeves said he hopes that Phase 2 will begin sometime in spring 2014, but there is no firm timetable for any of the three phases.
"Phase 2 will be a multi-year phase," he said. "We don't see that as something that will happen quickly in 2014. It will move through 2014 into 2015 and maybe even 2016. It will be conditions-based. We don't want to put a time limit on it. If we haven't accomplished the primary tasks for each phase, then we won't move forward … We want the tasks to be completed, the conditions to exist and an assessment to be done so that we can recommend to the vice chief of staff of the Army that it's time to move forward."
However, Reeves said the overall mission of changing Army culture will be impossible without the support of leaders at the squad, platoon and company levels.
"Where we need help and the only way this campaign works is if squad leaders, platoon sergeants and first sergeants buy into it," he said. "If the squad leader buys into it, the young Soldier is going to buy into it because he's going to follow his leaders. By the same token, if the squad leader buys in and he or she is married, the spouse is going to start to buy in.
"As Families talk in Family readiness meetings or at gatherings, they're going to talk about these things and we want Families to be just as involved in this. We want leaders to talk to Families about the things that are at their disposal."
Once Phase 2 begins to show indicators that the campaign has succeeded in changing the Army culture, Phase 3 will begin. This phase will focus on sustaining the changes brought about by the campaign.
Reeves said the campaign will eventually result in an increased level of readiness throughout the Army, which will help to lessen the impact of the challenges the Army faces.
"At one point, we were assigning units with 105 to 110 percent strength so that they could deploy at 95 percent strength because of all the physical, emotional and other challenges unit commanders were facing with their Soldiers and formations," Reeves said. "Building resilience will help mitigate some of those challenges. It'll make Soldiers more deployable. It will enable commanders to need fewer Soldiers to accomplish their mission. We won't have to assign at 105 or 100 percent strength to get 95 percent. We'll be able to assign at 100 percent and 100 percent will be ready to go."