Changing Global Environment drives TRADOC to enhance and accelerate leader development -- Protracted
September 20, 2007
FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, Sept. 24, 2007) - The global operational environment our Army leaders face today is forcing the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, as the architect for the Army, to enhance and accelerate the way leaders are developed throughout the force.
"Between 1950 and 1989, the Army was involved in about ten operations which I would describe as full spectrum operations," said Gen. William Wallace, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. "Since that time, from 1989 to the present, the Army's been involved in about 40 such operations. So the pace of operations has increased at the same time as the size of the Army has gone down."
During the Korean War, the Army had 64 combat divisions. By the time the Vietnam War began the Army had just 40 divisions. By the end of the Cold-War in 1989, only 28 divisions remained.
"We are doing much more with much less," said Wallace. "And when you consider the changes in globalization, communications, technology, and an ever-changing, thinking and adaptive threat, you can see the environment our leaders are operating in today - and tomorrow - is changing rapidly."
During an address at the TRADOC Strategic Communications and Public Affairs conference yesterday, Wallace highlighted the rationale and scope of the accelerated leader development, identifying the era of persistent conflict as being the catalyst for change and acceleration.
"We grew up in an environment in the United States where peace was constant and conflict was an aberration," said Wallace. "It seems to me that we are in a decade or two of persistent conflict. That means we have to make adjustments not only in the way we train our Soldiers, but the way we develop leaders to operate effectively and efficiently in an era of persistent conflict."
Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., shortly after becoming the CSA in April 2007, spent his first 100 days assessing the state of the Army. His transition team identified the need to accelerate leader development at all levels. A working group was formed and co-chaired by Wallace and Deputy Undersecretary of the Army Thomas E. Kelly III.
To date, the working group has identified six major objectives and 21 key actions that, when implemented, will speed the development of multi-skilled, adaptive, innovative, and culturally-aware leaders, both military and civilian, at every level, needed to lead units and provide support.
The goal is to accelerate and redesign leader development programs that fully support persistent conflict, an expeditionary Army with an offensive mindset, and that focus on winning our Nation's wars.
The initiative will help expand strategic thinking that will empower commanders and Soldiers who are fighting the Global War on Terrorism.
"We are looking at how we make leadership development better," said Col. Chuck Rogerson, director, leader development and education, TRADOC G-3/5/7, in a separate interview. Rogerson also served as the Chief of Staff for the Army Initiative Five (AI5) working group. "We are looking forward to what we can do to accelerate our systems that are in place and add a couple key things."
"Our Soldiers have seen the adaptability of our enemies," said Rogerson. "Right now, we have a generation of leaders who are more experienced than the people who are teaching them. We are working through AI5, to utilize the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan to better prepare our leaders for what they will face in theatre."
There are several different objectives to meet in the ability to accelerate leader development. There is the Army Force Generation model that will set the timing of when schooling can take place. There is Army Leadership for the 21st Century (AL21) that is changing the leadership training within the officer and noncommissioned officer corps. The operational environment has grown increasingly complicated, conducted with other branches and coalition partners.
"If you look at the spectrum of conflict, it ranges all the way from peace support operations all the way to major combat operations and everything in between," said Wallace. "What we within the Army have to do is develop leaders and Soldiers that are capable of operating any place along the spectrum without a tremendous amount of training and preparation time. We have learned that leaders have to be pretty agile and be able to move from major combat operations to stability operations to irregular warfare and all across that spectrum and be prepared for circumstances to change almost continuously."
Our Army is the best trained and best resourced in the world. The battlefield is changing and the Army needs to develop leaders to adapt to the complex and advanced enemies we are facing around the world today.
"We are looking at existing leader development programs in the Army and do an assessment to decide if this is providing our leaders the right framework and education for what they need to perform their task in the current operating environment," said Rogerson. We are also asking the question is our current leader development platform giving our Soldiers and leaders everything they need to be successful.
Today's leader must be able to adapt to an ever changing situation on the ground and the development of that leader will better prepare them for any task they face.
"The world is changing so quickly," said Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, TRADOC Deputy Commanding General. "Mankind is in a period that the human has to be able to think very quickly. Information travels around the globe in a matter of seconds. Being able to deal with a tremendous amount of change and the complexity of the world is what is putting the demand on us to train these very innovative, agile and adaptive leaders."
The system in place to develop our leaders needs to be flexible, adaptive and provide leaders the skill sets to be successful in the very difficult environment that they are working in, Metz said.
Accelerating leader development is not just about the officers and noncommissioned officers. Department of the Army civilians are also factored into the initiative.
To progress through the officer and noncommissioned officer ranks, Soldiers need to complete the leadership education courses to progress to the next level. AI5 is looking at building an education system for DA civilians that is based on the officer and noncommissioned officer education system.
With our Army at war for several years, through changes made in the way the Army trains Soldiers after lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has developed very adaptive junior leaders and needs to capitalize on their experience and develop them for success to operate in future full-spectrum operations.
"If you talk specifically about Iraq and Afghanistan over the past five years or so, it has had a direct impact on how we train Soldiers, particularly in the training base," said Wallace. "We need to get those Soldiers ready for immediate contribution to the organizations that they are going to be a part of."
That is a major change in the way the Army used to develop Soldiers.
"Back in the old days, we used to send a Soldier off to their first unit of assignment with a job book that said we have accomplished training in about 65 percent of the areas where this Soldier has to be proficient in, but the other 35 percent are things that the operational Army will have to devote time and energy and resources to make that apprentice Soldier a fully-contributing member of your organization.
"Today, we don't have that time or luxury," Wallace continued. "We in the training base have to develop Soldiers who have all the techniques and skills and technical capabilities to allow them to contribute to the unit as soon as they arrive."
The path to leadership in the future Army will not be as rigid as the path today's leaders took. The leadership path in the future will accumulate crucial knowledge, skills and abilities through all three leader development domains: formal education, operational experience and guided self-development.
When all is said and done, AI5 will develop the adaptive, flexible and culturally aware leaders required for a joint and expeditionary Army. It will be accomplished through improved professional military and civilian education courses, expanded access to advanced civilian education and a variety of internships and fellowships with government and industry.