Changing Global Environment Drives Accelerated Leader Development
September 24, 2007
By John Harlow
FORT MONROE, Va. (Army News Service, Sept. 24, 2007) - The global operational environment Army leaders face today is forcing the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to enhance and accelerate the way it develops leaders.
"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," said Gen. William Wallace, TRADOC commanding general.
"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," he said, "but the way we develop leaders to operate effectively and efficiently in an era of persistent conflict."
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spent his first 100 days as chief of staff of the Army assessing the state of the Army. His transition team identified the need to accelerate leader development at all levels, and a working group was formed and co-chaired by Gen. 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.
"We are looking at how we make leadership development better," said Col. Chuck Rogerson, director, leader development and education, TRADOC G-3/5/7. "We are looking forward to what we can do to accelerate our systems that are in place and add a couple key things."
Objectives influencing the ability to accelerate leader development include: Army Force Generation, which will set the timing of when schooling can take place; Army Leadership for the 21st Century, which is changing officer and noncommissioned officer leadership training; and the operational environment, which has grown increasingly complicated.
"If you look at the spectrum of conflict, it ranges all the way from peace support operations to major combat operations and everything in between," Gen. Wallace said. "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."
Training must be flexible, adaptive and provide leaders the skills they need to be successful in their difficult work environments, said Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, TRADOC deputy commanding general.
"The world is changing so quickly. Mankind is in a period where the human has to be able to think very quickly," he said. "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."
Preparing Soldiers to immediately contribute to the organizations they become a part of is key, Gen. Wallace said, and that is a major change in the way the Army develops 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," he said.
"Today, we don't have that time or luxury," Gen. 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 leader-development changes are also expected to impact Department of Army Civilians, he said, through an education system that mirrors that of NCOs and officers.
(John Harlow works for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.)