About 60 junior leaders from across the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood gathered March 23 and provided the commanding general and senior leaders feedback on issues that may affect the post's future.

The feedback was a result of about six weeks of collaborative efforts and research that culminated in final working group sessions on March 19 and 20.

"We take the time to invest in them (junior leaders), so that they can complete the Army's missions in the years ahead," said Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.

"Most of us here today will be long retired in the next 10 to 20 years, but these folks (junior leaders) will be in senior leadership roles then," Smith said.

By identifying problem areas today, the command can begin to address issues, which will build a foundation for success in the future, Smith added.

Colloquium participants were selected captains, sergeants first class, government employees GS-11s and below and chief warrants officer 2 from various post organizations. The colloquium members were divided into five groups, each with a lieutenant colonel or equivalent-ranking civilian as a group mentor.

The session covered the five essential characteristics of the Army profession -- military expertise, trust, esprit de corps, honorable service and stewardship of the profession. Each team focused on one of the characteristics by researching, cross talking and identifying what the installation is doing well and what needs improvement in those respective areas.

With positive praise ranging from higher education and credentialing opportunities, to the relationship of the installation with the surrounding community, to recent improvements in medical care and child and youth services, each group echoed that Fort Leonard Wood handles a variety of requirements exceptionally well.

A common theme among all groups was communication. All groups reported existing communication from the command as an area to sustain, but nearly all groups also reported the need for more specific focus of information in certain areas including desire for information on policies and standards for Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force units training on post.

"There is an assumption that trainees can only be corrected by a drill sergeant," said Sgt. 1st Class Sarah Delvalle, Company B, 795th Military Police Battalion.

A part of the solution, according to the groups, is clearer communication from the chain of command to military, civilians and retirees, as everyone is responsible for reinforcing standards and stewarding our profession.

While the groups offered several issues and concerns that could be addressed, the majority of each group's findings were positive actions occurring on the installation.

The design for the Junior Leader Colloquium is based on the Chief of Staff of the Army's Solarium initiative, a monumental effort to inform and shape the future direction of the U.S. Army based on feedback from those in junior ranks.

Solarium was a concept drawn from Project Solarium, a national-level exercise in strategy and foreign policy design led by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. That effort produced a U.S. national security document that laid the foundation for a Cold War policy that lasted for decades.

(Editor's note: Melissa Buckley contributed to this article.)