By Stephen P. Kretsinger Sr., PQC contractor with the U.S. Army Combined Arms CenterFebruary 26, 2018
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran spoke to students of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College during a visit to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Wednesday, Feb. 21. McCarthy's visit was a part of a larger trip, which included briefings from other U.S. Army Combined Arms Center organizations and initiatives.
"Fort Leavenworth is a jewel in the military system," McCarthy said. "They are training our midgrade officers how to become staff officers; one of the most critical functions we have in the Army. CGSC teaches those Army staff processes, how to shape and tee up decisions for seniors leaders, and the movement of information.
It's always great to get out of the Pentagon and talk to Soldiers who are going through a major transition in their careers from company commanders to staff officers," the under secretary continued. "It's a very unique group of professionals as they joined the military at the height of the 'surge' in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a tremendous amount of combat experience and education with master's degrees and PhDs along with a lot of combat tours."
Addressing the CGSC students, McCarthy said there are two fundamental factors that make a successful staff officer: understanding the process and relationships.
"Relationships survive because you take a risk by exposing yourself to invest in the other person and build trust," McCarthy said. "Trust is the foundation of our institution. Trust is what gets you through hard times in relationships. If you're in this business long enough people you know are going to rise to the top. You deal with hard times together, but hard times don't last; hard people do."
McCarthy added that conversations were key to any relationship where trust is to be established and maintained.
"Just pick up the phone and have conversations," McCarthy said. "It makes it a whole lot easier when you're going into someone's office to ask for help, because they will understand the problem, they will be invested and will be with you along the way."
McCarthy also touched on relations between military and civilian personnel, which all staff officers will have to build and maintain throughout their careers.
"As you continue to progress through the enterprise, you'll have more and more relationships with civilians: Political appointees when you're in the Pentagon and civil service employees spread throughout the Army," McCarthy said. "We each have a fundamental role. There's responsibilities we share and we have to work through them together."
McCarthy spoke about the two-year budget agreement signed by President Trump on February 9 and not only its positive impact on the military, but how he is working to prepare for Army operations beyond that.
"The advantage of an eight percent increase for the U.S. Army is we will be able to invest heavily in the next two years," McCarthy said. "But inflation will make it difficult to sustain over future years. My first task is to figure out how to keep the funding stream first and foremost. I will look at what choices we can make in the near-term to increase future vertical life. Some will be based on technology, some will be how we are organized to fight. So it's not just about the materiel we procure, it's about the manner in which we employ it and fight threats in the future."
Moran spoke after McCarthy finished and shared his appreciation for the military. He shared a moment he experienced at the site of the 9-11 attack in which he was profoundly struck with the understanding of what he needed to do for the American people and the world.
"On my departure from Ground Zero, New Yorkers had developed a makeshift memorial to those who had died there," Moran said. "It was made of long tables in which people had brought stuffed animals, flowers, notes and other remembrances. I only touched one thing. I read a note on a piece of notebook paper with a jagged edge that had been torn out of a spiral. The words written in a child's handwriting were, 'Dear Daddy, How much I miss you, how I hope Heaven's a wonderful place and I hope I will have a life good enough to join you in heaven someday. Amanda, age 12.'
"That was the point in time I realized it was insufficient to just be a good member of Congress," Moran continued. "I didn't understand the world, I was provincial in my thinking, I took care of my constituents -- which I continue to do -- but I needed to know more about the world. The realization was that the role the United States of America -- whether be it civilian or military -- is to make the world a better place so that in some point in time, we can ensure ourselves that there will be no additional Amanda's writing notes to their father no longer living."
As part of the visit, McCarthy received briefings from CAC, Combined Arms Center -- Training and Mission Command Center of Excellence senior leadership. He talked about the vital importance of these organizations' missions.
"Mission Command is going to help us bring our Multi-Domain Battle doctrine to the Force," McCarthy said. "A big part of Multi-Domain Battle is how we run combat operations, but decentralize the authorities. It's a massive undertaking to make this transition from Air Land Battle to Multi-Domain Battle with generations of knowledge going back to the 1970s. It will be a huge metamorphosis of the Army."