SHARP Academy Forum focuses on strengthening the Army Profession

By Stephen P. Kretsinger Sr., PQC contractor with the U.S. Army Combined Arms CenterMay 10, 2018

Dr. Don Snider at May 2018 SHARP Professional Forum
Don M. Snider, PhD. Professor of Political Sciences, Emeritus, West Point, and Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College, speaks at the U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Aca... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Academy hosted its second Professional Forum of 2018 in Marshall Auditorium on Tuesday, May 8, at the Lewis & Clark Center on Fort Leavenworth. The event was entitled "Can the Army be an effective military profession if sexual assault and sexual harassment are undiminished?" and featured guest speaker Don M. Snider, PhD. Professor of Political Sciences, Emeritus, West Point, and Adjunct Research Professor, Strategic Studies Institute at the U.S. Army War College.

The purpose of the event was for attendees to gain insights and ask questions of a sexual assault prevention and response professional working in the academic setting. It was attended by current SHARP Academy students, university partners and Fort Leavenworth community members. This professional forum focused on how to the Army is adjusting from mostly a bureaucracy to a profession, and how this paradigm shift will help in the fight against sexual assault and harassment.

"Sexual assault and harassment is eating at the core of what it means to be a professional, "Snider said. "It is a rot inside the Army; there is no other way to describe it."

Although Snider said there is no single silver bullet to solving sexual assault and harassment in the Army, he did speak about foundations that need to be in place to continue combating them.

"The Army can address sexual assault and harassment much better when it moves its behavior from mostly a bureaucracy to a profession," Snider said. "We have to get out of compliancy mode. It isn't going to work. Today's Army is made up of 80 to 90 percent Millennials. They want to be talked to. They want to know 'why,' not 'what' only. You motivate Millennials differently than past generations."

To truly understand the Army profession is to understand what it means to build a culture of trust, Snider said.

"While we are making some progress, we are not making enough," Snider said. "One of the reasons is because we have not created true cultures and climates of trust. Everyone has to earn the trust: the senior needs to earn the subordinates' trust, the peer needs to earn the peers' trust. Trust is a complicated thing. It involves the whole human being from the emotional to the cognitive side."

He added that professions are self-policing meritocracies. When peers police peers, these issues can be greatly reduced.

"There's no bystanders in true professions," Snider said. "We have a lot of people in the Army that are here because they want a job. We don't want 'jobbers.' We want people who are called to the profession and are willing to sacrifice for it, and therefore are not willing to be bystanders. If anything's wrong, professionals stand up and address it."

Snider addressed the fundamental way to shift from a bureaucracy to a culture of profession and trust with one word: leadership.

"The simple answer is the development of leaders at all levels who know what it means to be a professional," Snider said. "It requires the leader to value that development and put in the time and effort to make the Army a profession and get us out of the bureaucratic over-commitment compliance culture of running too fast and trying to do too many things. A bureaucracy, compliance-based Army, led by transactional leaders will never successfully address sexual assault and harassment."

Commissioned from West Point in 1962, Snider has served more than five decades as both Soldier and scholar. He served three combat tours as an infantry officer in Vietnam, decorated for both valor and wounds. After battalion command in the 7th Infantry Division, he specialized in strategy and defense policy as Chief of Plans for Theater Army, Europe; Joint Planner for the Army Chief of Staff; and, Federal Executive Fellow at the Brookings Institution. In 1987 he joined the staff of the National Security Council in the White House as Director, Defense Policy, serving in both the Reagan and Bush Administrations. In his final active duty position he served in the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring in 1990.

Since then as a scholar, he served for many years on the faculty at West Point. He led the Academy's effort, and more recently those of our other services, to renew the study of military professions, their ethics, and their civil-military relations. He developed privately-funded research projects with scholars from across America and abroad and then published four important books and authored numerous articles in respected military and academic journals on the Army Profession and the moral development of its leaders. Snider departed the Academy in 2008 as Professor Emeritus, the second civilian in the Academy's history to be so honored. He subsequently joined the faculty at the Army War College as Professor of the Army Profession, and the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic (CAPE) as a Senior Fellow. In these positions he helped lead a two-year effort to produce the first-ever doctrine on the U.S. Army as a military profession (ADRP-1, The Army Profession, 2013). He then assisted another such effort in 2015 that redefined the Army's Professional Ethic. Snider retired in October 2016 after 53 years of service within Department of Defense, assuming Adjunct status.

"We are excited to have Dr. Snider with us today because of the unique experience and perspective he brings," said Col. Christopher Engen, director of the SHARP Academy. "As we are trying to increase effectiveness in prevention, we think his insights on how SHARP relates to the wider Army Profession and our Army Ethic are vitally important to the way forward.

"I hope the attendees will see SHARP as something that is not just a discussion by itself," Engen added. "It's really part of the wider consideration of who we are and what we stand for as Army Professionals."

Related Links:

U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Academy

U.S. Army Combined Arms Center