The Army is undergoing its greatest transition in more than 40 years as it looks to modernize its doctrine, equipment, force structure, and skill sets to prepare for campaigning in a future contested environment. Key to the Army’s transformation is people. As Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville said, “We are in a war for talent, and when I think about the Army, it is people — every Soldier, every family member, every Department of the Army Civilian, and every Soldier for life matters.”
The Army sustainment enterprise wants and needs the best of the best to work in its ranks. To do this, the Army must continue to invest in 21st-century talent management strategies to modernize training, processes, and skill sets to recruit, train, and retain the next generation of Army sustainers as it continues to grow and transform the current workforce.
Recruit. The Army offers more than 200 ways to serve as a Soldier or Army Civilian, including in various scientific, technical, and professional fields across the logistics, sustainment, and installation enterprise, all necessary for the Army to accomplish its mission. There are unlimited possibilities to discover passions, pursue purpose, and build lifelong careers. Everyone is responsible for carrying this message to families, friends, and local communities as the Army seeks to win the war for talent. The Army is also working on expanding partnerships with academia, implementing industry best practices, and leveraging hiring flexibilities to strategically target, engage, recruit, and onboard talent quickly.
Train. As the Army moves toward a focus on data-centricity and fields new technologies, it must invest in the training and education of the current workforce, which in turn will be tomorrow’s sustainment leaders. It needs to bring the same innovation that drives Army modernization to professional development programs, formal schoolhouse education, and on-the-job training to capitalize on the unique knowledge and skill set each member of the Army team possesses in support of next-generation capabilities. Transforming and modernizing training strategies, processes, and opportunities enable the Army to meet the needs of a multidomain operations-capable and ready future force. Increasing the availability of technical skill sets, deploying existing talent more precisely, training Army manpower more robustly, and hiring the needed expertise to deliver the right talent to the right location will continue to strengthen the Army’s ability to provide logistics and sustainment in support of the joint force.
Retain. To retain a high-quality, high-performing, and diverse workforce, leaders must continually invest in improving the quality of life for Soldiers, civilians, and families. Prioritizing improvements in housing, childcare, spouse employment, and permanent change of station moves directly affects readiness and retention efforts and is non-negotiable. But leaders can also implement smaller, simple changes to make their organizations and headquarters places of choice for the best talent. In one instance, Wi-Fi was the deciding factor for several great employees between two organizations right next door to each other. Take time to talk with your people. Ask them what would improve their work environment, and then act. The Army retains talent by investing in people and establishing positive work environments.
With transformation comes the opportunity for growth. Leaders must ensure the Army is positioned to build the bench with the right talent, in the right position, and in the right place at the right time to meet current, surge, and future Army requirements. To do this, it needs to implement data-driven talent management processes that look holistically at a person’s skills, education, experiences, and attributes to match individuals with positions where they can best contribute and grow. Ultimately, recruiting a talented workforce, investing in employee growth, and providing a safe, healthy, and secure workplace will allow the Army to cultivate and retain a trained and ready 21st-century workforce.
Gen. Charles R. Hamilton currently serves as the commanding general of Army Materiel Command. In February 1988, he graduated from Officer Candidate School as a Distinguished Military Graduate and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. He earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Virginia State University, a master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University, and a master’s degree in military studies from Marine Corps University. He also graduated from a Senior Service College Fellowship — Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellows Program.
This article was published in the Summer 2023 issue of Army Sustainment.