By Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. PAOSeptember 25, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Leaders in today's Army must be thinkers as much as they are fighters. A young platoon leader in Iraq or Afghanistan could easily find himself doing the job of a diplomat, a politician, an engineer, and a social worker, even while he remains focused on defeating the enemy in combat.
To help leaders meet the daunting intellectual demands that modern warfare entails, the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team recently inaugurated its Distinguished Lecturer Series.
The series is designed to help leaders from the brigade navigate complex geo-political issues and understand evolving concepts in military affairs through exposure to a wide array of lecturers from the worlds of the military, academia, and politics, said Maj. Troy Glazier, the brigade Information Operations officer, who helped develop the concept for the series.
The opening lecture in the series was delivered by Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, director of concept development and experimentation at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, to a packed house of more than 100 senior officers and noncommissioned officers at the Hall of Heroes Friday.
McMaster was warmly introduced by Col. Chris Gibson, the 2nd BCT commander, who praised him as a leader, scholar, warrior and friend. As a battalion commander, Gibson served under McMaster in Tal Afar, Iraq in 2005, where McMaster's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was waging - and winning - one of the first large-scale counter-insurgency efforts of the Iraq War.
The Hall of Heroes lecture room was light years away from the dust and dirt of Iraq, but the same unconventional, outside-the-box attitude that McMaster displayed in Tal Afar was still in evidence. His lecture was devoted to an overview of his efforts to develop the 2009 Army Capstone Concept, the document that envisions how the Army will fight future conflicts, as well as an unsparing analysis of some of the flawed assumptions underlying previous concepts.
McMaster said that in the 1990s and early 2000s, some military theorists had foreseen an era of unmatched military dominance for the U.S. based on technology and information superiority. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have clearly shown such claims to be unrealistic, he said.
In contrast, the concept being developed by McMaster now is based on adaptability in the face of continued uncertainty.
"You've got to continuously adapt to the conditions of future conflict as you see them emerging," McMaster said.