Leadership receives a tremendous amount of attention, but what about the day-to-day command challenges that confront O-4s, O-5s, and O-6s in today’s war zones? What has command entailed over the past decade and a half for special operations force (SOF) commanders who have deployed to Afghanistan (and Iraq) either to lead or to work under Special Operations Task Forces (SOTFs) or Combined Joint Special Operations Task Forces (CJSOTFs)? In both theaters, officers have had to contend with various competing hierarchies and significant churn. What then might the Army and military do to obviate or mitigate these and other problems? The contours of a potential solution are described and its benefits discussed.
Identity development is touted as an important leader development need, but it often gets short shrift in professional military education (PME) environments, including the Senior Service Colleges (SSC). The inculcation of professional values, resiliency, and critical and reflective thought are essential to properly operationalizing the skills and knowledge learned in an SSC, but they are highly subjective, difficult to measure, and therefore difficult to develop educational activities around. New policies for officer and civilian professional education include provisions for developing leaders, such as the recent inclusion of six Desired Leader Attributes (DLAs) in the Joint officer PME continuum, but it remains unclear how to operationalize those goals. This Letort Paper presents a way ahead using role identities and Bloom’s affective domain to identify developmental objectives to parallel the development of skills and knowledge in SSC programs and shows how this approach can be generalized across PME.
In this monograph, Dr. Tami Davis Biddle examines why it is so difficult to devise, implement, and sustain sound strategies and grand strategies. Her analysis begins with an examination of the meaning of the term “strategy” and a history of the ways that political actors have sought to employ strategies and grand strategies to achieve their desired political aims. She examines the reasons why the logic undergirding strategy is often lacking and why challenges of implementation (including bureaucratic politics, unforeseen events, civil-military tensions, and domestic pressures) complicate and undermine desired outcomes. This clear-headed critique, built on a broad base of literature (historical and modern; academic and policy-oriented), will serve as a valuable guide to students and policymakers alike as they seek to navigate their way through the unavoidable challenges—and inevitable twists and turns—inherent in the development and implementation of strategy.
In 2014, the National Defense Authorization Act directed the Department of Defense to reconsider the way the Army evaluates and selects leaders. This call for reform came after repeated surveys from the Center for Army Leadership suggested widespread dissatisfaction with the current approach. The Army today is seeking to inculcate a philosophy of mission command across the force based on a culture of mutual trust, clear intent, and decentralized initiative. It is therefore, reasonable to ask if our current performance evaluation system contributes or detracts from such a culture. This paper seeks to answer this question by considering the essential leader attributes required for the exercise of mission command and then considering practical methods for evaluating this behavior. It then reviews the history of the existing Army performance evaluation system and analyzes how well this existing system conforms to the attributes of mission command. Finally, the paper examines other methods of performance evaluation outside of the Army to determine if those methods could provide a better model. This examination includes a variety of best practice models in private business and the public sector and identified alternative approaches to performance evaluation.
The dynamic nature of the future security environment necessitates better retention of diversified talent among officers from the Millennial Generational Cohort. Although the U.S. Army has done well to attract a diverse and talented group of junior officers at commissioning, a revision of the Army’s Personnel System, that incorporates a more personalized management approach, could help to motivate and retain millennial officers and better prepare them for senior leadership. Lieutenant colonels and colonels must provide the transformational leadership and innovation needed to create the intrinsic value that millennials seek in their profession. In order to explore what is most appealing to talented millennial officers and what is most effective for the Army, this Carlisle Paper will explore, as its methodology, the salient features of leadership theory, the characteristics of the Millennial Generational Cohort, and what senior leaders must do to improve attraction, motivation, and retention of millennial officers in the U.S. Army.
The author explains how sophisticated social science research and behavioral profiling can be used to warn us of impeding issues and how that information might be used by senior strategy makers as a tool for testing and refining strategy. He makes a compelling case that the science of Target Audience Analysis (TAA) is now so well advanced that it must become a key component of future strategic decisionmaking. The author views social media as just another communication conduit, and sees this as a continuum of wrong activities being undertaken. In Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw how big public relations and marketing companies cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars in ultimately failed communication and propaganda campaigns. Social media, he argues, has become yet another blank checkbook for companies who rely on creative energy rather than empirical understanding to produce communications campaigns. Instead, he argues for far greater resource in TAA and greater understanding by federal agencies of what is and is not possible or desirable in their communication efforts. To this end, he looks in particular at the U.S. Agency for International Development relief work in Pakistan and argues that the communication objectives set at the start of the projects are almost unattainable, even naive in their presumptions.
Untruthfulness is surprisingly common in the U.S. military even though members of the profession are loath to admit it. Further, much of the deception and dishonesty that occurs in the profession of arms is actually encouraged and sanctioned by the military institution. The end result is a profession whose members often hold and propagate a false sense of integrity that prevents the profession from addressing—or even acknowledging—the duplicity and deceit throughout the formation. It takes remarkable courage and candor for leaders to admit the gritty shortcomings and embarrassing frailties of the military as an organization in order to better the military as a profession. Such a discussion, however, is both essential and necessary for the health of the military profession.