Army reforms leadership development programs 

10/12/2011 6:00 PM 

Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the deputy chief of staff G-1

As the Army looks forward to a lessening of 10 years of intensive combat deployments, it is working to reform and revitalize its leadership development for officers, senior enlisted and the civilian workforce, a panel of Army training and personnel officials said Wednesday, Oct. 12.

That effort is set out in HR2020, a human resources guidance to support Army 2020 and to “transform Army management of manpower” by the end of this decade, the panel of active, National Guard, Army Reserve and civilian leaders told a forum at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Washington Convention Center.

Key parts of that transformation will be restoring the opportunities for training, education and “broadening” experiences that were diminished or lost due to the intensive operational tempo; revising the leader evaluation process for officers and senior enlisted and emphasizing professionalism, including ethics and values, the officials said.

The new approach also could include a “continuum of service” provision that would allow officers to move easily between the active and reserve components if that would allow more opportunities for education and other broadening experiences.

“What the Army’s asking itself, after 10 years of war, is: are we setting up our leaders for success,” Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the deputy chief of staff G-1, said. Due to the repeated combat deployments, top-notch officers were unable to attend the leader development courses, civilian schools and gain experience in other areas, such as industry or civil government offices that would make them better and more versatile, Bostick said.

“The biggest enemy was time. We just didn’t have the time” he said.

For officers, the new path will attempt to provide time for both military and civilian education, opportunities for service on joint staffs, perhaps exchange duty with an allied army and fellowships and other programs to give them broader experiences, Bostick said.

To open up time for those things, the Army will roll back its previous goal of 36-month command tours to 18-24 months. “That was a hard decision, but we have to do that to create some space” for those other career enhancement experiences, he added.

They also are implementing a new process for the officer evaluation report, Bostick called OER 360, which would allow inclusion of views from other than the rating officer. The first phase has been approved by the Army leadership, he said.

“Our goal is to build initiative and agility” in the future leaders, active, reserve and civilian, said Thomas Lamont, the assistant Army secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.

The vision for the future is a “strategic total force structure” that will be able to expand or contract to meet changing conditions, Lamont said.

Brig. Gen. Sean MacFarland, deputy commanding general of the Army Command and General Staff College, said the leader development model aims to develop officers through exposure to an array of duties in the operation and institutional Army, self-development programs, formal education and experiences in joint, civil government and civilian institutions.

The reason for the emphasis on broader range of experience for leaders is prepare them for a world of uncertainty, greater speed of information transfer, decentralization and cyber threats, MacFarland explained.

Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Gills, Bostick’s command sergeant major, described similar broad changes in the development of the Army’s senior enlisted leadership.. Gills also stressed the need for changes in the enlisted evaluation, which he said many believe has been rife with “inflation” in ratings.

Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, commanding general of the Army Reserve, and Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, discussed the challenges of implementing the new leader development programs in the reserve component, where the soldiers had to find time for the additional training and education while maintaining their civilian jobs.

Stultz urged more effort in developing the continuum of service concept that he said would benefit both the active and reserve components.

Carpenter stressed the value of giving members of the National Guard experiences outside their state borders and noted the difficulty his officers had in gaining the joint service experience needed for promotion to the higher ranks.

Similar leader development programs are being implemented to strengthen the 210,000 Army civilian workers, Gwendolyn DeFlippi, director of the civilian leader management office, said.

Both the uniformed and civilian leaders will benefit from a new web-based “career tracker” program that will enable them to plan and facilitate their development efforts, she said.