Effective education, leader development needed to keep DA civilians 

Bill Rice

Effective education and leadership development will be the difference-makers in retaining a robust civilian work force within the future Army, according to Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“One of the greatest things we’ve developed in the past 10-12 years is the great civilian workforce,” Cone said, during an Oct. 23 luncheon honoring Army civilian workers at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition. “My fear is that these great people are going to walk. They’re going to leave this profession.”

Cone explained that this fear stems from both the ongoing downsizing of the Army as well as recent events in Washington, such as the government shutdown, various furloughs and sequestration. The TRADOC general explained that “all of this happens in a backdrop where we have wage and salary freezes, downsizing organizations, talk of cutting 20 percent here, 20 percent there.”

“This is no way to treat a full partner in the business of the Army,” said Cone, adding that it was disgraceful that “people who are absolutely essential [were] told ‘no you’re not essential – go home” during the shutdown.

“I really worry on a day-to-day basis about my civilians” he said.

It is the responsibility of Army leaders, at all levels, to counteract this, Cone said, by creating a vision for their role and development in the future Army.

Part of this new vision should include an adjustment of Army doctrine, he added. Cone said that “we’re now expanding the doctrine to make sure it’s inclusive” to civilian workers.

Leaders must also focus on the “acculturation of our new civilians into our mission, ethic and values,” Cone said. The Army must nurture institutional trust and make explicit what the shared “common set of values that guide us,” he said.