Future Army leaders must be adaptive, versatile, culturally astute 


University of California-Berkeley 2nd Lt. Donald Johnson is all smiles as he has his shoulder boards pinned on at the 3rd and 4th Regiments’ graduation of the Leader Development and Assessment Course on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Mike Sweeten)

The U.S. Army continues to face challenges as it draws down and changes its missions following the longest conflict the United States has fought with an all-volunteer force – yet, America’s Army remains in the forefront of not only military operations, but also stabilization, humanitarian, peacekeeping, and nation-building efforts during very uncertain times, and with serious budget constraints.

In the introduction to his "Marching Orders" – 38th Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, said that as America’s Force of Decisive Action and "as part of the Joint Force, the Army ensures mission accomplishment, guarantees national security interests, compels adversaries, prosecutes military campaigns and forges a positive difference."

He added, "It is what the American people expect and what our freedom demands."

As an integral part of his priorities and vision, Odierno’s goal to meet the Army’s objectives is to "adapt leader development to meet our future security challenges in an increasingly uncertain and complex strategic environment."

Addressing the 2012 George C. Marshall ROTC Awards and Leadership Seminar, he told the cadets, "You must internalize the Army’s values, demonstrate unquestionable integrity and character, and remain truthful in word and deed.

"Soldiers trust their leaders. Leaders must never break that trust, as trust is the bedrock of our profession."

The Army, as it evolves in today’s world, continues to seek, train, mentor and educate potential leaders who are able to operate in joint, interagency and multi-national environments and, further, be culturally astute and capable to use this awareness and understanding to conduct operations innovatively in an unknown future.

The bottom line is to build and sustain the Army through its leaders – officers and noncommissioned officers – as a "Profession of Arms" that has the right blend of diverse cultural capabilities to facilitate full-spectrum operations, as the nation and the armed forces face a period of constrained resources and a downsizing of the force.

This philosophy entails a constant and diligent review of the Army’s training programs to ensure our nation’s premier land warfare arm is developed as a force of the future as part of Joint Force 2020.

That force must be a "versatile mix of capabilities, formations and equipment led by bold, adaptive and broadened leaders."

Maj. Gen. Jefforey A. Smith, commissioned at The Ohio State University through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) as a second lieutenant of infantry, became the 10th commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command on April 6, 2012.

Now in its 27th year, Cadet Command is headquartered at Fort Knox, Ky., where it was relocated from its original home at Fort Monroe, Va., due to the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

The command’s senior ROTC program is located at 275 host institutions – with an additional 1,066 partnership schools of higher education affiliated with host schools, across America and in U.S. territories.

There are more than 28,000 cadets in the college-level program.

The Junior ROTC program, also under Cadet Command, has units on 1,731 high school campuses around the world to include Germany, Japan, Korea, Guam, Puerto Rico and American Samoa.

There are over 314,000 high school students in this program that promotes and develops good leadership and citizen skills.

Training future leaders

Cadet Command, as the leader in training and growing culturally-aware officers – the Army’s future leaders of the 21st century – must produce the number of quality second lieutenants necessary to meet the Army’s manning levels.

The command continues to produce Armys officers who serve in the active component, the United States Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.

As the Army evolves and transitions from a force that has been tempered by over 11 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now functioning in an uncertain environment, Smith said, "The continuous combat in some of the toughest environments demanded unparalleled ingenuity, flexibility, adaptability and uncompromising integrity form our junior leaders."

Adding, "U.S. Army Cadet Command played a central role in developing and providing our Army with high quality leaders needed to meet these challenges, most recently commissioning 78 percent of our Army’s second lieutenants."

Today, Smith, envisioning the road ahead for the nation’ s premier land fighting force, said, " As we look to the future, the U.S. Army Cadet Command and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program are going to be as important for our future as they have been in the past."

However, to meet the service’s future challenges, Smith said that in evaluating the complexities witnessed during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the dynamics of the Army’s officer training program must be reviewed, evaluated and changed and the "rigor of the program be elevated so when an officer comes out of pre-commissioning training, he or she must be able to think critically, think creatively, be innovative and be a good problem solver."

"Strategic Plan 2013" was developed by Cadet Command to ensure that future Army leaders, armed with the fundamental skills, are relevant and ready to meet challenges and demands of the 21st century.

Enabling Cadet Command to take a holistic review of its leader development program to ensure that it will continue to produce the best commissioned officers in the world, the Strategic Plan prioritizes six of the commanding general’s goals that, according to Smith, will "give the cadets what they want – meaningful, innovative and challenging training and a program that is academically unrivaled."

The priorities are:

Define, develop and coordinate the officer pre-commissioning requirements of 2020.

Transform cadet and leader development using the Outcomes Based Training and Education model. (To include model and modern learning science methods.)

Recruit, train and educate the highest caliber cadre.

Transform and market Army ROTC as the premier source of commissioned officers – and the premier source of leader development and character development.

Recruit and manage the talent of the best quality cadets.

Transform Cadet Command through strategic re-posturing with the refinement of processes and synchronization.

This approach is based on the premise that ROTC professors of military science and instructors on university and college campuses must be trained in transforming the command’s teaching methods and educational processes to the new "learning science."

Smith said, "When you look at the new learning sciences, the outcomes-based education model is a more effective way of teaching, particularly at the college level where the learner becomes the center of attention – not the teacher."

Adding, "So, we at Cadet Command are shifting our teaching methodologies from a teacher-centric method to a student-centric method. And, this will require a shift in our cadre’s teaching methodology."

For example, Cadet Command is transforming some of the methods now employed during the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) held annually at Join Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and will be relocated to Fort Knox, Ky., in 2014. (See related stories, Page 12 and below.)

Known as "Operation Warrior Forge," this "premier training program" had close to 7,000 ROTC cadets participating in 2013 in a learning exercise that establishes, evaluates and develops confidence in cadets’ leadership skills and abilities. (See related stories, Page 12 and below.)

A noticeable change for the future Army warriors was a reduction in the amount of assessments each cadet customarily received – six in the past; four this year.

"My observation," Smith said, "was we were doing too much ‘assessment’ at LDAC, and we need to get more into the leader development side."

Smith said Cadet Command’s new approach is to develop a strategy that creates new, realistic "training environments that are complex – hybrid in nature," and are "outcomes-based" in its training and education methods. This will teach and train cadets by linking education and self-development.

With the reduction to four assessments, the emphasis of the assessment’s weight on the Order of Merit List is also decreased.

Cadet Command is creating an environment where cadets can make mistakes, where they can fail, without affecting their ranking on the Order of Merit List, where cadets are ranked nationally.

The ranking, based on academic and leadership factors -- grade point average, performance at LDAC, physical fitness scores, and assessments made by their instructors – may have an impact on how the cadet is to serve in the Army.

Smith noted Army leaders are supporting Cadet Command’s changing culture that will provide a more meaningful, innovative and challenging training environment governed by outcomes not inputs.

"The Army senior leadership is serious about ensuring that we at Cadet Command continue to look forward. As Gen. [Robert] Cone would say: ‘We are an Army of preparation.’"

Cone, the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, was the closing ceremony’s featured speaker at the 2013 George C. Marshall Awards and Leadership Seminar held annually at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), Lexington. Va.

The seminar honors the top ROTC cadet from each college and university hosting an ROTC program.

Challenging the soon-to-be-commissioned second lieutenants, Cone said, "How many think that after ten weeks of basic training, and eight or nine weeks of AIT (advanced individual training), we have produced a real soldier through and through?

"Of course we haven’t. The fact of the matter is that the business of continued ‘soldierization’ is going to fall on you."

Smith said, "We are doing everything at Cadet Command at the institutional level to prepare our cadets, who will serve as commissioned officers in the Army, to be prepared to train and lead our soldiers – the Army of the future."

As the Army’s major source of providing officers for its ranks, these officers will lead our nation’s sons and daughter "lead from the front" as the service evolves while remaining dedicated to its all-important mission: "Winning the nation’s wars and securing the peace."

In his "Marching Orders," Odierno said: "Army leaders [must] accept that there are now predetermined solutions. Army leaders [must] adapt their thinking, formations, and employment techniques to the specific situations they face.

"This requires an adaptable, innovative mind, a willingness to accept prudent risk in unfamiliar or rapidly changing situations – and the ability to adjust based on continuous assessment."

At the Marshall seminar’s opening session, Smith challenged the Army’s future leaders saying, "You’ll be joining an Army that requires you make decisions that colonels or lieutenant colonels were making some 25 years ago."

Adding, "Our junior leaders have to rise to a much different level in the environment you’ll be operating in than you have ever [done] in the past."