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Defense Strategy Calls for Cultivating Talent

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U.S. Army
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The 2018 National Defense Strategy calls for more emphasis on “cultivating” the military and civilian workforce and continued reforms to cut defense costs while improving performance.

Talent management efforts would apply to uniformed and civilian personnel.

For civilian workers, the document says the military “requires a motivated, diverse and highly skilled civilian workforce.” To get that, DoD “will emphasize new skills” with information experts, data scientists, computer programmers and basic science researchers and engineers. They’ll be expected to “use information, not simply manage it,” the document says.

“The department will also continue to explore streamlined, nontraditional pathways to bring critical skills into service, expanding access to outside expertise and devising new public-private partnerships to work with small companies, startups and universities,” it says.

For uniformed personnel, the strategy document says professional military education “has stagnated” and appears more focused on getting credit for completed courses than on improving leadership. “We will emphasize intellectual leadership and military professionalism in the art and science of warfighting, deepening our knowledge of history while embracing new technology and techniques to counter competitors,” it says.

Calling current military bureaucracy “increasingly unresponsive,” the strategy calls for a new culture “where results and accountability matter.”

“We will put in place a management system where leadership can harness opportunities and ensure effective stewardship of taxpayer resources,” it says.

That means changing management structure and processes to focus on innovation and financial control. It also means rethinking what it means to be successful. “Success no longer goes to the country that develops a new technology first but rather to the one that better integrates it and adapts its way of fighting,” the document says, calling for new focus on delivery speed, the ability to continuously adapt and to have frequent modular upgrades rather than completely new systems.

“We must not accept cumbersome approval chains, wasteful applications or resources in uncompetitive space or overly risk-adverse thinking that impedes change,” it says. “Delivering performance means we will shed outdated management practices and structures while integrating insights from business innovation.”