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Purpose, Autonomy Help With High-Tech Recruiting

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AUSA
Thursday, November 21, 2019

Despite perceived challenges, the Army can both recruit and retain talented people in information technology jobs, said Maj. Gen. Richard Staats, the 75th Innovation Command commanding general.

IT prospects want purpose, autonomy and the ability to become experts, Staats said during a panel discussion focused on how the Army can compete for talent in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems. 

The panel was part of the Army Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition, hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army, in Detroit.

Staats said he’s been able to find 50 experts to work for his command with a 1.5% turnover rate, in part because work in the military provides them the ability to work more independently than in the private sector.

“We want people who are mentally agile, who have good judgment and are people of character,” said Col. Greta Railsback, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Leadership. The leadership traits for highly skilled talent are not different from the traits sought in leaders in other parts of the Army, she said.

Traditionally a closed, rigid system with entry at the bottom and building to higher levels of responsibility, the Army should use new authorizations to bring people into the IT fields, said Lt. Col. Kristin Saling, chief analytics officer for the Army Talent Management Task Force. This means alternative promotion authorities, making it easier to move between components, and allowing time to go do another job or assignment with the opportunity to return to the IT field, Saling said.

William Treseder, a senior vice president for BMNT Partners, a California-based veteran-owned consulting firm, said the Army can recruit highly skilled people with a sense of purpose. “You need to capture the emotional essence of what you do,” said Treseder, who said he enlisted in the Marine Corps based on a marketing campaign featuring a Marine fighting a lava monster.

For more on the Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition, click here or follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AUSArobot.