Soldiers Brief Senior Army Leaders at AUSA Solarium

Soldiers Brief Senior Army Leaders at AUSA Solarium

Solarium Briefing with Senior Leaders AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. (Tristan Lorei for AUSA)
Photo by: Tristan Lorei for AUSA

A Leader Solarium organized by the Association of the U.S. Army concluded Oct. 11 with the opportunity for about 160 mid-grade NCOs and officers to pitch ideas to senior Army leaders about solving some of the service’s big challenges.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Weimer listened to ideas on fixing a troubled soldier pay system, expanding cold-weather training and straightening out a complicated batch of unit rosters that don’t always agree on how many soldiers are in a unit.

George launched the Leader Solarium review by asking some big questions. “What are the things that prevent you from accomplishing your warfare mission and building cohesive teams?” he asked the group. “What keeps junior soldiers from taking initiative? How do you help leaders enforce standards and discipline?” he asked.

One group asked for earlier and more comprehensive grading of how well soldiers have mastered their MOSs, possibly with annual evaluations called the Total Soldier Assessment Program. “You just came up with something we might be able to use,” Weimer said.

George said he would have the Army Training and Doctrine Command review the proposal. Wormuth also supported the idea, saying, “Great job. I think this is a great idea.”

Inaccuracies in pay and different pay processing rules from one installation to another were issues raised by the Leader Solarium attendees. There was no clear proposal to fix a complicated and frustrating payroll system, and Wormuth has gotten involved in difficult cases. Understaffing of finance personnel may be part of the problem.

“It bothers me that you say this,” George said. “We will obviously take a look.”

He warned, though, that not every problem is worth fixing, especially if it’s complicated and will take considerable time and money to remedy. “For everything we add, we need to think of what comes off the plate,” he said.

Organized by AUSA’s Center for Leadership, the Solarium featured talks from Army leaders and civilian subject-matter experts and small-group discussions. The group of about 160 specially selected soldiers provided their feedback to the senior Army leaders at the end of the three-day event.


— Rick Maze