Leadership in the Future?

Marauder06

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A call for papers recently asked for a summation of the future of military leadership in 300 words or less. This was my submission. Since the word count was so limiting, I chose to focus on "network warfare," not in the sense of computers and digits but in the sense of interlinked processes and people fighting different types of wars than what we prepared for previously.

What kinds of things do our future military leaders need to do to succeed against their enemies, especially non-state actors? You do not have to have a military background to provide your personal opinion.

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The Network is Now: Military Leadership in Future Warfare

In the wake of global financial crisis and on the heels of more than ten years of persistent conflict, the future of warfare is likely to be characterized by democratic countries becoming even more reluctant, reactionary, and risk-averse. In this future, Western democracies in particular will continue to face agile, technically adept, and politically astute foes who effectively operate outside of the traditional nation-state model that dominated most conflicts prior to 2001. These future types of adversaries, particularly politically-motivated terrorist groups and economically-focused criminal gangs, will be increasingly able to leverage the kinds of diplomatic, information, military, and economic resources that have historically been the exclusive purview of nations. These organizations will be highly proficient at utilizing Information Age technology to draw in recruits and resources and to spread their message or increase their control of markets and territory. With their international linkages, flattened hierarchy, and access to a wide variety of resources, these types of adversaries are “networked.”

If networked enemies are the most likely future foes, then military leaders must become skilled in constructing, maintaining, and effectively utilizing networks of resources not typically associated with the military. This is required because, in the words of U.S. General (retired) Stanley McChrystal, “it takes a network” to be successful against a networked foe. To build networks, future leaders will have to be highly effective thinkers in addition to proficient fighters. They must be warriors, diplomats, technophiles, and highly skilled communicators all in one package. As the mission dictates, they will have to be able to either lead, influence, or support a federated effort that includes the armed services, civilian agencies, and non-government organizations of several different nations. The “Network Age” of warfare is now upon us, will our future leaders be ready?
 

104TN

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I think with the impeding financial draw-down the services are about to face, a return to the officer corps’ roots of being comprised of skilled generalists makes sense.

Over the last decade the progression of the OC branches has mirrored the enlisted side with officers becoming increasingly focused on niche work. The result has been multiple MOSs, ASIs, SQIs, and functional areas - the majority of which don't need to exist.

While this type of specialization may make sense for an Army that has been temporarily scaled out, it’s not sustainable economically or culturally. There is a reason the military’s rank structure exists and the Army needs to get back to its roots.

The idea is to have competent, well trained specialists at the bottom of the pyramid with intelligent, well-rounded leaders at the top. The higher up the pyramid an individual gets in terms of rank, the fewer peers they should have and the more general their skillset should be. (Because their focus shifts from executing tasks to creating them.)

The Army as it exists now is more akin to a rectangle than a pyramid though, with nearly as many people at the top and middle as at the bottom. The establishment of the Logistics Corps which encompasses the Transportation, Quartermaster, and Ordnance branches would be an example of what I’d consider a step in the right direction.
 

Marauder06

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pardus

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Rick, that was a great post. Your points about the purpose of the officers' corps and the current "rectangle" of leadership are particularly salient, and the Logistic Corps is a good example of consolidating "like functions."

Have you read the direction that the new Chief of Staff wants to take with regard to Army leaders?

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/army-dempsey-on-leadership-022811w/

I have problems with this new "policy".

It also smacks of trying to build doctrine/training/etc... from scratch like we have never done this before. Look to your history, it's all been done before, revise it, tweak it and you'll be literally years ahead of yourself.

Combined ops (for example) were pretty much perfected during WWI, we don't need to reinvent it!
 

104TN

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Rick, that was a great post. Your points about the purpose of the officers' corps and the current "rectangle" of leadership are particularly salient, and the Logistic Corps is a good example of consolidating "like functions."

Have you read the direction that the new Chief of Staff wants to take with regard to Army leaders?

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2011/02/army-dempsey-on-leadership-022811w/

I hadn't until now. For a man who apparently values clarity (summarizing the article), the General's language is pretty confusing.

The good General claims that generalists lack confidence, but is clearly a proponent of the combined-arms philosphy that gave birth to the modular BCT which lends itself so well to leaders that are just that - generalists.

TOE restructuring is just one part of the picture. There also needs to be a realignment (and simplification) of the MOS structure and a closer evaluation of who does what. Joes can do more than they're currently allowed to and WOs exist precisely to serve in the technical billets that many commissioned officers now occupy.
 
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