WASHINGTON — As the Army looks toward the future, the most important aspect for the force is having noncommissioned officers who understand global challenges and can effectively lead, said Army leaders.
“My No. 1 priority is developing adaptive leaders for a complex environment,” said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.
He spoke at a panel discussion on the future of Army leader development, at the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, in Washington, D.C., Oct. 22.
Odierno said good leadership, risk taking in an evolving world, and creating a positive command climate are important elements for an effective force.
It is not just the colonels and generals who need to effectively lead, he said.
“We know that truly platoons, squads, companies can impact things tactically, operationally and strategically, depending on the mission,” Odierno said.
The Army is at a “distinct advantage” over other armies around the world because of the programs it put in place that developed such effective leaders, he said.
“But we just can’t rest now on what we’ve done in the past,” said Odierno. “It’s now time for us to look into the future.”
The Army learned from Iraq that socio-economic and political situations are critical considerations when dealing with a country. The Army will have to deal with those issues in any nation it goes into in the future, “whether we like it or not,” he said.
“We have to understand what that means. We have to have programs that help to develop our leaders to understand that,” Odierno said.
Also speaking on the panel were Gen. Robert W. Cone, commanding general, Army Training and Doctrine Command; Lt. Gen. Robert B. Brown, commanding general, I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III.
Cone said that Soldiers are effective on the battlefield, but now that the Army is transitioning away from combat, leaders need to know how to effectively manage in noncombat operations.
He said that Soldiers say a key element for development is for Army leaders to manage the talent of younger members, and not micromanage.
“This really resonates with this generation of leaders,” Cone said. “They want to be recognized for their unique talents to make sure we’re making the most of them.”
Chandler said effective leadership from general officers creates the climate in which noncommissioned officers succeed.
“Being an NCO in today’s Army is exciting. It’s challenging. It’s the most rewarding thing I think, other than seeing your kids grow up, that a Soldier can do,” he told the panel.
“We have that opportunity because we have general officers like these who are here and others who listen to our NCOs, value what they do, and empower us each and every day to solve the Army’s problems as we move forward,” Chandler said.