Today’s military leadership was defined and cultured through revolutions, civil war, conflicts, and currently a combat era lasting almost ten years. Through recent leadership development changes brought on by former Secretary of the Army, Dr. Francis Harvey, the military has become an entity trying to keep ahead of the incessant derogatory diversions to the honorable way of life impeding military leadership everyday.
Disregard for human life, loss of the moral compass, innuendo, and complacency have caused the hierarchy to struggle with the leadership model that has formed the civilian populace and ultimately, the future leaders of the military. The leadership model from FM 6-0 serves to guide and provide a basis for thinking and learning. Soldiers arguably want to be honorable and serve their country and communities. They think above the immorality and demonstrate the need to have legitimate attributes the American people have come to expect and deserve.
By molding and mentoring Soldiers to demonstrate character and not to be ashamed of their belief system, the diversity of cultural exchange and improvement of intellectual capacity serves to ensure a resilient military. In order to ensure resiliency, several factors must be part of a maturing officer: values, empathy and the Warrior Ethos. These factors were communicated heavily in the 80’s and 90’s. However, the early twentieth century focused on rebuilding and reorganization of forces. Collective training of new equipment was the focus, too.
There was no clear-cut threat against which to prepare a defense. The strategic environment was increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The Army had to prepare to deter unknown adversaries, defeat ill-defined enemies, and control unfamiliar situations. Instead of focusing on prevailing in major combat operations, the Army was required to balance its capabilities. However, the desire for a “peace dividend” again resulted in a smaller Army during the 1990s. ” (FM 1, Jun 05, Ch. 1-31).
The machismo of the military centered on training, not values or the Warrior Ethos. Values began to become the focus and remain the focus in the twenty-first century. Teamwork was one of the main values emphasized. The “Be All You Can Be” and “Army of One” slogan of the US Army faded quickly. The individualism of the forces converged into a new force of “Army Strong”. Teamwork is key to mission accomplishment and success. The cohesiveness of a team dynamic is a force multiplier to a successful command. Teamwork, however, can lead to mistakes with an immature, junior organization.
Mistakes have to be looked upon as opportunities for improvement and not criticism for failures. Integration and mentors that encourage team members to brainstorm to work with experienced and mature leadership builds trust and further mission accomplishment. (FM 6-22, Oct 06, Ch. 8-23) Empathy is another factor acting indirectly to leadership developmental prosperity. A strong lack of empathy for military personnel returning from Vietnam was prevalent in the 70s. Public opinion of the war was at a high of 52% in Aug 65 and dropped to a low of 28% in May 71. William L. Lunch & Peter W. Sperlich, 1979. The Western Political Quarterly. 32(1). pp. 21-44) The general population could not separate the war from the personnel “in” the war. The remaining service members’ opinions followed the country which lead to becoming what perception was already present.
With the onset of Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom after the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, public opinion and empathy of service members entering combat after more than a 25-year period since extended conflict was at an all-time high of 60%. Bootie Cosgrove-Mather, Jan 03, CBS News) With deaths, severe injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, behavioral /anger management and substance abuse issues along with lengthy periods of deployment, personnel serving in combat began to understand and empathize for their peers. A new cultural understanding of diverse cultures within and outside the organization has led leadership to nurture empathy with sympathy. Building family readiness groups, singles opportunities, diversity courses, training on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and involving the Chaplain Corps has, and continues, to build a stronger military.
This allows for a better transition into a civilian position upon leaving the military. Additionally, it allows for a well-rounded leader to the betterment of the organization. The current Warrior Ethos was authorized by former Army Chief of Staff, Eric K. Shinseki and written (in part) by SFC Matt Larsen, USMC and US Army. (Washington Post, 2003) It encompasses all thoughts and ideals of a service member in combat. Although misconstrued with the Soldier’s Creed, it is only four lines and focuses on the mission, the individual, and the team. Leadership and the encouragement of the team is the epitome of the Warrior Ethos.
Using the ethos in everyday activities is stressed throughout all levels of command and through every phases of military schooling. By taking care of military personnel, whether delivering logistics, providing medical care, or administrative paperwork, leaders ensure the inclusion of the ethos. Not taking care of personnel, we ultimately do a disservice to them and their families. Over the next ten years, honor and values must be stressed in the military. The American people trust the military more than they trust their own elected officials. As such, “meeting the standard” is not enough.
We must excel through thinking and acting. By using factors from the leadership model (ie, values, empathy, and the Warrior Ethos), the military must continue to meet the honorable perception the public has of our commitment to the United States. Several thousand military personnel have lost their lives in service to this country. Although these losses are difficult on the family members, by “taking care of our own”, we can improve resiliency by providing respect and honor to our service members. Before the operations in OIF/OEF, public opinion was 77% in favor of the military and has increased to 94% as late as 2008.
Pew Research Center & Gallup Poll, Jul 09, AEI Studies in Public Opinion, www. aei. org/publicopinion) Maturing leaders are obligated make the most of opportunities by ensuring the carriage and demeanor of their respective service is represented with honor. The complacency of leadership and a junior fighting force has led to diversionary tactics by the media. Empowerment and mentoring the individual is essential to ensuring the next generation of leadership continues to improve. By “building a better foxhole” (LTC Eric Murray, 2008, US Army), we ensure a better organization and increase combat multipliers.
By utilizing lessons from institutional and operational assignments, leader will improve their skill sets. “Becoming educated” is not just a military school every two years. It is civilian education at every level and through a variety and diversity of coursework. Taking a Lieutenant or a new Sergeant and explaining how to succeed early in their career will give them the opportunity to be empowered and encourages life-long learning. Building a culture of learning, empowerment, mentorship and encouragement through values, empathy and the Warrior Ethos builds a lasting organization and strong military for the next generation.
By utilizing history lessons and gained experience through operational and institutional positions throughout my career, I have learned the success of mentorship through development of Soldiers. The use of facilitators, rather than instructors, permits an environment of encouragement rather than dictatorship. Historically, the values, empathy, and Warrior Ethos have always been part of the military. Making these three factors part of everyday activities and missions places command emphasis upon them. Service members follow their leadership’s example.
We must let them know that these factors are the organization’s second nature just as carrying a weapon to war has become. Nurture the junior leadership to become better than they are. Develop the potential afforded the organization with new ideas and technology from the youth of our volunteer service. Operating under this premise, C130: Leader Assessment and Development will assist me in will assist me in my future duties as a Field Grade officer through consistent application of opportunities for development of service members meeting the requirements of assigned missions in an ever-changing, full-spectrum military environment.