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The Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, provides the 10-month-long command and general staff officer course. The program serves as an Army officer’s mid-career, graduate-level, professional military education and fulfills congressional, Joint, and Army requirements for officer development. Over the past few years, however, it received some considerable criticism over how it’s structured and operated.
In recent years, Mexican drug cartels have created a startling proliferation of violence just south of the U.S. border. For example, the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel engaged in outright combat with Mexican security forces and carried out a number of civilian executions earlier this year. A 2013 Government Accountability Office report indicated that 33 U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies expressed grave concern over potential spillover violence into American border states.
Under the direction of Army Secretary John McHugh, junior commissioned and warrant officer evaluation reports, previously masked from scrutiny, will be available for promotion and selection boards to examine by July 1. The errors and successes an officer made in the formative stages of his or her career will be laid out with the potential to have an influence on continued service. This major shift in personnel policy comes at a time when the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense are already experiencing significant upheaval internally while trying to fix unresolved problems abroad. And while offering more transparency to senior promotion boards on how an officer performed early on in his or her career may introduce some professional risk for some officers and “break faith” with others, it may also be necessary to improve the profession of arms.
During my bi-annual visit to a local Verizon shop for a cell phone upgrade, the representative assisting me asked for identification to validate my account. I offered my military ID out of habit. This conversation then followed:
Recently, a syndicated Task & Purpose article on Army leadership received some buzz, partly because of its eye-catching title and partly because many agreed with its thesis. The author’s main point is that the Army focuses too narrowly on unimportant details as a way to lead instead of taking in the broader character of the soldier in order to lead him. Under the pseudonym CombatCavScout, the author writes:
The new Army Operating Concept, entitled “Win in a Complex World,” was released for public consumption earlier this month. It received considerable attention, primarily due to the exceptional leadership tied to its construction, but also how it contrasts to the gloom of impending defense budget and end-strength cuts. With the active-Army end strength projected to drop to as low as 420,000 soldiers by 2017 from a wartime high of 570,000 in 2008, Army leadership is rightly nervous about readiness. Soldiers, many who served honorably and deployed to any number of contingencies, are destined to have their careers cut short.