A U.S. Military Cultural Change?

By | January 11, 2018

[January 11, 2018] Yes, I tried to get Army Vet to write this article about cultural change being discussed in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) but he says he’s “out of town” working with the Guatemalan Army. Army Vet did, however, give me some insight and that is included in today’s article.

The Honorable Robert Wilkie was recently sworn in as the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness this past November. For those unfamiliar with the DoD, this is probably the most important position in the DoD excluding, of course, the Secretary of Defense. The position has considerable latitude to make substantial changes from the unimportant to the most pivotal.

“We have an industrial age system, but we are living in a new age.” – Honorable Robert Wilkie, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness

That certainly raised a number of eyebrows among retired senior leaders since he made that comment. We have all been on a mission that focuses on two major lines of effort. First, increasing the lethality of the military through proven readiness methods. Second, and a corollary of the first, to improve leadership capability and capacity at all levels of the force.

Wilkie’s proposed changes come in several forms as reported at Military.com:*
1. Reducing the classic “up or out” system where troops are required to move upward in their careers or are forced out of the military.
2. Changing assignments every two to three years is to be curtailed.
3. Improving major base infrastructure to support families better.
4. Reducing dwell times between deployments.

These suggestions may soon be approved and are good news for the U.S. military but they are certainly not the big cultural change that we first heard about. Such suggestions are not new and would have been implemented if the War on Terror had not happened. Perhaps Wilkie is seeing an opportunity to bring these in as the force increases its size and reduces it mission set.

Overall the announcement was a disappointment. What a true cultural change in the military should be about is reflected in how the world sees the U.S. If rogue nations like North Korea, Iran, and Syria see us as a nation to never cross, then the military cutlure is working. That is not the case today and thus where real cultural change should occur. True enough that President Obama made it his mission to decrease the effectiveness of the military but that is now in the past.

Increasing the lethality of the force means infusing a warrior spirit in its personnel, more lethal weapons, and a greater capacity to project power anywhere, anytime, and anyplace without notice or apology. This is real cultural change. Let’s hope someone gets it at the DoD.

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* https://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/12/28/pentagon-leaders-looking-make-culture-shift-within-military.html?ESRC=dod_171229.nl

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.