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Survey Says 'Balance Army Needs with Army Beliefs'

Survey Says 'Balance Army Needs with Army Beliefs'

By Joe Burlas, Army News Service.

Washington D.C. -- May 25, 2001 (ANS) -- Army Transformation is not just about getting new equipment and creating doctrine for a leaner, lighter force envisioned for Interim Brigade Combat Teams. It is also about creating a balanced internal culture that makes soldiers and their families the Army's center of gravity, according to the Army Training and Leader Development Panel.

A summary of the panel's findings was released May 25.

The panel interviewed more than 13,000 soldiers and family members in the past year to examine issues impacting training and leader development and how current policies in those areas effect leaders and soldiers as they carry out their assigned missions. Additional studies seeking the views of noncommissioned and warrant officers are planned.

"The Army is transforming itself into a new force for the future..." Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki said. "The most important part of that force will be its soldiers and leaders. They must be agile and adaptive in order to employ the capabilities that the future Army must possess. The Army must begin now to train the soldiers and grow the leaders for the Objective Force."

What the Field Said

Respondents addressed issues that ranged from well-being to job satisfaction and training standards to the officer education system. According to the report's executive summary, answers indicated that the Army culture is out of balance -- that Army practices do not match up with Army beliefs. But, the field also expressed a strong belief in service to the nation and pride in their profession.

Specific findings included:

  • Combat Training Centers are highly valued by the field as the Army's best training experience.
  • High operational tempo negatively impacts every aspect of the Army.
  • The officer assignment process focuses on personnel management rather than quality professional development.
  • Lieutenants are often rushed through developmental leadership positions that impact on their opportunity to master tactical and leadership skills due to a shortage of captains.
  • The latest Officer Efficiency Report is yet to be accepted. The management of the senior rater profile is a major issue. There is a belief that an above-center-of-mass performance does not always equal the same rating on the evaluation.
  • The Army's commitment to well-being, family and personal time, health care, housing, and retirement benefit expectations are not being fully met.
  • Decisions to make the Army their career are strongly influenced by pride in the Army and its service to the nation. Spouses strongly echoed this position.
  • Junior officers discussed concerns about job satisfaction, unmet leadership development opportunities and an imbalance between the needs of the Army and the needs of family.
  • For more senior officers, concerns centered on the OER, the Command and General Staff Officer College selection board and a sense of being valued.

Panel Recommendations

The panel used the results of field surveys, one-on-one interviews, focus groups and detailed research of other data sources in developing conclusions and recommendations. The panel viewed seven recommendations as imperatives. These were:

Army Culture. Recognize the strong relationship between Army culture and the quality of our training and leader development programs. Army culture (job satisfaction, expectations, shared commitment, micromanagement) must operate routinely within an acceptable "band of tolerance" for the Army to effectively train soldiers and grow leaders.

Officer Education System. Adapt the system to meet the needs of the transforming Army and the realities of the Operational Environment.

Training. Revitalize the Army training system by updating training doctrine, improving home station training, and modernizing the Combat Training Centers.

Systems Approach to Training. Recommit to standards-based training. Standards are the basis for developing training, assessing performance and providing feedback.

Training and Leader Development Model. Adopt a model that clearly shows how training and leader development are linked. The new model must effectively communicate intent and be understood by junior leaders, staffs, and outside agencies. The product of the model should be self-aware, adaptive leaders, and trained and ready units.

Management Process. Implement a management process to change training and leader development. This management process must be iterative, collaborative, and comprehensive. It must provide a recurring forum for senior leaders to measure progress, adjust priorities, and apply resources.

Lifelong Learning. Commit our leaders to lifelong learning through a balance of educational and operational experiences, complemented by self-development. To be a learning organization that supports lifelong learning, the Army must provide training and educational standards and products; a doctrine that fosters lifelong learning; and a digital "Warrior Knowledge Network" to provide one-stop information access for soldiers, leaders and units.

Actions Taken

The panel kept Army senior leaders informed of the progress throughout the survey process. Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Eric K. Shinseki has already acted on many of the ATLDP recommendations -- some before the recommendations were made because they were the right things to do, and others based upon the panel's findings. Still other recommendations require more thorough review.

The Army is pursuing and in some cases has already implemented the following panel recommendations:

  • offering soldiers the opportunity to request stabilization if they have children who are high school seniors.
  • stabilizing lieutenants in platoon-level jobs for a minimum of one year to ensure they build an adequate leadership foundation.
  • scheduling 4-day training holidays in conjunction with national holidays.
  • developing a five-year calendar that includes all training center rotations, deployments to Bosnia, and other rotational missions such as those in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Sinai.
  • reviewing and eliminating non-mission compliance tasks that compete with war fighting training.
  • requiring general officer approval for active-Army weekend garrison training to increase predictability and quality of life.
  • enforcing current training doctrine and stabilization of lieutenants in developmental positions.
  • moving all battalion and brigade changes of command to a summer cycle.
  • pursuing actions to give soldiers permanent change of station orders a year out from their assignments.
  • ensuring training standards are developed and enforced.
  • reducing headquarters manning at division level and above to no more than 105 percent.
  • rewriting training manuals FM 25-100 and FM 25-101.

The Road Ahead

The ATLDP report is now at the Department of the Army for review and implementation as appropriate.

The Army Staff will complete its review to determine resource priorities and develop an implementation management process. Concurrently, the ATLDP will continue its study by examining the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps over the next six months. Teams of NCOs and officers will conduct surveys, interviews, and focus groups with more than 33,000 NCOs around the Army.

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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