Work: NDU Students Should
Become ‘Strategic-level Leaders’
By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – August 5, 2014 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work urged National
Defense University students to become strategic-level leaders, telling them that
“this exceedingly complex and potentially more dangerous world” demands critical
and creative thought.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work
delivers remarks at the convocation ceremony for the National Defense University
on Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2014. DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett.
DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett
In remarks prepared for delivery to the Class of 2015, Work
called on students to “develop critical ways of thinking, to question
assumptions, to come up with new ideas, fresh insights, and answers to the
world’s most vexing security challenges.”
Work noted that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has emphasized
that while U.S. military involvement in conflicts overseas during the past
decade has wound down, service members instead face “… a fractured global
security environment, characterized by great uncertainty, rapid change, new and
sophisticated threats and continued political turbulence.”
He also addressed the challenges DoD faces in budgetary
turbulence in the coming years. “This is an unprecedented time of maximum
challenge for [DoD],” he added, noting that DoD’s future decisions will
determine the size, shape and composition of the U.S. military “for decades to
“We need creative ideas on how to posture our forces globally
to accomplish the greatest strategic effect, how to fight more effectively in
new domains with possibly game-changing technologies, how to protect U.S.
interests and enhance our security in new areas. And we must do all this with
fewer resources and what will no doubt be a smaller military,” he said.
U.S. forces face the possibility of arriving in a future
combat theater to confront an arsenal of advanced, disruptive technologies “that
could turn U.S. previous technological advantage on its head,” Work said, where
the nation’s military no longer has uncontested theater access or unfettered
operational freedom of maneuver.
And that is a future in which he, Hagel and Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey are determined to avoid, Work
said. “To maintain our technological superiority as we transition from one
warfighting regime to another, we must begin to prepare now,” the deputy
emphasized. “In addition to new technologies, a new offset strategy will require
innovative thinking, the development of new operational concepts, new ways of
organizing, and long-term strategies.
“As future strategic leaders, you need to ask how we should
prepare for a future where new and disruptive technological developments are
continuously occurring,” Work continued. “What policies are needed? What
investments are warranted?”
Such creative ideas, he said, often come from students and
their networks outside the military, and from allies and partners in the
And with a “sense of urgency,” the deputy said, the nation’s
entire national security community needs to stimulate new critical thinking and
research on how the nation maintains its technological dominance, and to enable
a smaller force to maintain overmatch against any potential adversary.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
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