This month, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. examines transition plans-his favorite, in particular, which is the 500-day plan. He discusses his experience using such a plan at CENTCOM and at DISA, and the benefits of doing so over, say, an 18-month plan or the "typical" five-year strategic plan favored by so many organizations:
Tech-savvy younger workers from Generation Y are accustomed to easy, speedy access to information. In the not-too-distant future, late Boomers and even Generation X workers will have to adapt to the ways that work force culture is changing as a result of this incoming generation's influence. This month's Incoming column examines howrganizations are faced with the challenge to remain relevant, but must do so in a way that makes change a positive asset.
In the column, Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF (Ret.), writes:
In this month's Incoming column, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege Jr. notes how everyone is going mobile and virtual. He traces how DISA approached the challenges of telework beginning in 2000 in an effort to improve productivity, ease the time and money burden of travel, reduce traffic congestion and boost morale. He notes:
Fortunately, our early experiment developed over time, and DISA now has an award-winning telework program. Today, DISA employees are working from home and also are "forward-deployed" as an advanced echelon to their new headquarters location at Fort Meade, Maryland. Now, DISA employees can telework up to three days a week-60 percent of the work week-with supervisory approval.
For more than half the history of our country, one of the surest ways to be elected president was to gain public fame as a general in the U.S. Army. George Washington set the example, and Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant followed. There were others, too; presidents we do not think of as military men, although they wore stars: Franklin Pierce, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur and Benjamin Harrison. The bumptious Theodore Roosevelt made it to colonel during the Cuban expedition of 1898. Had the war with Spain gone on, he would surely have advanced.
"Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” So went the taunt in the 1987 film The Princess Bride, a comic adventure brimming with clever one-liners. Plunging into ground combat in Asia was considered “one of the classic blunders,” as a character describes it, so obvious that even children get the joke. Thus thought the gifted screenwriter William Goldman, who once had typed reports in the Pentagon as a U.S. Army corporal and went on to pen scripts for classic movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and A Bridge Too Far. Yet what may have seemed obvious to Goldman and throngs of moviegoers apparently did not register above the corporal level in the U.S. high command.
The late Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his nom de guerre, V.I. Lenin, used to be famous, or at least infamous. As the founding dictator of revolutionary Russia, Lenin built a grim, cruel and mighty police state whose oppressive successor to this day menaces all too many unhappy people in eastern Europe. The man the Communists once idolized as “our dear Ilyich” is long gone and, in decent circles, not missed very much.
It really is the perfect weapon for a country of couch potatoes. Grab the remote, point, click and “boom,” there goes some hapless al-Qaida bigwig, blown to smithereens in living color. It is like playing “Call of Duty,” but with real ammo. That’s what smart operators can do with an MQ-1 Predator (as in “Apex”) or an MQ-9 Reaper (as in “Grim”). The bad guys never see them coming. Yes, for the United States, this truly is the day of the drone.
Recent reverses in Iraq and Afghanistan have led some experts, both appointed and self-designated, to complain that the facts on the ground may be bad enough—and they are—but far worse is the ignorance of the U.S. citizenry on what supposedly is really at stake in sand-blasted Mesopotamia or on the stony heights of the Hindu Kush. Despite 12-plus years of terrorist-hunting, nation-building and counterinsurgency, somehow the word never got back to Joe and Jane Sixpack. Average U.S. citizens do not mind striking hard at those who attack us—indeed, the public rightly expects strong military responses to outrages such as 9/11.
You don’t hear much old-school military radio traffic anymore. Except for a few front-line radio nets, most radio chatter has been replaced by the endless, silent interplay of text messages, emails and Web postings. With that shift, we have lost an entire dialect of martial radio-speak. Sure, the approved terms—roger, wilco, prepare to copy, say again—remain in the training curricula. But the unofficial lexicon has dried up. You rarely hear today’s sergeants and lieutenants asking “how do you read this station?” That certainly is a tribute to the crystal clarity offered by modern digital equipment. And you certainly never hear the old standby before rendering a report: “Be advised.” Nobody is advised of anything in today’s U.S.
"The Russians. Don’t forget about the Russians." Col. Charles R. Codman, USA, whispered the warning to Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr., USA, as the Third Army commander rolled through some extemporaneous remarks to about 60 of the good folks of tiny Knutsford, England, on April 25, 1944. Local volunteers had opened a welcome club for Gen. Patton's soldiers, and the tough general came to offer his thanks. As he did, he observed that in his opinion, it was the "evident destiny of the British and Americans" to "rule the world," so "the better we know each other, the better job we will do." Although the event was supposed to be off the record, journalists wrote it all down. They knew well that Gen. Patton was always good for a colorful quote.
As a group, generals tend to be relentlessly positive. The pre-eminent U.S. soldier of recent years, Gen. Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), likes to remind us that, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” War and military operations are hard enough, but gloom and defeatism only make things harder. In combat, a morale edge sure helps. It is not by accident that Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy’s outfit, the U.S. Army’s famous 15th Infantry Regiment, has as its motto, “Can Do.”
Nuclear weapons are back in the news. Those concerned about the Middle East watched warily as the United States and others labored to rein in Iran’s budding nuclear ambitions. Interested citizens heard of low morale and troubling disciplinary issues afflicting our nuclear missile launch teams. On a somewhat lighter note, film fans marked 50 years since the premiere of Stanley Kubrick’s satiric gem, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. We sure do not love the bomb—we never did, really—but we also do not worry much about it these days. Perhaps we should.
In the second act of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, musing aloud, the heroine speaks that justly famous line: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” True enough—but The Tragedy of Fred and Juliet lacks a certain zing. Juliet’s lament aside, Shakespeare knew reality. We best remember those items rightly named.
That is as true in the military as any other line of work. And, it has more relevance today in an information age in which credibility often is suspect.
Military people like to look at themselves, and it has nothing to do with vanity. Rather, it is about improving, but the attention is not always welcome at the business end. Senior personnel offer the usual advice: Cooperate and learn. Do not be defensive. Looking at ourselves can only make us better, so we go along with it. And often—not always, but enough to matter—we find out important facts we did not know.
Two pictures have taken up residence in my mind over the past few weeks. They highlight the growing disconnect between the U.S. Defense Department and the broader strategic environment—not just in terms of geopolitics but also in the way the rest of the world lives, works and interacts.
The first image captures how the Defense Department views the world. It is a simple map with neat lines delineating the different joint combatant commands. While the boundaries make sense in a conventional way, they are drawn merely for geographic convenience. Implicitly, those lines preclude interaction between constituent elements.
Over the past year, I’ve had the honor of forming, organizing and implementing two teams of emerging military leaders. Both have provided valuable insights, mostly through learning from doing and adapting after failure. The adage “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” runs deep throughout both, and individual members are given high degrees of autonomy. Working with these two groups, I have learned several lessons along the way, and I hope to carry them forward into the critical second year.
Listen to many senior leaders in both the civilian and military sectors today, and it becomes apparent that there is no shortage of good ideas. Indeed, with austerity and sequestration the new reality, the lack of funds requires creativity. However, far too many fail to take personal responsibility by citing a vague “we should” mantra instead of the more powerful—and personally accountable—“I will.”
Bureaucracies are slow to change, and few may be more anemic than the military services. With a foundational and personnel structure optimized for the Cold War and the industrial age, this unfortunate reality is acutely evident as the information age accelerates into ever more complex manifestations.
While some leadership principles remain constant regardless of the era, quite a few must be adapted to the realities of their time. Some of the characteristics already have defined, and will continue to define, effective 21st century military leadership.
The advent of social networks is transforming the way the military does business. Net-centric warfare once was in vogue, seeking to capture electrons and raw fiber to transform the way combat was fought. Yet an even more powerful and unanticipated net is making waves in remarkable ways. It is the power of relational networks, fostered by loose ties and catalyzed by the proliferation of quickly evolving online platforms.
Additive manufacturing, more commonly understood in the technology world as 3-D printing, is here to stay. Integrating this technology into our fleet and logistical supply chains now could provide incredible benefits, even though the technology still is relatively nascent. The Economist calls this “the third industrial revolution,” and, indeed, these techniques could transform the way we supply materiel in the wars we fight.