Monday, March 24, 2008

a changing Army

My Battalion Commander is on Facebook. Some years ago, a Battalion Commander was someone who would only elicit be into his office (as it was normally a he) meant trouble and pain. If you did not see him, or he you, you were probably doing something right. Yesterday, I got a Facebook message from her linking to a video on YouTube of Lieutenant General Caldwell on The Daily Show.

Times have changed. Mentorship, Professionalism and interaction have replaced fear and unquestioning obedience as the Army's modus operandi. (Can you imagine General MacArthur going on a late night television show to talk about how they train soldiers?) Some people think the change is not a good thing (read The Kinder, Gentler Military: Can America's Gender Neutral Fighting Force Still Win Wars?) but I would disagree with them.

I think our Army is more flexible, more dynamic, and leans towards rewarding critical thinking and innovation because of these changes. Like society in general, once we allow Officers and Soldiers to bring in new styles of leadership, new ideas and innovative ways of doing business, the Army will be able to pick and choose those ideas which work and leave those that don't behind.

If leadership happens over Facebook, so be it, and if the civil-military gap is bridged over the Daily Show, then God Bless it. Maybe the culture will forever change and the stories of WWII and We Were Soldiers and similar ideas of a military ethic will forever be lost, but a new culture is emerging and a new ethic which, I think, serves the country better, makes the military stronger, and makes it more adept at fighting the kinds of wars (both conventional and unconventional) that we will fight in the future. So, despite the obvious, it is a rather exciting time to be a part of the Army.


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