Think about it- the US Army itself was formed on the premise of change. The very reason for our inception was to protect the people of this Great Nation as they sought after an idea to become a free and independent one- a change from the way things had been up until the American Revolution. To this day we exist to serve the people, to defend the nation, and to protect its interests. All of which undoubtedly change over time. To remain the world’s premier fighting force, our Soldiers and our Army must also change- continuously- at an unprecedented pace.
In a force as large as ours, it is necessary for strategic level leaders to continuously look ahead. Forecasting what may lie over the horizon, and planning to meet the demands of an ever-changing world is a massive undertaking- currently known as Army Aimpoint 2035.
If you spend too much time pondering strategic issues, you’ll likely come away with little more than a headache. But if you narrow that scope down to your own sphere of influence, and focus on what you can affect- suddenly change becomes much less daunting. I didn’t say it becomes easy, but it will be much more manageable.
As I write this, I’m thinking about the many significant changes that have impacted the bulk of USAR Soldiers and Leaders over the course of the past few years as we’ve simultaneously dealt with the impacts of COVID. The Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), Senior NCO Evaluation Boards, Individual Weapons Qualification (IWQ) standards, sponsorship using the Army Career Tracker (ACT), the Small Unit Leader Tool (SULT) & Army Digital Job Books, and the looming roll-out of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System- Army (IPPS-A) to name a few. All of these represent significant departures from the ways we’ve trained and managed personnel in the past. And all of them came along while we’ve contended with working in one of the most constrained environments in our lifetimes.
So how are we expected to get after all of these things with so many constraints? First, by remembering that change is nothing new. It’s simply what we do and have always done since the dawn of the Army. Sure, the problem sets are different, but that’s what change is all about.
To cope with change personally, I challenge myself each day to do 3 things- be informed, be innovative, and be engaged. I know to some this may sound like another CSM slogan, so allow me to explain.
To me, this means to take in as much information in as possible from a variety of sources. Some days are better than others as I, like many of you, have a life to live (and a job to maintain) outside of the Army. You have to be careful with information, or you’ll be quickly overwhelmed. Some of it you’ll process immediately, some you’ll save for later, and some you’ll delete. The challenge is to continuously consider the source, and then process accordingly. The most important part of being informed is that you communicate the important stuff once you’ve weeded it out- save the next person the work you’ve already done. When communicating, start with the main point then fill in the details as needed. None of us know everything, but the best Soldiers and Leaders understand that they don’t have to- they simply need to surround themselves with folks that do.
The ability to innovate has always been the strength of the American Soldier. Get out of the box, and figure out how to build something else with it. An innovative Soldier inspires others to do the same. Our Army is filled with Soldiers from all walks of life. When leaders are able to foster an environment where everyone has the opportunity to provide input and present ideas, we exponentially increase our chances of finding a better way ahead.
This may be the most challenging of the three. As citizen Soldiers, we all strive to strike a healthy balance between our many commitments. This is especially true as we enter the holiday season. We must remained engaged in all facets of our lives to remain healthy, happy, and productive. I don’t expect you to be available to the Army every minute of every day, but if you are a Leader you should be checking in on your subordinates between battle assembly weekends. If you are a Soldier you should be checking in on your peers between drills (social media, text, phone call, email are all ways to do this). This small act not only matters to your teammates, it also builds trust among them. Most importantly, when you’re on duty make the most of it and be present.
I am proud to be back with the 108th Training Command, and yes, I recognize that this is another change all of us have to deal with. I also understand that the Army asks a lot from each and every Soldier. This is why we serve- to do the hard work that most are not willing to undertake for the good of the Nation. I can assure you that more changes will come. I can also assure you that I will do my best to help the Team navigate through any challenges that may come as the result. As long as we narrow the focus to our spheres of influence and strive to be informed, innovative, and engaged, we will adapt and overcome TOGETHER.
“First In Training!”