WEST POINT, N.Y. (Army News Service, July 27, 2015) — The most senior leaders of the Army gathered at the U.S. Military Academy for a two-day discussion on the strategic stewardship of the Army profession.
The forum here brought together leaders including Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.
“The most amazing thing is to bring this group of strategic stewards together,” said Col. John Vermeesch, director of the Center for the Army Profession and Ethic, which hosted the Army Profession Annual Symposium.
Participants heard from the leaders, and then went into break-out groups to facilitate dialogue on the strategic stewardship responsibilities to ensure the Army remains a profession, the institutional enablers and obstacles to reinforce internal and external trust, and operational enablers and obstacles to reinforce that trust.
“What we’re experiencing right now at this symposium is the fundamental tension between Army as bureaucracy and Army as profession,” Vermeesch said.
The participants are the senior-most decision makers and experts in all the functional areas of the Army. They are expected to come back with recommendations, which can be used in future policy, he said.
“In order to implement those recommendations, they’ll have to overcome the bureaucratic policies of the Army in some cases,” Vermeesch said. “I think that will be challenging as we move forward, but I’m optimistic that if we’re committed to changing things, then we’ll be able to do that.”
According to the rules of the forum, participants at the event were not to be quoted by name in order to promote a more robust debate.
Trust is the backbone of everything that the Army does, a general officer said.
The Army is a very unique profession in which a member might be required to take another life. That must not be taken lightly, he said.
The Army undertakes missions around the globe, not to dominate another nation or to merely show strength, but rather to bring peace and stability, he said.
There is a “clash” between bureaucracy and leader development, this same leader noted later in the day. Micromanaging is a problem, which undermines the trust of leaders, he said.
Army leaders are responsible for setting priorities, enacting policies, managing resources, establishing programs and designing systems, which provide for members of the Army, another leader said.
There are few things that are more important to maintaining the faith and trust of the American people and maintaining faith and trust within the ranks than the topic of the Army profession, he said.
The message from the forum needs to be brought back and implemented at all levels, he said. It’s time to put the hard work and all the policies into real action, he said.
“I think it’s rather remarkable this is the first time in the Army’s history that there has been an articulated ethic,” he said. “This ethic is simply intended to inform and inspire every single member of the Army profession,” to motivate and guide decisions and “everyday actions.”
The newly published Army Ethic in ADRP 1 was a culmination of the hard work in articulating the ethic, the leader said. It is the shared responsibility of Army leaders to continually strengthen the Army profession with the culture of trust, he said.
“All of you pursue an incredibly noble calling, honorable service to defend the nation. In this tradition, you become citizens whose character, whose competence, and commitment exemplify the ideals espoused by the Army ethic,” he said.
Dignity and respect are inherent in the values and standards of conduct in the Army, said a general officer, who led a discussion on social media.
These values and standards apply to all aspects of a Soldier’s life, online and offline. Everything a member does 24/7 reflects on the individual and the Army, he said. Any misconduct undermines the institution, and gives adversaries insight about members and unit cohesion.
Soldiers feel like social media is a protected zone in which they can say whatever they want, another Army leader said. However, that is not the case, as a Soldier never stops being a Soldier.
An Army senior leader said bad behavior online is not something that just involves the most junior enlisted. There have been some disturbing cases of bullying in which noncommissioned officers were involved, he said.
The message needs to get out to the force that Soldiers are accountable for their actions online, another speaker noted.
Photo credit: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno speaks during the Army Profession Annual Symposium at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., July 27, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Lisa Ferdinando)