Strategic Leadership and the Army Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Strategic leadership is about redirecting the culture of an organization. It is the approach applied by a leader to achieve the objectives desired by an organization. The process involves resource allocation, policy execution and consensus building among the stakeholders. The process often happens in a changing business environment that presents numerous challenges and opportunity to the achievement of the desired objectives[footnoteRef:1]. [1: Herbert F. Barger, "Developing strategic leadership: The US army war college experience." Journal of Management Development 11.6 (1992): 4.]

The matter at hand is about how the army can develop a crop of strategic leaders, guided by the fixed career timeline of an officer from the Personnel Management System of the military. The development strategy of the army leaders in 2013 highlights the process and steps of how a leader can be developed. The report also outlines the need for more leadership personnel, owing to the fact that there has been an overemphasis on war in the recent past. There are three areas of focus in the development of an officer: education, experience and training. If personnel sticks to the officer career fixed timelines as indicated in the Department of Army Pamphlet 600-3 in the 20 year career lifespan, it may be impossible to expose them to the critical thinking level until they clock the twenty years. The idea is central in the discussion because, if only tactical problems are the preoccupation of a leader, it may present significant challenges when dealing with strategy[footnoteRef:2]. [2: Ibid,]

The current policy prevents an officer from undertaking duties that help them to develop strategic skills. Any officer working in the current military arrangement will find that they are disadvantaged when it comes to exposure to jobs that transcend the tactical realm[footnoteRef:3]. This paper seeks to highlight the challenges of leadership in the US Army under the new dispensation. [3: Ibid]

Background Information

There has been emphasis on the negative effects of climate change on multiple dimensions. There is scientific agreement that global warming is a fact, and that the process is now irreversible. However, what lacks consensus is what the consequence of climate change is. There is debate on whether it is gradual or drastic. According to Gray, the effects of climate change will affect social-economic and political stability of countries and communities across the globe. He points out that the effects are a catastrophe in waiting. Competition will result in conflicts that result from interest in dwindling resources, including arable land and water. Such a scenario might make the liberal and idealistic perspective of life as advocated for by western countries to become mere theories: existential conflict will reemerge[footnoteRef:4]. [4: Tommy Jeppsson, "Challenges Facing Future Miltary Strategic Leadership-Views Reflecting a Small-State Perspective.," Science and Weapon, no. 64 (2014): 5]

The ecological degradation across the globe is likely to facilitate existential conflict, particularly in the poor regions of the world. However, the number of environmental concerns is rising fast. Thus, the western world is not safe either. The degradation is likely to cause problems all the way into the so called “Nordic Comer”. The Nordic region is already experiencing environmental problems. The threat caused by the nuclear facilities in Russia located on the Kola Peninsula, the pollution on the Baltic Sea and the destruction of fish populations in the Northern Atlantic are reasons to cause jitters among the Nordic countries. Deploying military tools in the matter causes complications of great magnitude. A situation of increased threat that will most likely crop up with constrained budgets will, perhaps, promote cooperation between the power bases owned by a state[footnoteRef:5]. [5: Ibid]

The social and economic effects of the globalization process such as the refugee problem and terrorism are also encouraging greater cooperation between the armed forces, the coast guard service and the police. The said branches of government administration are also made to compete. There is a high chance that the US will have to confound with a greater welfare impediment as a result of the progress towards a multi-ethnic and multicultural society. The poor and the rich are likely to come into confrontation. Consequently, the US stands a risk of deteriorating social order. There will, thus be a need to increase domestic security tools to contain the tensions. Such a scenario is a challenge: given that the budget allocation is likely to remain the same. Apart from being empowered to vouch for greater cooperation, military personnel, being the agents of the final repressive tools, should take the initiative to encourage cooperation and greater interaction between the various power instruments in existence across the society[footnoteRef:6]. [6: Jeppsson,“Challenges Facing Future Military Strategic Leadership," 88]

The final, important element that influences strategic leadership is technological development. It is enabling fresh options for the defense of sparse populations. Meanwhile, the price of modern technology for purposes of military use has gone up. It implies that the running cost for every unit has also risen. Thus, ambition to increase military capacity calls for more resources. By maintaining a constant budget, it means that there will also be a continuous restructuring and downscaling of ambitions. They will eventually have to deal with the problems of the cost of running a credible defense versus what a small country can practically afford to spend on such purposes. It is important that the top echelons of military pay attention to such factors[footnoteRef:7]. [7: Ibid, 4]


The six qualities that a strategic leader should possess are captured in the strategic leadership competencies list. The qualities, including “Do” and “Know” capture what such a strategic leader would attain after a period of education, work and experience. Identity is the first competence. It highlights the ability of a strategic leader to take account of their actions and identify their weak points. It is imperative that an officer possesses such qualities in order to understand their surroundings and themselves. It also delves in finding out the value of an officer in the whole organizational set up. Such an officer is cognizant of the fact that success is brought about by the subordinate staff[footnoteRef:8]. [8: Jonathan L. Hawkins, "Is the Army Developing Strategic Leaders?" Army Command And General Staff College, 2015, 30]

A strategic leader must also possess mental agility. In the prevailing environment, being mentally agile helps an officer in handling the constantly evolving complex work environment. The ability to operate successfully within the unknown is important. The aspect of learning goes hand in hand with mental agility. One must learn fast, and adapt to the emerging environmental challenges. Elements of mental agility include the ability to improvise, cognitive complexity and lightness as highlighted in the literature for strategic leadership. There is a huge information resource with regard to the qualities that a strategic leader must possess so as to handle the unknown: thanks to technology. A program of instruction is the best tool that enhances mental agility. Such a program should encourage soldiers to…

Sources Used in Document:


Barber, Herbert F. \"Developing strategic leadership: The US army war college experience.\" Journal of Management Development 11.6 (1992): 4-12.

Brian S. Eifler, \"Developing Strategic Thinking Leaders in the U.S. Army,\" United States Army War College Class of 2012 (2012): 8-12.

Gerras, Stephen J. \"Strategic Leadership Premier.\" Department of Command, Leadership and Management United States Army War College, no. 3rd Edition (2010): 2-6.

Hawkins, Jonathan L. \"Is the Army Developing Strategic Leaders?\" Army Command And General Staff College, (2015): 29-33.

Hernandez, Daryle J. \"Building Strategic Leader Competencies into Army Officer Development and Career Progression.\" United States Army War College, 2011, 26-30.

Jeppsson, Tommy. \"Challenges Facing Future Miltary Strategic Leadership-Views Reflecting a Small-State Perspective.\" Tiedejaase (2006): 84-92.

Shekleton, Michael. \"Developing Strategic Leaders.\" RealClear Defense. 2016. Accessed December 07, 2018.

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