Cent-sible solutions for the Army’s major-retention dilemma

January 6, 2009

This is the opening paragraph of a Commentary piece (A major problem: Cent-sible solutions for the Army’s major-retention dilemma) I wrote for the Armed Forces Journal (December 2008):

Majors — the Army’s future senior leaders — are exiting the service at increasing rates during a period of military growth. A recent article in The Washington Post indicated the Army is about 15 percent short of its goal of 15,700 majors. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense and now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, said, “Retention of battle-tested majors should be the Army’s highest personnel priority. These are the future Pattons, Powells and Petraeuses who will lead soldiers into combat over the next two decades.”

Cost-effective solutions are available. These include financial incentives, leveraging Web 2.0 to enhance mentoring and the personnel assignment process, and uniform vouchers. All could be adopted almost immediately to shore up the ranks.

It generated limited discussion among officers.  Some supported my ideas specifically, or at least the concept that something must be done.  Others disagree with my solutions and assertions; I can only surmise that they don’t think shortage of majors as a problem worth addressing.  Either way, talking about problems is the first step to solving them.

Do you think more money should be allocated towards retaining the future senior leaders of the Army?  How does your corporation retain managers?  What type of incentives have you seen that were successful to keep employees with talent?  If your employer gave you a $500 bonus would you accept it?  Would you make good use of the money?

You can read more about military personnel in the Building the Military for the 21st Century report.

Ideas for the 21st Century Military

December 15, 2008

This fall I was afforded a great opportunity to co-author (views expressed were my own and not DoD…see disclaimer in the “About Me” section) a report on Building the Military for the 21st Century:  New Realities, New Priorities.  I learned a lot in this process and have a better understanding of how Think Tanks are able to influence public discussion and policy action.

The public release of the report included remarks by Rep. John Murtha and Rep. Joe Sestak (both retired military officers); and a panel featuring lead author Lawrence Korb, Senior Fellow at CAP; LTG Stephen Speakes, Army G-8 (Programs Director); and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Michael Dunn, Air Force Association.

(L-R) Lt. Gen. Speakes, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Dunn, Lawrence J. Korb after panel discussion

(L-R) Lt. Gen. Speakes, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Dunn, Lawrence J. Korb after panel discussion

I encourage you to take a closer look at the report and the fun interactive that was developed by the Center for American Progress editorial team.

There are numerous stories and blogs that are discussing the report and it’s recommendations. You can find blog posts here, here, and here (last link is about our interactive).

Articles here, here, and here.

“It’s said that a nation’s budget reflects its values and its priorities.”
President-elect Barack Obama

“Given that resources are not unlimited, the dynamic of exchanging numbers for capability is perhaps reaching a point of diminishing returns. A given ship or aircraft, no matter how capable or well-equipped, can be in only one place at one time.”
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates

Other authors included:  Laura Conley, Sean Duggan, Peter Juul
they can be contacted for further information.