Former Army chief discusses challenges in Army’s future

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 1, 2009) -- Retired Gen. Gordon…

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 1, 2009) — Retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, former chief of staff of the Army, spoke to Intermediate Level Education students about potential future challenges for the Army and career officers Sept. 23, in the Lewis and Clark Center’s Eisenhower Auditorium.

“Your generation has done far more with building teams than mine ever did. You’re doing activities that we could only comprehend at the two- or three-star level,” Sullivan told the ILE students.

He emphasized the importance of the Command and General Staff College and other similar programs for continued leader development.

“Each of you brings something special to this institution, and it’s a result of what you learned at organizational assignments. But here, as is always true, your individual commitment to your profession and your personal development will be key to your growth and your learning,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan recalled his experiences at CGSC and the generals and other officers who spoke to his class in 1969.

“If there is any similarity between the two of us, it is in a lifetime of soldiering, and continuous learning through experience, schooling, reading, reflection and interaction with people like you,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan was chief of staff of the Army after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first Gulf War, and said some mistakes were made in the reduction of forces after those events. He said the Army today is too small and he warned against a similar drawdown in the future.

“The Army today is too small. It has been too small for years, and in my view, if we are not careful, it will become even smaller when this (operations in Iraq and Afghanistan) is over,” Sullivan said. “We have asked too much of too few.”

Sullivan said technology will drive future change in the Army, but change should focus on quality Soldiers, leader development programs, training, modernization and force structure, all supported by a doctrine that reflects the world situation. He said change in the Army would depend upon strong leadership.

“Managing processes are not going to get you to the future. Leadership gets you to the future. (It is) telling somebody what you want to do and moving out, not managing processes,” Sullivan said.

He said leaders need to issue clear guidance, establish standards and hold people accountable.

“You are the next generation of leaders who will make a difference going forward 20, 30 years into the future. You must protect, in my view, the essence of the Army when you are changing it,” Sullivan said.
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