FORT KNOX, Ky. (June 4, 2015) – Department of the Army Pamphlet 600-3, published in 2014, provides Soldiers of all ranks a new perspective and guiding light for building career paths to leadership in the Army of 2025.
The emphasis for re-shaping the Army in the years ahead will focus on growing agile, flexible and widely experienced leaders at all levels and across all components and ranks, said Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, or HRC.
“The last 13 years have impacted the Army’s expectations, with a generation of leaders and commanders defined by our wartime missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we are in a different environment now and need to meet the evolving challenges of a world in constant change,” he said.
Within Army doctrine, broadening is defined as “a purposeful expansion of a leader’s capabilities and understanding provided through opportunities internal and external to the Army … through experiences and education in different organizational cultures and environments.”
Mustion said there are various factors operating in the development of each individual Soldier, which will determine their specific broadening assignments. With the guidance and support of evolving leadership, Soldiers need to balance and blend their needs for career satisfaction, personal preferences, Family dynamics and their personal relationships with their leaders to hit on the right path to his or her goals.
“It’s a process of self-selection determined or defined by matters of performance and the potential for leadership each Soldier displays,” Mustion said. “The way for every officer, warrant or enlisted Soldier is different. There is no model path or program that fits all.”
Broadening opportunities may vary in scope, responsibility and developmental outcomes, and typically fall into one of four major categories: functional, academic, joint and interagency.
Functional or institutional assignments provide developmental experiences usually not directly related to a Soldier’s branch or functional area, fostering a deeper understanding of how the Army operates.
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joel Smith, command chief warrant officer with U.S. Army Human Resources Command, cited an aviation warrant officer being assigned as an observer-controller, or OC, to one of the Army’s Combat Training Centers, or CTCs, as an example.
CTCs use a simulated wartime environment to prepare Soldiers for deployments and complex operations. Aviation officers, acting as OCs, learn a great deal about how orders and missions take place on the battlefield. This constitutes a broadening experience for them as they conduct overfly missions and monitor control and command of the battle between airframes, Smith said.
“Although they are in their specific MOS [military occupational specialties], they are looking and assisting a unit to get better at completing their task. They get an idea of what the unit is up against so they can provide expert knowledge to assist them,” he said.
A wide range of academic and civilian enterprise opportunities provide Soldiers broadening assignments with civilian industry or in an institution of higher learning. The goal is to stimulate the Soldier’s growth via new perspectives, and by acquiring skills and abilities not traditionally associated with organic Army experiences, training and education.
One such option is with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, Service Chiefs Internship Program. Two officers are selected quarterly for the assignment, said Joel Strout, program manager, HRC’s Advanced Education Programs Branch.
“They get the insight of what DARPA is doing, all the latest technological developments. For example, it is a temporary duty and return program for majors [promotable] and lieutenant colonels. It is 90 days and return to their unit,” Strout said.
Joint or multinational broadening assignments provide Soldiers an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Army from the perspective of partner nation military organizations at the operational and strategic level. One such assignment would be with NATO.
“Overall, within NATO, there are around 1,000 to 1,100 positions; 750 of them would be international type, U.S. Army billets, which would be considered the broadening assignments,” said Michelle Cox, plans officer with HRC G3 and previously a NATO liaison officer within HRC.
Assignments vary in length, though most are 36-month, accompanied tours, though there are exceptions. For instance, an assignment to Turkey is presently a 12-month, dependent-restricted tour, “though for most positions, they are trying to get that changed so the officers and NCOs [noncommissioned officers] can take their Families,” she said.
“Most of the officer positions are major, lieutenant colonel, some captains, some O-6s,” but the majority are for O-4s and O-5s, she said. There is no language requirement for selection, since English is the official language of NATO.
“They request officers with combat experience, so they come with something to give. It is not necessarily anything in their record, though there could be something to an assignment manager to indicate if an officer would be a good candidate. But the indicators for me as a liaison, and for the brigade commander as a support position, is someone who wants to be there, someone who wants the challenge, is hungry for the challenge,” she said.
Interagency and intergovernmental assignments provide similar opportunities for professional growth while serving with government agencies outside the Department of Defense, or with governmental agencies of partner nations. Opportunities for warrant officers vary, Smith said, pointing to one senior warrant with an adjutant general, or AG, background, who is about to begin an assignment with the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison.
“I think this is an opportunity to broaden an officer, who has been doing great things in that community,” Smith said. “Mentorship has absolutely everything to do with your MOS, but it also has something to do with professionalism.”
The diversity of broadening opportunities available, across all ranks, reflects the importance these assignments will play in shaping the Army of the future, Smith said.
“Broadening has now become a major focus. Whereas it was centrally focused on the officers before, it is now the full gamut: officer, warrant officer, NCO, civilian, and that is the Chief of Staff of the Army’s guidance. Everybody is diligently working at broadening and trying to define it for their cohorts,” he said.
Whichever category they select, Soldiers in all three components will prosper and advance by developing their own career maps and pathways to reach their goals. That navigation will include taking advantage of the most rewarding developmental experiences at each juncture of a career.
“Broadening is an approach to talent management geared toward delivering a generation of Army leadership at all levels capable of leading Army, joint, interagency and multinational enterprises to victory in complex and constantly evolving security environments,” Mustion said.