After years of emphasis on diversity, sensitivity training and political correctness, have our warfighters lost their edge? What have been the effects of budget cuts and the recently announced focus on the Pacific?
Although answers are not available for every service branch, at least the Army has some strong and disturbing indicators. After conducting an extensive internal survey, officials learned that only 38 percent of respondents believe the Army is heading in the right direction – the lowest on record and an indicator of what some are calling a “crisis in confidence.”
The survey was conducted by a team of independent researchers over a two-month period with input from more than 22,000 active-duty and reserve Army leaders from sergeant to colonel.
Soldiers responding to the survey said the service branch is suffering from a variety of factors:
• 58 percent said the Army is unable to retain quality leaders.
• 57 percent said there is a lack of discipline or the Army is too soft.
• 53 percent said the Army had ineffective leaders at senior levels.
• 52 percent said senior leaders focus on the wrong priorities.
• 46 percent said junior leader promotions and advancements are happening too soon.
• 39 percent said resources and funding for technology are insufficient.
The official Army reaction contained in a press release announcing the survey results said the extensive review “indicates Army leaders are seen as effective on a wide range of criteria, but leadership development has not been receiving the attention that it once did at the unit level.”
John Steele, the Army’s lead agent for the project, agreed that perceptions identified by the survey affect behavior and mission accomplishment.
“We are constantly updating, changing and utilizing what we learn about leader attitudes to maintain an accurate pulse of how leaders see their Army,” Steele is quoted in the press statement.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said the survey results are taken seriously. Commenting to media , Odierno said the Army clearly needs some housecleaning to reverse the perception that the service branch is not heading in the right direction.
“But Congress must do its part to vaccinate the Army from political correctness,” Odierno added, “and to protect the world’s best ground force from becoming the bill payer for the president’s unproven Asia-Pacific pivot.”
The chief of staff was referring to a belief among Army members that the president’s newly announced focus on the Pacific was emphasizing the Air Force and Navy at the expense of the Army.