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Agile Leaders, Agile Institutions: Educating Adaptive and Innovative Leaders for Today and Tomorrow

Authored by LTC Christopher P Gehler. | August 2005

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ABSTRACT

In 2004, General Kevin P. Byrnes tasked the U.S. Army War College to study the post initial-entry Officer Education System (OES). The Agile Leader Study?s charter was to assess OES curricula to determine how well-suited they were for developing leaders to operate effectively in the contemporary operational environment. More narrowly, this paper is a ?directed telescope? focused on the Captain?s Career Courses (CCCs). It seeks to answer the research question, how should TRADOC change its education system, with specific regard to the CCCs, to better develop and prepare mentally agile leaders for the Army?s new strategic reality?

To answer this question, this paper examines the new strategic reality and its implications on our officers? professional military education, as well as the concepts of individual and organizational agility, specifically investigating adaptability, innovation, and learning. It then advances a recommended model to develop agile leaders, while making the institutional system more agile as well.

CONCLUSION

The challenges that confront our Army and our nation do constitute a new strategic reality. Persistent conflict has become our steady state. There is no time for a strategic pause to regroup, assess, and distill the lessons of our experiences?this must all happen in-stride, while engaged in the mission. In the face of this new reality, our Army must adapt and innovate, and it must prepare our leaders to do the same. While our past informs us, we cannot remain beholden to our past successes. As an institution, we must have the courage to assess and assume the risks involved with adapting, just as our Soldiers and leaders are adapting in their crucible experiences of OIF and OEF. We must become agile?agile leaders and agile institutions?to ensure we can protect our nation from the challenges of our new strategic reality. The model proposed in this paper sets a course for this critical transition.