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Army Building its Civilian Bench for Mobility

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2007) - A new DOD directive will emphasize mobility for civilian employees and training an expeditionary workforce ready to deploy to hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan.

Patricia S. Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy, discussed the draft directive and civilian leadership development during a seminar Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army.

The new DOD directive has been written and is presently awaiting signature, Ms. Bradshaw said. It defines the competencies expected of its senior leaders, she said, and outlines opportunities for movement so that mobility becomes the norm as opposed to the exception.

Expeditionary Workforce

"We've needed to start building the right kind of competencies to create a civilian workforce that is as expeditionary as our military members," Ms. Bradshaw said, "so when the balloon goes up, people are there to respond - whether it's in Africa, Iraq or Afghanistan, that's the wave of the future."

Future DOD Senior Executive Service members will be required to make commitments to life-long learning and have a portfolio of diversified working experiences outside their organizations, the deputy undersecretary said. The days of being "home-grown" are gone, she said, because leaders today need to be more rounded and well-versed in the global international environment.

The future calls for multi-skilled leaders who are strategic and creative thinkers, Ms. Bradshaw said. Future training must build leaders and teams who are effective in managing, leading and changing large organizations, she said, and who understand cultural context and how to work effectively across that culture.

SES Demographics

Ms. Bradshaw discussed the effect SES demographics will have on future leadership within the Army and throughout the Department of Defense.

"The average age of SESers in DOD is 54 and a half with 23 years of service," she said. "Right now 30 percent are eligible to retire and by 2010 about 50 percent of them will be eligible to retire."

"Looking out across the rest of the department today, 42 percent of our workforce is eligible to retire and by 2010, some 70 percent will be eligible, so there's a real sense of urgency for us to get along with business, but as we do that, we can't do it the way we've always done it.

"Today, the environment, the political and social landscapes have changed," the deputy undersecretary said. "A number of world events have come together to redefine how we accomplish our mission in DOD, whether it's 9/11, hurricane Katrina, continuing world disasters -- we as DOD are being called upon to perform missions in ways we have never performed before."

Interagency Experience Important

Ms. Bradshaw said that while the United States has aligned its forces and changed the military model, the civilian model hadn't kept pace because previous to the war on terror, when budget cuts were made, civilian training and education budgets were the first to be hacked. But, the attitude has changed since the 1990s she said, adding that when she looks across DOD today she sees a commitment made with a demonstration of dollars behind it and that the Army has done a remarkable job in moving forward.

"We're not going to be based in these cozy little places where we've been before, so the skill sets required are going to be different and along that line we can no longer achieve our mission without being linked with interagency partners."

She said a joint integrated workforce that practices mobility and interoperability is needed, not just across another part of the Army or even across DOD, but across all interagency partners and the states, local and international governments.

Changing the Culture

"Key to this is cultural awareness," she pointed out. "We can no longer continue to ignore the global nature and requirement to be culturally aware and sensitive, to be able to think outside our own boundaries."

Jeannie A. Davis, Army G-1 for Civilian Personnel, addressed specific moves the Army is making to develop its SES leaders. She discussed the Army intern and fellows programs which she said are key ways in which the Army will build its bench of SES leaders.

"The intern program works," she said. "We've had it for many years and it's gone through peaks and valleys. In 1988 we had 3,800 interns and last year we had 1,586 and 837 new hires. We're also continuing to build that number and we anticipate that number going up to about 2,500 per year by 2013."

The fellows program, which was established by the Army Materiel Command, is in the process of going Armywide. It was approved by the chief of staff and the secretary of the Army as part of "Initiative Five" on leadership development, and will begin next summer with about 120 fellows, doubling to 250 by 2009, Ms. Davis said.

"We're going to make sure these fellows get DOD and joint assignments because these are really important things for young folks to learn as they come in," she said. About 20 percent of the Army's fellows come from the top 361 colleges and universities in the U.S., and have grade point averages of 3.63. These young people are more diverse, introduce new and contemporary skills and are going to be our future leaders, she said.

Centrally-managed Training Program

She said the Army is also looking at ways to develop people in general and ways in which to improve access to training. The service is also looking at centrally managed education and career management for senior Civilians. A tiger team has been implemented to come up with a concept plan over the next several months, she said.

"We're looking at how we take the person at Camp Swampy and get them to be able and interested in being that SESer of the future," she said. "The tiger team will put together some specifics in the broad career groups so that people have more opportunities to move into comparable work or different work and in the process they will be multi-skilled and better able to move into SES positions in the future."

Volney Warner, director of the Army Civilian Development Office, said the goal is to provide every member of the Army Civilian workforce a path, or alternative paths, where employees can see and apply their own energies toward a self-development process. He said the path is one that allows them to develop themselves with institutional support for higher levels of responsibility, authority and great contributions to the Army.

"The proof in the pudding for this is leadership, time, attention and oversight," he said. "All of the Training and Doctrine Command schools that have available educational opportunities are now in the process where those empty seats are identified early, transmitted and made transparent for whoever the right person is."

Mr. Volney said everyone who is in the Army has two fundamental responsibilities that don't change.

"The first is mission accomplishment -- whatever that mission happens to be," he said. "The second is to provide for the future of the institution and the way you provide for the institution is to build leaders who are going to follow you, who have the tools, the education, the development experiences and mentorship they need to do a better job."


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