CNAS senior fellow Lt. Gen. David Barno, USA (Ret.) has some advice for Gen. Marty Dempsey, the new Army chief of staff. Along with Tim Kane’s recent Atlantic article on reforming the military’s anti-entrepreneurial personnel system, Barno’s top ten list is must reading for how to build tomorrow’s Army. Here’s one particularly good suggestion:
Re-connect the Army to Society. ROTC to Ivy Leagues. Ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Post-deployment speaking tours for company commanders. Visits to University presidents and faculty. East Coast/West Coast speaking engagements and editorial boards for (smart) Army generals. Jon Stewart. Just who is this Army that the nation has had out there at the edge of the universe fighting for the last ten years? Who knew? And inside the force -- regaining a sense of humility that can disappear when too many view military service as a calling for "the best of the best" and often increasingly view the rest of their countrymen with disdain. Today's Army -- including its leadership -- lives in a bubble separate from society. Not only does it reside in remote fortresses -- the world's most exclusive gated communities -- but in a world apart from the cultural, intellectual and even geographic spheres that define the kaleidoscopic United States. This splendid military isolation -- set in the midst of a largely adoring nation -- risks fostering a closed culture of superiority and aloofness. This must change if the Army is to remain in, of, and with the ever-diverse peoples of the United States.
I would add one more task: ROTC to the Northeast and urban areas. Bringing ROTC to the Ivy Leagues would be a great start, but bridging the military’s deepening geographic and cultural divide will require a much greater effort.