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Army Strong - By Lt. Gen. Frederick “Ben” Hodges | Foreign Policy

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I think LTG Hodges is wrong.  Perhaps LTG Hodges needs to go back and reread the Strategic Four Study conducted on talent management. Yes, some awesome people continue to serve. Thank goodness! However, too many desired soldiers have left for reasons that could have been avoided or worked around. A broken system remains a broken system.

While I respect his service and perspective on today's military strategy and issues, I was astonished and disappointed after reading retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Barno's column "Military Brain Drain." His premise was that current and former Army general officers are either dismissive or indignant at the notion that the best and brightest junior and mid-level officers are choosing to end their service. In fact, this sentiment is not at all a reflection of what I see or hear in my dealings with senior Army leaders or my peers. Furthermore, the evidence does not support his claims that the best are leaving. What an insult to the thousands who are in fact staying.

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In mid-2010, former vice chief of staff of the Army, retired Gen. Jack Keane, was visiting Afghanistan at the invitation of the commander of International Security Assistance Forces, Gen. David Petraeus. What he observed during his visit were dozens of innovative, adaptive captains and lieutenants who were given enormous responsibilities and significant autonomy to solve complex problems. As the director of operations for Regional Command South, I was escorting Gen. Keane on his visit to southern Afghanistan. Flying by Blackhawk helicopter over Kandahar province, he gave me some stark, unsolicited words of advice. To paraphrase, Gen. Keane said the Army cannot make the mistake of returning to pre-war practices and policies, which would suffocate these battle-tested, proven leaders. The old bureaucratic approval processes for the simplest decisions, such as granting their troops time off, would cause them to quickly become disenchanted with the "garrison Army." This is the "brain drain" that Gen. Barno correctly warns against. But clearly, contrary to his assertion, senior Army leaders were already recognizing the potential problem and were looking at how to retain these terrific young men and women. I worry that Gen. Barno's article could succeed at perpetuating a self-defeating myth that the Army is somehow non-adaptive, too inflexible and unimaginative. This is nonsense and I reject it.