The #Human Project: Professional Views on the Army’s Human Dimension White Paper

The Army recently released a document titled The Human Dimension White Paper: A Framework for Optimizing Human Performance. I had the pleasure of previewing it and listening to the Combined Arms Center commander, LTG Robert Brown, discuss it at the recent Defense Entrepreneurs Forum annual event in Chicago. He was easily one of the most dynamic speakers for our case studies. That said, the white paper is not without both criticism and support…as is ever the way with an institutional document.

The value in setting up these blog series is that they provide a forum for new voices to be heard. The editors at The Bridge try hard to not only balance opinions of the blogs in the series, but to also focus on acquiring content from those authors that don’t frequently publish in the blogosphere. We want fresh views from differing perspectives. I think you’ll find we were successful in this series.

For me, the core of the Human Dimension White Paper is the preparation of leaders—preparation to employ force wherever and whenever asked in order to achieve desired political effects. As we continue to use fewer troops in more areas around the globe, we can expect that the compression between political effect and tactical action will continue to occur. We will continue to need savvy and capable leaders to achieve everything from the conduct of a rifle range for partners in Africa to major combat operations in a failed state. The Army, as an institution, must do its best to ensure every soldier it employs is capable and ready to meet as many scenarios as possible.

To me, this means 1) increasing focus on how we assess soldiers, thereby improving the bedrock upon which we build our soldiers; 2) increasing our emphasis on the integration of education and training, using a blend of both throughout a soldier’s career; 3) improving the way we mentor and manage our talent—because the more efficient we are at creating a fair system, the less effective we will be at getting the right people into the right jobs at the right time; and 4) enhancing the institution itself to educate, train, and lead the people it employs. The Army needs to leverage every aspect of the institution to create more effective soldiers, leaders, and teams…that includes all of your voices.

This series—which will include posts by soldiers, airmen, defense professionals, and other stakeholders in how we develop and manage the people in our military—will address the four topics above, but will not be bound by them. Like the #Operating series The Bridge ran on the Army Operating Concept, the #Human Project series will address the specifics of the document analyzed here, as well as tangential topics in the white paper that the authors found pertinent and expanded upon.

Links to all the posts in the #Human Project can be found on our Storify thread here.

Nathan K. Finney is an officer in the U.S. Army. He is also the the founder of The Bridge, founder andManaging Director of the Military Fellowship at the Project on International Peace & Security, a member of the Infinity Journal's Editorial Advisory Board, a founding board member of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, a founding member of the Military Writers Guild, and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.  He tweets at @NKFinney. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect any official organization.

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