Think Tank Calls for Building Better Generals

More than a decade of fighting two unconventional wars has “poorly prepared” today’s general officer corps for future fights, according to a new report from the Center for a New American Security. “Twelve years at war in the unconventional conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan have distorted the skills of the officer corps and much reduced the time that has been available for professional military education and broadening assignments,” states the report, issued on Oct. 28. As such, the United States must “redouble efforts to strengthen its current and future military leaders,” it continues. The report’s authors suggest coding all two- and three-star billets either as “operational” or “enterprise” billets. This “would enable officers to optimize their development and education for the responsibilities of their assignment,” states the report. It also suggests that officers in the operational track should attend a new “US higher command and staff course” that “emphasizes strategic and political-military skills.” Those in the enterprise track should attend business schools and corporate or executive leadership courses. The Defense Department also needs to create “clear expectations” through an evaluation system that includes performance reviews for all officers, including three- and four-star generals. (CNAS report; caution, large-sized file.)