Raising the Flag
Implications of U.S. Military Approaches to General and Flag Officer Development
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The 2018 National Defense Strategy directed the U.S. Department of Defense to rethink how it prepares and leverages its personnel to confront emerging global security challenges, particularly with regard to education and strategic decisionmaking. To help understand whether military leadership might need to change to better serve national security objectives, the authors of this report analyzed how the military services' approaches to personnel management might influence the ways in which general and flag officers (G/FOs) in each service lead, manage, and advise.
Specifically, the authors analyzed what professional experiences and other characteristics the G/FOs in each service tend to share as a result of each service's approaches to personnel management and other related factors, such as service culture. The authors then used the findings to examine how these characteristics and experiences might influence G/FO approaches to institutional leadership and management, and the type of strategic-level advice G/FOs in each service might provide to civilian decisionmakers.
The authors identified both common characteristics that are shared by G/FOs in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, and characteristics that differ by service. The findings can help civilian and uniformed decisionmakers understand more deeply how the services produce G/FOs; how the services select—consciously or not—for professional experiences and other characteristics; and how these experiences and characteristics might influence the advice and leadership that G/FOs provide.