On December 5, as part of our ongoing discussion with veterans returning from the front line, the Center for a New American Security was pleased to feature Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling for the latest installment in our Voices from the Field Project.
The discussion focused on the need to internalize valuable insight from our experienced junior officers and the importance of decentralized decision making throughout the ranks. LTC Yingling described the need for ‘adaptive leadership’ specifically from returning veterans and further outlined institutional changes to re-incentivize the military’s internal promotion structure. However, Yingling stressed junior officers should not wait for institutional adaptation. Instead veterans should better integrate first-hand combat experience into the central dialogue regarding the future of American forces. In his often cited article A Failure in Generalship published in the Armed Forces Journal, LTC Yingling describes the role of the general in preparing and executing effective and adaptive warfare for the 21st century:
To prepare forces for war, the general must visualize the conditions of future combat. To raise military forces properly, the general must visualize the quality and quantity of forces needed in the next war. To arm and equip military forces properly, the general must visualize the materiel requirements of future engagements. To train military forces properly, the general must visualize the human demands on future battlefields, and replicate those conditions in peacetime exercises.