Revised and with a new foreword from leading reform advocate COL (ret) Douglas MacGregor, PhD, Don Vandergriff revisits his 2002 manifesto for the evolution of the U.S. Army.
From the foreword: “Few books in the history of the U.S. Army have made a more convincing argument for change than Don Vandergriff’s Path to Victory: America’s Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs. It is therefore a great privilege to offer some thoughts on the re-release of this important work.
When Don’s book appeared for the first time in 2002 it was not simply detailed account of the Army’s personnel management system, its promotion policies and unit manning practices. It was also a critical examination of the Army as an institution and its extraordinary resistance to change in the way it identifies, develops and employs human talent.
Don Vandergriff’s experiences, research and interaction with fellow military professionals suggest that a cultural revolution within the U.S. military is essential if the nation is to successfully adapt and prevail in the emerging 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) or asymmetric warfare threat environment. An Army cultural revolution has three parts:
1. Strategic leaders must change a counterproductive array of long-established beliefs including many laws, regulations and policies, which are based on out-of-date assumptions.
2. Military leaders must drive and sustain a military cultural evolution through effective education and training of the next generation(s) of leaders in a system that is flexible enough to evolve alongside emerging changes in, and lessons from, war, society and technology.
An Industrial Age model continues to shape the way the Army approaches its recruiting, personnel management, training, and education. This outdated personnel management paradigm―designed for an earlier era―has been so intimately tied to the maintenance of Army culture that a self-perpetuating cycle has formed, diminishing the Army’s attempts to develop adaptive leaders and institutions.
This cycle can be broken only if the Army accepts rapid evolutionary change as the norm of the new era. Recruiting the right people, then having them step into an antiquated organization, means that many of them will not stay as they find their ability to contribute and develop limited by a centralized, hierarchical organization. Recruiting and retention data bear this out.