The Future of the U.S. Military Rests on Innovative Leadership

An Army Captain advocates for a rethinking of the way the U.S. military trains and promotes its leaders. He vouches for flexible planning, adaptive learning, and a stronger meritocracy.

In a guest post over at Tom Ricks' National Defense blog at, Captain Justin J. Belford of the U.S. Army proposes a new step forward for how the military should prioritize leadership selection. Belford, an active duty company commander, advocates for a more innovative and adaptive brand of leaders and explains how an investment in better leadership is really an investment in the future of the U.S. military.

Belford, who writes with a soldierly concision and conviction, details his ideas at the outset of the piece:

"The idea of flexible planning that incorporates learning is an important concept, and is a break from the predictable doctrine of the past. But in order for it to work, today's military must identify talented leaders, properly incentivize them, and provide them with the resources they need to drive change. Additionally, I would argue that Western militaries must break from the established idea that time equals rank, and focus on promoting its leaders based on their talent and initiative."

What's interesting here is that Capt. Belford vouches for a similar change in pedagogy as folks like Dr. Madhav Chavan, whose focus is educating young children rather than soldiers. The common refrain is that institutions should strive to instill in their pupils the abilities to adapt, problem-solve, and learn from experience. With how technology has shifted operating procedures for industries ranging from charter schools to the U.S Army, the traditional manner of learning via memorization doesn't quite cut it. The modern world, whether it be in the classroom or on the battlefield, is far too dynamic to rely on the same old by-the-book training.

For more from Capt. Belford (his piece is well worth a read), check out the link below.


Photo credit: Monkey Business Studios / Shutterstock

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