Home > education, leadership, management > The Ft Leavenworth experience

The Ft Leavenworth experience

2nd half of 14th century
Image via Wikipedia

To capture our discussion from our Post Instructional  Conference about what officers would miss if they don’t come here:

1. Deep deliberate looks into complexity with a team.

Discussion: It’s too easy for distance learning and virtual teams to treat planning and problem solving as transactions of a couple hours and a minimum number of comments in a discussion board. In AOC, you have teams of 16-32-64 people looking at problems and living with each other in person going very deep with few distractions, and supported by teams of experienced faculty.

You cannot replicate that rich environment of tacit knowledge, which is experiential, collaborative, and in-person learning with  an engineering approach to cognitive task analysis which would render our staff group learning environment into a set of measureable chunks.

The profession of arms, our warrior culture is grown in the space and time between formal lessons, in the presence of leaders. You must be “present” to experience presence.

2. Planning/managing/experiencing complexity in great variety.

Discussion: we create complexity for the officers to explore here in at least 6 ways that cannot be easily duplicate on-line:

a)      The complex discussions of historical meaning being adapted to current environment

b)      The richness of developing leadership skills and qualities at the organizational level

c)      Understanding, planning and synchronizing the effects of large formations in Major Combat Operations

d)      Appreciating the socio-complexity of irregular warfare, stability operations, COIN and nation building in a whole of government approach in JIIM

e)      Designing, raising, manning, equipping a force with constrained budgets in a time of uncertainty for an extended time period while adapting the force for the current fight

f)       Developing campaign plans

g)      Synthesizing and socializing these challenges simultaneously, while living day in and day out with extraordinary officers fresh from the theater of war who are focused deeply on these individual topics.

Each topic above, a-f is a complexity and challenge all on its own. It is a non-trivial challenge to educate any single one of those lines of operation on-line and at a distance in a virtual staff group. When you combine them, and then immerse the officers in an environment rich in tradition and culture, you create the field grade officers in a way that can only be done here and in this way.

It takes time to learn a language and become part of the culture. You can’t get that by being at the end of a digital wire, performing transactional tasks while attending to other competing priorities.

The kinds of officers we have will ALWAYS sacrifice their own educational needs for the more immediate needs of others and their units. It’s how they are made. We must not put them into the position of having to choose between their education and the immediate needs of their unit. That would be asking them to make the hard choice, instead of us in the organization

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