Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 38

operational force in financially austere times. To remain ready, the National Guard should commit to a new approach. This article presents four imperatives that will ensure every dollar invested adds up to ARNG readiness: Retain our combat-experienced soldiers and leaders to sustain their war dividend. Generate and sustain individual and unit readiness through expert training management. Forge partnerships at every level and strengthen relationships to gain economies of effort through collaboration and shared resources. Hone the professionalism of our soldiers and leaders to maintain the force’s discipline and character over time. • • • • Retain Our Combat-Experienced Soldiers and Leaders The ARNG currently enjoys a war dividend of combat experience gained by thousands of its soldiers over the past decade. However, collective combat experience will decrease as these veterans leave the force, and fewer deployments will mean fewer combat-experienced soldiers fill the ranks of the ARNG. Most captains and nearly all lieutenants and junior noncommissioned officers in the ARNG joined after 9/11. These men and women are astute and resilient. Today’s junior leaders are more capable than ever, and they operate with far more autonomy.9 The ARNG can ill afford to lose them; they are our future first sergeants, battalion and brigade commanders, and command sergeants major. These men and women have stayed in the ranks for the past decade mainly because of their patriotism and allegiance to our country after the 9/11 attacks. However, they are likely to find numerous reasons to leave the service. Operational tempo has remained high while personal and professional accolades have diminished. In spite of planned downsizing and a flattened ARFORGEN, the ARNG expects major commitments of time and energy from our men and women. Senior commanders need these young leaders to meet more requirements than ever. Our young leaders must be technical experts on equipment that senior leaders have never used. Add in the citizen-soldiers’ challenge of maintaining balance between their families and civilian occupations, and continued service in the ARNG is more difficult than ever. 36 To help retain these soldiers, senior ARNG leaders must exercise focused mentorship of their subordinates. Senior leaders must be directly involved in supporting their subordinates’ ARNG and civilian careers. They must understand all their subordinates as whole persons—taking a broad and inclusive approach to mentoring. Leaders need to consider not just what subordinates’ next militar H\