Carter’s Force of the Future Plan Faces Criticism

future plan

By Debbie Gregory.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter proposed allowing highly skilled civilians in the middle of their careers to “lateral” into the military and become senior uniformed officers, like colonels.

In a recent speech at the Pentagon, Carter unveiled the idea as part of a far-reaching initiative to change how the military recruits and retains people with expertise in fields like cybersecurity.

“As we all know, generations change, technologies change, labor markets change,” Mr. Carter said. “That’s why one of my responsibilities now — and a job for all of us in the years ahead — is to make sure that amid all this change,” the Defense Department “continues to recruit, develop and retain the most talented men and women America has to offer.”

The proposals — known as Force of the Future — would require congressional approval, and officials on Capitol Hill quickly cast doubt on whether legislation could be passed before January, when President Obama’s term will end and Carter is likely to be replaced.

The idea is controversial, to say the very least. And while it’s not universally embraced, there is interest in Congress and among some of the military’s uniformed leaders in exploring how the services could apply this concept to the enlisted force.

The Force of the Future’s goal is to help the military bring in more top talent, especially for high-tech career fields focused on cyber warfare and space.

The downside?

The potential civilian leaders would “enter a culture they don’t know, understand or potentially appreciate,” said Dakota Wood, a retired Marine officer and military expert at the Heritage Foundation. “The Marines around them will likely be challenged to appreciate them as they would a fellow Marine.”

If approved by Congress, the individual military services would be allowed to expand lateral entry up to the rank of colonel, or in the case of the Navy, up to captain.

While the Marine Corps appears to be the most skeptical, the Navy is the most enthusiastic about Carter’s proposal. The Army and Air Force say they will consider high-level lateral entries if the change is approved. Individual military services would work out the details for themselves.

Critics argue that those with prior military experience are the best candidates for leadership because they are familiar with military culture, and would acclimate and find acceptance from the rank and file far more quickly.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Newly Improved Transition Assistance Program Well Received


By Debbie Gregory.

The Transition Assistance Program (TAP) provides transition assistance to promote, advance and instill a culture of education and/or employment readiness to Service members.

In the latest survey results from graduates, an overwhelming majority of former service members expressed that they felt that the newly redesigned TAP curriculum well prepared them to re-enter the civilian workforce. The redesigned program encompasses the requirements of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.

Under the leadership of Susan Kelly, the director of the Transition to Veterans Program, the program was significantly expanded two years ago.

Expanded to a week-long, mandatory curriculum now offered in full at 206 installations, TAP provides information, tools, and training to ensure Service members and their spouses are prepared for the next step in civilian life, whether pursuing additional education, finding a job in the public or private sector, or starting their own business. This redesigned TAP is the result of an inter-agency collaboration to offer separating Service members and their spouses better, more easily accessible resources and information to make their transitions more successful.

Kelly emphasized the program’s four core components:

  • Adopt career readiness standards (CRS) which measure a service member’s preparedness to depart from active duty;
  • Develop Transition GPS, a curriculum that builds the skills needed by service members to meet the CRS;
  • A capstone event, during which commanders verify their members have met career readiness standards or, if not, ensure that they receive additional training or a warm handover; and
  • Implementation to the military life-cycle transition model, which aligns transition activities with touch-points across the military career.

Kelly said that according to the most recent participant assessment data, more than 80 percent of the participants said they “gained valuable information and skills to plan their transition, that the training enhanced their confidence in their transition, they intended to use what they learned in the classes, and that they knew how to access appropriate resources post separation.”

In the last two years, both public and private organizations recognized that service members “present an incredible pool of talent and they seek increased opportunities to harness that talent,” Kelly said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.