By Public Affairs Staff 07 December 2017
Joseph Dunford noted the value of his academic year at Carlisle before
focusing squarely on the future. He’ll pass the baton in a few years, he
said, to a new Chairman and a next generation of senior leaders who now
sit where he did 18 years ago as a member of the Class of 1999. That
compelling fact underscored the insights he offered along with the
mandate to maintain the competitive advantage.
The pace of change for the profession of arms and the implications of change in the nature of weapon systems and the character of war compels the intellectual work the students are doing now, he said.
Where do you focus planning to manage issues? he asked. He answered his own question with a master class in how to frame thinking and communicating about the strategic environment and the complexity of regional problems sets with global implications.
Most rewarding for the audience was his decision to answer every question asked by U.S. students and many of the 79 international officers in the class.
Those discussions addressed the responsibility for global integration when few problems exist in a single region; the requirement for a balanced inventory of capabilities; the nature of military advice; and an understanding that the “military dimension” of a problem is part of the solution but rarely if ever the most important part.
In a follow-on interview, he referred to his personal experience here and his expectations of graduates.
year, to me, is a critical year in the professional development of O5s,
lieutenant colonels, commanders, or their equivalents in the
interagency – a critical year in starting to think about problems at the
strategic level with a degree of complexity that is in many ways much
greater than the challenges they dealt with at the tactical and
of the first qualities that I’d look at is the ability to look at
complex problems, identify the core elements of those complex problems,
and the implications of those core elements -- and then, to be able to
communicate to people about the nature of that particular problem and
how to frame it so you can … solve it…. That’s my definition of critical
thinking. The other attributes, of course, are interpersonal skills and
the ability to build teams, your understanding and empathy with regard
to other cultures. You’re going to find yourself in a coalition or in an
alliance in almost everything we do.”