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Nearly half of soldiers say Army isn't committed to them

Aug. 21, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Nearly 50 percent of active-duty soldiers don't believe the Army is committed to them, according a survey.
Nearly 50 percent of active-duty soldiers don't believe the Army is committed to them, according a survey. (Army)
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Almost 50 percent of soldiers don’t believe the Army is committed to them, according to an annual leadership survey.

In a report released in July, the 2012 Center for Army Leadership Survey of Army Leadership showed that 47 percent of active-duty soldiers and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers agreed or strongly agreed that “the Army no longer demonstrates that it is committed to me as much as it expects me to be committed.”

This is a 6 percent increase — among troops in both components — since 2010, according to the report.

In addition, junior noncommissioned officers showed the highest level of agreement that they perceived “unequal commitment” between themselves and the Army — 58 percent of active-duty junior NCOs and 48 percent reserve component junior NCOs felt that way.

The survey report cites the uncertain future of the Army and the ongoing end-strength drawdown as possible reasons for how soldiers are feeling, adding that tracking this issue can provide leaders with early warning signs for “the potential cascading effects of uncertainty on lower morale, loss of quality leaders, and lack of unit cohesion.”

Lt. Gen. David Perkins, commanding general of the Combined Arms Center, which includes the Center for Army Leadership, said it’s important for senior leaders to understand how soldiers are feeling.

He cited captains as an example.

“They came into an Army that was expanding, the budget for the Army was going up, they were deploying, they were engaged in their craft,” Perkins said. “But what has happened in this last year? The Army is downsizing to 490,000, brigades are going away, they see we’re conducting [selective early retirement boards] for colonels, they see the resourcing of the Army is going down. So the future of the Army, in their mind, is very different from when they signed up. They’re no longer in a growth industry, quite honestly.”

Senior Army leaders must talk to their soldiers, Perkins said.

“We need to spend more time explaining this and what the big picture is,” he said. “We’re still going to promote people, there are still going to be opportunities, but it does give us pause. These captains are looking at what’s going on in the Army and they’re making decisions about their future.”

Leaders must help their soldiers set expectations, Perkins said.

Every colonel who will go before the SERB this month will have been counseled by a three-star general, he said. This directive, from Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno, ensures the colonels get all the information they need about how the board will work and what their options are, Perkins said.

“I think part of the concern with folks is they say the Army is going to get smaller, but they don’t know how we’re going to get smaller,” he said. “There’s anxiety about the unknown. What we try to do is provide clarity. Everybody can’t stay in the Army forever, but we do care about how we treat you and we’re going to work this out together.”

More than 20,100 sergeants through colonels in the active and reserve components and almost 7,300 Army civilians participated in the 2012 leadership survey. The survey was sent to a random sample of 140,857 soldiers and civilians; the 27,469 participants represent a 19.5 percent response rate.

The survey was administrated in October and the findings were released in July.

See more about the leadership survey in Monday’s print edition of Army Times.

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