Technology is changing marching orders for Army leadership

Army leaders believe future military operations will increasingly rely on a dispersed, decentralized force. Now they need to know how to lead in that environment.

Who would have thought that information technology would be strong enough to flatten U.S. military leadership?

But that is indeed the case. The Army is now rethinking how it operates — and even redesigning its leadership structure — because technology has advanced so rapidly and changed the nature of war, according to an Aug. 24 Federal Business Opportunities notice.

Army leaders believe future military operations will increasingly rely on a dispersed, decentralized force. “Units will be isolated, command posts will be mobile, the planning process will be collaborative, decision-making will be determined by soldiers on the ground, rehearsals will be virtual, and team membership will continually evolve to fit the needs of the situation,” the Army's notice states.

“Future leaders and their subordinates will be faced with complex working environments, accelerated operations and a potentially diminished (e.g., flattened) command structure,” the notice also states.

The Army believes communicating through IT and electronic media might force leaders to change their traditional leadership style and behavior. To change, they need to know how IT is being used in a military context and how to lead and influence via technology, the notice states.

To prepare, the U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences is seeking research on e-leadership for the military. The primary goal of the research is to provide guidance to leaders on how to manage emerging relationships, build trust and identification, clarify expectations, and motivate and inspire followers through electronic media, the notice states.

The research’s overarching objectives are to figure out how and how often the military communicates through technology and then what Army officers need to know to be good leaders in the technology era of military operations.

The question now comes to our readers who are experts in IT. How should the Army, and the military overall, lead in the age of technology?

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