America at War: bridges to the next civilian and military leadership generation

From the Foreword

When the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School brings together graduate students and national security students at Harvard—military veterans, homeland security officials, intelligence officers, private security contractors, and others—in a Defense Leadership Project, one expects powerful results as they work with distinguished guest panelists. After all, it’s Harvard, the Kennedy School, David Gergen’s Center for Public Leadership, and our own country’s security leaders. We have great expectations.

Rarely do results of such an intellectual engagement provide the call to action that this report delivers. Not an academic treatise, this is a tough report by people on the ground, across the sectors, examining every aspect of the defense community, and this is the powerful result. And it’s all about leadership, the leaders of the future required right across the national security community, to lead, respond, mobilize, inspire, build the alliances and partnerships an uncertain future demands in the emerging security environment.The formal recommendations the panel makes in this report are sobering and illuminating and fall into four categories:

• Finding critical talent

• Transforming talent into institutional capability

• Reforming the existing organization to promote balance and interoperability

• Accelerating generational change.

Three powerful messages flow through the recommendations, the rationale, and the call to action in this report:

• A massive need for change in the national security organizations and community to prepare our leaders to meet future threats

• Emerging leaders, the new generation of national security professional workers, will generate the change essential to meet evolving challenges

• The inspiring ideas will come from bright young minds committed to our security establishment who know change is the leadership imperative of our time.

From Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School presentation:

The Center for Public Leadership’s April 21 tribute to military veterans, "Honoring Those Who Have Served: A Tribute to Student Veterans from the Harvard Kennedy, Business, and Law Schools,” was not simply a matter of local significance. Gen. David Petraeus, who, as Commander of U.S. Central Command, heads our nation’s military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, saw the gathering — a sequel to an event the Center sponsored in 2007 to acknowledge the role of military service in the overall work of public service — as important enough to attend in person.

Photo: US Army General Matthew Ridgway, photographed at Ribera, Sicily 25 July 1943.

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