Developing Adaptive Leaders: The Crucible Experience of Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • July 01, 2004
  • Dr Leonard Wong

The author examines the Operation IRAQI FREEDOM environment and concludes that the complexity, unpredictability, and ambiguity of postwar Iraq is producing a cohort of innovative, confident, and adaptable junior officers. They are learning to make decisions in chaotic conditions and to be mentally agile in executing counterinsurgency and nation-building operations simultaneously. As a result, the Army will soon have a cohort of company grade officers who are accustomed to operating independently, taking the initiative, and adapting to changes. The author warns that the Army must now acknowledge and encourage this newly developed adaptability in our junior officers or risk stifling the innovation critically needed in the Army's future leaders.