We’ve all heard the slogan, ‘the Army takes care of its own.” Now as a means of ensuring that all Soldiers are mentally, emotionally and physically capable of being their best at all times, the force has initiated a new campaign, designed to change the Army’s current culture.
After enduring 11 consecutive years of war and putting a strain on those within the Army ranks, Soldiers in the regular Army, Army Reserves and National Guard noticed an increase in incidents of suicides, domestic violence, drug abuse and other personal problems. The Ready and Resilient Campaign Plan is intended to restore an enduring spirit to America’s finest fighting force.
“The United States Army has fought for over eleven years, the longest period of conflict in our nation’s history, to counter terrorism and free millions of people from tyranny. The unprecedented length and the persistent nature of conflict during this period has tested the capabilities and the resilience of our Soldiers and the Army as an institution,” explained Col. Doug Stitt, XVIII Airborne Corps G-1.
“The vast majority of our active duty, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers have maintained resilience in this time of persistent conflict. However, the stresses of combat and strains from deployments have amplified lapses in standards and discipline among Soldiers and leaders at all levels, and produced the current negative trends in suicides, domestic violence, sexual harassment and assaults, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying and hazing.”
It is because of those factors that were detrimental to the total force that the Army created the Ready and Resilient Campaign.
According to Stitt, the Ready and Resilient Campaign will establish an enduring cultural change that integrates resilience into how the Army builds, strengthens, maintains, and assesses total Soldier fitness, individual performance and unit readiness.
The campaign is inclusive of the total Army – active duty, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers, Soldier Families, and Army civilians, with priorities directed at improving Soldier resilience and unit readiness.
Stitt noted that the negative, at-risk and high risk behaviors, along with the numbers of individuals on non-deployable status have a detrimental effect on overall unit readiness and degrade the trust and confidence of the American populace in the United States Army as an institution.
Through the R2 Campaign, the Army is able to provide care for Soldiers equal to their service and sacrifice; reverse negative trends in high-risk behaviors and lapses in discipline, and reduce the population of non-deployable Soldiers in units. The refinement of policies and the identification, resourcing, and coordination of proven programs and services enable the chain of command to effectively manage readiness and resilience.
“In strengthening the Army profession, improving unit readiness, and increasing Soldier resilience, we maintain the trust and confidence of our Soldiers, their Families, Army civilians, and the American people,” Stitt explained.
He pointed out that all Soldiers enter the service with a level of resilience built from upbringing, background and experience.
Stitt added that while this effort on resilience was being analyzed, the vice chief of staff of the Army along with several members of the Army staff and secretariat, visited six installations in July 2012, to review the health of the force and determine how the Army staff and secretariat could assist the force to improve readiness.
Stitt said once they arrived at the locations, they noticed that a lot of the installations’ leadership was already on board with the improving the ranks and assisting Families, but noted that more could be done.
“They found many leaders are actively engaged in promoting health and wellness, combating suicide, and reducing high risk behavior. However, they also saw evidence that the disparate set of programs and tools available to leaders and Soldiers were not universally understood or accessed,” Stitt said.
He pointed out that resilience, as it is understood today, was not analyzed by this element. However, the leadership understood that it must take immediate actions to assist Soldiers, their Families, and Army civilians who require support, and also develop an enduring strategy to build readiness throughout the total Army.
“That enduring strategy is provided in the Ready and Resilient Campaign Plan,” he said.
“The Army developed and implemented training specifically designed to increase Soldier resilience, and will continue to refine the training doctrine, processes, and reporting requirements to incorporate resilience as a component of total Soldier fitness and unit readiness,” he said.
According to Stitt, the campaign focuses on four key tasks to achieve its goal of a stronger, more resilient force:
• Structure policies, systems, and processes to provide effective resilience support to Soldiers, Soldier Families, and Army civilians
• Integrate resilience support across the spectrum of recruitment, training, development, and transition
• Strengthen the Army profession and promote trust between the Soldier, leader, and the institution
• Communicate the campaign to leaders, Soldiers, Families, Army civilians, and external audiences
Stitt said it’s important that leaders at all levels know how to support the Soldiers and it’s important that those efforts be applied to the total Army.
“It is imperative that we preserve existing efforts and initiatives that are effectively creating resilience now. These efforts must, to the extent possible, be standardized across the formation to ensure quality support for every component, region and installation,” he said.
Stitt added that it is also important to acknowledge that science can improve the understanding of resilience and help leaders determine best practices for developing and maintaining resilience, but alone it cannot create resilience.
“The building and maintenance of resilience and readiness will remain more art than science, grounded by peer relationships, support networks and active leadership,” Stitt said.
He said the overall goal is that the Army’s culture embraces resilience as part of its profession and as a key component to Soldier and unit readiness. He also emphasized the importance of leaders, Soldiers, Families, and Army civilians receiving quality assistance through the coordinated efforts of Army programs and services, reinforcing a command climate of trust and mutual respect. Another part of that goal is that Soldiers come into the service Army strong and become stronger during their service, and the campaign’s efforts are incorporated into the Army campaign plan’s processes and management activities producing enduring change.
Ultimately, the Army maintains its capability to rapidly deploy and sustain ready and resilient forces to prevent conflict, shape the security environment, and win the nation’s wars.
“Ready is the ability to accomplish assigned tasks or missions through resilience, individual and collective team training and leadership. Resilience is the mental, physical, emotional and behavioral ability to face and cope with adversity, adapt to change, recover, learn and grow from setbacks. Resilient Soldiers, leaders, Families and units are integral to Army readiness,” Stitt added.