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Posted on Dec 9, 2007 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features

21st Century Leadership

By Kevin Lee, USMC, ret.

“If the Corps is to ride the ‘dragon of change’ into the 21st century, it must make a commitment to innovation”.

So said former Marine Corps Commandant General Charles C. Krulak. This last century had a high increase of technology, and it is obvious that mankind will have drastic leaps of technological innovation in this 21st century. This is a field where the military should not wait for new technology to roll off the assembly line, but look at implementing the inventions while they are still on the drawing board. Also, it is important to work with manufacturing industries in developing and crafting technology to be used on future battlegrounds.

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 22 use the Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) to practice the procedures they will need to conduct a successful convoy. The virtual convoy training was conducted aboard the USS Gunston Hall, where traditional training would be impossible, Sept. 5, 2007. The Marine pictured in the bottom left position is controlling the simulated convoy for the Marines before him. The six Marines at the long tables are alternating roles as driver and turret gunner while the three Marines standing behind them are acting as vehicle commanders. The Marines and sailors of CLB-22 are currently deployed as the Logistics Combat Element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable).
Photo by: Cpl. Peter R. Miller.

With this accelerated pace of technology becoming available to the Marine Corps, some may wonder what type of leaders should be developed in conjunction with these innovations. It seems safe to say that this is one area where there need not be any change – the Corps can use the same type of committed leaders it has produced in the past. The Marine Corps should continue to promote people of high caliber and quality to leadership positions, just as years past. Modern technology should not dictate who leads, but the leader should dictate who will use it. A leader should not have to be adequately trained on all equipment, but should be trained on the fundamentals of the weapons and equipment organic to his unit so that he appreciates the circumstances that call for its use and understands the basic principles of employment. Also, this will help leaders to understand which subordinates are well trained on the specific equipment and who needs to be cross-trained or re-trained. He should be able to supervise the operation and (possibly) repair of the equipment under his responsibility to the greatest degree possible. This does not imply that he must know every aspect of the items, nor need he be more proficient than his Marines who will employ it. A leader does, however, need to understand who in his command is most proficient with the equipment organic to the unit, and who is best able to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the equipment.


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  1. Hello. I am an old friend of Kevin Lee, the author of the above article. I have had a difficult time finding information on him, and whether he has returned home safely. Please forward my information to him, so that he can touch base if he so chooses. Thanks so much.

    Melissa 312-399-6920

    • Hello Melissa,
      You said that you know me. Where do we know each other from?