ARMY’S GEN­ER­A­TION GAP

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The mas­sive com­pro­mise of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to Wik­iLeaks re­vealed a cul­tural di­vide be­tween Army lead­ers and sol­diers of a largely un­pa­tri­otic and val­ue­less mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased Army re­port.

An in­ves­tiga­tive re­port on the case of Army Pfc. Bradley Man­ning, who is serv­ing a 35-year prison term for es­pi­onage, iden­ti­fies sev­eral lapses in Army se­cu­rity and per­son­nel pro­ce­dures that al­lowed Man­ning to re­main in the ser­vice and gain ac­cess to clas­si­fied doc­u­ments.

Man­ning, 26, who now calls him­self Chelsea, il­le­gally down­loaded hun­dreds of thou­sands of se­cret doc­u­ments on Iraq and Afghanistan, along with State Depart­ment ca­bles. After copying the doc­u­ments on rewritable dig­i­tal me­dia, he turned them over to the anti-se­crecy web­site Wik­iLeaks, which posted them on­line.

It was the largest leak of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments in U.S. his­tory be­fore last year’s dis­clo­sure of se­crets by rene­gade NSA con­trac­tor Ed­ward Snow­den. The mag­ni­tude of that com­pro­mise is still un­fold­ing.

“Over the course of this in­ves­ti­ga­tion, it be­came ap­par­ent that there is cur­rently a cul­tural gap be­tween the first-line and mid-level lead­ers and the sol­diers they lead,” wrote Army Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the re­port’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer and au­thor. “The sol­diers they lead are, in ma­jor part, of the so-called Mil­len­nial Gen­er­a­tion.”

An Army spokesman had no com­ment. A spokesman for Gen. Caslen, now su­per­in­ten­dent of the U.S. Mil­i­tary Academy at West Point, New York, had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, which is dated Feb. 14, 2011, but was re­leased Sept. 26 on an Army web­site, Man­ning, as a mil­len­nial, is part of a youth co­hort gen­er­ally marked by nar­cis­sism and tech­no­log­i­cal savvy, but “iso­lated from the phys­i­cal world,” re­sult­ing in “strong loy­al­ties in the vir­tual world.”

Mil­len­ni­als’ val­ues of­ten clash with tra­di­tional val­ues and loy­al­ties in the phys­i­cal world as a re­sult of play­ing games on­line and us­ing so­cial me­dia, the re­port says.

“In their vir­tual world — com­prised of on­line gaming and blog­ging — Mil­len­ni­als be­lieve it ac­cept­able to act in any way one wishes — their ac­tions gen­er­ate no per­ceived con­se­quences for which they may be held to ac­count,” the re­port states.

As an ex­am­ple, the re­port cites emails sent by Man­ning to for­mer hacker Adrian Lamo re­veal­ing his pil­fer­ing of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments.

For the mil­i­tary, many mil­len­ni­als’ fa­vor­ing of trans­parency over se­crecy is trou­bling since the sur­vival of sol­diers and their units of­ten de­pends on keep­ing the en­emy from gain­ing ac­cess to sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence.

Mil­len­ni­als “must be­gin to un­der­stand that ser­vice as a sol­dier en­tails ad­her­ence to stan­dards and val­ues,” the re­port says.

“Loy­alty to na­tion, obe­di­ence to or­ders of the chain of com­mand, and com­mit­ment to the wel­fare of the small unit are non-ne­go­tiable,” the re­port states.

Trust­wor­thi­ness of sol­diers must be mon­i­tored and grant­ing sol­diers’ ac­cess to se­crets re­quires care­ful scru­tiny.

In the case of Man­ning, the Army missed signs of be­hav­ioral prob­lems that could have pre­vented him from gain­ing ac­cess to the doc­u­ments he leaked, the re­port says. They in­cluded sev­eral phys­i­cal as­saults, “tantrum fits of rage,” ly­ing to in­ves­ti­ga­tors about past be­hav­ior, and com­ments made to col­leagues. In 2009, the re­port said, Man­ning told a col­league he had “no loy­alty” to the United States and the Amer­i­can flag patch on his uni­form “meant noth­ing” to him.

The re­port sug­gests Man­ning is a “bell­wether” of the cul­tural di­vide be­tween Army lead­ers and young sol­diers. Mid-level com­man­ders are com­fort­able with Army hi­er­ar­chy while mil­len­ni­als are not.

Be­cause the Army’s suc­cess de­mands small unit co­he­sion, “a young sol­dier who is fa­mil­iar with, and most com­fort­able in, the vir­tual world of the In­ter­net — where the self is praised and in­di­vid­u­al­ity as well as trans­parency are glo­ri­fied — may be un­able to adapt to the mil­i­tary’s fo­cus on team­work and op­er­a­tional and in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity,” the re­port says.

Ad­di­tion­ally, an ero­sion of lead­er­ship skills in the Army is ex­ac­er­bat­ing prob­lems caused by the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion gap.

Army lead­ers are “pro­fi­cient in com­bat,” but are chal­lenged in lead­ing troops in peace time, the re­port says.

The Army needs to bet­ter ed­u­cate young sol­diers on the need for se­crecy and se­cu­rity, and teach them that a fail­ure to pro­tect sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion can put them at risk, it says.

“We must un­der­take an ed­u­cated and con­certed ef­fort to iden­tify and un­der­stand the at­tributes as­so­ci­ated with Mil­len­ni­als if we hope ever to bridge the gap fully,” the re­port states.

Man­ning

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