Thoughts from The Edge

This week at the College, we have been running our annual Apollo Course.  It is for mid-career military officers and national security professionals and is designed to hone their capacity to use futures methodologies in strategy development. Sitting up the back of one class, it occurred to me that this kind of short course, focussed on the future, was exactly the kind of thing we need more of in if we are going to keep up with accelerating change in the geopolitical and technological environments.

But it also occurred to me that we need a deeper level of discussion that smashes through our various hierarchical levels to ensure we continue to improve our support to our people and their intellectual development. The Forge is part of this. So is my new blog.

My journey to this blog has taken some time. And it has only been through the inspiration of a large number of people that I decided to take this next step.  It is impossible to mention everyone who have been exemplars for me.  But there are a couple who I want to mention in my very first post.

First - @FORCOMD media. This amazing person started me on my journey into the world of social media and thinking strategically about communications.  She, more than any other, has influenced my desire to be a better communicator and continues to be a great source of advice.

Steve Leonard (the @Doctrine_Man) and Joe Byerly have played a huge role. Both have served as examples of professional officers seeking to connect a wider system of people through professional military education, and for the betterment of their institutions.  I was interviewed by Joe back in 2015 (see it here); I learned much from our talk.  Of course, Nate Finney and Clare O’Neil have been a constant source of inspiration and advice. Thank you.

So what kind of blog do I want this to be? Well, at heart it is about our amazing people and how we can nurture their intellectual development.  I might get side tracked from time to time, but I expect that I will talk about the achievements of our people, events, books I have read, and my thoughts on how we can think about the future to inform the development of the intellectual edge in our people. I might also post presentations I give at our various schools and colleges. 

What about the tone?  One blog I really admire, and love the format of, is John Scalzi’s “Whatever”.  If I achieve 1% of its greatness in accessibility, humour and straight forward style, I will be very happy.

There will be many out there that are likely to be bored stiff by my writings here. No worries - read it to get a good night’s sleep! Seriously though, I hope to connect people through this blog into the great PME ecosystem that now exists across many nations.

Not sure how often I will post here. I am hoping to put something here at least weekly, in addition to other updates on The Forge.  My aim is to assist our future leaders to nurture their intellectual growth and knowledge about our great profession.

To that end, I wanted to finish with a terrific quote.  It is about how we all have an individual responsibility for our intellectual development.  This doesn’t absolve institutions of their responsibilities – it just means that we all must also seek out opportunities beyond those offered by the system.  The quote is from a young officer of Marines, MAJ Van Riper.  In 1982, he wrote that the responsibility for professional development between periods in formal programs rests with the individual officer. This is inherent in the nature of the military officer's calling. It is inherent because the body of knowledge which constitutes the art and science of war is not only broad and deep but is also dynamic. 

I read this often.  The presence of mind of this young officer was way beyond where I was at this stage of my career.  But it also serves to constantly inspire me to keep reading, keep thinking, keep writing and keep discussing the challenges (and opportunities) we face in the future. And it reinforces in me the desire to contribute as much as I can to our profession. I hope it might do the same for you.

So, that is it.  The end of my very first post here at The Forge.  If you have any thoughts on this post, you can respond to me on Twitter at @WarintheFuture.

Have a great day!