Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is close to selecting a senior officer to serve in a new departmentwide coordination post focused on leadership development and ethics.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday Hagel is currently reviewing “several nominations” for the post, which he characterized as the “first of its kind” in the Defense Department.
The U.S. military in recent weeks has been rocked by a series of cheating scandals involving Air Force and Navy nuclear forces, drug probes involving some of those same units, major contracting crimes, sexual assault cases, complaints about the way senior officers conduct performance reviews, and a rash of misconduct cases involving senior officers dating back several years.
The incidents have raised concerns at the highest levels that the stress of more than a decade of war, combined with other societal issues, may have created a “systemic” ethics and leadership problem trickling down from the senior officer corps throughout the ranks. To counteract the spread of so-called “toxic leaders,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has instituted changes to the way senior officers are reviewed, including new peer evaluations that will include character assessments.
But while Dempsey “will be intimately involved” in whatever actions the department takes based on internal and independent reviews that are about to kick-off, the new post will report directly to Hagel, according to Kirby.
“The secretary believes it is important to have somebody on his personal staff… to help coordinate the effort across the department,” Kirby said. “He wants somebody who is reporting directly to him to help this coordinating function.”
Richard R. Osial, a spokesman for Dempsey, told FedScoop recently the new “360-degree review” process will enter initial beta testing in March and is scheduled for full implementation this summer. Osial said the Joint Staff is working with the Army’s Center for Army Leadership to develop the specifics of the new review process.
In addition, although all general officers and flag officers occupying joint service billets — commands made up of forces from multiple services — will be subject to the new Joint Staff 360-degree review process, each branch of the service is developing its own program and schedule.