Depth vs. breadth: talent management for special warfare
Krebs, William K., Jr.
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This thesis presents recommendations for improving officer talent management for Special Warfare units. Success in this complex human domain demands that key planners and commanders of a Special Warfare campaign operate with a long-term perspective, a depth of expertise, and a strong network of relationships. However, on any given day in a U.S. Army Special Forces Group, the preponderance of field grade officers are in their first year on the job. With a particular focus on what constitutes adequate time in key leadership positions, this thesis examines talent management in Nordic SOF units, the Intelligence Community, Google, and elite college basketball teams. Based on how these exceptional organizations balance breadth vs. depth—and grounded in interviews with former four-star commanders and Defense Department leadership—the research determines that the current method of rotating field grade officers through key jobs every 12–24 months is antithetical to the needs of Special Warfare. The thesis concludes with three recommendations to improve talent management for field grade Special Forces officers.
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