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Program Gives Senior Officials 21st Century Skill Sets

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2008 – A new Defense Department program for senior-level civilians seeks to develop the skills and competencies needed to lead the 21st century national defense effort.

The Defense Senior Leader Development Program, which replaces the current Defense Leadership and Management Program, is the new “premiere executive development program for senior defense civilians and a key component of the department's succession planning strategy,” said Patricia Bradshaw, deputy undersecretary of defense for civilian personnel policy.

“Civilians are playing a much greater role alongside our warfighters,” she said. “Today, they are on the front lines, and civilians, including [Defense Department] civilians, have a role in reconstruction phases as well as other areas on today’s battlefield.”

The new program targets already-successful senior leaders needing to strengthen their knowledge of national security and broaden their enterprise view, Bradshaw said. Experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Hurricane Katrina, shown the need for senior-level training to evolve beyond the Defense Department into the multinational and interagency world of the State Department, nongovernmental organizations and country allies, Bradshaw said.

As the U.S. aids the Iraqi government, for example, civilian teams from the U.S. Defense and State departments are working alongside military personnel assisting in rebuilding Iraq’s ministries. Civilians are advising Iraqi officials on areas ranging from rule of law and economics to government and education, she said.

“Civilians are called upon to serve in ways we have not in the past,” she said. “So it’s not only the basic competencies we need to focus on; it’s the ability to lead in our environment and make decisions.”

Efforts such as the new training program will give senior civilians the tools they need to be successful in environments such as Iraq, Bradshaw said.

The need for the new program was recognized in 2005, and it was approved in 2007. Nominations for the first class, which begins in February, are due in September, and up to 50 people will be selected by December, said David A. Rude, chief of senior leader development, Civilian Personnel Management Service.

Individuals participating in DLAMP all received a letter last year explaining that the program would end in fiscal 2010. They must complete all program requirements to apply for completion, Rude said.

Graduates from the previous program aren’t eligible for the new one; however, supplementary courses, training and seminars are available to help them, as well as those who don’t get into the new program, become more competitive, Bradshaw said. Eventually, department employees will be able to go online and see what kind of leadership courses and seminars are available and how they map to a particular leadership competency, she added.

Those selected for the new program can expect four weeklong seminars, participation in case studies and 10 months of military education at one of the five war colleges to give them a broader sense of national security and working side by side with servicemembers, Bradshaw said.

Each service component will implement its own process requirements for how individuals are nominated. Basic eligibility requirements for the two-year program are:

-- Permanent, full-time Defense Department civilian employee at National Security Personnel System Pay Band 3, or GS-14/15 and equivalent;

-- Bachelor’s degree as required to attend professional military education at one of the five service war colleges; and

-- One year of supervisory experience, which may be waived upon component recommendation.

An hourlong town hall meeting about the new program will be held at the Pentagon Conference Center at 8:30 a.m. July 8. The meeting's briefing slides will be on the Civilian Personnel Management Service Web site for those who cannot attend in person.

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