‘Discipline’ replaces ‘people first’ atop Army leaders’ agendas

by Tommy Grant

The new year will prove the first full calendar year with the Army’s two new senior leaders at the helm, and if the early portions of their respective tenures are any indication, “discipline” is the service’s new watchword.

Gen. Randy George, who was confirmed as the Army’s chief of staff in September 2023, professes four top priorities: warfighting, continuous transformation, strengthening the profession and delivering ready combat formations. Underpinning many of those efforts is a promised re-emphasis on standards and discipline, the latter of which has already proved a major focus for Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Weimer, who became the service’s top NCO in August 2023.

Weimer told Army Times in October that units are built on the discipline of their individual soldiers, who in turn receive their cues from noncommissioned officers. At the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference that month, Weimer announced the service is developing a new digital “blue book” designed to arm leaders with up-to-date information to assist them with instilling discipline. The application is expected to begin beta testing in fall 2024.

The new leaders’ focus seems likely to replace its previous “people first” slogan, which was championed by now-retired Gen. James McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston.

Take the fate of its namesake People First Task Force. The group, which was created to address the findings and recommendations of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee’s December 2020 report, quietly dissolved in mid-2023, and its director Maj. Gen. Christopher Norrie took command of the 3rd Infantry Division. Although the task force did not issue a public final report, many of its initiatives and functions were absorbed into the service’s G-9 installations and quality of life directorate.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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