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Col. Charles D. Allen
Military scholar

Col. Charles D. Allen

Colonel Charles D. Allen (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Professor of Cultural Science in the Department of Command, Leadership, and Management at the U.S. Army War College.

Nominee: U.S. Armed Forces

As we enter our ninth year of operations following the attacks of September 11, 2001, this is an interesting question to pose, "If there were a Nobel Prize for leadership, what should the criteria be and who would you nominate?"

If we choose to define leadership as the process of influencing others to achieve common goals, I would nominate the members of the United States armed forces. I will attempt to provide succinct rationale without resorting to platitudes.

We look to leaders to provide a sense of safety and well-being in times of turbulence and crisis. We look to leaders to stand and act on principles. We look to leaders to be servants to others and to sacrifice themselves for us. We look for leaders that we trust, and we provide them with the things we hold dear. We look to leaders to take action, to develop other leaders, and to get results.

As we reflect on the U.S. military service members, we see 2.4 million (active and reserve component) who are in uniform with nearly 370,000 deployed in over 150 countries to protect our national security interests. We expect them to be true to the Constitution of the United States and abide by not only the values of their respective service, but most importantly the principles of civilian control of the military. We have entrusted the military with the safety of the nation and with the lives our sons and daughters who serve--our true national treasure.

As of the start of this past Columbus Day weekend, our military members have sacrificed of 5,217 lives with 16,000 total casualties in our current conflicts, not to mention years of service and separation from loved ones. We all know relatives, friends, and acquaintances that serve. We are proud of their accomplishments when a private becomes a sergeant, a cadet becomes an officer, and the general assumes command to turn around failing strategies. We understand that our military is made of imperfect people who acknowledge their faults and learn from past mistakes.

Our military members lead by influencing other nations in seeking to provide peace and stability in many distressed regions and in a world fraught with peril. Our military has answered the call to action and service posed in the Book of Isaiah (6:8), "Whom shall I call and who shall go for us?" They have answered, "Here am I, send me."

By Col. Charles D. Allen

 |  October 12, 2009; 10:20 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: The Pedestal Problem | Next: Nominee: Ben Bernanke


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This piece does not reflect creditably on the War College. I think the characterization "scholar" is out of place.

Posted by: BrianX9 | October 14, 2009 3:20 AM
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Oh please, COL Allen...what a suck-up you seem to be. Like you, I love our American military -- and I also loved Tom Friedman's recent piece, in which he ghost-wrote Pres. Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech as a well-deserved paean to our military. That said, our military has good leaders and mediocre. To suggest that the institution in its entirety is worth Nobel emulation is beyond the pale. I love these people just as you do -- but Nobel, no.

Posted by: RegalLager | October 14, 2009 12:23 AM
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Obviously, a few posters recognize only themselves as leaders. And as leaders without a need for research. Congratulations and I hope you do well with that.

Sadly, the environment COL Allen describes, as flawed and human as it certainly is, will not get credit for the contributions it has made.

In a society that prizes individual freedom and celebrity status above community benefit and personal sacrifice, leadership appears to have been confused with fame.

As was said long ago, enjoy that freedom. We paid for it, so you didn't have to.

Posted by: matthanne1 | October 13, 2009 9:11 PM
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You're joking, right?

The same US military that killed thousands of civilians in Iraq and to this day still thinks they did no wrong?

The same US military that tortured in military prisons but says "I was just following orders"?

The same US military that promotes those who torture and demean their comrades-in-arms because of their sexual orientation?

Perhaps when the US military displays leadership they can truly be nominated for a leadership award instead of you asking us to believe your lies to make your US military feel better about themselves.

Posted by: alysheba_3 | October 13, 2009 4:37 PM
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Why did you not mention the 250,000 to 1 million civilians killed, the 2 million refugees created and the destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, all caused by our immoral war of aggression?
"He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Isaiah 2:4

Posted by: jjgriffin1 | October 13, 2009 1:16 PM
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Get a REAL job.

It Should go for everybody, no?

Posted by: GOP-Nudist-Ideologue-With-Bongo-YouKnow-The-Party-Intellectual | October 13, 2009 11:03 AM
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