Are younger service members — so-called ‘millennials,’ born in 1980 or later — soft?

Are they too reliant on technology? Are they buried so deep in social media that face-to-face communication becomes impossible? Are they too busy questioning orders to follow them?

It’s not uncommon to hear such complaints from members of the Old Guard, some of whom are quick to stereotype the new breed as too desperate for praise and too ill-disciplined.

Across the services, leaders certainly are scrambling to adapt to the millennial mindset, even as the generation is taking over.

• The Army is looking to expand the role of drill sergeants and insert them back into Advanced Individual Training. This means new soldiers will have more time with tough-talking soldiers, beyond basic. Why?

“The problem that we do have is that right now the generation we have coming in is not as disciplined as we would like them to be,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, the senior enlisted soldier for the Center for Initial Military Training, earlier this year. “So we have to provide them with discipline over a longer period of time.”

• At the service academies, students have complained the military’s rigid career tracks and “up or out rules” discourage continued service. Complaints like these from cadets at West Point helped hasten the Defense Department’s current plans to reform the promotion system and allow more flexibility in recruiting, assigning and promoting officers.

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• While recruiting in the short-term has not suffered, leaders have warned of a looming crisis.

In the 1990s, almost half of young Americans had parents with some military experience. Today that has dropped to about 15 percent, Stephanie Miller, the Pentagon’s director of accessions policy, said in an interview earlier this year.

“This military-civilian disconnect does create this particular challenge for us,” Miller said.

Read more at Military Times

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