FORT HOOD — One of the most difficult problems named generations tend to have is how to communicate with the younger generations. Baby Boomers thought Generation X was just too impatient, everyone thinks Millennials are spoiled and self-absorbed, and the iGeneration — or Gen Z — is too absorbed in their smart phones and technology to know how to interact with other human beings.
In an organization such as the U.S. Army, those types of stereotypes can cause friction where trust and communication are key to success. So taking advantage of Operation Phantom Warrior Salute, the 15-day celebration of III Corps’ 100 years of serving the nation, III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II hosted a leadership forum Friday at Club Hood for the post’s leaders to learn better ways of communicating with the younger generations.
Titled “Linked But Not Connected,” the forum brought in the experts on working with Generations Y and Z: Peter Fredenburg, head football coach for University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; Scott Drew, head men’s basketball coach for Baylor University; Nancy Lieberman, a basketball Hall of Famer and former NBA coach; Randy O’Rear, president of University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; and Howard T. Prince II, a Loyd Hackler Endowed Chair in Ethical Leadership.
The forum was moderated by retired Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Cucolo III, associate vice chancellor for leadership and development and veterans affairs for the University of Texas System.
Gen. John Murray, commander of the new Army Futures Command based in Austin, was also in attendance.
“This forum is part of our ongoing Operation Phantom Warrior Salute, which is designed to link our past legacy to the generation of troopers who will lead us into the future,” Funk said. “This panel is oriented on a foundation of leadership doctrine, theory and practice, and is focused on a new generation that uses new tools to maintain contact.”
The panel members were asked how they were able to build teams through use of trust, empathy, courage and effective communication and the forum’s participants engaged in exercises to figure out how to best utilize those tactics in their own units. A second panel comprised of Generations Y and Z soldiers then gave their senior leaders a briefing on how they build their small units and the techniques they use to make them successful.
The Fort Hood leaders were joined later by local business leaders who had the opportunity to tour the post and spend Tuesday morning “living the life of a soldier” as part of the post’s Texas Partners Day, which was also part of Operation Phantom Warrior Salute.
The 15-day celebration of III Corps’ 100th anniversary is scheduled to conclude on Saturday with a celebration including a jump demonstration by the Army’s Golden Knights parachute team and a concert by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band from 3 to 9:30 p.m. at Hood Stadium. The National Night Out events, postponed from Monday due to bad weather, will run concurrently with the celebration at Hood Stadium.