Newt Gingrich talks adapting to rapid change during Maneuver Warfighter Conference

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, talks to the audience of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference over video teleconference.

Story by Megan Garcia, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs

Photos by Markeith Horace, Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning Public Affairs


FORT BENNING, Ga. (Jan. 16, 2018) – Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, opened the final day of the Maneuver Warfighter Conference at the Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia, Jan. 11 by delivering a strategic overview of the U.S.’s global standing via video teleconference.

Gingrich began his presentation by emphasizing the importance of military adaptability and preparedness of today’s Army.

He referred to both World War I and World War II, when America was trying to rebuild the Army while engaged in conflict.

“One of the challenges for us is we actually want to go through the process of change before we have a war,” Gingrich said. “We had a very tiny Army in World War I, and then we had a somewhat bigger but still very obsolete Army at the beginning of World War II, and so there is a constant process of change. And part of my challenge to all of you is, I believe, that the leadership of the American military in the next 25 years will face more parallel complications then any time in American history.”

He also noted the unpredictability of strategies used by the enemy. To illustrate his point, he highlighted the tactics used in the 9/11 attacks.

“You have to think of a level of adaptability,” Gingrich said. “There was not a single person in the Pentagon in 1980 who would have thought that was rational.”

Gingrich pointed out U.S. Forces have to continuously train to adjust to battlefield strategies while simultaneously conducting operations on various fronts.

The audience at the Maneuver Warfighter Conference listens to Newt Gingrich.

“You’ve got to figure out how do you train an Army and an Air Force and a Marine Corps and a Navy and a Coast Guard,” Gingrich said. “You’ve got to figure out what’s the baseline preparation, from basic training and up, that enables us to have adaptive Soldiers and adaptive leaders.”

Gingrich added organizational structure, equipment and doctrine also play a role in service member preparedness.

“We have to be prepared to think about these things in ways that make us very uncomfortable,” Gingrich said. “You’ve got to be engaged in levels beyond the traditional military and recognize that you live in a world today that is very different than the world of World War II and the world of the Cold War.”

Gingrich concluded by reiterating why it’s imperative service members remain ready to adapt to change.

“The world is changing very rapidly and is much more complex then we think, and you have to adjust to it, and you have to think about it before it overruns you,” Gingrich said. “Your professionalism is the key to our ability to be safe and to be successful.”

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