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NEWS | Oct. 20, 2023

Army Reserve leads visionary seminar to integrate civilian knowledge

By Master Sgt. Jessica Espinosa U.S. Army Reserve Command

The chief of Army Reserve did more than lead a panel at the 2023 Association of the United States Army Meeting and Exposition – she ignited a visionary dialogue.

Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, United States Army Reserve Command, guided a distinguished panel in a discussion titled “It’s Your Time: Integrating Civilian Skills into the Future Fight.”

The four-panel consortium took that title prompt and ran with it. Members were Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, the commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps; Maj. Gen. Simon Graham Director of Reserves for the British Army; Brynt Parmeter, the Department of Defense’s chief talent management officer; and Kenny Cushing, the CEO of NetCentrics. Guiding this unconventional brainstorm was Brig. Gen. Kelly Dickerson, of the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve Operations, Plans, and Training, who multitasked as the moderator.

The opening question was a beacon of ingenuity: How do we lay a solid foundation for understanding our future requirements and how best can we integrate civilian technologies? The answer was short: Superpowers!

In the words of Donahue, the man at the helm of the 18th Airborne Corps, “The Reserves bring superpowers.” He was referring to the civilian talents that Reserve soldiers often bring to the table, honed through their work in the non-military sector. He underscored that the active-duty forces are not the true experts or creators anymore; that role belongs to those with a zeal for the military who also have tech expertise. He declared, “That is your superpower.”

But it’s not enough to possess these superpowers; it’s about harnessing civilian might to supercharge military endeavors. The panel dwelled on this issue, offering potent suggestions.

Amid the current challenges of an aging workforce and limited population with motivation to serve, the goal is to entice civilian talent by acknowledging the skills they could bring to the battlefield.

A potential recipe for success involves reshaping the active duty and Reserve collaboration, while also offering shorter service obligations that enable talented individuals to shift seamlessly between the corporate and military realms.

As Cushing pointed out, the transfer of skills is a hurdle, and this systemic change is overdue. Graham agreed, explaining that British reserve forces echo the sentiment, often saying “Let them take the test without doing the course.”

The core issue revolves around blending the civilian experience with the uniform experience, creating a dynamic integration. Parmeter furthered that conversation, adding that upon his military retirement, certain expectations of where he would land on the civilian workforce spectrum was always told to him. He asked why top-tier civilian professionals shouldn’t be extended the same opportunity in the service.

Daniels, in a thought-provoking crescendo, pondered the panel’s possibility of breaking down barriers between components, across the corporate landscape, and even spanning various services. The essence of her proposition was the idea of permeability, a new paradigm where careers aren’t about retention but about exposure.

“We don’t see careers like that very often, but maybe we can really learn a lot from having people that are able to successfully navigate those and progress through those different experiences,” she said.

The seminar concluded with a captivating Q&A session, inviting everyone to collaborate on solutions. Perhaps just gazing into the future could make it gleam brighter.
To watch the seminar in its entirety, go to USARC Facebook page at and click the “Chief of Army Reserve Seminar at AUSA” link.