Grading the Army’s Choice of Senior Leaders

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This study seeks to determine how the Army institutionally selects its 3 and 4-star officers. The central focus, What patterns are evident in the output of the Army’s 3 and 4-star selection process? has three main findings: 1. The Army has institutional preferences, 2. Multiple paths are possible to the senior leader level, 3. The Army’s most preferred path is operational and command experience. These findings were the result of a comprehensive analysis of a database developed utilizing the standardized resumes of 3 and 4-star generals who have served or retired after 1985. The database, along with the results presented here can help determine if the Army is selecting the right senior leaders and meeting its senior leader development goals. In addition, by understanding the breadth of experience of the Army’s senior leaders, we can identify potential shortcomings in experience or skills required to meet current and future threats. The Army is tasked with defending the nation, we must therefore continually assess how it adapts and evolves with contemporary events and adversaries. The database, while extensive by itself, serves as a starting point for future researchers. The paper’s narrow lens will offer insight into the Army process of selecting senior leaders and provide a follow-on analysis template.





FUST, GEORGE (2018). Grading the Army’s Choice of Senior Leaders. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


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