Lt. General William B. Caldwell IV is currently the commanding general at the United States Army North (Fifth Army) and the Army commander of Fort Sam Houston. His role is to defend the homeland, particularly through hurricanes and natural disasters, but also to develop, organize and integrate the Department Of Defense's chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear response capabilities and operations. Given General Caldwell's impressive track record at orchestrating new or improved organizational structures to ensure the job gets done, I can sleep a little easier knowing he is in charge of these critical areas. With North Korea heating up and really not knowing what we are facing with the new young and unpredictable leader Kim Jong-un, I checked in with General Caldwell to find out what would happen if North Korea did launch a missile at the United States given he would be in charge of the at-home response.
But before we get to his take on North Korea, there is some great news for American businesses I also discussed with General Caldwell... 80,000 soldiers will be available to employ between now and 2017 with the troop drawdown. If you haven't kept up with the evolution of the United States Military, it has come a long, long way from the draft or the "you either join the military or go to jail" scenario of decades ago. In fact, it is actually difficult to make it into the military of today. You may be surprised to know that only 1 in 4 Americans can even qualify with the strict requirements they have put in place. Which means those going in are already the most capable in the country. Then they come out after being trained to be both leaders and team players.
So, it is my great honor to welcome General William B. Caldwell IV to The Global Townhall.
Gabrielle Reilly: What advantages would businesses gain by hiring army veterans available as a result of the drawdown of 80,000 troops by 2017?
General Caldwell: The biggest advantage any organization would gain by hiring a veteran is that these young men and women come with tremendous skills of understanding the setting of goals and working as a team. They have a very high ethical and moral compass established. They aren't afraid to work. They understand the need to commit to and work diligently at whatever they have been asked to do. So you're going to have a very dedicated, on-time, hard-working and trustworthy man or woman coming into your organization if you hire one of these veterans.
Gabrielle Reilly: So only one out of four are eligible to start in the army to begin with?
General Caldwell: That's right. If you take the entire American population between the ages of 17 and 24, only 23% are even eligible to be considered to join the United States Army. So, only one out of every four; almost one out of every five are actually eligible. The quality of the man or woman we bring into the United States Army is already a very high-quality caliber of person, and we continue to instill the values and ethics within them.
Gabrielle Reilly: And how many of the United States CEOs who are veterans?
General Caldwell: An international search firm Korn/Ferry International did a study back in 2006 and what they found was the CEOs who have some military experience in their life tend to have far more successful businesses than those who have not had some military experience. They also have found that they tend to stay in the job of CEO much longer. An average CEO stays about four-plus years, yet those who have had some sort of military service tend to stay seven-plus years. Seven and a half years, even. Almost double the amount of time as others. And then they have found that of all the CEOs in the United States today, about a third of them did have an association with military service at some point in their life.
Gabrielle Reilly: Sounds like a great opportunity for companies to get some solid leadership in their organizations. I've been extremely impressed with the caliber of soldiers I have been around at Fort Leavenworth that's for sure. And onto North Korea... what measures will the U.S. take if North Korea were to launch a nuclear device on the United States home land?
General Caldwell: I think we all pray, first of all, that the rhetoric coming from North Korea does not lead to something of that dramatic nature. But suffice it to say that if something were to happen in the United States, whether from North Korea or another source, we do have a force of about 18,000 men and women across the United States who work within the Department of Defense, who are our chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear response forces, that would be immediately brought to bare. Within each state, in all our fifty states, we have teams that are trained and ready that could immediately respond at the governor's request in each of our states. They could be federalized and operate under federal control too. But there are forces in every state, small teams of about 30 people, that stand ready every time. And then there's follow-on forces that are trained and also very capable that could be brought within six to twelve hours into an area, issued their equipment and move to whatever site needed additional assistance.
Gabrielle Reilly: How do you detect biological weapons?
General Caldwell: We have teams and each of these teams, each of these organizations, has very specialized equipment. You'll see them on the back of moving vans and on the back of big semi-trucks also. We continuously update and replace this equipment so that it's the most modern equipment available. We work very closely too with local and state first responders so that if an incident were to occur someplace in the United States, obviously the state and local officials would respond first, they would use their own internal assets within that state. The governor could call and request additional assistance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ten regions around the United States, and within each of those ten regions we have additional forces too.
Stay tuned for Part II of our interview with General Caldwell which covers the Afghan Security Force (he established,) how he has managed the demands of sequestration and handling hurricanes.