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NEWS | May 10, 2024

America’s First Corps Launches Professional Writing Program

By Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra

Military leaders are encouraged to write professionally to share their experiences, insights and lessons learned with the broader defense community and industry leaders. Professional writing not only enables the military to capture and preserve historical lessons learned, it also helps leaders to hone strategic communication skills.

Over the past year, First Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson formally established a professional writing program aimed at enhancing the communicative prowess of its leaders. This strategic move marks a significant enhancement in the Corps' approach to leadership, operational efficiency, and transformation to meet the requirements for the Army of 2030. Through this program, both officers and enlisted leaders are asked to contribute to professional military journals by writing about their experiences and lessons learned while operating across the Indo-Pacific region within each of the warfighting functions.

Brunson initiated the writing program following the First Corps participation in the 23-1 Warfighter exercise with the publication of a professional article on the capability of the distributed command and control framework and the role of First Corps in the Indo-Pacific region titled, “How I Corps Fights: Pivoting to Meet Threats In the Indo-Pacific.” Following this publication, leaders from the First Corps subsequently submitted articles to highlight best practices and capture lessons learned across the Army’s seven warfighting functions.

Professional writing enhances the Army as a professional military organization in several ways. It allows military leaders to share their experiences, insights and lessons learned from combat operations and training exercises with the broader military community, which encourages innovative solutions to complex challenges and contributes to the collective knowledge of the force. The act of writing also enhances leaders’ ability to articulate their thoughts clearly and persuasively. Lastly, professional writing contributes to the body of professional military literature and foster a culture of intellectual growth and critical thinking among the armed forces.

The first cohort of the First Corps Professional Writing program not only captured lessons learned from the Corps’ participation in Operation Pathways including Talisman Sabre 23, it furthered professional development across the Army. To date, several staff leaders have showcased their expertise by publishing impactful articles in professional military journals including the Sustainment (G4) director, Col. Daniel Duncan, who received recognition during the Army’s AUSA 2023 conference for his team’s insightful article, “Supporting Indo-Pacific Sustainment: Regional Stability Requires Close Cooperation With Allies, Partners,” which highlights best practices in moving equipment, personnel and supplies while operating in the archipelagic landscape of the Indo-Pacific region.

Col. Scott Blanchard who currently serves as the Provost Marshal for Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Chief of Protection for First Corps has contributed five separate professional writing pieces covering a range of topics related to warfighting and leadership during his 25 years of services. Most recently, Blanchard published an article with Army Magazine that focused on the Protection war-fighting function titled, “A Fighting Stance: Preparedness Proves Key for Indo-Pacific Forces.” Blanchard has served as an active-duty Army officer for over 25 years and held leadership positions at various levels from platoon leader to battalion command. He also served as the military advisor to the Afghan chief of general staff from 2020 to 2021.

“Writing makes us better and is part of our professional legacy. Placing pen to paper provides the opportunity to debate, challenge and shape ideas within a competitive space that our senior leaders might not have time or the chance to hear from people,” Blanchard said. “In the Pacific, we are moving at a fast pace that requires shared understanding. Professional writing keeps our people and formations informed and drives change ultimately supporting the National Military Strategy in the region.”

The First Corps professional writing program aligns with the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Randy George’s introduction of the Harding Project which is an initiative focused on revitalizing professional military writing across the U.S. Army. The CSA’s project seeks to modernize Army publications and platforms, optimize institutional archives, and stimulate innovative and disruptive change within the field of military discourse.

As a branch to the First Corps’ writing program, Brunson also stood up the Pacific Exchange Program, where service members from around the Army embed with First Corps staff and subordinate units to participate in U.S. Army Pacific’s Operation Pathways in the Indo-Pacific region. PEP participants then produce professional writing submissions geared towards offering solutions to current challenges in the Indo-Pacific and informing updates in military doctrine and strategy.

“Both the First Corps’ professional writing program and Pacific Exchange Program are meant to encourage critical thinking and professional growth and development among leaders across the ranks,” Brunson said. “Professional writing should be intentional and demonstrate a bias for action to solve problems in the Indo-Pacific region which can help shape policy, strategy, campaigns and operations in the Pacific.”

The establishment of the First Corps’ Professional Writing Program is a testament to the First Corps’ commitment to excellence and continuous improvement. By investing in the communicative skills of its leaders, the Corps is poised to enhance its operational effectiveness and foster a culture of clear and impactful communication.

Leaders at every level are encouraged to contribute to the First Corps’ or other professional writing programs to enhance communication skills and influence change across the force.