WPAOG Podcast

EP73 Leaders Never Arrive with GEN (R) Scott Miller ‘83

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with GEN (R) Austin Scott Miller ‘83. GEN (R) Miller talks about his experiences as a Task Force Ranger, as the Commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, as the final commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces in Afghanistan, and his continuous involvement in West Point after transitioning out of the military.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with GEN (R) Austin Scott Miller ‘83.

GEN (R) Miller recently retired after nearly 40 years in the United States Army. He supported, led, and shaped the most challenging national security issues at the highest levels of the United States government. Most recently, commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. As Commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, GEN (R) Miller directed U.S. operations in complex geopolitical regions including the Indo-Pacific, Africa, Middle East, and South Asia. As the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he led the initiative to integrate women into the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger School. He also commanded Assault Forces in Mogadishu, Somalia during “Blackhawk Down”.

In this episode, GEN (R) Miller talks about his experiences as a Task Force Ranger, as the Commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, as the final commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces in Afghanistan, and his continuous involvement in West Point after transitioning out of the military.


Key Quotes:

“First of all, I go with the mantra, ‘leaders have never arrived’. I just think that's got to be our mindset and that there's this opportunity to always get better, always learn more, always improve your craft, understand more, develop more. If you keep that in mind, you're continually learning, you're as ready as you can be. You don't get another chance of being more ready. But if you take that approach and you're always trying to learn, then you'll be okay.” - GEN Scott Miller


Episode Timestamps:

(02:31) Attending West Point

(07:57) Task Force Ranger experience

(15:43) Commanding the Maneuver Center of Excellence

(20:27) Entering the private sector

(25:27) Life after retirement

(31:57) Transitioning out of the military



GEN (R) Scott Miller

COL Sean Morrow

West Point Association of Graduates

Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Narrator: Hello and welcome to the WPAOG podcast. This episode features an interview with Retired General Austin Scott Miller, West Point class of 1987. 

General Miller recently retired after nearly 40 years in the United States Army. He supported, led, and shaped the most challenging national security issues at the highest levels of the United States government, most recently commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

As commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, retired General Miller directed U. S. operations in complex geopolitical regions including the Indo Pacific, Africa, Middle East and South Asia. As the commanding general of the U. S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he led the initiative to integrate women into the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger School. He also commanded assault forces in Mogadishu, Somalia during Black Hawk Down. 

In this episode, Retired General Miller talks about his experiences as a task force ranger, as the commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the final commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces in Afghanistan, and his continuous involvement in West Point after transitioning out of the military.

Now, please enjoy this interview between Retired General Scott Miller and Colonel Sean Morrow, Director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Now, please enjoy this interview between Retired General Scott Miller and Colonel Sean Morrow, Director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

[00:01:45] COL Sean Morrow: General Miller, sir, it's great to be with you this afternoon, joining AOG for a talk about your career, things you've learned. Congratulations, first of all, on recently receiving a Distinguished Graduate Award. That's some pretty fine company you're in there, sir. 

[00:02:01] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, Sean, thank you. I think it took us about a year to put this together, so I'm glad we could finally get ready to do this. And I think you'll see me this weekend coming up, so we'll get to hot washing in person, how this went. So, looking forward to it. 

[00:02:14] COL Sean Morrow: Thanks, sir. Well, it'll be great to see you. And on that note, just thanks for your continued in person leadership to the Combating Terrorism Center and to like the Greater West Point.

I know every time you come, you spend time with cadets and, uh, it's really invaluable. So, sir, I guess we'll start off by why West Point? Why did, uh, General Scott Miller decide that this was right for you? And, uh, a little bit of that origin story, sir. 

[00:02:38] GEN (R) Scott Miller: You know, in 1979, I showed up to West Point to start Beast Barracks and then, you know, start that journey.

And I think I was not your typical new cadet coming through. I played sports, I played soccer, and I was recruited by the soccer team. And I honestly believe that had not been recruited by the soccer team, I'm not sure I would have been accepted at West Point. I think that gave me a little bit of a boost.

And I say that, you know, it sounds like my journey should have been natural there. My father was a class of 1957 and my grandfather was class of 1933. But at the same time the army the military 70s wasn't on my mind is something I want to do for the future And so we'll say it's a combination of combination of sports Certainly a little bit urged on by my father and my mother and that's how I showed up at West points so, like I said Your typical Knowing exactly what they want to do, cadet who shows up, but, uh, that's where I started.

[00:03:33] COL Sean Morrow: Well, sir, if we could build on that a little bit, coming here to be a soccer player and a varsity athlete at West Point, the idea of a team and teams is something that kind of was part of your whole career, especially in the Special Operations community. Can you just talk about, you know, being a part of a team here and what that meant to you and how that helped develop you as a leader?

[00:03:50] GEN (R) Scott Miller: You know, so I came in and I played all four years with the team, and I learned a lot as a result of that. If I just talk about the aspect of being able to play a sport with your classmates for four years, you know, that does create a bond. But I've often said one of the things that really, uh, what I took away from that entire program was my first coach, a guy named Dick Adele, who was, uh, at the time was coaching both soccer and lacrosse.

And Dick was just kind of the, wasn't particularly skilled in soccer, didn't know the game that well. Remember, it's the late 70s, uh, you know, we're trending towards 1980, but what an inspirational leader and somebody that I kept up in touch with, uh, throughout my military career and just knew that, uh, you know, other than my father, he had a big influence on, uh, how I conducted myself, how I drove myself, you know, that was the big takeaway from the team itself.

One of the things I, I, lesson I learned. Sports can become consuming up at the academy, and I oftentimes will talk now to the team and, you know, really from a lesson learned standpoint, there's more to the academy than your NCAA sport or your club that you're playing. There's so much more at the academy that's available.

And I really encourage the members, even though they're pretty busy with the, you know, what sport they're playing, try to get out and learn about the academy and try to be the same person with the Corps of Cadets that you are with the team. And if you can get those cultures to align, which you've seen some of the coaches have been really successful up there doing that, you get those cultures to align, not only are we still on mission, you know, inspiring great leaders, you know, leaders of character for the future.

But we're also aligned with building winning teams here, and I watch that over and over, and the coaches, I tell them how important they are, but the ones that get it, they really do get it. Dick Adele kind of got that. That's great, sir. 

[00:05:38] COL Sean Morrow: When you graduated in 1983, commissioned as an infantry officer, did some time at 82nd and the Ranger Regiment before heading over to Korea, what was your early career plan?

Did you foresee yourself still doing this, you know, 30 some years later? 

[00:05:55] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Absolutely not. I get amused when I listen to cadets that have planned the first five to ten years out of their military career. As part of me envies them, you know, the part of me, I'm not sure that plan is going to survive contact, but I was definitely probably at about six months at a time.

So, you know, after graduation in 1983, I was an infantryman. From my viewpoint, I was going to go attend the infantry officer basic course, probably ranger school, and that plan didn't quite work out on that particular timeline. But that's about how far I was thinking ahead and certainly wasn't thinking, uh, I wasn't thinking 37, 38 years I've been here to, uh, you know, a lifetime of service here within the military.

I was pretty certain I was a five year and out type individual. But what happens along the way, Sean, you know, it is, um, you hit key moments, mostly it's people. You hit some key inspirational people, generally your leaders. But it can be your peers, it can be a subordinate, and it, uh, changes your thinking of, uh, you know, what you want to do and what you want to be.

Yes, sir. You 

[00:06:51] COL Sean Morrow: know, what about NCOs and the role of NCOs in inspiring you at a young age and then as you moved on through your career? 

[00:06:58] GEN (R) Scott Miller: When I went through the academy, we didn't have the same number of NCOs, the non commissioned officers, that I see resident at the academy now. I think it's a great improvement by West Point to have them be part of the leadership development of our You know, our young officers to be, we had some, but we just didn't have a lot, so it wasn't one of these things where we saw them.

We generally see them in the summer during summer training, but from an early age, I just knew that the, uh, your sergeants were something that, uh, really could determine the, you know, the success or failure, the good versus bad, and I've always said the sergeants are the conscience of any organization, you know, so I have that kind of respect for them.

I mean, I can talk about times in my military career, and I think we've talked about it. Where, you know, I almost caught myself on the sidelines just watching non commissioned officers and just being in awe of them, of what they were able to do. But, uh, without question, you know, in the Army, but certainly in the special operations community, the non commissioned officers, they run the organism.


[00:07:55] COL Sean Morrow: sir. After you, uh, left the conventional, uh, force in Korea, did a little bit of training and headed over to special operations, you ended up, 30 years ago, This fall, uh, in Somalia, can you tell us a little bit about the Battle of Mogadishu, sir, and what you saw and experienced? 

[00:08:13] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, and it is coming up on 30 years, and what you're referring to is, uh, Task Force Ranger.

Task Force Ranger was, uh, you know, a pretty unique Special Operations Task Force, multiple units from, uh, different services. They formed the basis for Task Force Ranger, commanded by Joint Special Operations Command General Bill Garrison. You know, just a stellar leader. It's interesting, I reflect on it, and I actually think I'm going to write a little bit more because it is 30 years, and just talk a little bit more detail about some of the things that I think we learned and took away from that, uh, that fight.

I can recall a good non commissioned officer who's a great friend of mine, unfortunately he's passed away. I remember him talking about Mogadishu post the fight on 3 4 October. You know, that was a big event. It was a big fight for all of us. The biggest fight any of us had ever been in and certainly a high amount of casualties, which made it even bigger.

But one of the things he said, he says, I'm not going to let Mogadishu define me, you know, because it was, it was consuming us a little bit. In the aftermath, and he said that, and, uh, you know, I appreciate those words, but if I'm real honest, I'd say that Mogadishu has been, was a foundational experience for me.

It was foundational at tactical level. It was foundational at the operational level, and certainly at the, uh, at the strategic level, and, and, you know, what I've told the families over the years, particularly the families of, you know, where we lost service members, we lost some of the team, I promised them that we, the lessons we learned were ready.

And, uh, we'd apply those lessons over the years and we'd save lives because of those lessons applied. And, you know, it's no, uh, it's not going to make it better for them, but, uh, worse would be ignoring those lessons and just continue to repeat, uh, similar mistakes. At the tactical level, you know, and I've talked about this with the cadets a couple of times, it's a, um, we learned the basics, you know, we relearned the basics in some cases.

And we learned the importance of lethality in marksmanship. We learned the importance of physical fitness in a real demanding medical training. Just basic combat movements. And we're bad at this, but we realized we had to get better to be able to thrive in that environment. Now, there's many other technical lessons, and there's a, uh, many of them are, you know, lessons that we just never again will, we let this happen.

We're going to be prepared. There was equipment lessons. If you can imagine, we went into this fight with, uh, wearing, uh, Basically a hockey helmet. It's called ProTech. We wore a hockey helmet because we were able to wire our communications in a way that enabled us to, you know, have everything set up within our helmet and we could communicate, we could wear our night vision devices, those types of things.

And that didn't make any sense, you know, in the aftermath of that fight, why we went that direction. Um, but there's also, uh, some lessons learned at the, uh, you know, again, at the operational level, and, and, uh, as a young captain, you know, I observed them, I don't know that I absorbed them at the time, and over time, I would absorb those lessons.

And at the strategic level also, as you look at all levels of the fight, there's some risk. There's risk in tactical, operational, and strategic. And quite frankly, we outran the calculations of risk. We outran them. And not only did we, you know, it would take a lot of tough losses. I mean, when you start talking about the number of persons killed in Task Force Ranger or wounded.

You know, those were heavy casualties and they'd be heavy casualties today. They certainly were heavy, heavy casualties in 1993, but you also have operational risk. You know, the force basically got fixed, uh, we were unable to move. Uh, we had to bring in a different reinforcements that we'd never really had planned on.

Uh, to execute contingencies, and we lost helicopters. And then at the strategic level, when I talk to people, I think what I took away most importantly, and certainly applied it through the course of the, uh, in the wars after 9 11 was, do we have a real interest at stake here? Is it worth putting somebody in harm's way?

You know, and it's a, uh, if you have it, yes, the answer is yes. Now you've got to mitigate it tactically and the rest. But strategic risk is something that we as a nation have to, uh, constantly go back and take a look at. But that's, you know, that's something that, why this became foundational for me and, uh, certainly the bond between the, uh, you know, the men who were there, that was a non commissioned officer fight.

Make no mistake, there's a lot, you know, some officers, we were on the ground, but when you watched what the non commissioned officer was doing there that day, they deserve the credit for all the good that did happen that day. 

[00:12:42] COL Sean Morrow: Sir, well, thanks for sharing that, sir. As a follow up to that, you know, for a generation, uh, my generation and even the current cadets, reading that book, seeing the Dateline episode, watching the movie, was kind of our first glimpse into what combat might be like.

And when talking with cadets, one of the best things we get to do here, Uh, I spent time with cadets outside of the classroom and a question I get a lot is they were wondering if they will be ready when their moment comes. First, they're worried that they missed the war and I let them know that that's not something they need to worry about.

But if they do get into that situation, are they going to be ready? And when you look back at October 2nd, 1993 versus October 5th, 1993, like do you feel like you were ready going in? Uh, I tell them that they will be. I'm certain that. Their preparation in the fundamentals will help them be prepared, but could you reflect on that for a minute, sir?

[00:13:34] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, Sean, it's interesting, and the part about missing the war. I missed the, uh, Grenada contingency. I was in BOLC, as what we used to refer to as the infantry officer. Basic course, I went to a unit where now there were Grenada veterans with CIBs and, you know, some of them even had jump stars. I missed the fight in Panama in the late, uh, I was overseas in Korea.

I thought I was going to be part of that when I was in the Ranger Battalion. And then I missed, you know, the big war, Desert Storm, and I was in Korea for that one also. And so, you know, you talk about this feeling that, you know, you're missing out what is, uh, oftentimes thought of as the pinnacle of your profession.

You know, the opportunity to, uh, participate in combat operations on behalf of your nation. I always tell everyone, just hang on, the world looks, uh, you know, quite unstable to me right now and, uh, you never know when it's going to adjust on you. I tell you, first of all, I go with the mantra, leaders have never erupted.

And I just think that's the, uh, gotta be our mindset. And that there's this, this opportunity to always get better, always learn, always improve your craft, um, understand more, you know, develop more. If you keep that in mind, one, you're continually learning, so you're as ready as you can be. You don't get another, uh, another chance at being more ready, but if you take that approach and you're always trying to learn, uh, then you'll be okay.

And I say that because, you know, after having missed what I thought were combat operations over the previous decade, there were some things that I wish I You know, some skills I wish I had in the middle of that fight, uh, you know, and you're trying to do the best with what you have and the experiences you have.

So it's got to be a constant learning, uh, learning mode. Anybody who thinks they've arrived, uh, they probably need to get out of the profession. This 

[00:15:16] COL Sean Morrow: idea of continuous learning and constant improvement is so important. So as you moved on, uh, and took command of special operations units. at the highest levels to include command of JSOC.

I wonder the things you learned there, how are you able to bring those to a conventional unit? You know, I think about a, a potential bias or critique. I don't know what the right word is that, Oh, you guys get all the money and you get to pick your guys. But, but man, there's some things that you guys do.

That when you want to take command of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, you could just bring that right home to those new lieutenants. Can you share some of that, sir? 

[00:15:52] GEN (R) Scott Miller: First of all, Fort Benning was a great, great assignment. Being afforded the opportunity to command the Maneuver Center of Excellence is, uh, you know, it's one, it was an honor, but it's just the opportunity to go back home to where it all began.

We used to call Fort Moore, Fort Benning. And we used to sometimes, you know, say Fort Beginning because so many of us started out at, uh, right there in Columbus, Georgia. You know, I was asked about this and I could tell there was a little sense of unease because a lot of people didn't know much about my background when I showed up there in 2014.

And I was asked early on by the meet and I said, uh, if you're worried about some special operations guy that may not have a basis in, uh, infantry or armor tactics. I said, what we're here doing at Fort Benning is, you know, we get soldiers, we get the sergeants, we get the lieutenants, in some cases we get the captains.

And I said, we're teaching them a lot of the fundamentals, you know, as we're moving through here. And I said, when you start thinking about special operations, what really makes them different is, uh, as you said, there's some resources allocated. What makes them different is they, you know, in their training, They really, really focus on the fundamentals, and they do the fundamentals very, very well.

It's everything from shooting, uh, they're very focused on fitness, communications, but they do this exceptionally well, and that's what it is, that's what it's about. Oftentimes, I think we get confused at forefighting, particularly with the lieutenants, both armor and the infantry lieutenants. And we think we had them in some kind of pre ranger school, and I'd ask them, ask the lieutenants what they thought, and you could see it in the cadre, too, hey, we're prepping them for their next thing, which is going to be ranger school.

I differed there, and what I said is, uh, I said, really, when you start thinking about the basic officer leader course, It's about, it's a leadership school. And the idea that you, uh, you know, in this case, you're training these guys to be, you're teaching and educating them to be, uh, platoon leaders. And so when you start thinking about a platoon leader and you break it down, it's not to oversimplify it, but what do you, what do platoon leaders need?

Well, they need to be good people, right? They need to be, uh, The Army values need to be inculcated, but what I would try to break it down to where I want them to spend their time and say, look, really deeply understand troop leading procedures. Really, really spend some time on your physical fitness. You know, you've got time here, you know, press on it, really work it.

I wanted to see them start developing a peer network, and I don't mean a peer network in a click fashion, but really starting to understand the value of peers out in the military and how peers, Will help you if you nurture that network correctly throughout your military career. You've heard me talk about that, Sean, but you can't, you know, just like your NCOs, you're not getting to where you need to go.

Unless you have a peer network, then I'd just get them focused on some basic skills, shooting, navigating. I wanted them to understand combined arms, experiment a little bit, but that was about it. And it was really drive those home. And it, you know, with the idea being, if you master those skills, things like ranger school, they'll follow.

The things you need to be able to do in ranger school, they'll start to follow. But that's what I'd say. It was really, uh, you know, the bedrock of training and fundamentals. And of course, you know, how to be a. How to be a professional, that actually mattered as well. So a little bit long answer, one of my best assignments in my military career, if not the best.

[00:19:01] COL Sean Morrow: No, that's good, sir. And when you talk about the peer network, is there some aspect of positive peer pressure in that, that you're referring to and just not wanting to let teammates down, or can you talk a little bit more about the peer network? 

[00:19:13] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, well, there's a couple of things with that. Certainly, uh, competition is good.

You don't want to go crazy within the peer network. You want to be pushing each other. You don't want to be competing in an unhealthy way with one another. When I talk about the peer network, you know, particularly as you rise in seniority, whether again, NCO ranks or, uh, or the officer or the commission officer ranks, you got to find some people to be able to talk to.

You know, the other day, Paul La Camera, Paul's over in Korea, Paul La Camera and I, Just got on the phone. We've known each other for many, many years and he's still on active duty and just, you know, able to talk and, uh, in some cases off gas a little bit in ways that you can't do, you know, in your formations and, and sometimes you can't do it with maybe a senior or somebody in the mix there, I find that, uh, I've told you my experience, particularly after transition, uh, after retirement was, uh, the peer network, in this case, my classmates, they grabbed me.

Yeah, they grabbed me as I came out of. Came out of the military and they're helping me, even today, you know, kind of navigate, you know, a little bit of uncertainty, but that network, you have to invest in that over time. That's not one of those things that's just naturally going to be there if you haven't invested previously.

[00:20:25] COL Sean Morrow: Sir. Thanks, sir. As you've transitioned, spent some time in the business community, have you found that there's just a strong demand from the private sector for the things that you've learned and built, and how have you seen that manifest itself? Thank 

[00:20:40] GEN (R) Scott Miller: you. I tell people transition is hard, and I think people have some assumptions about how they're going to hit the business world, you know, that everything they learn, certainly from a leader development standpoint, is going to crosswalk over.

Well, some of it does, some of it doesn't. You know, I tell, I remind people that People that don't have a military background aren't looking for someone to step in there and, you know, build a chain of command and a, you know, rigid bureaucracy that answers up to different levels. A lot of the principles, caring for people, developing people, communicating with people, they certainly do apply.

It's a learning experience, and I tell people that's not bad. You know, we go back to my earlier comment about leaders don't stop learning, you never have a ride. Put yourself in some, uh, situations where you have the opportunity to learn from others. You know, that didn't spend time in the military. I think that's healthy.

I think it's good for your mind. It's a learning experience still for 

[00:21:31] COL Sean Morrow: me, Sean. Well, thanks, sir. I want to ask you now about Afghanistan. There's a time period of anniversaries, Task Force Ranger, 9 11, but also it's a time when we reflect on leaving Afghanistan and I've heard you talk, sir, about international partners and that's kind of where I'd like to start with that.

The value of our partners and the relationships we have with our partners. Could you reflect a little bit, sir, on it, on Afghanistan and our partners? 

[00:21:57] GEN (R) Scott Miller: First of all, Sean, you didn't mention it. It's a, uh, Afghanistan was many, many years for the U S military and also our, uh, interagency partners and also for our multinational partners.

Many, many years, some people spent a lot of those years. Some people were in and out. But the time period, I tell people, the time period I, we all kind of watch one another is the 15th and 31st of August, because despite whatever happened before that, that's a two week period that's seared in a lot of people's memory on a departure that, you know, when it was broadcast around the world and didn't look real up.

It was not elegant. And so that's, uh, you know, one that brings up a lot of emotions in our, in our veterans, as well as, like I said, our interagency and international partners there. So, and we can talk a little bit about that if you want to dive into that. I think it, you know, speaks to risk, uh, what we talked about a little bit earlier.

The international partners, it's quite interesting because of my time working in special operations, I wasn't particularly fluent in what you would call You know, NATO relationships. And so I was a little uncertain as I went over to Afghanistan. No, it doesn't mean I haven't worked with international partners previously, but really on a grand scale at the strategic level of NATO with Secretary General and SACEUR and really trying to understand how NATO operated, how NATO made decisions.

I found it to be a great experience to learn and meet people. I was very impressed with our NATO partners. I told people our international partners in Afghanistan, you know, particularly the framework nations, but all of them really. We're strong all the way through. They were strong in terms of, uh, staying power and willing to stay and, uh, you know, support the Resolute Support mission.

They were committed and I found them to be just something important for us to work with. And so I'd like to see what we're doing with them now in the aftermath. I'm not in this part of it, but what we're doing with Ukraine. And, uh, work in the NATO relationships, I think, uh, is there a bureaucracy? Are there different ways of doing things?

Absolutely. Are there different ways of making decisions? Yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, but we're better together. And I think we all, all know that. And, uh, you know, being strong together was always important. 

[00:24:07] COL Sean Morrow: Yeah. Thanks, sir. What about, sir, those are our NATO partners, but can you talk a little bit or reflect on some of your, our Afghan partners and the, the men and women we had a chance to serve with on the ground as they were fighting for their own country?

[00:24:19] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, obviously a complicated relationship because there's a lot of personal relationships and certainly the ending wasn't positive. Our partners, they see it as, they fought for 20 years, some of them for 20 years, and at the end of the day they lost their country, the Taliban regained control of their country.

Many of them departed Afghanistan, and there's a lot still in Afghanistan. As we work our way through it, it's... Where, you know, just so you know where I'm spending time on, it's, it's really, are we able to help those who are here in the United States while not forgetting those that, uh, you know, may not want to leave, you know, a country of Afghanistan, but haven't been able to.

There's policy, but it's. Painstakingly slow and it's uh, frustrating for our partners and really what we're, a lot of my effort is now is can you make them successful here in the United States or whatever country they are? I've got a couple of, you know, deep friendships here in relationships and it's tough because you want to be able to help them and you know, what we have to do is we have to kind of help them as a group.

As opposed to, uh, just, you know, multiple individuals. 

[00:25:25] COL Sean Morrow: I understand, sir. Sir, uh, since your retirement, you've been pretty in demand in a lot of places. You've given a lot back here to West Point. Can you talk a little bit about your decision to focus your time and attention back here at your alma mater?

[00:25:39] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Well, first of all, thank you. Thank you to you and to West Point for inviting me to be part of this community. And I say that very sincerely because I know so many people that want to find a way to give back. In retirement, one of the things you do realize early on is you're searching for purpose. As you've left the military service, You've done some things that felt very purposeful, you know, being whatever the nation needs you to be, very focused on, uh, missions with important outcomes, so a lot of purpose there.

And as you come out, it's a little bit of a struggle to, you know, recalibrate what is that purpose. And, you know, for me personally, and like many before me, helping the next generation is something that I enjoy. And so you guys have offered me the platform to come back and, uh, spend time with, uh, Young people, cadets, in this case.

I've looked at a couple of, you know, I've gone to different places and, and, uh, that 18 to 22 year old demographic is pretty fascinating and pretty impressive, almost wherever you go. But in terms of, you know, just being able to put time on the effort here at the Military Academy, like I said, you have the United States Military Academy, you have the Naval Academy.

And really, believe it or not, everybody, we actually enjoy them. They're good peers. We have the Air Force Academy. We have the Coasties. And it's the demographic. Maybe they don't know it for certain, but they've signed up to do something pretty special. That's lead the, uh, the men and women of our armed forces.

You know, oftentimes I talk to cadets, I say, don't forget that the, uh, you're being entrusted with the national treasure of the United States of America. When those, you know, soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen that you'll lead, you're actually being entrusted by their parents and by the people who love them.

And so, a little bit different, and it just feels like a good, good place to spend time with. And, you know, quite frankly, I learn a lot from them too, you know, I want to see what the, uh, I want to see what 18 to 22 year olds are thinking about these days and you guys offered me that opportunity. So I'm thankful for that.

No problem, sir. 

[00:27:40] COL Sean Morrow: They're much happier to see, uh, General Miller on the schedule than they are, uh, Colonel Morrow lecturing again. So we always love when you come in and give them, uh, Not only the high level lessons that you've learned over 40 years, but even just some of the peek behind the curtain in the places you've been, the people you've engaged with, and the things that you've done.

It's just, uh, it's a highlight of the semester for the cadets and for the faculty. So we, we appreciate that very much. Would you take a minute to just talk about things in the world that you're thinking about in terms of our national security, any threats that particularly, uh, you dwell on? 

[00:28:16] GEN (R) Scott Miller: First of all, I'm, uh, I'm happy to see the people who are leading our armed forces.

And I say that, you know, we were just talking about Afghanistan and I tell people often that, you know, I was out there for almost three years, the last assignment, and people were like, Oh, I'm really sorry you had to do that. But I, I always remember people, I really did enjoy that assignment. Um, it was challenging.

It was frustrating. I was concerned about the, you know, way it was going to end. And, uh, unfortunately, you know, it ended that way. But at the same time, I got to meet some, work with some really, really good people. Randy George, now our Chief of Staff of the Army. Our non commissioned officers that came in are now leading force comm units over in Europe.

You know, and I watch them continue to excel and lead the Army. Same with the Air Force, too. I'm watching, you know, some of our multi service members are now doing different things in the Air Force leadership. That was, uh, you know, real positive. And so I try not to dwell on, uh, You know, the challenges they face, or even second guess the challenges they face as they, uh, as they go forward.

You've heard me talk about it. I'm very interested in, uh, things I don't understand well. And one of them is, uh, the metaverse. I'm really interested in what's going on online, in places that I'm not going to spend time, you know, in the gaming community, or in other, other places online. And I, and I ask the cadets about that, because I think they're probably more apt to be there.

But as somebody who, uh, You know, serve for many, many years. I don't know many of my peers that are in that space either. And so I'm just wondering as information flows, are we missing out on something that we should be paying attention to? Because oftentimes ideas, you know, become the trends of the future.

So I pay attention to that closely. Technology's moving. I mean, it really was moving when I was on active duty and I, you know, very, I'm fascinated by the, uh, By drone warfare, what that portends for the future. As I start understanding swarms and how those are now being employed in, in this fight in Ukraine, you know, I want to understand that deeply because I could see all the promise of it before I left active duty.

And now I'm really trying to understand it, you know, post active duty. It's a little bit more work on my part, a little bit more, uh, to get there, but I do see a world that's unstable, you know, I wish it wasn't, I mean, we have things like, uh, you know, climate that are, you know, producing. You know, events that are going to start looking at a, you know, may not, catastrophic may be too strong, but, uh, it may not be, you know, when you start seeing some of these events that are taking place around the, uh, around the world.

At the same time, you know, we're fairly polarized, and I think that's a function of a lot of information that's, uh, that's out there and how people are receiving their information. I'm confident in our leadership, particularly our military leadership. But at the same time, I worry about polarization, information flows, and really kind of where technology is going.

A lot of, a lot of discussions on AI, you know, I'd encourage people to play around with ChatGPT, but the AI concerns go deeper than ChatGPT, but I always encourage leaders to play with these tools and understand them and try to see how that all comes together. Yes, 

[00:31:21] COL Sean Morrow: sir. It sounds like a lot of, a lot of thoughts on complexity, information, technology, not necessarily the world that we spent 20 years in at the tactical or operational level, but absolutely revolutionizing the future of warfare and something that our, that our cadets and young officers are thinking about.

Yes, sir. You did talk briefly about transitions, but I want to come back to it because of the listeners for this podcast, uh, range from, you know, cadets, uh, all the way through old grads and, and beyond. And, you know, everyone gets out at some point, whether it's five years or 35 years. And I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about your process.

Did you wait? Did you jump into something? What were you focused on? Who did you reach out to for help? Just a little bit more of that 

[00:32:08] GEN (R) Scott Miller: story, sir. Yeah, I jumped in and it's just, that's kind of my nature. It's a, it's, you know, sit around time. I don't believe necessarily it's healthy. I mean, don't get me wrong.

I believe in recovery time. Transition is difficult. It's one of those things I knew it was. I mean, I watched people transition before me. So, you know, it is. But you don't know how it's going to personally affect you until you're, you know, you're in the throes. You know, there's a lot of uncertainty. Let's face it, you're in the military, you're going to get your paycheck, you're going to get your BAH.

Someone's telling you, you know, where you're supposed to be assigned and so, you know, where you're, where you're living. And so now all of a sudden you have choices that, uh, you know, you may have been desiring for many, many years. But now you have choices and you have multiple choices and you have to make decisions on what you want to do.

What I tell people is maintain a good set of habits, all right? Give you my example of my habits. Some kind of physical fitness matters to me. And it matters to me, and it's, you know, it's about staying fit. And it's a, uh, you know, for the rest of your life, by the way. Not just for, you know, not for the next competition.

Most of your adult life, you're building for the rest of your life. And that you, you know, that ought to be a compounding habit that's positive. But it also helps your mental health. There's no doubt about that, you know, cognitively and mental health wise. Uh, staying on top of that, your game there, and I think that's a good habit.

You just need to do that every day. You know, if you need a break day, you take a break day. But people need to do that because it's just a good solid habit. In the military, I used to read a lot, you know, and get force fed reading my duty position required. And that stops. And so now you have to find ways to continue to force yourself to be able to, you know, keep your brain engaged and, uh, you know, stay on top of what current events are.

You know, I do my best on that. Sometimes you miss it. And, you know, it's not just chasing a fad, but finding a, uh, you know, a couple of, uh, publications that you can read every day and learn something. And, you know, I go with The Economist, Foreign Policy, and The Wall Street Journal. Some of them may have other, uh, other place they read.

I try to still write a little bit, Sean. You know, it's not as compelling as, you know, responding to people's sit reps or, you know, people asking you questions. But I think writing is another one of those things. I think writing is a critical skill. That's me. You know, I'll put that in as a set of good habits and start your day with those good habits.

I watch a little bit and it's a, you know, it's probably within the veteran community. We know we have a mental health crisis within the veteran community. I always encourage people that's a potential out here as you're Making a big transition. Do all the things you can to, uh, kind of keep that in check.

And, you know, I talk about, you know, alcohol or any kind of substance abuse or any kind of substance intake. Moderation or zeroism. And it's okay because, you know, if you're going through one of these periods where you're flailing. Uh, what you don't necessarily need to do is, is pour another substance on top of it.

Generally speaking, in my personal experience, that doesn't necessarily help, but I'm not trying to be the alcohol police or anything else. It's just trying to, trying to talk some, uh, you know, some tactics that leads you towards a strategy, you know, to kind of create a good positive pathway for the rest of your life.

Yes, sir. 

[00:35:09] COL Sean Morrow: Sir, I think what I'll do is take Take that answer and lead it up to one of the last questions I want to ask you. You know, AOG sponsors this podcast and a lot of the things that they talk about is the most connected network, grads helping grads, there's opportunities for folks transitioning to go back to AOG for class services and career services, but all of that I think really comes back to two things and it's shared values and classmates.

And you've certainly a year and a half, two years that I've got to spend a lot of time with you. I've learned a ton, but probably the most powerful thing I've heard you say was after your distinguished grad ceremony, when you're with your classmates and addressing them and what classmates means to you.

And if I could just offer that, sir, as your close, um, I think that's really who we are. As West Point grads. 

[00:36:00] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Yeah, the distinguished grad, first of all, thank you for that. And I've also told you the distinguished grad is a function of your classmates. They nominate you, you know, they do all the, uh, the legwork and there's, you know, so many more deserving graduates out there, you know, they just haven't gotten that formula put together.

So I, all the credit for that honor goes to my classmates. And you, you know, because you were pushed by a couple of them to provide inputs for that. But when you do that, it allowed me to, you know, reflect, and I actually can recall we were sitting up in Zulu Lounge, for those of you that aren't familiar, Zulu Lounge, it's five o'clock somewhere, I guess that's a nod to Jimmy Buffett, and, uh, you know, five o'clock somewhere, so you can have a drink, and we're sitting up in Zulu Lounge, I'm looking around the table, and I'm sitting with people that I've known since 1979, and, you know, everyone's a little old, yeah, but at the same time, you can look at them, And you can start remembering, you go, I met this guy, Eisenhower Hall, Saturday night, you know, and we were 18 years old.

I met this one at Airborne School, we were 20 years old, and all of a sudden you start to realize that your classmates, men and women, you know, certainly the class of 83, you've known them almost as long as anybody. You know, perhaps your siblings or your parents you know longer, but your classmates are those people that take you from your youth.

You know, to the end. It's a powerful combination. Now, it doesn't mean that we don't get along with Classes 82 and 84 and 86. And the rest of them, but there's something special about the guys that you, uh, you know, you went through a shared experience many, many years ago and you're still connected. It really is a super powerful, Sean, and I'd encourage people that aren't necessarily close to the class.

Find ways to get back because it's, I just think it's real important. 

[00:37:45] COL Sean Morrow: That's terrific, sir. Well, sir, we're really excited to see you up here a couple of times this fall. Uh, thank you for the time you've given to this conversation and to the Long Gray Line, sir. We're really proud and, uh, excited to be connected with you.

Thank you. 

[00:38:00] GEN (R) Scott Miller: Sean, thank you. Just again, thanks for setting this up here. Like I said, it took us a year to pull this together and, uh, you know, ideally we'd keep getting it better and thank you for what you're doing. I think you and I talked about terrorism didn't end on, uh, August 31st, 2021.

And so you still have a big role in preparing, uh, you know, our future leaders for pretty complex fight in front of them, you know, and I think all the, uh, all the traits, but, but what you're doing, what we're doing with the modern warfare center and others, I think this just bleeds together and it really, really gives our, uh, you know, our future leaders, the cadets, a chance to really kind of explore some, you know, some lessons learned by, you know, people before them. And hopefully they can do a better call for it. But thanks for all your service. And I really look forward to seeing you up there at the Academy this coming weekend. 

[00:38:50] COL Sean Morrow: Thanks, sir. Have a good day.

[00:38:53] Narrator: This has been a production of the WPAOG Broadcast Network. Please take a moment to rate and review the show and join us each week for a new episode. Thank you for listening.