Saturday, August 10, 2013

Praxis: An Inside Look at What Passes for Military Leadership in the Bureaucracy Today. (And a question about the future.)

Afghanistan and the Culture of Military Leadership
Many reach high rank in the military through a combination of political acumen, a finely-tuned sense of risk aversion, and a laissez-faire attitude toward demonstrable progress, where the appearance, rather than the substance of success, is a satisfactory outcome. The longer you are in a system, the more the bureaucracy can shape your thinking and behavior. You become a stakeholder both in terms of maintaining the status quo and protecting your own career aspirations.
As one moves up the bureaucratic ladder, the tendency to give and accept happy talk increases. Negative views can only be expressed as whispers in private conversations. Public criticism is suicide and, contrary to popular belief, changing the system from within is at best serendipity or at worst urban myth. In a system highly resistant to change, innovation can be a risky proposition.
There are quiet and unpublicized acts of courage in the ranks, which sadly, often lead to frustration, admonition, and early departure. A cynic might conclude that many of the best in the military are weeded out when they are ultimately confronted by a definitive choice between principle and politics, between innovation and playing it safe, between embracing command responsibility or finding scapegoats among subordinates when operations fail and soldiers die.
These folks who leave the Army -- the capable, the bright, the responsible, the principled -- only serve to reinforce the available pool of armed citizenry with military experience and the acumen to execute missions. Now, think of this entire phenomenon in the context of the next war, which is likely going to be a Fourth Generation civil war for the future of this country.

17 comments:

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, this herd mentality will be a double edged sword. While it will make them predictable and inflexible, it will also mean that they will continue fighting well past the point a thinking, reasoning person would have given up, thereby ensuring more deaths and destruction on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Only ex-military, with multiple generations will understand this. This is one of the most accurate asessments I've seen.

Gunny G said...

I am proud that while on active duty, one of my C.O.s wrote an extra comment on my fitrep. It went: "Always tells me the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY in any situation or report."

The Marines taught me never to sugar coat a damn thing and I never did. Sadly, there are some officers, and their number is growing, who want bad news sugar coated so that they can sprinkle fairy dust on it and make it go away.

This all started on Bubba's watch in the 90s and accelerated under The Kenyan's watch.

Pericles said...

Ultimately ties back to the peacetime personnel system, which is geared toward the identification and promotion of the above average. The works to eliminate the very best and the very worst with equal effectiveness.

Anonymous said...

Unknown is right. Also the administration is democrat zombie demographics into the void left by the old guard. Those people see only the "us versus whitey/christians/jews" manufactured by the progressives and want revenge on their perceived enemy.

The only bright side is that the administration is stupid enough to treat veterans as "enemies of the people." Treat anyone as an enemy long enough, and that's what they will become!

rexxhead said...

If the risks and penalties of making mistakes exceed the rewards and benefits of initiating change, then it is perfectly reasonable for managers and employees, regardless of their position in the organization, to keep things pretty much the same as yesterday.

rexxhead said...

It gets worse. I have a nephew, a West Point grad, who freely admits he wouldn't understand what an unlawful order might look like.

Just within the week, another nephew, this one a USArmy sergeant, proclaimed that he's never read the Constitution and relies on the officers above him to tell him what to do. To avoid going to war with his father, my brother, I stopped short of asking him "Exactly what is it you think you swore an oath about?"

Matt said...

This is one of the reasons I am not re enlisting at the end of this contract. Also, can anyone tell me why Ft. Myer VA just replaced all of our M998's with uparmored HMMWV's? We're not deploying, our mission is almost completely ceremonial... but we needed 14 new 1151's? They were delivered last week, and they are only uparmored against SAF, with the FRAG 2 kits. Who near DC are we planning to fight?

grey said...

The good ones never get above LTC if they even stay.

And on the NCO side they never get above E8 if they even stay.

Anonymous said...

Many armies have gone to war with an over abundance of garrison soldiers, yes-men and suck-ups. Note how many generals Lincoln had to go through before he found one who could fight. Note also the other brass' horror that he chose Grant.

Many in positions of power also weed out subordinates who show promise because they also pose a threat their own careers.

Wartime has it's own way of cutting through all of that B.S.

Anonymous said...

Plenty of rot at the war colleges too:

http://xxtwitterwarcommittee.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/audit-the-naval-war-colleges-nsa-twitter-warriors/

especially cutesy insults of 'Millenials' aka Generations Iraq adn Afghanistan by a scumbag who never served in uniform much less in combat.

Anonymous said...

Matt ....they're not for your use , they're being staged for the 15,000," invited " security personnel who will be throwing up a security cordon for the puppets WTSHF.

devildog said...

28You are absolutely right. How Cartwright achieved a 4 star rank in The USMC without commanding a combat unit,a rifle platoon or a infantry battalion or ground troops, is a disgrace. What happened to My Corps.

Paul X said...

"This all started on Bubba's watch in the 90s and accelerated under The Kenyan's watch."

I doubt it. It's always been there to some degree. The military is not immune to the Iron Law of Bureaucracy:
http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/iron.html

True Blue said...

This is how an Army becomes run by the likes of a George B McClellan; and considering that the Citizens of this country are the obvious target of furthering government action; I for one will count whatever small blessings I can.

RVN11B said...

Paul X is on target here. Hell I noticed the stain way back during the Vietnam issue. Back then it was all the rage to boast about using the 'Harvard' methods in doing things.

When I first heard that I had to wonder for quite some time, just what the hell did anyone in Harvard know about fighting a war.

Aside from teaching how to write vague and grandiose reports and such.

(sigh)

The crap never ceases evidently.

Anonymous said...

enemies of the people* meant enemies of the state.