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.