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24 June 2010

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jonst

4,000 page report?? Does this not speak volumes?

Ael

Letter of Reprimand = end of career, and thus out of the army.

I can think of no better way to ensure that senior military leaders are a bunch of organizational cowards. The nail that stick up, gets hammered down.

b

Well, I guess the idea here is that all the three persons not reprimanded now where essentially ordered to do what they did.

The captain was told where to put his base and he did as best as he could with the stuff available. He also earned a silver star defending it. The battalion and brigade commanders had both multiple times recommended to close the bases in Wanat but higher commands took month to think that through.

Are they really culpable when they put in the base on orders which they rightly reported up the line as not recommendable?

The above is my understanding from the earlier reports. If someone has access to the investigation reports I surely would like to read them to get a better picture.

jedermann

Thomas Ricks has an interesting op-ed in the NY Times today regarding the salutary effects of a judicious, on-going, old-school pruning of the officer corps (and the civil administration as well) based on accountability.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/opinion/24ricks.html

Patrick Lang

jedermann

A lot of the staff in Kabul should go. they are Stan's "followers" and will be a problem for DP. pl

ServingPatriot

My opinion of the Army is pretty low

... said the father of one of the dead, himself a career Army officer.

I'd say the credibility of flag level Army leadership is absolutely shot. This latest non-accountability moment is only the latest example. How much longer are the people of this country, and more importantly, those with family in the services, going to put up with this BS?!?!

Not much longer. I hope.

Sigh.

SP

frank durkee


Question?: If the original report O.K.ed by Centcom held the Company, Battilion and Brigade Co's to have failed in their duty does that mean that their superiors actions were legitimated? In the Army second report which exonerated the three lower commanders ostensibly pointing the finger at higher echelons, why was no negative action taken on them? How can a relatively clear mistake have no negative outcomes? What are the options, if any, for the lower level people in this situation beyond recommending an alternative and/or Kiplins "theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do or die? Given that why punish the lower level folk?

Walrus

The "Up or Out" policy is designed to ensure a roughly constant "age" of the Officer corps, some private firms use the same technique as well because it also allows for meaningful promotions and pay increases for those going "up" the organisational ladder.

Without knowing much about it, the promotion of Holly Graf to command a cruiser, and the rise of a narcissist like "four hour sleepin', one meal a day eatin' and seven mile a day runnin'" McChrystal to flag rank suggests to me that there is a beauty contest involved in the promotion system for higher ranks.

The number of "military families" (McCain, McChrystal, Graf, etc.) and the system of nomination by congressman (each is apparently allowed Two nominations a year) also suggests that the makeup of the officer corps might be skewed somewhat.

To put it another way, I'm sure there must be a bunch of Colonels with "clean" service files who could have done just as good a job as McChrystal, but without the three ring sycophant circus that seems to be the essential entourage for these folk.

On another note, yesterday the Australian Prime Minister and narcissist in Chief Kevin Rudd fell on his sword. His foul behaviour in private, his contempt for his staff and colleagues, his micromanagement and total lack of results finally got too much for his colleagues to bear any longer. He won in a landslide in 2008, but quickly showed that the "inner Kevin" was a nasty piece of work that now has zero electoral appeal.

Patrick Lang

walrus

There is also the physiological fact that after the early 40s people start to fall apart physically and are no longer fit to be in the field with tactical units at brigade and below. pl

Walrus

Col. Lang,

"There is also the physiological fact that after the early 40s people start to fall apart physically and are no longer fit to be in the field with tactical units at brigade and below. "

I'm sure you are an exception Sir.

JM

"If one is not promoted then one is out." pl

Does this mean that one is actually asked/forced to resign, if one is passed over?

Or is it possible for a passed-over officer to remain in the force, at his current grade, perhaps at some less-desirable post?

Thanks.

Patrick Lang

JM

Unless things have changed, twice passed over means out. pl

Norman Rogers

This is a bit long, but a worthy read:

Like many of his contemporaries and subordinates, Marshall had found the strict seniority system personally stifling. But the system's most glaring faults became known after General Marshall began to use large maneuvers to prepare and evaluate Army units. First, the strict seniority system provided the Army with senior commanders who were advanced in age, near mandatory retirement. Many lacked the physical endurance required of a field commander.

As the Army expanded in 1940 and 1941, the Chief of Staff was shocked and saddened to find that many of his contemporaries, with fine records in peacetime or in World War I, could not meet the heavy demands of new command responsibilities. For some of the early appointments he had reached back in his memory and recommended for high place old friends from Fort Leavenworth or First Army. He was aghast when many of them broke under the pressure of their new duties.8

Second, senior officers often lacked appropriate experience because they had stagnated in the junior grades. Some were capable officers with short tenure as commanders; others were simply incompetent.

Marshall concluded that with his own World War I "hump" the strict seniority system provided senior officers who often lacked competence and nearly always lacked necessary experience and physical stamina. He began a strenuous campaign to replace unsuitable senior commanders with capable younger men. Firing older commanders was very costly to him personally because old colleagues sometimes had to go; his improvised up-or-out system brought criticism from those officers passed over (who accused the Army of a breach of contract), from Congress, and from the press.

Marshall formalized his up-or-out approach by establishing a plucking board.

To insure fairness in the elimination, Marshall selected for the task a committee of six retired officers-a "plucking board" as it was called-headed by his immediate predecessor, General Craig. The officers, after examining records and recommendations as to performance, were empowered to remove from line promotion any officer for reasons deemed good and sufficient. He would then be subject to removal one year after the action was taken. As a guide Marshall passed onto the board, with his approval, G-1’s statement that cases were to be decided not on an officer's past record but on his value to the Army. "Critical times are upon us," he warned, and the standard had to be "today's performance."9

By replacing deadwood with Eisenhower, Bradley, Clark, and others, Marshall assuredly paved the way for victory in World War II.

After the war, Eisenhower urged that the Army formally adopt a competitive up-or-out system. Since he had worked for Marshall at the beginning of the war, Eisenhower understood the failure of the strict seniority system. He testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that a number of senior commanders "had to be replaced and gotten out of the way and younger men had to come along and take over the job."10 Eisenhower also described the dismal career profile that faced him and his contemporaries under strict seniority "Until we got to the grade of general officer, it was absolutely a lock-step promotion; and short of almost crime being committed by an officer, there were ineffectual ways of eliminating a man."11

Original at: http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1978/jul-aug/heavner.html

Neil Richardson

"To put it another way, I'm sure there must be a bunch of Colonels with "clean" service files who could have done just as good a job as McChrystal, but without the three ring sycophant circus that seems to be the essential entourage for these folk."

You have to be careful about the use of the word "clean" though. This in some ways implies the Zero Defects mentality that had permeated down to the field grades in the 1990s (at least in the Army and more specifically in armor). Due to fierce competition for promotion there were field grade officers who viewed a center-of-mass rating as a career ender. They became risk averse and (rather than mentoring junior officers who should've been allowed to learn and grow), naturally they sought to micromanage which led to a decline in morale as well as core competencies IMHO. There was a tendency to emphasize quantifiable evaluations (e.g., gunnery tables, ) over subjective one such as tactical skills.

Andy

It may be service-dependent, but my understanding is that if one can make it to Major, then one can stay until 20 years. High-year tenure for 0-5's is 26 years I believe and for Col. it's 30 years. So "up or out" primarily applies to Captains passed over for Major which, in today's military, is much rarer than a decade or two ago.

Patrick Lang

Andy

This is a peculiarity caused by the demands of combat, the small numbers available and ten years of war. As soon as war ends the "up or out" principle will dominate again. It was somewhat this way during VN but in the ten years following the war, ten thousand officers were eliminated to reduce the size of the force and restore the "up or out" system.

I support the "up or out" system. The military mostly exists in conditions of peace. In those conditions it would be easy to have officers who are too old and unfit for combat. In peace, the military exists to be ready for war.pl

Fred

Col. It seemed a pretty harsh policy when I was younger and on active duty, now that I'm a little older I agree with your view. Nothing like some experience to help in decision making...

As Marshall said (quoting NR's post above) "cases were to be decided not on an officer's past record but on his value to the Army."

Andy

I support the system too, at least as a framework, but did not particularly like how it was applied during the 1990's drawdown. Looking back, it seems to me that careerism reigned and promotion was overly focused on getting the right "checks" in certain blocks. I think we're feeling the effects today in our General Officer corps, most of whom made Col. and 1 Star during that period.

ServingPatriot

it seems to me that careerism reigned and promotion was overly focused on getting the right "checks" in certain blocks. I think we're feeling the effects today in our General Officer corps, most of whom made Col. and 1 Star during that period.

Who says this has changed? Especially in the USAF and USN??? My experience tells me that the services still overly value easy to template paths over actual accomplishment, and from which useful deviations (such as become expert in IW) remain the kiss of death to the promotion system -- a system that (while pretty objective) still remains locked in its post-WWII formulation.

Nothing stops the CINC from promoting way deep into flag (or among junior flags). I am convinced that we have numbers of Majors now (1LT & CAPTs in the past 8 years) who can bring serious combat proven leadership into the higher command and staff ranks.

I also hold anyone promoted into flag rank (or advanced in the flag ranks) during the 2001-2009 period should be view with suspicion and held to very strict accountability. None of these 25+yr guys will suffer when put in the retired ranks. Many will simply pass through the revolving door into industry where their "proven superior leadership" skills are (still!) valued. And all will get a very comfortable pension -- one I dare say exceeds the annual income of average hard-working American citizens.

The knife needs to be sharpened and wielded with much frequency.

That is if we really ARE at war. I still think to 99% of our country, we are not at war at all. And even among the majority of our uniformed and civilian national security professionals.

SP

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