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09 February 2015

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AEL

Col:
With respect, I have known a few (Canadian) generals who have the same careerist illness and I have known a couple store managers. I don't think you are being fair to the managers.

Maybe because the store managers don't really expect to have a career after their career. (at least for the ones I knew).

Lars

I don't understand why the Armed Forces are using the Red Army management manual to reach their objectives. We already know it is a path to failure.

I am sure the blame can be spread both wide and deep, but that will not solve the problem. Gen. Eisenhower once said that if you have a difficult problem that is hard to solve, just expand it. I take that to mean that we bring back the draft. That will certainly expand it, including the people affected by political decisions and lessen the reliance on flow charts.

turcopolier

AEL

I don't think it has anything to do with a "career after their career." IMO it is just a matter of narcissistic self service. pl

The Twisted Genius

This wasn't a Ridgeway moment, but it was as close as I got to one. I was troop commander for one C-130 enroute to the Big Island for our annual month of training. We carried all our gear for a month in the field including all our weapons that included our 90mm recoiless rifles and the company 50 cal. It was quite a load for our 28 man rifle platoon. The new battalion commander, Crazy Harry Baccus, was part of our chalk. After calling the final manifest, I instructed everyone to load the C-130. LTC Baccus asked if there was anything he can do to help. I told him he could grab the front of the 50 cal barrel. He cheerfully did so as we walked up the ramp with our rucksacks, duffel bags and that 50 cal barrel between us. It was a simple, but meaningful gesture.

The Twisted Genius

I read about Major Golsteyn just yesterday. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. To strip a man of his Silver Star and his long tab is awfully peculiar. Unless the circumstances of the events leading to his being awarded the Silver Star have changed dramatically, I don't see why that would be done. If that was the case, whoever wrote up the recommendation and attested to the events lied and would be facing courts martial. If Golysteyn committed some crime, then charge him. Stripping him of his SF tab is also bogus. Being reassigned to another unit and branch is something I can understand if warranted by behavior. Taking his tab is just petty bullshit. These generals must be scared shitless by men by Gant and Golsteyn to resort to such spineless tactics.

William R. Cumming

Janine Wedel in her new book "Accountability" gives some analysis of Flag Ranks second careers.

While on active duty in SASCOM in late 60's I underwent an inspection in a unit by General Polk then EUCOM CO! I was assigned NAICO duties and he got into a discussion with me about those duties and a real world incident in another unit. Looking directly into my eyes and me at his he asked me who was responsible for incidents/accidents? I told him that full accountability goes all the way to the top. He then said to me "RIGHT ANSWER, SON"! He was the only 4 Star I met while on 2 years, 10 months, 7 days and 4 hours of Active Duty.

TWit

Sir, I would just add for the readers that the grip of these careerists extends far beyond dramatic cases like those of Golsteyn, Swenson, and Gant. One friend/colleague (a Navy O-5 and SEAL) summed up the problem as that in each 2-3 year assignment, combat or non-combat apparently, an officer has to demonstrate that he has "made an impact" if he wants to get promoted and stay in. What that "impact" is is mostly irrelevant. One rarely gets any points for doing your job well, contributing to the stated mission, improving unit cohesion and effectiveness, or - heaven forbid - preventing other people from making errors and failures. What counts is avoiding embarrassment and making one's superiors look good. Even this is not a guarantee of success, as more times than not the superior will simply take credit for what his junior has done and then throw him under the bus. Ultimately, promotion and success as an officer seems to be mostly about getting in with an 'in' crowd and serving the interests of that crowd. The nature of these crowds varies: some are openly ideological and look for fellow travellers, others are completely superficial and want only their egos stroked (like one O-6 I knew who drove a $130,000 car and whose eyes would glaze over whenever anyone would talk about anything other than her greatness), while others are less brazen but still always choose their personal interests over mission success or subordinate well-being whenever they conflict. It's a big mess. And I was just a civilian observing from the outside.

Your metaphor of big box store managers resonates. In many cases the junior high lunch table or the movie "Heathers" are also apt, except the "mean girls" never get their comeuppance.

confusedponderer

Ah, I remember being a confused and at that moment rather angry young Funker during basic training in Military Hospital where they plastered my foot after I tripped during running and tore a ligament.

I had called base. The driver on duty didn't want to come to pick me up, had more important things to do, I presume. Since I was taken there right from sports, I had no money with me to get a cab. Walking was out of the question. So for the moment I was stranded.

Along came an unknown Lieutenant from some other unit who had noticed my predicament and inquired. I told him my story. He called the driver on duty and folded him so neatly that within ten minutes I had my ride back to base. No Ridgeway moment either, but the man restored a degree of trust in officerdom that afternoon.

MRW

Hack's "perfumed princes."

walrus

God help the U.S. Army with leaders as described by Col. Lang when it runs up against an enemy other than the poorly armed and trained peasants it is now used to fighting.


Hank Foresman

Interesting topic and one I have been reflecting on for a few days. Before I comment on the specifics of this travesty, let me share a Ridgeway moment that recently occurred with the Committee; and an anecdote from a recent experience with a young Lieutenant.
First the Ridgeway moment, in one of the many Defense related emails I receive there was a story over at Military Times by an recently retired USAF Brigadier General talking about exceptional leaders, specifically General Joe Dunford, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Follow the link (http://www.militarytimes.com/story/opinion/2015/02/09/john-michel-joseph-dunford-exceptional-leaders-commentary/23115849/) read the story, look at the pictures of the Commandant executing his Combat Physical Fitness test. Ridgeway style leadership by example.
Now for the anecdote; today I had an email from an acquaintance of mine who is the Adjutant for an Cavalry Squadron in the 1st Armored Division. He was talking about executing his first “RFC.” As I was not familiar with this abbreviation I asked him what it stood for. He responded that in meant, “relief for cause.” He went on to add that the Lieutenant who was relieved was called in from paternity leave (another new things!) to be given his “RFC” paperwork. Reducing relieving someone to an abbreviation is endemic of the leadership problems in the Army; moreover unless there was some reason related to breaches of military justice, I am not sure calling someone in off of any type of leave to “relieve them for cause” is justified.
As for Major Golsteyn I am not sure who he upset, but clearly they are not happy with him. I suspect he is being punished for daring to speak up about what he perceived were the problems in Afghanistan. He would not have been the first person given an award for heroism and reprimanded for the same actions. When in ROTC we had an NCO who had a Bronze Star with V Device and who almost received an Article 15 for the same action. . .pouring motor oil into the hydraulic reservoir of a tank in order to use it to turn back an attack of the Viet Cong; luckily the Brigade Commander overruled the Battalion Commander stupidity.
Recently in the Army Times there was an article that said the outgoing Sergeant Major of the Army, Chandler, had pushed for stripping soldiers of Badges and Tabs for conduct which occurred after receiving their Badge or Tabs. Clearly Major Golsteyn is the first to receive such ex post facto punishment.
The Army has a real leadership crisis starting at the top. I understand why the troops don’t trust their leaders, for they feel like they will be tossed under the bus.

confusedponderer

"the outgoing Sergeant Major of the Army, Chandler, had pushed for stripping soldiers of Badges and Tabs for conduct which occurred after receiving their Badge or Tabs."

Well, nobody who has seen it could ever forget Chaplin ripping off decorations from Field Marshal Hering's chest. Perhaps it was this that inspired Chandler?

Questions of morale aside, it certainly is one way to rid the American soldier of his fruit salad. I heard they get bands and ribbons and stuff for turning up in time these days.

Just compare Marshal's chest with General Keane's.

http://www.scppartners.com/images/team/Keane%20Blur.jpg

Marshal comes up at least one square foot and half a chest short as far as decorations, ribbons and stuff are conderned, which means ... well, obviously, that Keane is the far better soldier.

Had Keane served a month longer he might have perhaps beaten Breshnev in terms of chest coverage.

https://img1.etsystatic.com/012/1/7050316/il_340x270.441917111_9iz9.jpg

*irony alert*

Fred

This is the leadership Obama learned at Harvard? Perhaps McHugh thinks Americans shouldn't write their congressman? I hope Congressman Hunter gets the Army Secretary under oath soon and grills him like he deserves. Impeachment of a cabinet office might get some attention and is probably well deserved by more than one.

BabelFish

All I wanted as an enlisted sailor was to be led by competent officers, who could guide, correct and teach. I was fortunate to have several of those and an excellent E-6 petty officer enlisted leader for my last two years. These folks all helped me grow into what I hope is a good man.

John Minnerath

It's hard to find good men in a world of sheeple.
Taught from infancy to run or hide in the face of danger, that it's everyone else's fault; what can we expect.

confusedponderer

I let come Marshall up one l short, for which I apologise.

Laura Wilson

Twisted…and good for you for taking him up on his offer. I'm sure the rest of your platoon was grateful.

Carl O.

Every few weeks, it seems, there's a story about the Navy firing a ship skipper or chief petty officer for poor performance or bad behavior. This might suggest that the Navy has better leadership, but then Defense News reported, yesterday, that up to 3 dozen admirals are caught up in the Fat Leonard bribery scandal, that is, under investigation, including two in Naval Intelligence who had their security clearances revoked. So, maybe not.

Thomas

"I don't understand why the Armed Forces are using the Red Army management manual to reach their objectives."

Well, when the Idol of the civilians in charge is Leon Trotsky, then his philosophy will stream down hill.

SteveG

WRC

Two yrs 10 months 7days of active duty!!
LOL. I beat you by approx 30 days only
due to the fact my senator at the time
Walter, soon to be VP, Mondale put in
the "good word" to the bn CO. I was ten days
over an early out to attend school.
It seems the corporate mentality has seeped
into the officer corps to an even greater
degree than during our era, 67-70.

The Moar You Know

I am not at all happy to see that the MBA culture has now finally infected the military.

You can looks forward to all kinds of stupid, counterproductive disciplinary practices, and the elimination of competency in favor of those who are self-serving and proficient at taking advantage of weaknesses in systems.

Worst part is, like most of the other MBAs who are now running the country, when the SHTF they won't be able to do the only thing we hired them to do in the first place - fight.


scott s.

TWit: I suppose we would rather promote those who make an impact, rather than those who make no impact, don't you think? At least on the Navy side, I was never a fan of the "flow point" system, which results in an officer having exactly one selection board opportunity (look) for promotion. Because of that timing is extremely important. The fitness report system is somewhat haphazard, as the timing involves a bit of luck (there are submissions by date, but also on transfer of officer and transfer of commanding officer). Most fitness reports read pretty much identically -- there might be 2% water-walkers and 2% bilge dwellers but the remaining 96% pretty much identical. So the breakout tends to be in the "ranking among peer" number (ordinal ranking of all officers in that grade being reported on at the same time). Because of the timing factor the great majority of reports will end up as "1 of 1". So the selection board will always focus on those reports where the officer is ranked. Everyone understands this so it is possible to game the system. There used to be a saying "the surface navy eats its young" based on the idea that the surface line didn't do a good job of gaming.

tv

The military started turning officers into managers and along the way fell in love with what it thought was corporate culture.
This is the result.
Corporate political weasels with a chest full of medals writing teen age boy-like emails.
People do NOT put their lives on the line for corporations or managers.

Neil R

WRC:

"While on active duty in SASCOM in late 60's I underwent an inspection in a unit by General Polk then EUCOM CO! I was assigned NAICO duties and he got into a discussion with me about those duties and a real world incident in another unit. Looking directly into my eyes and me at his he asked me who was responsible for incidents/accidents? I told him that full accountability goes all the way to the top. He then said to me 'RIGHT ANSWER, SON!'"

Gen. Polk was one of Patton's proteges. He commanded the 3rd Cavalry Group when he was 32 years old. When Gen. Walker took command of the EUSA in 1948, he had requested Polk to be his G-3. Almond poached him and put him on Willoughby's staff. Since no good deed went unpunished at FECOM in those years, Almond took Polk as his G-2 and proceeded to make mockery of American generalship in Korea. When Gen. Van Fleet took over the EUSA for Ridgway, he rescued Polk and made him his G-2 prior to the Chinese Spring Offensive. In Van Fleet, Polk had a commander who actually trusted his G-2's judgment. The tactical analysis Polk had put together in November 1950 after the first contact with Chincom forces (Onjong-Unsan-Sudong) was very accurate. It formed the basis of UN tactics for the rest of the war.

turcopolier

Neil R

"Almond poached him and put him on Willoughby's staff. Since no good deed went unpunished at FECOM in those years, Almond took Polk as his G-2 and proceeded to make mockery of American generalship in Korea." That's pretty tough on Ned Almond. Care to give us a bill of particulars? He commanded the 92nd Division poorly? His separate corps was crushed by the Chinese in the winter of 1950-51? Child molester? What? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Almond I see two DSCs, two Silver Stars and a BS with V. How did that happen? pl

Neil R

Dear Col. Lang:

"That's pretty tough on Ned Almond. Care to give us a bill of particulars? He commanded the 92nd Division poorly? His separate corps was crushed by the Chinese in the winter of 1950-51? Child molester? What? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Almond I see two DSCs, two Silver Stars and a BS with V. How did that happen? pl "

After the landing in Inchon, the 1st Marine Division defeated KPA counterattacks east of Ascom City in two days of very heavy fighting. Almond as the X Corps commander had a choice of either pushing toward Seoul and capturing the city before Sep.30 as MacArthur had promised to Rhee or pivoting south of Yongdungpo and cutting off the escape route of the KPA forces south (anywhere between Yongdungpo and Anyang). Almond chose to liberate Seoul just as Mark Clark chose to send the VI Corps to Rome rather than trapping the German 10th Army during Diadem. In the next ten days of heavy fighting in Seoul, the X Corps had to deal with 40,000 additional KPA troops in addition to 18000 that were already in Seoul as their LOC wasn't cut until the 27th.

Remember that Almond had not only the command of the X Corps but he had also remained as MacArthur's COS until Ridgway took over. Aside from the illogic of this arrangement, he insisted on the landings at Wonsan and Iwon despite the rapidly changing situation up north. ROK I Corps (3rd Division and the Capital Division) had covered 110 miles by foot in less than a week. They had reached Wonsan before the X Corps made its landings between Oct.25 and 29th. Rather than pushing toward Pyongyang with the Eighth Army, the X Corps had been withdrawn to Inchon for embarkation which led to utter confusion and supply bottlenecks when critical supplies (esp. winter supplies) had to be pushed up north as quickly as possible.

After the capture of Pyongyang, MacArthur convened senior generals and admirals to consult on OP 202 which was to be the guidance for the next phase. Walker and his staff as well as Gen. Partridge (5th Air Force) urged caution and setting up a defensible line along the Pyongsung-Wonsan axis as logistical situation was becoming untenable for the Eighth Army. (The Daedong River from Chinnampo to Pyongyang had bee mined and they didn't expect to clear it until Nov.20th) They were down to three days of operational reserves of ammunition, gasoline and food. Stratemeyer (This wasn't the first time he had promised air power as the solution to all tactical and operational problems as Task Force Smith had discovered to their misfortune) and Willoughby pushed MacArthur for immediate exploitation. Almond told MacArthur that the X Corps could finish the job without hesitation.

There have been hundreds of historians who have covered Almond's handling of the X Corps after the first contact with Chincom forces. I don't think I need to add more that. Tactical mishandling down to battalion levels as well as spreading out his forces despite his own G-2's warnings are just two of his problems in those two months. Eliot Cohen accurately described how badly the X Corps was handled. One might have assumed that after two years of fighting in Italy, Almond might've learned something about mountain warfare, but I'm not sure if he did.

As for his command of the 92nd, I don't really know much about it other than the division wasn't highly regarded. According to the wiki article you cited, Almond felt his men had let him down rather than the other way around. Well Almond had the division for three years. If his division performed poorly well perhaps he should've looked at himself in the mirror to find the cause. Gens. McLain and Van Fleet turned around the 90th Division in a matter of weeks. That division had performed so poorly that Bradley was about to disband it and use the personnel as replacements for other divisions in Normandy. By the time Van Fleet had relinquished command, Patton had called it one of his two best infantry divisions in the Third Army.

As for his two DSCs, well Almond earned them in small unit actions as a corps commander. He earned the first one while directing tank fire while crossing the Han in September. He earned the second one the same way after spotting Chincom infantry in an assembly area prior to an assault. He directed a tank platoon to mow them down. General Dean was rightfully awarded the MOH after the capture by the KPA. At the time of his capture Daejon he was firing a bazooka against T-34s. Was that a mark of good generalship? General Dean certainly didn't believe it be so after he came home.

Procopius

For what it's worth, the more changes the more stays the same. There was a lot of griping in the Army after Tet '68 that the top brass were not warriors, they were managers. You know, it's true that being a good manager is terribly important. You're in charge of thousands of men and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment and in order to fight you have to control all that and make sure the troops get fed and than the equipment is kept up so it won't break down (pretty tough, since it's all bought from people who bribe the top brass). The thing is, some men are able to do that job and still function as warriors, and many are not. By the way, I was lucky enough to serve under John W. Vessey, Jr., first when he was Chief of Staff at 3d Armored Div in Frankfurt, and later when he was CO of USARSUPTHAI. Don't know of any Ridgway moment, but he did a great job of cutting down the O-6 in charge of the Bangkok Detachment, who was widely regarded as corrupt as any ARVN general.

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