Fight for the Armys Soul (US)

IMHO, a very good article on the need for change in the US Army. (Perhaps other Armies as well.) The article is long, but does contain many accurate opinions. I'm sure this defines, some of the reasons for our loss of junior officers Lt.'s & CPTs, etc., in to days Army. Do you Guy's see any similarities?

Fight for the Army's Soul

Time for a purge.
by Stuart Koehl
02/21/2008 12:00:00 AM

THOUGH IT GARNERS RELATIVELY little attention, military bureaucracy poses a very serious threat to the long-term security of the United States, and its pernicious effect extends well down into the chain of command. I have a friend whose son, now back from his fourth deployment to Afghanistan with the 75th Rangers, describes precisely the kind of burdensome bureaucratic regulation that Paul Fussell (in his book Wartime) so appropriately labeled as "chickenshit":

Chickenshit refers to behavior that makes military life worse than it need be: petty harassment of the weak by the strong; open scrimmage for power and authority and prestige . . . insistence on the letter rather than the spirit of ordinances. Chickenshit is so called--instead of horse--or bull--or elephant shit--because it is small-minded and ignoble and takes the trivial seriously. Chickenshit can be recognized instantly because it never has anything to do with winning the war.

One reason for the ubiquity of chickenshit in the modern U.S. military is the excessively high proportion of officers to enlisted men. In most armies, there are about seven officers to 100 enlisted men, or an officer-to-enlisted ratio of 7 percent (as low as 5 percent in the German army of World War II). In the U.S. Army today, that ratio stands at more than 15 percent (19 percent by some calculations).

Link to article.:
Imshi-Yallah said:
How can you have an accurate opinion?
How about BTDT have the t-shirt! :roll: And you? :wink:
Always look behind the headlines Trip, and you'll often see a wider picture:

Since May 2002, Mr. Koehl has been a Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Center for Transatlantic Relations. Working on the Project on Transatlantic Security and Industry. He served as senior research fellow on an in-depth analysis of the present state of US-European defense cooperation issues and the development of new initiatives to enhance future cooperation, conducting budgetary/programmatic analyses, and assessment of US and European military requirements and defense technologies. He is presently engaged in a study of technology transfer issues pertaining to the NATO Response Force..

From May 1998-May 2002, Mr. Koehl was Senior Analyst at ARDAK Corporation, where he conducted market and competition analyses for US and foreign aerospace and defense firms, developed data bases on European defense policies, acquisition organizations and regulations, major defense programs, and industry consolidation. He also authored analyses of the global commercial space remote sensing market, the global satellite payload market, the initial/primary training aircraft market, and the air/missile defense market (with particular emphasis on the emerging anti-cruise missile requirement). During this period he also provided support to the USD(AT&L) Office of International Programs.
In other words, his old job was working for companies that seek the civilianization and contractorization of various aspects of the US military. If you look at his work at ARDAK, you'll see that a lot of what he's advocating in the article could be quite beneficial to their activities as staff and support positions, which are essential to operations, are farmed out- which we have all seen have led to very public inefficiencies and failures.

Where we have been helping companies build a competitive bidding advantage since 1988.

ARDAK Corporation provides competitive pricing information in the form of Wrap Rates, Wrap Rate Decompositions, Price To Win Analysis, Should Cost Analysis and US Government agency budget analysis. We also provide Market Analysis and M&A Support specializing in the areas of Aerospace and Defense. We typically perform over 350 Wrap Rate Derivations, 100 Competitor Analyses and 15 Market Analysis efforts annually. In addition we frequently lead and/or are members of Black Hat Teams, Blue Teams, Red Teams and Strategic Planning Teams.
Edit: As for the thrust of the article: Twas ever thus. No doubt that somewhere there's the ruins of a sh1thouse where you can find graffitti some Roman squaddie left, bitching about bureaucracy. The fact that when you have a prolonged war you'll have junior and field grade officers with much more combat experience than their commanders- unless you're in the business of fighting wars day in and day out for generations at a time.

If you don't buy the idea that the absurdism of the military bureaucracy is nothing new, I suggest you go and find yourself a copy of Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (himself a WWII B-25 bombardier).

Perhaps you have a point; however, I agree with many points in the article, no matter why, or who wrote it. I don't agree with the entire report; however, I do think the ticket punching did take place and my still be there to some extent. I have seen it in action.

I have a couple of SF friends one a full bird COL the other a LTC (And my former CO on an ODA) that disagreed with many of the points made; however, they were officers like you, perhaps, being an officer might tend to biased their opinion. ;)
An example of a career staff officer who didn't have an operational command until 1942, 27 years after he was commissioned:

At the end of the day, the US Department of Defense employs upward of 3 million people and has an annual budget (including ops) of 3/4 of a trillion Dollars. As much as the people at the pointy end dislike it, you're going to need some blunties somewhere.
crabtastic said:
An example of a career staff officer who didn't have an operational command until 1942, 27 years after he was commissioned:

I hesitate to say much, as he is an American hero; however, IMHO isn't the best example of an American combat general in WWII.

He was very successful as a coordinator/planer (Read keep the Brits, French, and all the other Allies, etc. happy and in the plans, especially, Gen. Montgomery.) :)

The real combat generals, Bradley, Patton and a host of others conducted combat operations on the battle field. Of course, my favorites were Darby, Ridgeway and Patton. O Darby.htm


"In his early Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France."
Trip_Wire said:
crabtastic said:
An example of a career staff officer who didn't have an operational command until 1942, 27 years after he was commissioned:

I hesitate to say much, as he is an American hero; however, IMHO isn't the best example of an American combat general in WWII.

He was very successful as a coordinator/planer (Read keep the Brits, French, and all the other Allies, etc. happy and in the plans, especially, Gen. Montgomery.) :)

The real combat generals, Bradley, Patton and a host of others conducted combat operations on the battle field.
I don't disagree with your appraisal, but combat isn't everything in war. Everyone knows that it has always been the case in the US that once you get your 4th star you inevitably become more politician than general. This is because at some level military activity gives way to political activity, both in the sense of policy and bureaucracy. For example, it's widely known that one of Eisenhower's greatest accomplishments was managing combined and coalition operations on a scale that had never been attempted before. Patton, Bradley, Montgomery etc. were only able to do their jobs because Ike was watching over them, giving them what they needed, when they needed it- be it material support, political cover, ego massages and, on occasion, a kick in the arrse when they needed it.
I agree with your last! He did a great job at that! It wasn't easy either!
The US Army has been experiencing an increase in micromanagement since the early 90's because of three factors.

One was the advent of technology allowing a general back at CENTCOM to instantly communicate with every echelon below him.

The second was the reduction of forces which occured in the early 90's. Experienced NCOs and officers found themselves out of a job as we deactivated more than a corps worth of units... 3rd Armored, 7th ID, 8th ID, 9th ID, 3rd ID (24th ID was reflagged as 3rd) and numerous other smaller outfits were scrapped. This lead to a sort of hiccup in the passing of skills and knowledge from one generation to the next as soldiers were forced out of the service for not having enough "quality points." Hmm... guess I should explain that part. Along with a time limit to make certain rank (8 years to make e-5, 11 to make e-6, etc) the Army decided that only soldiers and NCOs with enough QP's were allowed to re-up at the end of their term of enlistment. In a nutshell, these points were influenced in the most minor manner by what you had done in service (awards, schools attended, deployments, pt score, and marksmenship) and rather big points were awarded for completion of college courses. So... Sgt. Snuffy who spent all his time training or deployed came in a poor second against Sgt. Schlep who was on profile for some vague injury who took a few classes while on light duty. The RIF in effect preserved the top performers and slackards yet cut out the experienced middle who might not of gone to Ranger school but had spent years learning their trade. Anyway... the end result of this culling of NCOs was that technical and tactical proficiency suffered.

The third and potentially worse cause of micromanagement's rise was the establishment of a zero deficiency culture following the RIF. Everyone makes mistakes... especially young leaders who are on their first outing but things got so oppressive that a cherry platoon leader making an error in judgement during a JRTC rotation could have it be a career ender. A mistake, in training mind you, where we are supposed to learn from our screw ups caused one young 2nd lieutenant I knew to be relieved from command circa 1993. A few years prior, the O/C and other officers would have just had him go through the iteration a second time after chewing his butt and providing guidance how to handle the scenario better but because his performance caused questions to be raised about the company and battalion commander's competance... he was removed and the company XO took over the platoon.

Yeah... zero tolerance lead to closed minds and fear of taking chances which most certainly lead to micromanagement. Things are getting better now of course. Field grades aren't listening in on communications between PL's and company commanders during every engagement now like they were early on and leadership at the lowest level has learned to operate independently but we still have a rapid turn over of personnel and the potential of lessons learned the hard way to be forgotten and needing to be learned again.

Good post!
tony herbert wrote more or less the same thing in his book 'soldier'

i honestly think in a large military like the UK or US, this type of 'spring cleaning' is needed every generation.
One effect I noted towards the end of my time was the 'professionalising' of the Army. By that, I mean it became painfully obvious, what with endless cutbacks, amalgamations and restructurings, that people were realising it was how they paid their mortgage and put their kids through school. The minimum standard wasn't god enough anymore, even though the benchmark was already high; you couldn't just be good at your job and get on, you had to have the bells and whistles as well.

Soon, people were taking the baseline for granted and focussing on the bells and whistles instead. Before long, it was as if these extras were the really important thing and people had almost forgotten about the minimum standard and what it was there to achieve.
I agree with this article, Trip. I agree strongly.

The best young Officers are getting out. You had better believe that. It's late and I'm too tired of this discussion to get into details, but I'll gladly give my perspective at a later date.

This has nothing to do with the privatization of the Army, and everything to do with an Officer Corps that is not up to standard.
I have personally witnessed US Army officers at Lt Col rank who's English was so poor as to be laughable and virtually unintellegible.

I have also witnessed commanders focussing in on presentational aspects of power point slides and ignoring the message - in an operational HQ.

I have witnessed both US and UK Officers who have been more concerned with impressing their boss than doing the job or supporting their subordinates.

Bull sh#t or Chicken sh#t, call it what you will, it is demoralising for the junior Officers to be lead by people they cannot respect and there are a whole lot of such people at the moderately high rank level (Lt Col and Col and maybe the odd Brigadier General).
Just work in a large HQs and you will soon see the "face time" freaks who seem to worry more about being seen by their commander than anything else. But then that is the system that has been allowed to develop over the years.

It is a system that relies not on output but presentation. In a way it doesn't matter what you do or say (or what the effect is) what matters is how you say it and how it effects your boss.

The shame is that in ISAF the good leaders shine because they produce results, whereas on return to UK they may not be so prominent as they may not be able to produce excellent staffwork.
Outstanding said:
Trip, what effect in your opinion has the huge Hispanic influx into your Army had?
It's been awhile since I retired. In my experience they usually do just fine if they can speak english and have at least graduated from high school. Many seem to gravitate towards the USMC and the US Army Airborne. I suspect it's a 'macho' thing for them.

Of course, it has also been discovered that many latino gang members have enlisted in the Army and Marines to get the weapons and/or combat training as well as actual combat experience.

FBI says U.S. criminal gangs are using military to spread their reach

By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, December 7, 2006

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — U.S. criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the U.S. military and are using overseas deployments to spread tentacles around the globe, according to the FBI.

FBI gang investigator Jennifer Simon said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes this week that gang members have been documented on or near U.S. military bases in Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Iraq.

Hmm...inter-unit rivalry could take on a new facade with 110th "Crips" RCT taking on the 532nd "Bloods" Armoured Recce!

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