The list of Army leaders getting fired is getting longer and longer as time goes on. To recap the action, here is who has been canned recently:
COL Frank Zachar, 172nd Inf. BDE
COL James Johnson, 173rd Airborne Inf. BDE
LTC Frank Jenio, 2nd BN, 508th Parachute Infantry Regt.
COL Harry Tunnell, 5/2 Striker BDE*
*COL Tunnell had left command when the investigation was completed, however, the investigating officer said he would have fired Tunnell had Tunnell still been in command.
I’ve been doing a little research to see if I could find what all these guys have in common, and the results might surprise you.
The annual Army-Navy game is a time-honored tradition. It seems, however, there is a new Army-Navy rivalry. Both services are investigating and firing senior officers at an alarming rate.
A few months ago, I asked this question: Is the Army finally getting serious about toxic leaders? It appears that the answer may be yes, although much remains to be seen. What is clear is that the recent relief of two brigade commanders, COLs Frank Zachar and James Johnson, along with other embarrassing revelations of bad brigade leadership, has got the new Chief of Staff’s attention. In the 25 April Army Times cover story, the new CSA promises action to curb these leadership failures.
Apparently COL Johnson was relieved of command, not for toxic leadership, but for adultery and fraud. Even thought it was not the cause of his relief, it appears COL Johnson was yet another toxic leader who made it to brigade command. According to a former subordinate:
I was formerly a member of COL Johnson’s organization. He is the textbook example of a toxic leader. His constant screaming attacks against members of his staff, complete disregard for dissenting opinion and lack of faith in any of his staff officers or commanders was disheartening to watch. The entire unit walked around in fear and worked hard just to keep the ass chewing sessions to a minimum. His command climate stifled all real discussion and led the unit to only work for his interest instead of the unit’s.
The Army keeps firing assholes. Another Army brigade Commander has been relieved. This time its COL James H. Johnson from the 173rd Airborne BDE. No word yet on what COL Johnson did or did not do, however, some things are becoming clear from chatter in the blogosphere. Some felt COL Johnson had a poor command climate, and if you believe some accounts, was a toxic leader.
If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem…so I am often told anyway. In light of this, I’ve decided to become a part of the solution to the Army’s asshole problem. I’ve posted this simple test to help Army leaders determine if they are, in fact, an asshole. The test is based on principles from the book The No Asshole Rule by Dr. Robert Sutton, mentioned previously in my post about the relief of COL Frank Zarchar (a certified asshole). The test is simple. Read each statement, then record on a separate sheet of paper how often you exhibit the behavior in question: often, sometimes, or rarely. Read more…
In a previous post about the relief of COL Frank Zachar, I posited that the reason for his relief may have been that Zachar was a toxic leader.
I hate to say I told you so, but….I told you so.
A follow up story by the Stars and Stripes indicates that a report on Zachar’s relief, authored by BG Jimmie Jay Wells, says that Zachar’s command climate was, ““at best ineffective” and “at worst toxic.”
I only made it through a few chapters of Blackhearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death by Jim Frederick before I was compelled to write a post on the toxic leadership of this story’s battalion commander. Now, I will finish by telling the rest of the story.
Bottom line up front: Every single leader in the Army should be required to read this book. It is a study in bad leadership. If the old adage is true that we learn more in defeat than in victory, then certainly this book has more to teach us than all the war hero books we can buy.
Blackhearts tells the story of 1st Platoon, B Company, 1-502nd Infantry Battalion of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. In the middle of what can only be described as a horrific tour in the most dangerous area of Iraq (at that time), four members of this unit left their post on March 12, 2006, barged into a local Iraqi house, raped their 14-year-old daughter, then executed the entire family. Read more…
I just received my paperback copy of Blackhearts: One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death by Jim Frederick. I made it through the first couple of chapters last night, but what I read was so compelling I had to post it this morning.
This book chronicles the Iraq experience of one platoon of the 1-502nd Infantry Battalion of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division. You may recall that four members of this unit left their post on March 12, 2006, barged into a local Iraqi house, raped their 14-year-old daughter, then executed the entire family. Sick stuff. Read more…