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Five Monkeys and Fixing the Army

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

A writer going by the name of “Petronius Arbiter” recently posted a series of articles entitled How to fix the Army in 66 easy steps on Tom Ricks’ blog.  Although there’s been much discussion on the blog about many of his recommendations, I feel a few deserve some additional attention.

It’s probably best to being by asking “What is the problem?”  Not that I don’t think the Army has problems that need fixing (as it certainly does), however, the Petronius never defines what problem he is trying to fix.  The closest he comes is when he leads off his series with “A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:”

Really?  Better at what?

He follows with his 66 steps, not all of which makes Ricks’ blog.  Some are ok; most are the kind of pointless drivel that essentially boil down to “Let’s go back to the way we used to do it.”  The “way we used to do it” is sacrosanct in the Army.  If it was done at some point in the past it must be good – nevermind that WHY it was done in the past is rarely known.

Among the more stupid:

  • “Since 75th Ranger Regiment is not an Infantry Regiment do not allow Infantry personnel in that organization to declare 75th Infantry as a regimental affiliation.”  Oooooooh.  Now there’s a HUGE problem.  (WTF, over?!)
  • “Re-instill drill and ceremonies so that units can at least have confidence in unit abilities to conduct a pass in review at ceremonies. Oh, and when supervised properly, it is a tremendous discipline builder and junior NCO developer, but most officers don’t know that.”  Really?  With all the time pressures on Army units, to suggest that they should waste time marching around and doing facing movements is, quite frankly, idiotic.  Soldiers are still going to war every 12-15 months.  They need to be training on mission-oriented tasks, not wandering around a parade field.
  • “Restore unit designations that make sense and are understandable. We know what an artillery unit is and does. We don’t understand what a Fires unit is and does.”  Go a mouse in your pocket?  Speak for yourself, bub.  “We” understand what a Fires unit does just fine, thanks.  Perhaps you meant YOU don’t understand.  Here’s a suggestion – pick up an FM and read a bit.
  • “Bring back the bayonet.”  Wow.  Between that and Drill/Ceremonies we could be just like the British in WWI.

Bottom line:  Let’s just go back to the way we used to do it.

http://doh-san.blogspot.com/2005/10/five-monkeys.html

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The Army Doesn’t Have a Suicide Problem

September 29, 2011 8 comments

The Army set a somber record in July when 32 Soldiers took their own lives, the most since the Army started keeping stats in 2009.  Despite millions of dollars spent to lower suicides, they remain regrettably high.

Army Vice Chief of Staff GEN Peter Chiarelli said recently, “While the high number of potential suicides in July is discouraging, we are confident our efforts aimed at increasing individuals’ resiliency, while reducing incidence of at-risk and high-risk behavior across the force, are having a positive impact.”

YGBFKM.

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“Cool Guy Syndrome” : New Illness Infecting Army Leaders

May 20, 2011 6 comments

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:

GEN Stanley McChrystal, ISAF

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.

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Army vs. Navy: Services Race to Relieve the most Senior Officers

April 26, 2011 4 comments

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.

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A Crisis in Army Leadership? Recent Brigade Commander Fails Have the CSA’s Attention

April 18, 2011 3 comments

General Martin Dempsey, commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, photographed at the Pentagon on Wednesday, May 20, 2009. (Sheila Vemmer/Staff)

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.

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Keep Firing Assholes! Another Army Brigade Commander Relieved

March 31, 2011 17 comments

 

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.

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Do You Like Leftovers?: Army Officer Attrition

March 24, 2011 1 comment

 

The debate over officer attrition, particularly in the US Army, continues.  An article by Tim Kane recently appeared in The Atlantic which made the case that the Army, and to a lesser extent perhaps the rest of the military, was hemorrhaging its best officers due to a lumbering, industrial age promotion system.

Kane’s article has now been rebutted by four senior officers currently serving as fellows at the Atlantic Council.  It’s become quite the subject of debate on Tom Ricks’ blog, and Starbuck has an entry at Wings Over Iraq as well.  I originally posted my thoughts on Ricks’ site, and below is the text”

It’s interesting to consider exactly what dog these officers have in this hunt.

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