Archive for the ‘Socio-Cultural Systems’ Category

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.”


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The Garrison Monster Cometh

May 30, 2011 2 comments

I’m old enough to remember life in the Army before the GWOT.  Now that the Army is slowing down the OPTEMPO, there are more and more units spending time in garrison. After a decade at war, the big question is whether the Army will return to pettiness that characterized garrison life a decade ago.  There are now indicators that the answer to this questions is a regrettable, yeah…probably.

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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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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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It’s Official: Frank Zachar is an Asshole

February 28, 2011 13 comments

Image_14725204.jpgIn 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.”

Systems Thinking and Strategy –or- Why the “Spaghetti Bowl” PowerPoint Slide was Pretty Cool After All

February 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks to Starbuck at Wings Over Iraq for posting this great video.

Remember the Spaghetti Bowl slide?  I always felt it was useful – it just had the misfortune of being composed on PowerPoint.  Unfortunately, two separate issues became intertwined.

First, the over-use of complicated PowerPoint slides (I’m not a fan).

Second, the use of Systems Thinking and Complexity Theory to help address tough problems like counter-insurgency (I am a fan).

Check out this video in which Ecologist Eric Berlow explains why the Spaghetti Bowl was a pretty neat product after all:

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Defeat: Department of Defense

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment


According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, all of the US military services issued a report on the murderous rampage at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009 when Nidal Malik Hassan, a terrorist, killed 11 Soldiers, 1 civilian, and wounded 32 others.

None of the reports mentions radical Islam.

The same misguided, politically correct culture which contributed to the tragedy may be inhibiting the lessons learned.  It is widely believed that Hassan’s supervisors overlooked his professional incompetence and jihadist attitudes in the name of multi-culturalism and political correctness.  .

Translation: they were afraid to discipline or report Hassan because he was a Muslim.

Now it appears this same culture is not only absent from the report, but is actually causing the Department of Defense to deny, as an institution, one of the fundamental causes of this incident.

Not misinterpret.  D E N Y.  As in, we know that Hassan was a terrorist, but we are going to look the other way.

Of course, this shouldn’t be a surprise to those who remember Army Chief of Staff George Casey, who, immediately following the shooting, said his chief concern was that the incident might “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.”

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