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Thread: 'The General Mattis collection: a mixture

  1. #21
    Council Member nichols's Avatar
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    He is heavy duty into simulations. His thinking is that sims are a better investment then $400k SGLI. He has been pushing us since his time at MCCDC.

  2. #22
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Ingrained bureaucracy – read GS (especially 15’s and FOGO equivalents) plus the extraordinary numbers of embedded contract workers now prevalent in many major commands - has a habit of ignoring active duty commanders – with an attitude of “waiting it out” until the next change of command. Their stonewalling is both unconscionable and criminal in my most humble opinion.

    JFCOM is one of the worst offenders - I wish General Mattis the best and hope he can make a difference... It is sorely needed to say the least.
    That is why I wish active duty commanders were given something kind of reverse of the Taft Hartley Act (forcing people to work) and could fire anybody much like Regan fired the "un-fireable" air traffic controllers on strike in 1981.
    Last edited by selil; 11-12-2007 at 05:29 AM.
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  3. #23
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. As the Brits say, "Spot on!"

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Ingrained bureaucracy – read GS (especially 15’s and FOGO equivalents) plus the extraordinary numbers of embedded contract workers now prevalent in many major commands - has a habit of ignoring active duty commanders – with an attitude of “waiting it out” until the next change of command. Their stonewalling is both unconscionable and criminal in my most humble opinion.

    JFCOM is one of the worst offenders - I wish General Mattis the best and hope he can make a difference... It is sorely needed to say the least.
    As a former one of the former silly villian types, You are regrettably correct. However, there is a solution. One such who opposes that practice simply need find one kindred soul of like grade (and my experience is that there are always a couple of good ones to battle the four to ten less concerned types in every big hindquarters) and join together to flank, circumvent and befuddle the recalcitrant.

    That's not hard to do because those "wait 'em out" types are mostly Turtles, not willing to stick their necks out for anything. Easy to shortstop 'em, baffle 'em, go around them and get things done.

    Lacking that, it takes only a Chief of Staff with testicular fortitude -- he can make their lives miserable with little effort -- all he has to do is divert the Bonus money. They'll quickly leave unless they're dedicated and good guys.

  4. #24
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default DoD has been trying. Unfortunately,

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    That is why I wish active duty commanders were given something kind of reverse of the Taft Hartley Act (forcing people to work) and could fire anybody much like Regan fired the "un-fireable" air traffic controllers on strike in 1981.
    AFGE has more votes in Congress...

    Had an employee illegally absent for over 76 days in one year. Took three letters, another 18 months (with more absences) and two hearings to get that person fired.

  5. #25
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Does that mean if I take a job as an SES y'all won't like me anymore
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    All opinions are mine and may or may not reflect those of my employer depending on the chance it might affect funding, politics, or the setting of the sun. As such these are my opinions you can get your own.

  6. #26
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default A perspective from a newly "coined" contractor

    Let me begin by saying I'm a "dirty" contractor, and I needed a couple of weeks before I could come to grips with the title.

    My last four years on active duty (recently retired) were spent in two different HQs that were heavily populated with civilian employees (GS and contractor), and I have a few relevant observations...

    1. The vast majority of individuals in both groups come to work wanting to do a good job. They are ready to implement guidance, but in many cases are undersupervised by "greens suits" because they are either uncomfortable giving orders to civilians or they don't understand the civilian's role as direct support to the organizational mission.

    2. As a rule, contract employees are more responsive because they have far less job security and the customer is always right. Note: This can be both good and bad (sometimes a young major could benefit from listening carefully to a retired LTC).

    3. HQs usually prefer the contractor route because its much easier to hire and fire a contractor than it is to get an authorized TDA position. However, this well will dry up when supplementals go away.

    4. When a GS is acting like a "toad in the road" its often because they are convinced it is the "right" thing to do. Note: Not condoning, just making the point that its not always because they hate change.

    5. The world of the largely civilian work force is here to stay. No way to turn this ship around in the midst of current committments. It is better to stop the customary complaining (I was guilty once as well) about the lazy GS and dirty contractor, and go about the business of leading the non-uniform work force.
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  7. #27
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    Default I think the adjective is "slimey", not dirty

    That said, I wouldn't try to draw too many distinctions among various flavors in the workforce.

    My concern with the general's assignment to JFCOM is still that the bureaucracy (regardless of its make up) may be too tough for even this old bird to crack.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Ingrained bureaucracy – read GS (especially 15’s and FOGO equivalents) plus the extraordinary numbers of embedded contract workers now prevalent in many major commands - has a habit of ignoring active duty commanders – with an attitude of “waiting it out” until the next change of command. Their stonewalling is both unconscionable and criminal in my most humble opinion.

    JFCOM is one of the worst offenders - I wish General Mattis the best and hope he can make a difference... It is sorely needed to say the least.
    This can be the case. However, on the GS side (actually note that in most of the DOD, and soon all of it, "GS" is finished, having been done away with in NSPS - we converted earlier this year), the personnel system has changed greatly, so that the days of the un-fire-able civil servant are past (though there was always some amount of myth to that, a determined commander could can a civil servant, many found it easier to just move them on. Of course this happens on active duty, too). It is now much easier to get rid of troublesome civil servants, though of course same protocol follows just as if you want to chapter a bad soldier: document, document, document.

    But speaking from inside the belly of the purple beast, it is not that simple, uniformed military on a 2 or 3 year tour vs. civil servants waiting them out. For every JFCOM Sir Humphrey, there is an active duty officer armed with dubious ideas and a willingness to waste the taxpayer's dollar, all to get his star. This place often feels to me like a bunch of little feudal fiefdoms, squabbling over agendas and resources. I've seen one O6 build a shadow organization to another O6's directorate, and so try to steal his rival's portfolio and resources.

    Just wanted to point out that there are more mischief makers here than just the guys with ties. When you get right down to it, money and ambition - they ruin everything. There is a lot of both here and that fuels the craziness.

    I have not much experienced the stonewalling you described, except in one case. And in that case, the two-star flag who got waited out, gave in my opinion all the opportunity for his underlings to do so; there was an impression from my lowly POV at least that he was just marking time and waiting for his next post. He had a very "hands off" leadership style... His successor was of a different sort entirely, and he has since taken a very active interest in his organization and has even asked to extend his tour one year to make sure that his changes will stick.

    I am very excited that Gen. Mattis is our commander - there are many of us who are hoping for great things from him. A man like him is a breath of fresh air from the series of gizmo-centric commanders we've had prior to him. Let's all pray for him that he makes a difference.

    PS - Rob, nice suggestion, will have more to say about whither JFCOM, when it's not such a late hour.
    Last edited by Stevely; 11-13-2007 at 06:35 AM. Reason: and another thing...
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

  9. #29
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    Default Tossing the Muskets.....

    I for one don't have any qualms about my tax dollars being spent by a "warrior monk" - has bin laden and his followers acclerated us this much or is this all just in the course of natural evolution? Does war really put a bump in the curve or do we just keep grinding along? "Warrior monk" got me to thinking about Ia Drang and the implementation of air mobile tactics and in about 2.5 decades we had the high tech stuff of the Gulf War, man riding the missle in cyber space. Maybe it boils down simply to great men just happening along and stepping up to the plate devoid of collective evolution and the lessons of history.

  10. #30
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    Default My peon's eye view of JFCOM

    Rob,

    Taking you up on your offer of a discussion, this is a subject near and dear to my heart (and not to mention my paycheck). Safely pseudonymous, here I go.

    I think you made a very well articulated case as to why JFCOM is important and what sort of personal leadership challenges, what kind of leader it would take, to be a good and effective commander at JFCOM. I don’t have much to add to that, but I would like to share my personal observations about the problems we have internally, the challenges we face and some specific things the new commander needs to fix if he is going to be successful.

    JFCOM was created to fill a real need in the Armed Forces. If JFCOM was done away with tomorrow, it would have to be re-invented, and would be re-invented de facto by the services and the COCOM's, only on a piecemeal and disjointed manner. So while there are of course those who wish to do away with that "worthless" command, they are mistaken and would simply find something like a new JFCOM eventually arising to fill the void left by the old one.

    It's a saying around here that the military is trained and equipped by the services, but we fight wars joint. The war we are in now, and certainly the wars we will face in the years to come, require effective and thorough cooperation and interoperability between forces fielded by the services (and indeed beyond, all instruments of national power), in other words, we require "Jointness." The regional COCOM's are not the right organizations to inculcate, foster and train this jointness; they are too focused on the 50 meter targets of their daily missions. Therefore we need a command that can foster "jointness" - develop and promulgate Joint doctrine, develop and field Joint interoperable equipment, particularly command and control systems (or at least strongly influence their development in the right direction by the services), and train the force to fight joint.

    But JFCOM has not always been up to its high calling, for many reasons, some its own fault and others the fault of wider circumstances in DOD and the government as a whole about which it can do little.

    A lot of good ideas and concepts are born out of JFCOM, often after careful consideration and analysis of lessons learned by the troops in the field, that are useful even needful for the armed forces at large, but fail on the external ambitions and parochialism of the services and sometimes the COCOMs. There is not much the Commander JFCOM can do about this, but be a good advocate and sell the right thing to do to his four star peers.

    A lot of good ideas and concepts are born out of JFCOM but fail on the internal ambitions and Byzantine organizational culture. Also, bad ideas and concepts are also sometimes born out of this, and are promoted and foisted upon the services and COCOMs. Sometimes. These things, Commander JFCOM can do a lot to fix, and here are the things he needs to tackle, as I see them.

    Our incoming Commander needs to fix:

    * Internal communications - horizontal (cross directorate) and vertical (from the directorates up to the commander) communications are usually very poor in JFCOM. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, or the heads of the hydra never bother to talk to each other. This has the effect of isolating the JFCOM directorates from each other, and prevents the command from working effectively as a whole. It also keeps the commander in the dark about what is going on inside his own command (this is often the case inside directorates, too). If General Mattis doesn't know what is going on inside JFCOM and what JFCOM is doing to and with the rest of DOD, he can't lead JFCOM to live up to its mission.

    * Internal ambitions and agendas of directorates and components - often work towards own ends at cross purposes to other JFCOM components and directorates, and even the command's own priorities and goals as set by the commander. The new commander must bring the independent operators to heel and get them working in unison with the rest of the command. Initiatives should not be pursued and funded that aren't vetted at the DCDR and CDR level, and fall in lockstep with the commander's vision.

    * Institutional culture suffers from fuzzy thought and dubious ideas due to fascination with buzz words (buzz paragraphs in this place) and uncritical acceptance of the latest trendy concepts to pass through the door. Solving the problem listed right above this one will help a lot, because a lot of otherwise stupid BS gets latched on to as it seen as a vehicle to acquire funding and resources. But more than that, there is no disciplined way to think about the future and apply that to JFCOM's activities. There is no overarching vision that informs the way the command's directorates do business, across the board. This leaves everyone free to experiment, and there is no rigorous intellectual process to consider and vett ideas, no "sanity check" to separate the wise concepts from the hare-brained schemes.

    In my opinion, we need an overarching, strategic vision to guide the efforts of each of our directorates, particularly the big ones - J7, J8, J9. A commander who is both a strong leader and a strong intellectual like General Mattis seems to be just what we need.

    Of course, we are manned by the services, and the doctrine and systems we develop must be accepted by them, so good luck with the overarching strategic visions. Never said the commander's job was going to be easy.

    * Reduce internal bureaucracy, it is impossible for JFCOM to promote 'agility' if it is itself clumsy. My personal experiences with the JFCOM staff process were traumatic, it was long and painful to get major projects through all the staff wickets before we could get them released to the COCOM customer. And the processes we have imposed on our customers to get help from us (and here I am writing about my particular competency, JNTC), sometimes turn what should be easy and effective fixes into drawn out, inconclusive efforts that satisfy no one.

    Everything, including our bureaucracy and how it is constituted and how it operates, should be as simple as is absolutely possible (except where it might put me out of work ). If General Mattis fixes all of the other things, but the JFCOM internal bureaucracy remains a hopeless mess, his best intentions will be stymied.

    General Mattis has a big job ahead of him, but it is an important one. DOD needs JFCOM, and needs it to function right. If he can be a success, in ways his past several predecessors weren't IMO, he can leave a much more significant and lasting mark on the DOD than if he had become a regional COCOM commander, or even CMC. I am guardedly hopeful, he is an outstanding personality and intellect, and has real character, unlike so many featureless and generic GO/FO's we have today - if anyone can succeed at this task, it must be him. Let's wish him the best of luck and pray for his success.
    He cloaked himself in a veil of impenetrable terminology.

  11. #31
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default Thoughts from Gen. Mattis

    He makes some good points about over reliance on technology.

    Mattis: Military should rely less on technology
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  12. #32
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    He makes some good points about over reliance on technology.

    Mattis: Military should rely less on technology
    OK but.....

    I like General Mattis. He's on my tick list, but I'm not sure about this. "Turn the radios off" is a tad simplistic, and so-called "mission command" is not enabled just by switching off radios. - also there are very many differing types of "mission command."

    Sure, use the radios less. Practice pro-longed radio silence, but that did not mean switching them off - and as the entire command system of the US Army is essentially digital, I'm more than curious to know how this gets put into practice.
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  13. #33
    Council Member Chris jM's Avatar
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    There were a number of interesting replies when this was posted on the SWJ blog here: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...hould-rely-le/

    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    "Turn the radios off" is a tad simplistic, and so-called "mission command" is not enabled just by switching off radios. - also there are very many differing types of "mission command."
    But simple works! I don't think that Gen Mattis expects a radio switch to go to 'off' and de-centralised mission command to suddenly be turned on. However, taking away some of the props that support micro-management and enable massive reach-down can be a great thing in training. If people are suddenly forced to employ verbal orders, use their own initiative in-keeping with their commander's intent and trust their subordinates once in a while it can only be of benefit, even when technology is allowed again.
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  14. #34
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris jM View Post
    There were a number of interesting replies when this was posted on the SWJ blog here: http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...hould-rely-le/
    WHY Oh WHY... cannot we have the Blog discussion here!! No wonder this board goes a bit quiet. Why is the blog comment different form the Forum!! We are missing a trick!! IMO - possible IMHO.... but unlikely....

    But simple works! I don't think that Gen Mattis expects a radio switch to go to 'off' and de-centralised mission command to suddenly be turned on.
    Wallah!! Mate, I am as simple as it gets. I am the Mr Simple of simple things. It's my schtick. Clausewitz the Hedgehog!!! I may well be an opinoated arrogant little twat, but I am very simple opinionated.... you get it!
    If people are suddenly forced to employ verbal orders, use their own initiative in-keeping with their commander's intent and trust their subordinates once in a while it can only be of benefit, even when technology is allowed again.
    Yes, its about leaders leading regardless. Ensuring leaders lead, under all likely conditions is leadership. Back in the day I've seen Section Commanders making sketch maps, because there were not enough maps. If I was king, I would be teaching platoons to use whistles. PRR is gradually eroding hand signals. All good. - IF that was what Matis is talking about, then all for it.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  15. #35
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK but.....

    I like General Mattis. He's on my tick list, but I'm not sure about this. "Turn the radios off" is a tad simplistic, and so-called "mission command" is not enabled just by switching off radios. - also there are very many differing types of "mission command."

    Sure, use the radios less. Practice pro-longed radio silence, but that did not mean switching them off - and as the entire command system of the US Army is essentially digital, I'm more than curious to know how this gets put into practice.
    Maybe Mattis wants to make the entire chain think...to teach superiors to occasionally trust their subordinates, or at least allow them to learn on their own. So yes, Wilf, sometimes it DOES mean switching them off. As Chris points out, it's good for learning and testing.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
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  16. #36
    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Ref: Turning off radios

    I don't know if it was good leadership... but I turned off the BN CMD net in the field more often than I should admit... Not sure I need to call in hourly slant reports when I'm supposed to be in the middle of Battery TNG

    Only got caught once, and when the BN CDR came and found me observing some outstanding PLT TNG lanes designed, organized and led by my junior leaders... I was forgiven my sin... maybe that's why he made 3-star
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  17. #37
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    OK but.....

    I like General Mattis. He's on my tick list, but I'm not sure about this. "Turn the radios off" is a tad simplistic, and so-called "mission command" is not enabled just by switching off radios. - also there are very many differing types of "mission command."

    Sure, use the radios less. Practice pro-longed radio silence, but that did not mean switching them off - and as the entire command system of the US Army is essentially digital, I'm more than curious to know how this gets put into practice.
    Wilf, you may not like this and I could be wrong but I think he means to use the Prime Tenets of Maneuver Warfare. The Mission....The Main Effort....Surfaces and Gaps. Per the OODA loop. Turn the radio off.... Observe(visually see) Surfaces and Gaps. Orient on the Main effort. Decide how you can support the Mission (commanders Intent) then Act on your decision. Adjust as necessary based upon what you see ....not the chatter over the radio. Just my interpretation anyway.

  18. #38
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Wilf, you may not like this and I could be wrong but I think he means to use the Prime Tenets of Maneuver Warfare. The Mission....The Main Effort....Surfaces and Gaps. Per the OODA loop. Turn the radio off.... Observe(visually see) Surfaces and Gaps. Orient on the Main effort. Decide how you can support the Mission (commanders Intent) then Act on your decision. Adjust as necessary based upon what you see ....not the chatter over the radio. Just my interpretation anyway.
    Slap, have you considered going to a Warden recovery clinic?

    I think you're at least partway right, although I'd slim it down to seeing what the commanders at all levels can do when they don't have someone looking over their collective shoulders. At the very least it would be a start toward weeding out the sitters from the doers, and might even allow something like (gasp) actual learning, training, and safe (as in non-combat) tactical mistakes to be made and learned from.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  19. #39
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Wilf, you may not like this and I could be wrong but I think he means to use the Prime Tenets of Maneuver Warfare.
    Well you're right about not liking it!!

    So called "Mission Command" is not a tennet of so called MW. Foch writes very clearly about the "ability to understand your commander" in 1911. Moltke even earlier, but I am less familiar with his work.
    I strongly believe in:

    a.) "doing your utmost to fulfil your commanders intent."
    b.) especially when the situation changes significantly from the one he issues the orders to cover.

    ..... but you cannot do a Formation crossing of the Suez Canal, using "mission command" and with no radios. It is very context specific.

    Surfaces and Gaps? OK, as long as you know that the gaps are the entrances to ambushes, - especially if you've run into North Korean, Chinese, Japanese, or Soviet Fortified region, or prepared defensive position. ... but I digress.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  20. #40
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Guderian crossed the Meuse at Sedan using the normal German leadership methods.
    He had trained the troops very well for that particular action before the campaign, though.

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