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Thread: Army Officers: Are You Leaving or Staying? Why?

  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Fort Leavenworth, KS

    Default Army Officers: Are You Leaving or Staying? Why?

    This is a carryover from the discussion on "The Iron Major Shortage." (

    The Army is short of officers, and particularly Majors. Some say it's because many CPTs and MAJs are leaving. Others say it's because the Army has too many slots and suffers from officer bloat.

    What do you think?

    Why is the Army short Majors?

    If you are an Army officer, do you plan to leave or stay in? Why?
    There are two types of people in this world, those who divide the world into two types and those who do not.
    -Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarian Philosopher

  2. #2
    Council Member Starbuck's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Sackets Harbor NY


    Keep in mind that the "Iron Major" article was written in 2008.

    With an economic downturn, drawdown in Iraq, and military personnel cuts, I doubt the gap is as wide as predicted in 2008.

  3. #3
    Council Member Morgan's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Indiana/ KSA


    Not sure what to think about the apparent shortage of MAJ's. Branch says "yes, we are definitely short majors which is why we cannot guarantee that you'll get the job/ posting/ country you want". But wherever I go, I do not notice any shortage. Furthermore (at the risk of sounding like a broken record) I've repeatedly volunteered for a TT assignment back to A'stan but have discovered that be quite impossible....kinda odd given that there is a war going on there, at least that's what the news says.

    So are we short MAJs? Not sure.

    If we're short MAJs, why......probably a combination of things from too many deployments to hyper-risk averse leaders who stifle initiative, promote management by Powerpoint, & demonstrate an inability to think outside of conventional perspectives to Household 6 threatening divorce if hubby doesn't stay home for a while (see point 1), yadda, yadda, yadda......

    Am I staying in? Yup.....will retire in a couple of years. The retirement pay will come in handy.

  4. #4
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    I have a love/hate relationship with the military. I believe in it and that leads me to get idealistic at times so I get angry with problems. But in my moments of clarity I simply accept that there are those (careerists) that are bad for the military. There are those (professionals) that are good for the military. I keep striving to be a professional. It's a lifelong effort. Don't know where I stand right now, but I know what category I'm aiming for.

    I am very frustrated with not being able to get back into theater until certain blocks have been checked, whether it's dwell, PME, or whatever the case may be. Just because some people said deployments hurt their family or caused them to get out doesn't mean that applies to me. Why should I have to sit at home to satisfy some dwell requirement when I'm ready to go? Somebody in theater could use my assistance right now and that's where I want to go - but branch continually says no, you need to do x,y,z.

    As Morgan mentioned: I've come up on the net volunteering for TT (again), no dice.

    Despite the fact that I'm over the hump and looking at retirement, what will force me out will be: not being able to get back into theater, a return to a garrison military (translation: full on retard mode with dog & pony shows and out of control senior officers and CSMs who will somehow find a way to implement a point system for the new APRT, will somehow manage to bring in pressing of the ACU, and will force us to return to canned training exercises so they can figure out how to assess commanders, do block checks, and basically steer us toward everything but a combat mindset and a warrior ethos, etc), and neglecting hard lessons we've learned for the sake of some General's talking points about family, or values, or comprehensive fitness, or some similar nonsense that briefs well but is never practiced well. Unfortunately, some of those signs are already there. GEN Dempsey's recent comments seem to be turning into a mantra, something about fitness, values, or something. It won't be long before the "yes men" in our formation start to parrot that. Hard to understand how people with no spine can wedge their noses so far up someone's ass.

    There's a MAJ in my unit that has no business being a FG...there's a CPT that was selected to take over a unit and he's a total spotlighter....there's a 1SG that doesn't do PT from what I can tell. I don't like any of that. But I'll deal with that nonsense, but the stuff in the paragraph above will drive me out if we go that direction. I have a good resume, good CV, a master's degree (and not from some online program), and good OERs. I can double my money and cut my stress in half by leaving. But I believe in the military. However, I don't believe in things mentioned in the paragraph above, and that's what would force me out.

    I'm not advocating some Charlie Sheen-esque, blunt force, "duh winning" message be delivered to our top brass but they need to start figuring some things out. If they don't, they're going to run off all the warfighters and when the next war starts, we're going to lose a ton of people as a result.
    Last edited by bumperplate; 05-21-2011 at 03:50 PM.

  5. #5
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    Hiding from the Dreaded Burrito Gang


    I'm laughing like Max Cady.

    Poor leadership is driving soldiers to leave the Army, reinforcing the service’s push to make leader development a top priority. The results come from a survey by the Army Research Institute that showed 26 percent of sergeants and staff sergeants and 23 percent of lieutenants and captains surveyed planned to leave the Army after completing their current service obligations.

    Of those, 35 percent of enlisted and 26 percent of officers cited the quality of leadership at their duty stations as a reason for leaving.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail

  6. #6
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    I would state with confidence that the institutional Army has played the most significant role in producing and promoting these leaders that so many now want to get away from. It's also played a large role in producing and promoting those G.O.s that say they want to fix things. Given that, I don't see real change coming about.

    If and when our G.O.s read these comments, I wonder what they think. They probably think the rest of us are idiots.

  7. #7
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    Oct 2005


    Adams, this is an interesting article and of course it validates the old adage that junior NCOs and Warrants will tell you what you may not want to hear, but need to hear. I am hesitant to write this, because I risk offending everyone and that isn't my intent, because we still have quite a few good NCO and officer leaders in our ranks, but sadly they are not the norm. After 30 plus years of service, I have seen a remarkable decrease in the "general" quality of leadership in the Army. It isn't something we can measure, it is a perception, but a perception based on years of observation. I think the Army is still teaching the correct principles of leadership, but these principles are not being reinforced in the units, and of course this is where behavior is really learned. What behavior is actually rewarded? How do you reward principled behavior? You can't write a measurable comment in an NCOER about principled behavior, instead you check the box that everyone checks that the soldier demostrates Army values, which makes it a meaningless item on the NCOER and OER.

    Real cultural change take time, strong leadership, and a system that encourages-mandates it. The officer problem will be harder to fix with the ingrained priorities "me, my rater, and me", but god help us if we destroy the NCO corp, the real leaders in our ranks (at least they should be). I have found our CSMs-SGMs to be either very effective leaders (often undue the negative impact of poor officers) or to put it bluntly complete morans focused on trivia that I would expect someone in 4th grade to be focused on. Assuming the Peter Singers story is true that a CSM used a UAV to spy on his troops when they were on patrol in Afghanistan and then berated them when they returned because he noted a uniform deficiency is a case in point. Why can't we fire idiots like that on the spot? In other situations, why can't we promote them on the spot?

    Slowing down promotions is one answer that may help the masses in the long run, but as others have pointed out some people are exceptional leaders based on their inate intelligence and character and should have the option of moving up quicker. How do you identify those people with our current system for assessing who should get promoted? I don't think you can. Again we are held hostage to a mass production personnel system where one size fits all, which by default allows low level performers to continue to progress, while it hinders high level performers from moving ahead of their lower performing peers. We have taken fairness to the extreme in our military. Personally I and I believe most others in the ranks knew some of our peers were better than us and deserved to be promoted quicker, while others didn't deserve to be promoted at all, but in general we all progressed in mass with few exceptions. Something is wrong with that model.

    One problem that we should be able to fix is the up or out system. We have many great enlisted soldiers who are not leaders, but they have a lot of knowledge and are contributing members of any team they are a part of. I recall one senior E7 engineer sgt we had who was well done as being one of the most knowledgeable engineers in Special Forces. His performance in Vietnam was lauded, one of the few left (I'm going back a few years) that had experience in building and sustain SF base camps. He repeatedly told his supervisors he did not want to make E8. The system being the system promoted him to E8 and they made him a team sergeant which he failed at and was relieved (at least we relieved people in those days). The sad part was he ended his stellar career on a disappointing note that hurt him and his team, and if we only had the option to retain him in his current grade the Army and the Soldier would have been better off for it.

    In the 90s is when I started hearing the cowardly phrases, "not on my watch", "there is no need to conduct risky training" (it might hurt my career), "general order number 1 for everyone" (because if I treat everyone like children, it reduces the possibility of black mark on "my" record, and of course we are all careerists first, leaders second). I thought 10 years at war would have reduced the stupidity and purged the weak leaders from our ranks, but I see that isn't happening.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-22-2011 at 06:33 AM.

  8. #8
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    I thought 10 years at war would have reduced the stupidity and purged the weak leaders from our ranks, but I see that isn't happening.

    If we had been at war for the past 10 years, with some 500,000-2,000,000 military casualties and god knows how many civilians, to show for it, this evolution of perspective you look for would likely have happened. Of course it would have also reverted back to this peace-time norm shortly after the war was over.

    The reality is the US is not really at war. We have military men involved in combat, but our Nation, our Government, and in truth, even our Military, is not on a wartime footing. We misuse that word "war" a great deal of late, and it causes problems much larger than this one of officer management.

    The same peacetime constraints of effectiveness that you describe for training operations at home affect effectiveness for combat operations downrange.

    Admiral Eric Olson from his position as the Commander of USSOCOM describes the current environment as "the new normal." While I largely agree with what I believe he means by that (that we are not at war, but that this is just the way things are), I would quibble that our response is not appropriate to that assessment. If this is the new normal, we need to take a breath and quit fighting it. We are attempting to militarily force the clock to turn back to those glorious days following the Cold War when major state threats were in check, and suppressed populaces had not yet began to push back against the controls the sat upon them.

    One key perspective to fully appreciating the "new normal" is to first appreciate how abnormal the Cold War era and the era of US hegemony over other states immediately following the Cold War really was. Just because this has dominated our lives for the past 65 years does not mean it was not an artificial bubble created by the unique circumstances of the era.

    For the military and officer management? The only real solution is to go to more peer/subordinate input and abolish the "making your boss happy and never doing anything "headline worthy" wrong" as the standard for advancement. We can't blame this on "the war," civilian leadership, or any other boogieman. We do it to ourselves; and senior military leaders lack the moral courage to change. Why? For fear it will invalidate the very methods that they employed so well to get where they are today.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  9. #9
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    To double up on some of what is said above, I think faster promotions have been a bad thing. I also think the hurried nature in which people have been selected for OCS and other commissioning avenues has been a bad thing. Things got to the point where some OCS selections were not even going to an interview - it was just a packet that went up to get rubber-stamped.

    I have been enlisted and officer and I see things in junior officers now that I would have never seen long ago when I first enlisted. From tattoos to outright pathetic lapses in discipline and choices of behavior - it's odd for sure. I also see some things in the NCO Corps - more apathy than what I used to see, accelerated promotions for those not ready to lead, and certainly more 'do as I say not as I do' garbage.

    Indeed there is a culture shift in our society and I do understand the military must adapt to that. However, I believe many in the military understand what items need to be retained in our culture and not purged just because the 'body by playstation' generation is now military aged. Why should we conform wholly and completely to society? We are a volunteer force. Shouldn't those volunteering to be in our ranks conform to us? I remember when I was in OBC, a MAJ told us that we were property, that our company commanders owned us. Not because we were akin to slaves, but because that commander had to train us, constantly. We would be overworked, given no sympathy, and only demanded more from - all the time. It was part of our education because OBC wasn't going to teach us everything. I tell new officers the same thing today because the Army refuses to give them enough TDY days at BOLC to learn what they need to learn. Nowadays I get scoffed at by 2LTs and some of my peers and superiors for telling these officers the truth. I tell them they will get moved around like cattle by their BN and BDE Cdrs. They, of course, think they're special. I tell them their sleep is not important, but the mission is; that their wanting to party and drink beer is not important, but completing their assignment is - I am labeled as cruel for this.

    To be sure though, as was also pointed out: we do this to ourselves. I have seen LTs with DUIs, popping hot on drug tests, and with surefire proof of adultery. Absolutely nothing happens. I counsel LTs for haircuts, uniform issues, etc, as well as performance shortcomings. Nothing comes of it because we have decided that we need quantity not quality.

    I tell new officers that it would be great if we were all Cambridge Scholars, Olympic level athletes, tactical wizards, and so forth. But all you really need to be is a good leader. You don't have to be the fastest runner, best climber, or hold the most degrees, or have the highest GT score - but you must have integrity and you must place the mission first, then your Soldiers, then yourself. Some of them take it to heart and they go on to be good leaders. Most do not. Most just want to check the block and move on, believing that in today's military we are so short-handed that they need only to keep breathing in order to retire at 20 as an O-5.

    We have way too many 'cyborgs' in our formation that do hellacious PT but couldn't lead a dog to the backyard let alone lead Soldiers in combat. These same cyborgs will dime out officers and enlisted alike for not being up to standard, physically (what standard, I ask), because these officers are great runners. But when we put on kit and do functional training, they beat feet after about five minutes claiming they have a meeting or something to get ready for, because they are afraid to fail in front of their peers and subordinates.

    To finish my rant, again I'll state my lack of confidence in our senior leaders to help us in the middle try to fix some of these problems. When a LT gets a DUI or comes up hot on a drug test, where does that LT go...most often to the CG. If the CG is going to issue a local letter only, then how can any of our GOs talk to us about standards, fitness, values, etc?

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