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Thread: Your Brain In Combat

  1. #21
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    JMA....great comments.

    My only substantive comments would be:
    1) The training must get better. And yes, it certainly should be better for enlisted as well. I don't subscribe to the peacetime v. wartime issue. We are warfighting organizations - scrimping is lazy, wrong, and inexcusable. I see no room for compromise. I know I'm in the minority with that, but I don't see it as an issue where any of us should give ground. I hear you about taking people under your wing and so forth. One thing I've noticed in our military is that many times it's the LTs (NCOs too) that are squared away that get the least mentorship. Another wrong answer.
    2) Platoon Sergeants are indeed vital to the development of a young officer. However, I see it too often where Platoon Sergeants get tired of mentoring the officer, as well as all the other people in the platoon. How can you blame him? It is terribly frustrating to see people come in, over and over, without proper training. And, in today's military, too many of our schoolhouses are doing horribly bad at training, so the burden is worse. We are all going to pay a terrible price if these types of issues are not addressed, soon.
    3) Regarding Wanat. If I remember correctly, the Army came out and said that X was done poorly, Y was selected inappropriately, Z signs of attack were ignored, etc. The company commander did not get on site until a day prior to the attack, I believe. I don't believe the BN Cdr or similar (BN XO, S3, etc) were on the ground at all prior to the attack. From my reading the Army said the ground force commander, which would be the platoon leader, was primarily responsible for the shortcomings that lead to some bad things happening. I totally agree - except that we should not be doing that to LTs, knowing the dearth of training and knowledge we bestow upon them before hitting the force and joining the fight. We took a situation that would be challenging for a seasoned company commander and handed it to a LT, knowing we don't train LTs appropriately. To me that's negligence.

    Anyway, once again...no beef with your comments. They are excellent. My beef is with the system that continues to settle for what it knows to be inadequate because we've been lucky to fight, of recent memory, a 3rd rate Army in Iraq - and too often we thump our chest as a result. Then when we are challenged by the so-called hybrid, irregular threats, we struggle to find solutions. Still, we thump our chest as a result. I don't look down on our military and our capabilities. But the hubris I witness at times is disturbing.

    And lastly, if we are to develop that 'brain in combat' it must start with training. To do otherwise is to deprive ourselves of critical lessons and robbing ourselves of time spent being "full mission capable". To me that is just not acceptable for a fighting organization.
    Last edited by bumperplate; 06-02-2011 at 01:39 AM. Reason: typo

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    JMA
    His too...
    ...The training must get better. And yes, it certainly should be better for enlisted as well.
    Man after my own heart -- I've been screaming we need better initial entry training, officer and enlisted -- and better training across the board -- here and elsewhere for years. We do not embed the basics of the trade at all well and that is a very expensive and shortsighted error.
    I don't subscribe to the peacetime v. wartime issue. We are warfighting organizations - scrimping is lazy, wrong, and inexcusable. I see no room for compromise. I know I'm in the minority with that, but I don't see it as an issue where any of us should give ground.
    Howsomeever, I have to differ with you on some of that. I don't think you're in the minority among your peers and fellow soldiers. It is however a minority view in an open democratic society; toughen up training to wartime standards (and we have not done that as we write tonight...) and the Mommies of America will get upset that we're injuring their little darlings; they in turn will howl to their Congress Critters and the service will be told to belay the rough stuff (except for certain specialized triple volunteer units who can get away with hard training). Not desirable from a military standpoint but understandable from a political view. That certain softness is the penalty for the society from which we come. In my experience, it's worth the cost. Good news is that in more intense warfare than today's variant, it gets tough enough...

    All that said, we can and should do far better than we are now doing.
    ...One thing I've noticed in our military is that many times it's the LTs (NCOs too) that are squared away that get the least mentorship. Another wrong answer.
    It is and that too is a result of political problems. The good guys will not kill your career; the bad ones can and often do...
    Platoon Sergeants are indeed vital to the development of a young officer...We are all going to pay a terrible price if these types of issues are not addressed, soon.
    All true. The first step to improving training, mentoring and not having leaders spend 90% of their effort on 10% of their dirtbags is to fix the Personnel system so it does not reward mediocrity. That can be done; it will be politically difficult but it can happen. There's unlikely to be a significant improvement in training until the Per system is fixed.

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    What is the place of Ranger School in the current training regime?
    If you donít read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. Ė Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Taking your reply in bite sized chunks...

    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    And lastly, if we are to develop that 'brain in combat' it must start with training. To do otherwise is to deprive ourselves of critical lessons and robbing ourselves of time spent being "full mission capable". To me that is just not acceptable for a fighting organization.
    Actually it starts with selection. Not sure how it works in the US but the Brits work off an AOSB (army officer selection board). This is the crux of where officer selection should begin and one should note that it is conducted in groups of no more than 40 candidates under the eyes of a Brigadier, a full colonel, a half colonel and assorted majors and senior captains - AOSB Main Board. More than 80% of the officer cadets that start the course at Sandhurst these days are university graduates already.

    Then the training starts. Sandhurst does 44 weeks while the Royal Marines do 62 weeks. This is where the Brits are diabolically cunning in that in the army after your 44 weeks of Phase 1 training you get commissioned (get the rank) but before you can command a platoon you need to go to the Infantry Battle School to do a 8 week Platoon Commanders Course where "leadership and tactics are taught to new platoon commanders". (Lets not ask if they need this course after having been commissioned what on earth they were doing for the previous 44 weeks)

    Certainly in 50 odd weeks they can (any army can) produce an adequately trained officer as a platoon commander.

    Now the Phase 2 of the officer training covers this Platoon Commanders Course and his time as a platoon commander (approx 30 months). He is then considered trained and ready for a productive career as an officer.

    If the company commander and the 2IC (exec offr) and the Senior NCOs are weak/poor/disinterested then there is a danger that our little platoon commander can get too big for his boots during this time. Lieutenants (certainly 2nd Lieutenants) should be seen and not heard and must be made to focus on the skill at arms and tactics at platoon level until he masters such to the required level. As Gen Bill Slim said in an address at West Point in 1953:

    You will soon have bars on your shoulders; Iíve got things on mine that youíve never seen before - but they both mean that we are officers. We have no business to set ourselves up as officers unless we know more about the job in hand than the men we are leading. If you command a small unit, like a platoon, you ought to be able to do anything you ask any man in it to do better than he can. Know the bolts and nuts of your job, but above all know your men. When you command a platoon you ought to know each man in it better than his own mother does. You must know which man responds to encouragement, which to reasoning, and which needs a good kick in the pants. Know your men.
    Now if the young officer can survive the 4 and a half years of Phase 1 and 2 of his officer training with some degree of distinction he will possibly have a good army career ahead of him... but until that time one has to keep one's fingers crossed.

    OK... all that said there is still the wild card so difficult to predict and that is how the youngster will perform under fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    1) The training must get better. And yes, it certainly should be better for enlisted as well. I don't subscribe to the peacetime v. wartime issue. We are warfighting organizations - scrimping is lazy, wrong, and inexcusable. I see no room for compromise. I know I'm in the minority with that, but I don't see it as an issue where any of us should give ground. I hear you about taking people under your wing and so forth. One thing I've noticed in our military is that many times it's the LTs (NCOs too) that are squared away that get the least mentorship. Another wrong answer.
    Just a general response and that being that if there are problems and weaknesses in the peacetime training structure then if a general mobilization were to take place it would be more chaotic than normal to the point of being unworkable and a total shambles. I would be interested to learn how this massive increased need for instructors would be met. Is there a plan?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    2) Platoon Sergeants are indeed vital to the development of a young officer. However, I see it too often where Platoon Sergeants get tired of mentoring the officer, as well as all the other people in the platoon. How can you blame him? It is terribly frustrating to see people come in, over and over, without proper training. And, in today's military, too many of our schoolhouses are doing horribly bad at training, so the burden is worse. We are all going to pay a terrible price if these types of issues are not addressed, soon.
    Whether platoon sergeants like it or not their whole function revolves around mentoring/training/leading/guiding/kicking ass the whole platoon. The moment he tires of doing that maybe he should seek commercial security work outside the service?

    Platoon sergeants are the backbone of the army... but only if they do their job. If they don't (and are allowed to get away with it) and they stay in the service within a short time the army will be nothing but an armed rabble.

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    Default Delighted I found this...

    Coming back closer to the topic I found this gem and rather than just refer to it in passing I thought it deserving of attention in it s own right.

    Combat Leadership

    LIEUTENANT COLONEL JAMES M. FISHER, USA 1990 gets it just about perfectly right IMHO.

    Apart from the first paragraph of the Analysis which is just too specifically US for my understanding I agree with and relate with everything.

    I just love it when by chance I find a kindred spirit.

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    For Ken White's comments...brings more perspective than I can. I'm often too idealistic to see the real-world constraints. I believe in what I wrote, but I understand there are constraints that will always be there.

    For ganulv...my 'once over the world' on Ranger School is that it has a lot to offer, graduates should be proud of finishing the course, but it is in no way an assurance, on any level, of providing excellent leaders to the Force. The left shoulder check needs to disappear. The entire 82nd is one giant "left shoulder check" organization. The fascination with schools, tabs, and qualifications probably started out with good intentions. It has become a check the box venture where people focus on getting the requisite uniform bling, and many just rest on their laurels after that. I've seen tabbed guys with some of the poorest leadership skills, tactical incompetence, and little to no work ethic. I've also seen some that are straight warriors. From my position it's a scatterplot. I'm not a "schools guy". But, I've seen a more positive correlation between Sapper School and overall performance than with Ranger School. In theater I've worked with 1ID, 2ID, 3ID, 10th MTN, 82nd ABN, 101st, and various support and SOF elements. Good leadership was never predicted or predicated on a tab. If all the tabs had been taken off uniforms I would have never predicted who went where and graduated from what. I don't see this as a failing of any school. It's a failing in the institution.

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    For JMA....downloaded your link, will read that with interest.

    I echo and agree with your comments about PSGs - to a point. They are human like the rest of us. One problem is the rushed promotions. That is another topic. But there are PSGs that are not ready or that responsibility. RGR...check. As for their training responsibilities, there is a breaking point. Certainly being the Platoon Daddy brings some roles & responsibilities. However, all platoon members must hit the force with a certain level of training and competence. I think we are close to or may have reached the threshold where that level is too low. We in the Army seem to be turning over more and more training responsibility to FORSCOM. That's a big burden and there's only so much time for a PSG to train his plt. Challenges are good, but they must be realistic. As an officer I take issue with the officer side of it, naturally. I think it's outright negligence to send officers that PSGs must babysit. Our NCO Corps will train those Soldiers. Asking (demanding) they pick up our slack in training the officers doesn't sit well with me.

    I may have read your comments wrong on training...but from my perspective our training gets better in wartime. We have/develop a sense of urgency in wartime. As our uniformed instructors disappear for deployment responsibilities, contractors (often retirees) are hired. They are gold for instruction and legacy knowledge. As for the needed instructors - well, it's time to purge our supply rooms, stop putting color printers in every office, implement some effective ways of increasing efficiency and stop wasting money - that will go a long way toward paying the salary/benefits etc for added instructors. Instead of issuing smartphones and spending millions to develop gaming technology, we need to invest in people and expertise.

    Great points on selection. I consider selection part of training - in my mind it would be part of the same pipeline. That may be too simple though. What you state and post in this regard will get no argument from me. I think the British system is more comprehensive than ours. Some quick points though...I would like to see officer education/selection taken to a new level. I'd like to see us withhold that commission until training is complete and they are ready to step in front of a platoon/section/shop, whatever. Give some incentive. As it is, once commissioned, incentive drops for many - they know they'll be pushed through. Huge problem in my opinion. You mention where people get 30 months as a platoon commander. Wow...not sure I've known anyone that got past 24 months, and the overwhelming majority got less than 18 months. Another problem in my opinion.

    All in all, looking at the direction this thread has gone, I think we have some obstacles getting in the way of developing our 'brains in combat'. Namely, the pers system and selection/training. They are providing significant barriers to a cohesive and comprehensive force generation process. It's hard to refine a product when your means of producing it are inefficient.

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    Our BN and BCT commanders will stand up at a promotion for 2LT going to 1LT and tell the troops that the LTs are just overpaid SPCs, then turn around and dismiss the formation and expect the LTs to go "lead" those platoons, after the big commander told his troops the LT is effectively a SPC.
    That is, how should I say, fairly "ate up".

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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    For JMA....downloaded your link, will read that with interest.

    I echo and agree with your comments about PSGs - to a point. They are human like the rest of us. One problem is the rushed promotions. That is another topic. But there are PSGs that are not ready or that responsibility. RGR...check. As for their training responsibilities, there is a breaking point. Certainly being the Platoon Daddy brings some roles & responsibilities. However, all platoon members must hit the force with a certain level of training and competence. I think we are close to or may have reached the threshold where that level is too low. We in the Army seem to be turning over more and more training responsibility to FORSCOM. That's a big burden and there's only so much time for a PSG to train his plt. Challenges are good, but they must be realistic. As an officer I take issue with the officer side of it, naturally. I think it's outright negligence to send officers that PSGs must babysit. Our NCO Corps will train those Soldiers. Asking (demanding) they pick up our slack in training the officers doesn't sit well with me.
    When in doubt return to the doctrine. In this case THE ARMY NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER GUIDE - FM 7-22.7. What does it take to make platoon sergeant? 10 years?

    The split between officer and NCO in terms of training is the officers deal with the collective training while the platoon sergeant (specifically) deals with the individual training within his platoon. To assist him he should have corporals (or whoever the next level down is). If at company level all the training is carefully coordinated where the burden is spread then no one should become over-extended.

    What a hard time young officers of the army would
    sometimes have but for the old sergeants! I have pitied
    from the bottom of my heart volunteer officers whom I
    have seen starting out, even in the midst of war, with
    perfectly raw regiments, and not even one old sergeant to
    teach them anything. No country ought to be so cruel to
    its soldiers as that. -LTG John M. Schofield, 1897,
    Forty-Six Years in the Army, p. 18
    If they tire then post them away for awhile and then bring them back once they have recharged their batteries.
    Last edited by JMA; 06-04-2011 at 06:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    I may have read your comments wrong on training...but from my perspective our training gets better in wartime. We have/develop a sense of urgency in wartime. As our uniformed instructors disappear for deployment responsibilities, contractors (often retirees) are hired. They are gold for instruction and legacy knowledge. As for the needed instructors - well, it's time to purge our supply rooms, stop putting color printers in every office, implement some effective ways of increasing efficiency and stop wasting money - that will go a long way toward paying the salary/benefits etc for added instructors. Instead of issuing smartphones and spending millions to develop gaming technology, we need to invest in people and expertise.
    What I am saying is that the US has had a few shots at wartime mobilization of troops. I am assuming there is a plan for this somewhere which gets updated annually (or whatever). The scale of this type of activity is beyond my imagination but obviously a nation will need the skeleton staff now on which to build the larger army. My point simply is that if there are significant problems being experienced with training resources and instructors with the current (say) million man military how does the military cope when the immediate need becomes to treble, quadruple or more the current strength? Where do you find the quality NCOs? Where do you find the quality officers? Where will you find the sergeant instructors of quality to take raw recruits and turn them into capable trained soldiers in say 90 days or whatever? I suggest that unless there is a clear staffing plan to cater for such a mobilization eventuality which is adhered to you immediately start watering down your instruction and command quality.

    Yes one can retread (as in a worn out tire) retirees who at one time or other showed some instructional ability and reintroduce them back into the system. What would you rate the efficiency of these retreads as compared with your current crop of instructors? 50%? 60%? More? Less?

    Once general mobilization begins quality of instruction starts to diminish. I have no idea whether the line on the training efficiency graph keeps heading downwards or does it bottom out after time and start to rise again. I would be interested if anyone has experience of this.

    I suggest that one relies on the fact the enemy are having similar problems and strives to keep one step ahead of them.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    Great points on selection. I consider selection part of training - in my mind it would be part of the same pipeline. That may be too simple though. What you state and post in this regard will get no argument from me. I think the British system is more comprehensive than ours. Some quick points though...I would like to see officer education/selection taken to a new level. I'd like to see us withhold that commission until training is complete and they are ready to step in front of a platoon/section/shop, whatever. Give some incentive. As it is, once commissioned, incentive drops for many - they know they'll be pushed through. Huge problem in my opinion. You mention where people get 30 months as a platoon commander. Wow...not sure I've known anyone that got past 24 months, and the overwhelming majority got less than 18 months. Another problem in my opinion.
    I don't know what the US system is.

    I suggest that the time spent in officer selection is wisely invested.

    The better the selection the lower the drop out rate and the more optimal use of instructor time and resources. I would be interested to look beyond mere training statistics (like how many start the course and how many get commissioned) to longer term results like how many make it to major (in the A-stream) and then beyond. This will help to ensure selection and focus is in the correct areas.

    I agree too that receiving a commission means you can be trusted to be placed in command of a platoon. If there is any doubt the person should not be commissioned. I Brit idea to send newly commissioned officers on a Platoon Commanders Course for 8 weeks is getting the sequence wrong IMHO. I believe the brief to Sandhurst must be that they must produce an officer ready to command a platoon in battle and not some "thing" that needs 8 weeks of tactical and leadership training after being commissioned. Whose responsibility is it for what the final product is? Sandhurst or the Battle School?

    How long should a platoon commander command a platoon? Unless he gets fired it should be the standard Brit 30 months. This also takes some of the pressure you talk of off the platoon sergeants. With the right mentoring and guidance you can produce an efficient youngster who can lead his platoon to close with and kill the enemy within a year of platoon commanding. If he can't then I suggest he should be thanked for his contribution and sent on his way.

    All in all, looking at the direction this thread has gone, I think we have some obstacles getting in the way of developing our 'brains in combat'. Namely, the pers system and selection/training. They are providing significant barriers to a cohesive and comprehensive force generation process. It's hard to refine a product when your means of producing it are inefficient.
    A lot of how a young officer performs in combat will depend on how he was selected and the quality of the training received. I suggest that when the initial selection is poor we start to hear things like "leaders can be created" and "courage can be developed". Really one needs the basic ingredients from the get go which can be honed and polished and whatever.

    The source document to this thread suggests that officers and sergeants should receive special training on how to command during combat by reporting, issuing orders, calling in fire support and those good things while the soldiers to his left and right are returning fire. Well I suggest that should assessed and that ability proven before the person is commissioned or long before the person makes sergeant. The ability to be able to think and act under fire is IMHO a non-negotiable precondition of any infantry officer or NCO. Outside wartime to test this one needs to create conditions in training to test this ability. Not foolproof but the better armies get it right.

  14. #34
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    ...my 'once over the world' on Ranger School is that it has a lot to offer, graduates should be proud of finishing the course, but it is in no way an assurance, on any level, of providing excellent leaders to the Force. The left shoulder check needs to disappear. The entire 82nd is one giant "left shoulder check" organization. The fascination with schools, tabs, and qualifications probably started out with good intentions.
    Probably fair to say that the Ranger course is not a dedicated leadership course. I do however agree with you regarding tabs but that's life at Bragg and Benning. Most of the folks we work with have no uniform and they are generally not brought in for leadership skills

    I don't think the "institution" failed our young officers with lack of training because leadership is an individual trait and some just can't cut it. Where the institution and senior officers failed was weeding out those that will never become leaders. Without NCOs even the finest of young leaders are doomed.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    When in doubt return to the doctrine. In this case THE ARMY NONCOMMISSIONED OFFICER GUIDE - FM 7-22.7. What does it take to make platoon sergeant? 10 years?

    The split between officer and NCO in terms of training is the officers deal with the collective training while the platoon sergeant (specifically) deals with the individual training within his platoon. To assist him he should have corporals (or whoever the next level down is). If at company level all the training is carefully coordinated where the burden is spread then no one should become over-extended.



    If they tire then post them away for awhile and then bring them back once they have recharged their batteries.
    I agree. I guess my breaking point in the argument is that when an officer arrives and is not ready to handle individual or collective training, there's a problem.

    As an example...I did "OK" as a PL. Was surrounded by some outstanding NCOs. Another PL arrived and for whatever reason he was not as well prepared as I was. Not only was collective training beyond the furthest reaches of his mental grasps, but he was in dire need of judgement, and individual training. I struggled to park tracked vehicles with millimeter precision in the motor pool as my NCOs could do - but I could get them parked easily. This guy would pivot steer vehicles that were six inches apart, thus crashing them. I'm just not sure how that PSG attacks that situation, with an officer that arrives with such poor training, judgement, and so forth - then he has to train his platoon. That's the sort of thing I'm talking about when I say that PSGs are human and there has to be a point where we say enough is enough and don't allow ourselves to send officers to the Force that are so ill-prepared. I feel it irresponsible for us to do so - and it jeopardizes the credibility of the officer corps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Probably fair to say that the Ranger course is not a dedicated leadership course. I do however agree with you regarding tabs but that's life at Bragg and Benning. Most of the folks we work with have no uniform and they are generally not brought in for leadership skills

    I don't think the "institution" failed our young officers with lack of training because leadership is an individual trait and some just can't cut it. Where the institution and senior officers failed was weeding out those that will never become leaders. Without NCOs even the finest of young leaders are doomed.
    It's funny...the leadership issue is what I hear Rangers say the most in defense of the course. And, I'd say that the tab checks are more a part of Bragg culture than Benning. I give Benning and many of the Infantry guys there a pat on the back: they are proud of their institution and proud of their schools, but they often will no hesitate to simply go with what works and not what looks prettiest or what's put forth by the guy with the most bling.

    I think you hit my point regarding weeding out those that will not become leaders. As a military we need to stop selling the GI Bill and sell the nobility of service. We need to stop pushing people through commissioning sources and OBCs and thoroughly screen them or at least make them prove themselves rather than worrying about graduating them before their allotment of TDY days has expired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    What I am saying is that the US has had a few shots at wartime mobilization of troops. I am assuming there is a plan for this somewhere which gets updated annually (or whatever). The scale of this type of activity is beyond my imagination but obviously a nation will need the skeleton staff now on which to build the larger army. My point simply is that if there are significant problems being experienced with training resources and instructors with the current (say) million man military how does the military cope when the immediate need becomes to treble, quadruple or more the current strength? Where do you find the quality NCOs? Where do you find the quality officers? Where will you find the sergeant instructors of quality to take raw recruits and turn them into capable trained soldiers in say 90 days or whatever? I suggest that unless there is a clear staffing plan to cater for such a mobilization eventuality which is adhered to you immediately start watering down your instruction and command quality.

    Yes one can retread (as in a worn out tire) retirees who at one time or other showed some instructional ability and reintroduce them back into the system. What would you rate the efficiency of these retreads as compared with your current crop of instructors? 50%? 60%? More? Less?

    Once general mobilization begins quality of instruction starts to diminish. I have no idea whether the line on the training efficiency graph keeps heading downwards or does it bottom out after time and start to rise again. I would be interested if anyone has experience of this.

    I suggest that one relies on the fact the enemy are having similar problems and strives to keep one step ahead of them.
    As far as I can tell, there is no "plan", there is only hope.

    As for the retirees, I have to say they are awesome. They provide so much in the way of legacy knowledge. Also, it is very, very rare that we see a retiree instructor who's last day of duty occurred before 9/11/01, now that we are ten years past the event. So, they are pretty current. Also, because they are enduring elements in the schoolhouse, they are generally more polished as instructors. I have no problem with our retirees, especially in more cerebral disciplines. I had them as enlisted and officer. Great stuff each time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post

    A lot of how a young officer performs in combat will depend on how he was selected and the quality of the training received. I suggest that when the initial selection is poor we start to hear things like "leaders can be created" and "courage can be developed". Really one needs the basic ingredients from the get go which can be honed and polished and whatever.

    The source document to this thread suggests that officers and sergeants should receive special training on how to command during combat by reporting, issuing orders, calling in fire support and those good things while the soldiers to his left and right are returning fire. Well I suggest that should assessed and that ability proven before the person is commissioned or long before the person makes sergeant. The ability to be able to think and act under fire is IMHO a non-negotiable precondition of any infantry officer or NCO. Outside wartime to test this one needs to create conditions in training to test this ability. Not foolproof but the better armies get it right.
    Are leaders born or made? Great question and impossible to answer in my opinion. I think it's both. Some innate qualities are essential. Some need to be developed or brought to the surface.

    I believe the US Army (and USMC) have done decent at developing/screening for the tasks you mention above - within the NCO Corps. At times each service has resorted more to having officers plan and manage training, and neglecting the participating bit. This hurts us.

    I think the US Army has brought better training to the forefront during the GWOT, out of necessity. On the flip side. personnel strength considerations have caused us to bring people along that are not well suited for the tasks of leadership.

    In the future, with likely budget issues, this is going to become problematic and that's putting it lightly.

    Finally, your comments about the comments we are likely to see, such as "courage can be developed" are resonating with me. I'm beginning to see a shift to that mentality. Not that I find it impossible. Truthfully I don't know. However, it's troublesome when we speak like that with constant doctrinal revisions, new initiatives, and so forth that attempt to reinvent the military. All that tells me is that something is broke and that it was broke before the current wars. If that is indeed the case, why should we believe it won't go back to being broke once we return to a peacetime footing?

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    It's funny...the leadership issue is what I hear Rangers say the most in defense of the course. And, I'd say that the tab checks are more a part of Bragg culture than Benning. I give Benning and many of the Infantry guys there a pat on the back: they are proud of their institution and proud of their schools, but they often will no hesitate to simply go with what works and not what looks prettiest or what's put forth by the guy with the most bling.
    Hmmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but the leadership portion of the Ranger course is but part of the 21 days at Benning. Correct ? This is why I think most of the young troops at both Bragg and Benning are so worked up about those tabs you spoke of. Benning is the start and stop for more than 50% of Ranger and SOF (at least for me it was way back when). I was once of the opinion that wearing any tab or CIB was something to be proud of (not bling... We didn't have bling back in the 70s )

    Quote Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
    I think you hit my point regarding weeding out those that will not become leaders. As a military we need to stop selling the GI Bill and sell the nobility of service. We need to stop pushing people through commissioning sources and OBCs and thoroughly screen them or at least make them prove themselves rather than worrying about graduating them before their allotment of TDY days has expired.
    You got me on this one. Since I'm part of the GI Bill era and constantly hear about me getting a free education for my 23 years of service (as if I wouldn't have joined without some financial Bennie), I have to wonder what would entice a future leader with an education and ability to endure and lead in combat ? Hell, I can barely sell my sister on the fact that being military is noble.
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    On Ranger School:
    For me, as a brand new Engineer 2LT, Ranger School was a good leadership exercise (my Ranger School time dates back to '97, so ymmv). I saw what worked and what didn't work and had to do all the troop leading procedures under the most stress I faced in my relatively short military career. I got to see how different folks reacted differently to stress and learned a little about how much nudging folks needed. I saw firsthand one of the most physically tough and intelligent officers from my OBC class fall apart under the strain. I fell apart under the strain a little myself.

    While the troop leading procedure training and giving an operations order Ranger School style was all done in the Benning phase, there were tests of your ability to lead, plan, organize, and control under stress throughout the school.

    Was Ranger school a necessary or sufficient check for "good leaders"? No. I saw some idiots with the Ranger tab. One of my best ROTC cadre was an infantry captain who didn't make it, and he's a man I learned much from and a big reason why I developed into (I think) a fairly decent Platoon Leader.

    As an Engineer, who had to work with Infantry companies that rotated leaders fairly frequently, showing up with the Tab I think at least showed that I had a shared experience with the Infantry folks. There was some value in that. I think the NCOs who got stuck with me at least respected that I had tried to take every opportunity to make myself a better leader before I showed up at the Platoon.

    As far as folks joining ROTC for the scholarship money, I think that can end up working in a couple ways. Some folks show up for the scholarship money and find comraderie and a sense of service and dive in. Other folks just do the minimum to get the scholarship money. So, I think an incentive to "try it" may not be out of line. But somehow you need to weed out the folks who are only there for the incentive.

    All of this is just from my own (limited and out of date) experience. One data point does not a trend make.

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