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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm
    I suspect that if Lind's critique has any real value, then it is as a criticism of American society as a whole, not just its military.
    wm,

    And that's one of the major problems as a result of the divergence thesis in military culture and the public. If the military is self-selecting (which it is) and the fastest growing demographics in the country are not a part of that self-selection (which they aren't), then several things can happen: the military can become socially (and eventually politically) isolated or its values can change. The military has proved to be a resilient institution of the years and it has adapted, if slowly, to many of society's evolving expectations - from integration, to women in the services, to the all-volunteer force. Are the values and norms of the military today the same as it was in 1776? Will it be the same in 20 years? The military is going to change and the leadership it needs to be proactive in directing that process rather than having it imposed on them.

    EDIT: Also, I take issue with the "excel" et. al quote, only because sound decisions can only be deliberately made through a thorough understanding and rigorous examination of the facts to solve problems. Excel is great for this - obviously, excel or any other program is not a replacement for leadership, which is different. Too many times have I seen leaders make decisions on whim and bias rather than factual evidence or use the military equivalent of "It's true because I said so". Part of that is fueled by the nature of command (especially in a combat environment) but part of that is also cultural; there are many norms embedded in military culture that produce resistance to study, intellect, and examination (of the self and surroundings).
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 05-03-2014 at 04:17 PM.
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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    TC,

    After thinking about this issue some more, I don't think the problem is exclusively military. I agree that the military is facing a substantive problem in what Lind describes as "intellectual and moral courage", however the military as an institution cannot be separated from the social and political fabric in which it is embedded.

    From the beginning of the War on Terrorism, the generals viewed the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq (especially Iraq) as 'short-term'. 11 years is only 11 cells across the horseblanket chart in the operations shop. When the lives of weapon systems are mapped out as far as 2050 and beyond, it's easy to dismiss the structural changes necessary to address the problems faced in the present, especially if they're expected to last only a few years.

    I don't think tweaking the officer management system will effect the change needed to address the problems identified by Lind. It has to be both cultural and structural - in fact, Lind states this as well. Officers need to be more effectively educated (before and during service) and there needs to be substantive changes in the country's defense political economy. Education overcomes institutional self-selection, which breeds institutional decay and intellectual stagnation. That said, many of the prescriptions here and in the comments quoted by JMA only address the tactical or surface symptoms of the fundamental problems, which are inherently cultural and structural (and perhaps primarily structural since culture is often a reflect of structure).
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    wm,

    And that's one of the major problems as a result of the divergence thesis in military culture and the public. If the military is self-selecting (which it is) and the fastest growing demographics in the country are not a part of that self-selection (which they aren't), then several things can happen: the military can become socially (and eventually politically) isolated or its values can change. The military has proved to be a resilient institution of the years and it has adapted, if slowly, to many of society's evolving expectations - from integration, to women in the services, to the all-volunteer force. Are the values and norms of the military today the same as it was in 1776? Will it be the same in 20 years? The military is going to change and the leadership it needs to be proactive in directing that process rather than having it imposed on them.
    When you make the decision to put on a uniform and serve this country in its military, whatever set of values you previously had needs to be checked at the door. Some people enter the service with the same set of values the services have, or an even more stringent set, but I'd guess that for most people it requires a more stringent set of values than they previously lived under.

    The self-selecting portion of society to which you refer is the segment of society which is most willing to live their lives under those circumstances. Frankly, the military has no use for people who are not willing to live in those circumstances.

    For some reason, you seem to believe that military values should change with the times? In what way? In its most basic form, agreement to serve requires a willingness to do what other people tell you to do, in many situations unquestioningly, with the potential consequences of doing so up to and including your life/severe debilitating injury. For not all that much money.

    Doing that requires a certain set of values which, IMO, is not going to change with time. I see little evidence to suggest that you're going to get a demographic of people who are not historically drawn to this to get into it.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    I doubt the way you guys use the word "values" is appropriate here.

    A soldier should not consider obedience as a "value" of his/her.
    You folks didn't have the whole Stauffenberg et al episode, but other countries with different experiences don't consider obedience as a value that makes sense at all.
    It's a behaviour, and sometimes it's inappropriate.

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    former,

    I agree with Fuchs perspective on 'values'. Obedience, for example, is great when your unit is in contact. It's not so great when an institution worth over $1 trillion and a million+ service-members is on a path of decline or committed to a course of failure. Honesty, integrity, courage (moral, intellectual, physical) are values I'd place higher than willingness to obey.

    Quote Originally Posted by former
    For some reason, you seem to believe that military values should change with the times? In what way?
    In a democratic society, the military needs to remain responsive to the expressed needs (through the political system) of the public. If that means females in combat arms or adapting regulations on facial or head hair for a multicultural force, then the military needs to change to implement those values. I have yet to see a substantive argument published anywhere that integration, homosexuals, or responsive regulations are detrimental to good order and discipline or the ability to fight and win wars.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    I doubt the way you guys use the word "values" is appropriate here.

    A soldier should not consider obedience as a "value" of his/her.
    You folks didn't have the whole Stauffenberg et al episode, but other countries with different experiences don't consider obedience as a value that makes sense at all.
    It's a behaviour, and sometimes it's inappropriate.
    I'm not considering obedience to be a value. Obedience is a response to a stimulus, one of several which are possible (you could walk away, scream obscenities, flat-out refuse to do what you were ordered to do, etc.). An individual's response to a given stimulus is in part, at least, a result of their moral/ethical makeup. In other words, their values.

    If you value your position in the hierarchy, value the ideals under which you chose to serve in the first place, you will obey. If not, you'll follow whatever else you value. Follow?

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    wm,

    And that's one of the major problems as a result of the divergence thesis in military culture and the public. If the military is self-selecting (which it is) and the fastest growing demographics in the country are not a part of that self-selection (which they aren't), then several things can happen: the military can become socially (and eventually politically) isolated or its values can change. The military has proved to be a resilient institution of the years and it has adapted, if slowly, to many of society's evolving expectations - from integration, to women in the services, to the all-volunteer force. Are the values and norms of the military today the same as it was in 1776? Will it be the same in 20 years? The military is going to change and the leadership it needs to be proactive in directing that process rather than having it imposed on them.

    EDIT: Also, I take issue with the "excel" et. al quote, only because sound decisions can only be deliberately made through a thorough understanding and rigorous examination of the facts to solve problems. Excel is great for this - obviously, excel or any other program is not a replacement for leadership, which is different. Too many times have I seen leaders make decisions on whim and bias rather than factual evidence or use the military equivalent of "It's true because I said so". Part of that is fueled by the nature of command (especially in a combat environment) but part of that is also cultural; there are many norms embedded in military culture that produce resistance to study, intellect, and examination (of the self and surroundings).
    My critique has nothing to do with social divergence or distance (I think the latter is the term Charlie Moskos used back in the 70s when he wrote on the impacts of the all volunteer Army--probably worth a literature review by others on this thread). Instead it has to do with how Americans today raise their sons and daughters. I suspect that the kinds of things the LT suggested that parents make their kids do are not being accomplished. I will not elaborate further because my information is only anecdotal.

    To AP's edit point, I am reminded of the quotation attributed to Mark Twain:"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
    Statistical analysis has value as long as the assumptions underlying the statistics are made clear. And, as we should all be aware from the nice scatter plots AP shared earlier, in what are the most interesting cases for decision makers (my assumption/bias), outliers are usually present. As another representation of my bias, I tend to plan for the worst case outlier, not the best case or the average case, unless I have reasons to do otherwise. BTW, calling them reasons is actually somewhat of a misnomer because reason usually plays little part in it. It is instead more often the qualitative/emotional kind of gut feeling that Hollywood can portray so well.

    Some knowledge management folks today now describe two categories of knowledge: explicit and tacit. Knowing when to go with your gut is part of tacit knowledge--something that comes with experience and mentoring or working with other expert practitioners. Explicit knowledge is the kind of stuff we get from textbooks and classrooms. Creating a useful spreadsheet includes both explicit knowledge (how to use Excel for example) and tacit knowledge (what data to select and how to display it).

    Given this distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge, I think the Curmudgeon is on to something with slowing down promotions. I would, however, not wait until the field grades to start identifying and utilizing officer specialists--explicit knowledge acquisition should start as part of the early officer development classes as well--including BOLC and MCCC. Of course to do this will mean the bean counters will have to accept end strength trade offs because of the number of officers in the school account. Such is life when resources are scarce and the competition for them is fierce.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    former,

    I agree with Fuchs perspective on 'values'. Obedience, for example, is great when your unit is in contact. It's not so great when an institution worth over $1 trillion and a million+ service-members is on a path of decline or committed to a course of failure. Honesty, integrity, courage (moral, intellectual, physical) are values I'd place higher than willingness to obey.
    While I don't disagree with your hierarchy of values, none of those are why people who could have joined the military tell me they didn't join the military. They talk to me about not wanting to be told what to do all the time, and that they don't want to get blown up in some far away land. Maybe you hear different things... The second part is certainly why the mothers of America discourage their sons and daughters from joining as well. I'm the first person from my family to voluntarily join the military in over 160 years of having been in this country. I couldn't adequately describe how badly my parents didn't want that to happen. And I'm from the demographic which is generally more willing to serve. What's your plan for overcoming that? Promising the mothers of America that you won't get their kids schwacked?


    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    In a democratic society, the military needs to remain responsive to the expressed needs (through the political system) of the public. If that means females in combat arms or adapting regulations on facial or head hair for a multicultural force, then the military needs to change to implement those values. I have yet to see a substantive argument published anywhere that integration, homosexuals, or responsive regulations are detrimental to good order and discipline or the ability to fight and win wars.
    I don't have any direct experience in serving with an open homosexual, so I'll pass on commenting about that. However, if you think that integrating females into combat units is a good idea... we'll just have to disagree.

    I suppose, then, that you would agree that there is a substantive argument that, let's say, the average football/basketball/whatever team will be improved by replacing half of its members with women?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wm
    My critique has nothing to do with social divergence or distance (I think the latter is the term Charlie Moskos used back in the 70s when he wrote on the impacts of the all volunteer Army--probably worth a literature review by others on this thread). Instead it has to do with how Americans today raise their sons and daughters. I suspect that the kinds of things the LT suggested that parents make their kids do are not being accomplished.
    How is the first sentence unrelated to your second and third? I think we're talking about the same subject but understanding the words differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by wm
    Given this distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge, I think the Curmudgeon is on to something with slowing down promotions. I would, however, not wait until the field grades to start identifying and utilizing officer specialists--explicit knowledge acquisition should start as part of the early officer development classes as well--including BOLC and MCCC. Of course to do this will mean the bean counters will have to accept end strength trade offs because of the number of officers in the school account. Such is life when resources are scarce and the competition for them is fierce.
    I agree in principle. And the military already does this with some specialists, like nurses, doctors, and lawyers. Functional Areas (in the Army) and skill identifiers are available - but they're not open until (senior) captain. Slowing promotions doesn't address the problem of making everyone a generalist and assuming they're on a command track. Eventually it's still up or out...
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by former_0302 View Post
    While I don't disagree with your hierarchy of values, none of those are why people who could have joined the military tell me they didn't join the military. They talk to me about not wanting to be told what to do all the time, and that they don't want to get blown up in some far away land. Maybe you hear different things...
    There's a whole range of reasons, some of which actually seem quite petty in the 'big picture'; i.e. "peer pressure". I've heard those reasons you've listed, as well as having better pay/benefits elsewhere, "my friends won't approve", etc. Incidentally, the military is regularly ranked as one of the highest regarded government institutions in public opinion polls. So there's a disconnect somewhere; people generally admire the military but don't want to do it themselves. I've heard the "I'll join when the military when it needs me" reason a number of times too.

    The military already offers a diverse range of benefits and incentives - some of the services are more flexible than others. From the perspective of the Army, I think it would be more effective reforming itself as an institution (in regards to culture, advancement, etc) than increasing the amount of kind or benefits.

    I suppose, then, that you would agree that there is a substantive argument that, let's say, the average football/basketball/whatever team will be improved by replacing half of its members with women?
    I think this is a cultural (and subsequently structural) question, not a sex or gender one. History is replete with examples of fierce and capable female warriors and/or soldiers. But women have for the better part of history been regulated to specific roles in society, usually far from any battlefield. I doubt that very much has to do with women being less capable of fighting - I think it's more true that if women are less capable of fighting than men, it's because women in general have been regulated into that position by social structure. I haven't read the literature in depth, but I'd be interested in a discussion of the role of women in the Soviet armed forces during world war II as soldiers, snipers, partisans, etc. Someone on this board may have extensive knowledge on it.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post

    From the perspective of the Army, I think it would be more effective reforming itself as an institution (in regards to culture, advancement, etc)
    How?


    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I think this is a cultural (and subsequently structural) question, not a sex or gender one. History is replete with examples of fierce and capable female warriors and/or soldiers. But women have for the better part of history been regulated to specific roles in society, usually far from any battlefield. I doubt that very much has to do with women being less capable of fighting - I think it's more true that if women are less capable of fighting than men, it's because women in general have been regulated into that position by social structure. I haven't read the literature in depth, but I'd be interested in a discussion of the role of women in the Soviet armed forces during world war II as soldiers, snipers, partisans, etc. Someone on this board may have extensive knowledge on it.
    It is replete with them? Really? Name me some, excluding Joan D'Arc, which is the only one I can come up with without using the power of Google. Whoever they were, I'd argue that it probably wasn't in their job description that, before they could even start fighting, they had to wear 60%+ of their body weight in various armor/other gear.

    I suppose the fact that a WNBA team would get crushed by a good high school boy's basketball team, and virtually any men's collegiate team, is a result of social structure? As Keyshawn Johnson says, "C'mon, man!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by former_0302 View Post
    I suppose the fact that a WNBA team would get crushed by a good high school boy's basketball team, and virtually any men's collegiate team, is a result of social structure? As Keyshawn Johnson says, "C'mon, man!"
    I'm on my way out but I want to take the time to address this point (I'll get to the others later). From birth, women are segregated from men in nearly all forms of physical competition - and the boys receive the better part of the investment in time, training, resources, etc. So it's not surprising whatsoever. This same consequence is actually true to within men competition as children are segregated by age. I'll get the citations to you later. Malcolm Gladwell has a good basic coverage of this effect in one of his books (I forget which).
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Historically about 1/3 of the women in the best age group for combat were pregnant or recovering from pregnancy (almost 10 births/women average for almost all of mankind's history) and tribes were much more capable to overcome the loss of males than the loss of females (in the long term).

    Pre-20th century history is thus not authoritative on the 'females in the military' topic.
    Besides, Lind didn't mention "females" or "women" in the article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    I'm on my way out but I want to take the time to address this point (I'll get to the others later). From birth, women are segregated from men in nearly all forms of physical competition - and the boys receive the better part of the investment in time, training, resources, etc. So it's not surprising whatsoever. This same consequence is actually true to within men competition as children are segregated by age. I'll get the citations to you later. Malcolm Gladwell has a good basic coverage of this effect in one of his books (I forget which).
    Your point is absolutely irrelevant. DNA says that women will be, on average, smaller, slower and weaker than men. No amount of de-segregation in competitive terms will change that. Unless you think you can legislate biology... which we actually may be able to do soon. Whether that's a good idea or not is another thing...

    @ Fuchs--forum conversations tend to take on a life of their own. Since I'm new here, if the consensus is that I'm dragging the thread too far in a wrong direction, I'll stop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by former_0302 View Post
    Your point is absolutely irrelevant.
    Okay then. Debate closed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    TC,

    After thinking about this issue some more, I don't think the problem is exclusively military. I agree that the military is facing a substantive problem in what Lind describes as "intellectual and moral courage", however the military as an institution cannot be separated from the social and political fabric in which it is embedded.

    From the beginning of the War on Terrorism, the generals viewed the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq (especially Iraq) as 'short-term'. 11 years is only 11 cells across the horseblanket chart in the operations shop. When the lives of weapon systems are mapped out as far as 2050 and beyond, it's easy to dismiss the structural changes necessary to address the problems faced in the present, especially if they're expected to last only a few years.

    I don't think tweaking the officer management system will effect the change needed to address the problems identified by Lind. It has to be both cultural and structural - in fact, Lind states this as well. Officers need to be more effectively educated (before and during service) and there needs to be substantive changes in the country's defense political economy. Education overcomes institutional self-selection, which breeds institutional decay and intellectual stagnation. That said, many of the prescriptions here and in the comments quoted by JMA only address the tactical or surface symptoms of the fundamental problems, which are inherently cultural and structural (and perhaps primarily structural since culture is often a reflect of structure).
    First, I would agree that the problem is not isolated to the military. For starters, any institution of its size is going to suffer from bureaucratic malaise. So it you think you are going to solve that with a change in the personnel system you are kidding yourself. Also, the military is a reflection of the society. There is currently a significant "me first" attitude of the Ayn Rand "virtue of selfishness" variety. Combined with the "everyone deserves a prize" crowd you get the drive for "disruptive thinkers", people with little or no actual experience who believe they know what is best for everyone else but don't really want to work their way up the ladder and earn that position, they want it given to them. The military is a argot society that is dependent on the idea of "duties", not "rights." You get people suing the Army over policy because they have the "right" to be part of a unit. That is hard for many people who have grown up in the "me first" generation to assimilate to.

    As for moral courage, I say that is a question of civil-military relations. No one wants to stick there neck out if it is going to get chopped off. The tone for that was set by Rumsfeld and GEN Shinseki. It has not changed since. In 2008 I was in CGSC and we have a civilian from the Bush Administration come down to talk to us all about civil-military relations. The "revolt of the Generals" was still a hot topic. We were told never to talk out of turn and if we did not like something our options was to resign. I stood up and asked directly, if the President gives me an unconstitutional order my only option is to resign? Yes was the answer. We are never, ever supposed to question our civilian masters. That tone was set by Rumsfeld and it has not changed. It won't change until those people who lived through that era pass out of existence.

    Since much of the military personnel system is legislated by people with absolutely no military experience - I am talking about Congress, not the President, read your Constitution on who has the power to regulate the military - then none of this is likely to change. We need to concentrate on what we can fix. The officer education system and the officer assignment system. And we need to dump the "zero-defect" mentality. Those we can fix on our own. Everything else is just idle talk.

    EDIT: One point on the "zero-defect" mentality, it will be around for the next few years. Why? Because we are in a draw-down. The easiest way to find out who to dump is to look in their records for issues. That is reality. No amount of high minded talk is going to change that reality. Some of that is good. Too fat, can't pass a PT test, ... so long. Some of it is OK. Like to send dirty texts to your LTs because you think you are Gods gift to women, ... ... so long. Some of it is not so great. Screw up an exercise or allow a piece of equipment to get lost or damaged on your watch, or just covering for your soldiers so they don't get whacked, ... so long. Any large system is going to chew-up and spit-out some good with all the bad.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 05-03-2014 at 10:05 PM.
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    Some more about "failure of generals" thin:
    http://eb-misfit.blogspot.de/2014/05...asured-in.html

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    As noted in the article, corruption is a problem we create. When you have only two types of diplomacy, the carrot - we give you tons of money to do our bidding; or the stick - we will use our military to destroy you, and then pay your successor to tons of money to do our bidding; then corruption is a necessary evil. If we could learn to understand others instead of assuming we know what they need, then this might change. But sadly, as we move towards a new Cold War because Russia is the enemy of NATO, we have learned ... wait for it ... NOTHING!

    Happily, that is another thread entirely.
    Last edited by TheCurmudgeon; 05-03-2014 at 10:47 PM.
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    Default Colonel Michael D. Wyly USMC Ret.

    In the Lind article you see a reference to Col. Michael D. Wyly who is probably one of the finest living military writers that there is, he is a very farsighted individual indeed. He wrote the best part of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook. But the link to the article below is very Germain to this thread. I have posted it before but it defintely belongs here.


    P.S. Curmudgy! In it Wyly discusses what every Marine must know about the future of warfare and list 3 suggestions for every Marine(I would think it applies to Army officers to) to know in order to be prepared.

    Here is the link to the article as usual comments are welcome.
    http://www.dnipogo.org/fcs/wyly_4gw.htm

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    In the Lind article you see a reference to Col. Michael D. Wyly who is probably one of the finest living military writers that there is, he is a very farsighted individual indeed. He wrote the best part of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook. But the link to the article below is very Germain to this thread. I have posted it before but it defintely belongs here.


    P.S. Curmudgy! In it Wyly discusses what every Marine must know about the future of warfare and list 3 suggestions for every Marine(I would think it applies to Army officers to) to know in order to be prepared.

    Here is the link to the article as usual comments are welcome.
    http://www.dnipogo.org/fcs/wyly_4gw.htm
    His three points

    First, we must expect the unexpected in terms of new kinds of enemies and new kinds of forces that assume the function of soldiers and nondescript war makers.
    Second, we must come to grips with the fact that our traditional form of warfare, i.e., high tech with overwhelming firepower delivered from a distant standoff, no longer solves problems.
    Third, the Corps must be a bastion of Americans who really do support and defend the Constitution of the United States.
    Don't disagree with any of them, but I think the frst and third points are well known and bring little new to the table. His second point is critical, it is also the point that Gen Rupert Smith makes well in his book, "The Utility of Force," but Wyly doesn't address the so what of this comment (at least in the article you provided a link to). I know I sound like I'm defending military officers, and to some extent I am while also remaining highly critical, but what Wyly is pointing out is deeply flawed understanding of war and its requirements by our civilian leadership that our defense industry reinforces with their insistence that technology will save the day. To some extent they're right, and we don't want to be disadvantaged by being technically trumped by our adversaries, but that doesn't mean people aren't ultimately decisive.
    Last edited by Bill Moore; 05-04-2014 at 10:32 PM.

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