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Thread: Officer Retention

  1. #41
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    Retaining best & brightest

    With the obvious frustration at 100% promotion rates, you max out BZ selections for the best officers. Whatever Congress allows, you go for it. That's a motivator beyond $$$ and schools.

    The ROTC dilemna

    Most arguments are chicken and egg. We lost a lot when some of the fancy schools threw ROTC off campus. That said, I worked at a major Boston ROTC detachment back in the day. We had cadets from 5 Boston area schools, including Harvard, and commissioned only a few new LTs a year. Despite a HUGE waste of taxpayer money, the Army did the right thing and kept the program alive. So, does the Army close NE ROTC programs because we don't "like" that area of the country or do we close them because they are not sustainable?

    By the way, read a similar argument about the Army's Chaplains Corps. Army recruits too many conservative, evangelical chaplains who produce too many conservative, evangelical soldiers. Hmmm. Can't wait to see the run from the liberal mainstream seminaries to the recruiting stations to offset that trend!

  2. #42
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    Default Awol

    Has anybody read the book "AWOL: The Unexcused Absense of America's Upper Classes from Military Service", by Schaeffer and Douquette.

    I read it some time ago, and found it quite enlightening on two fronts:

    1) The level of antipathy members of the professional class have against the military. These people would not admit to it openly--they "support the troops." But the second their son decides to take the commission, their true feelings come out.

    2) Much of this antipathy is at least partly related to an isolation between the military officers and the professional/chattering class.

    I can personally attest to some of this, as I'm sure many others can who read this forum. My wife is a good Minnesota liberal of the Garrison Keillor variety. Her father is a university professor, and her mother is professional as well. Their circle of friends who have anything to do with the military are from the Vietnam cohort--no one more recent, and their thoughts/feelings are colored by the Vietnam experience. They have not been updated in 40 years!

    Indeed, it's bad when I'm introduced as a Marine Captain, and they ask me how long it took for me to make Sergeant. They were trying to humor me by giving the impression that they knew something about the military. Their level of knowledge only betreyed their ignorance.

    Their ignorance is their fault, but our responsibility to fix. If the military has any professional ethic at all, it needs to fix its reputation as the abode of neanderthals (true or not).

    So, bottom line, I think that the military's social standing is certainly related to officer retention and recruiting. I'm not sure increased salaries are useful except to the extent that it brings social repute to attract talent and to re-integrate the military into professional society. Likewise, I don't think civilian masters degrees are particularly useful except to the extent that they improve the military skill set of the soldier and to the extent that they increase positive interaction between the professional class and the military officers. This is key if we are going to be prepared to fight wars with armies with backing from the entire population, not just rural conservatives.

    AWOL addresses these issues. Highly recommended.

    Pardon the length of this screed.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitten Eagle View Post
    1) The level of antipathy members of the professional class have against the military. These people would not admit to it openly--they "support the troops." But the second their son decides to take the commission, their true feelings come out.
    On the other hand, as a good USMC buddy of mine told me a few days ago, "everyone has a story about how they were ALMOST a Marine."

    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member MattC86's Avatar
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    Smitten, I haven't read the book, but from the description you gave, I can personally attest to those issues.

    I'm from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, and to put it mildy, it ain't military country. My high school had over 1000 kids graduate in 2004 - only one kid was going in (to West Point). No other officers, no enlistments, nothing.

    And now, as I try to explain to my parents (my dad was at UC Berkeley in 1968, so figure that out) why I'm applying for PLC, all this same stuff comes out. They really got furious when I explained that they had always taught me the values of service, selflessness, and doing what is right, and now I was trying to do just that.

    I think my mom is more just worried about physical safety, but in my dad you can see every stereotype he's ever had about the military (and Marines in particular) come to the surface.

    The attitude with all these people you refer to is a "You're young and talented with all the greatest advantages in life - how could you ever throw it away to join up with a bunch of angry sociopaths with small brains."

    And no matter what we do, that attitude will take a long time to dismantle, if indeed it ever happens.

    Matt
    "Give a good leader very little and he will succeed. Give a mediocrity a great deal and he will fail." - General George C. Marshall

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    Default Cuts will happen...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Could happen, I suppose. As a survivor of Eisnhower's cuts and one who was in Florida, DC and Korea during the Carter years, I sure hope we do the absorbtion of cuts in funds better the next time than we did those two times...
    I am not holding my breath and when the axe falls on those budgets it usually cuts deep and fast...things like early retirements, no pay raises, no training funds, no repair parts...they're a commin' and probably not too far away either.

    If the timing works out right the repubs can hope it happens under Obama or Hillary and shift all the blame to the Dems. Much like we heard during the early 90's under Bill Clinton with the draw downs initiated under Bush I. Of course, my pessimism is only couched by my sarcasm so who knows but like I tell the fellas in my office, "...all good things must come to an end", and this current boom in military spending will not be sustained indefinitely. If you're paying attention to the USAF, they are initiating another round of personnel cuts this year to make room for the impending budget cuts. However, for them it is a matter of having enough left over to pay for all the F-22s we will need for the next big air war.

    PT

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    About the distance between the officer corps and professional classes, I have been ruminating on that for awhile. Not long ago I was on an airplane and happened to sit next to a wealthy businessman and a lawyer, both from New England. I took that time to chat about world affairs and offer them a perspective from the profession of arms.

    Towards the end of the flight, the businessman asked me what sort of things officers study to be ready for war. I happened to have my copy of Roots of Strategy and showed him a few diagrams from Frederick the Great's "Instructions to his Generals", explaining how the principles of war used in those maneuvers are applicable today.

    By discussing warfare at an intellectual level, I think I removed many Vietnam-era stereotypes that these men had accepted for forty years. I think we need to engage professionals at the same level that their professions engage them.

    That said, I believe there are many barriers between the military and the professional classes, and one very large one is terminology. Why do we say "land navigation" instead of orienteering? The word navigation has a maritime connotation. Adding the word "land" does not change the connotation, it only makes the term sound as though it were created by someone with a small vocabulary. Why do we say "human terrain" instead of "demographics" or "anthropology" when both of these are established and esteemed disciplines? Do we discourage demographers, anthropologists, and other professionals from working with the military because we appear meddlesome, unwilling to respect the venerable terms used by the scholars of their discipline? Too often we invent new terms instead of consulting a thesaurus.

    One of my friends argues that a profession must have terms which are used almost exclusively by that profession in order to be taken seriously. I agree. If I have to explain to someone what Clausewitz meant by tactics, I feel that I am acting as an ambassador of the profession of arms. If I have to explain that a VBIED is a car bomb or that a DFAC is a cafeteria or that HMMWV stands for High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (a term which could arguably be applied to a bicycle); I cringe inside because these terms are esoteric for the sake of being esoteric.

    What's more, many officers I know are not very good with spelling, grammar, nor oration. I have seen many slide shows with 2-3 misspellings per slide and a few officers who used the phrase "in terms of" as a crutch. We cannot give the impression of war as a thinking person's game unless we show the same level of literacy as other professions.

    To that end, the Army needs to spend time in its basic courses on grammatical instruction and writing. From my personal experience, the average high school graduate can only discern a subject from a predicate. They do not know the parts of speech, cases, nor how to diagram a sentence. If the officer does not receive any more instruction in college (which many don't), then that is the level of ability we see after commissioning. This makes instruction in language very difficult. Some people have an aptitude for learning languages; they can just "pick it up". I learn best through comparing the grammars, as I think do many people, but they are handicapped by their insufficient instruction. I, personally, suffered in my studies because the course work was written for learners who understand the mechanics of speaking naturally and do not need to be explicitly told the rules and phonetics of the language to become conversational.

    Commanders must also encourage professional development through reading classics. The Art of War is a very short book, yet I have immense trouble convincing my peers to spend an hour reading it. They expect the Army to train them in everything they need to know. What they really need to know is that the body of martial thought is larger than any set of field manuals.

    In conclusion, the Army can improve its retention of officers by using three methods to raise the esteem of the officer corps in the eyes of the professional classes. Firstly, encourage professional development through reading from BOLC I to the end of an officer's career. This will allow officers to engage other professionals in discourse at the theoretical level. Secondly, ensure that officers have writing and speaking skills comparable to other professions in order to remove any prejudices other professionals may have against them as uneducated. Finally, offer language instruction that takes advantage of the officers' mastery of English syntax. Other professionals will view a bilingual person as more educated than an unilingual one. Taken together, these measures will show the professional classes that the officer corps is a good place for young, ambitious, college graduates who yearn for more initiative and adventure than they could ever have in the private sector.
    Last edited by AdaptAndOvercome; 09-10-2007 at 02:06 AM. Reason: Typo

  7. #47
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    Adapt and Overcome,

    I find your post interesting for a number of reasons. Given what I know about your background from your intro post, that you're going to get commissioned next year, and under the assumption that you are not prior service I have a few honest comments and observations. I say this, not to nit pick, but to enter into the honest and professional intellectual dialog that you infer is so lacking in the profession of arms.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Towards the end of the flight, the businessman asked me what sort of things officers study to be ready for war. I happened to have my copy of Roots of Strategy and showed him a few diagrams from Frederick the Great's "Instructions to his Generals", explaining how the principles of war used in those maneuvers are applicable today.
    I've seen and taught a lot of LTs this year (somewhere in the neighborhood of 450). Those with the most difficulty with their chosen profession have been those who can explain the strategic and operational level, but can't apply a basic battle drill or skill level one task, especially when under duress. There are varying levels of professional expertise. Certainly the new bank teller isn't an expert on the futures markets in Asia. Nor should the new officer in regards to the strategic application of applied kinetic diplomacy

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    By discussing warfare at an intellectual level, I think I removed many Vietnam-era stereotypes that these men had accepted for forty years. I think we need to engage professionals at the same level that their professions engage them.
    I hope that I'm incorrectly reading into this that your assumption is that we don't. We do. Chances are you haven't been in the environment to witness or participate in it firsthand yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    That said, I believe there are many barriers between the military and the professional classes, and one very large one is terminology.
    Terminology is a barrier within the profession of arms as well, mainly due to individual discipline and understanding of one's job. Ask your average logistics officer the differences between seize, contain, hold, secure, and isolate and you'll get as many different answers as you will people.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Why do we say "land navigation" instead of orienteering? The word navigation has a maritime connotation. Adding the word "land" does not change the connotation, it only makes the term sound as though it were created by someone with a small vocabulary.
    By definition, according to Webster's, orienteering is a sport. Navigation, as a transitive verb, is to make one's way over or through. As an intrasitive verb, it is to steer a course through a medium.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Why do we say "human terrain" instead of "demographics" or "anthropology" when both of these are established and esteemed disciplines?
    Consider the first paragraph of the five paragraph Operations Order (Enemy, terrain, weather, friendly forces). By describing socio-demographics as terrain the factors of OAKOC can be applied. For instance, how can the civilian populace be an obstacle, how can they be "key terrain," what benefits to they afford in terms of observation (reconnaissance), how can they affect mobility corridors and avenues of approach etc....?


    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Do we discourage demographers, anthropologists, and other professionals from working with the military because we appear meddlesome, unwilling to respect the venerable terms used by the scholars of their discipline?
    Take a look at the staff at SSI, CALL, SAMS, The Army War College, and any number of professional education establishments around.


    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    HMMWV stands for High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle (a term which could arguably be applied to a bicycle); I cringe inside because these terms are esoteric for the sake of being esoteric.
    It's actually High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (ref. Army Technical Manual TM 9-2320-280-10)



    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    To that end, the Army needs to spend time in its basic courses on grammatical instruction and writing.
    Let me invoke my right to free speach on this one, since it's a call to change the program of instruction within my area of expertise.

    Here's the bottom line; if you get this far through life with a mean age of around 22 for a brand new LT, do you really think that the schoolhouse is going to be able to undo in 85 days what you were deficient in receiving your first 22 years of life? There are a lot of things I can teach. I can teach actions on contact. I can teach platoon tactical tasks, fundamentals of maneuver, battle drills, and reporting procedures. I cannot do three things; I cannot teach character, I cannot bestow upon someone drive and initiative, and I cannot undo what your previous educators, friends, parents, or guardians failed to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Commanders must also encourage professional development through reading classics. The Art of War is a very short book, yet I have immense trouble convincing my peers to spend an hour reading it. They expect the Army to train them in everything they need to know. What they really need to know is that the body of martial thought is larger than any set of field manuals.
    Two things on this.

    1. The CSA has a reading list broken down level of experience/responsibility. It's available at AAFES and here.

    2. I'll tell you the same thing I told Fred Kaplan last month. As a Commander, I was much more concerned about whether my guys could secure a ground convoy than whether they could recite all 14 Chapters of Sun Tzu's Art of War.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    In conclusion, the Army can improve its retention of officers by using three methods to raise the esteem of the officer corps in the eyes of the professional classes.
    I wasn't under the impression that we were held in low esteem. In fact, I'm tired of getting phone calls of people outside the Army trying to hire me.


    You come into this profession with a lot of preconcieved notions that may or may not pan out for you. Try not to get so myopic on that which the military is not. Make the most of what you have in front of you. After all, you're at the start line of a marathon.
    Last edited by RTK; 09-10-2007 at 02:36 AM. Reason: CSA Reading List link
    Example is better than precept.

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    "I find your post interesting for a number of reasons. Given what I know about your background from your intro post, that you're going to get commissioned next year, and under the assumption that you are not prior service I have a few honest comments and observations. I say this, not to nit pick, but to enter into the honest and professional intellectual dialog that you infer is so lacking in the profession of arms."

    I am beginning to regret having made an introduction. One of the most enlightening posters here is marct who is an anthropologist. This site is so didactic because people from all different backgrounds contribute their diverse viewpoints. Before coming here, I would never have consulted an anthropologist for insights into counterinsurgency. Now, my horizons are much wider. I believe that the central theme of small wars is that in strength there is weakness; and in weakness there is strength. In the same way, every poster here has something worth saying no matter where he is from.

    "I've seen and taught a lot of LTs this year (somewhere in the neighborhood of 450). Those with the most difficulty with their chosen profession have been those who can explain the strategic and operational level, but can't apply a basic battle drill or skill level one task, especially when under duress. There are varying levels of professional expertise. Certainly the new bank teller isn't an expert on the futures markets in Asia. Nor should the new officer in regards to the strategic application of applied kinetic diplomacy"

    I don't think one proficiency excludes another. Anyone who can not perform basic tasks needs to be remediated, but I hope the people who are the best at basic tasks can also understand higher levels of war. As we said before, the promotion rate is so high that most lieutenants will become lieutenant colonels if they stay with the Army.

    "I hope that I'm incorrectly reading into this that your assumption is that we don't. We do. Chances are you haven't been in the environment to witness or participate in it firsthand yet."

    You are reading that the way I meant it. My experience is in the Northeast. Few people know much about the military, and the most professionally educated people often have the dimmest view. I would like to hear how we have been promoting our profession to those people if you'd like to share.

    "Consider the first paragraph of the five paragraph Operations Order (Enemy, terrain, weather, friendly forces). By describing socio-demographics as terrain the factors of OAKOC can be applied. For instance, how can the civilian populace be an obstacle, how can they be "key terrain," what benefits to they afford in terms of observation (reconnaissance), how can they affect mobility corridors and avenues of approach etc....?"

    This is problematic because we are defining the environment based on our standard operating procedures instead of the other way around. Why can't we change OAKOC or say that OAKOC can analyze demographics as well?

    "Do we discourage demographers, anthropologists, and other professionals from working with the military because we appear meddlesome, unwilling to respect the venerable terms used by the scholars of their discipline?"

    It was simply a suggestion for something we should investigate. Many people who teach at those institutions were in the military or have strong ties through family. What of everyone else?

    "It's actually High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (ref. Army Technical Manual TM 9-2320-280-10)"

    That's a strike against me for not checking that fact. Still, the term is very vague.

    "I cannot undo what your previous educators, friends, parents, or guardians failed to do."

    I was thinking more along the lines of BOLC I and Captain's Career Course doing this. I know time is short when they get to you.

    "The CSA has a reading list broken down level of experience/responsibility."

    It's a good list, but it needs more promotion. We need to work together to make sure that all officers continue their learning.

    "As a Commander, I was much more concerned about whether my guys could secure a ground convoy than whether they could recite all 14 Chapters of Sun Tzu's Art of War."

    Reading military classics is not about recitation; it's about learning a way of thinking. I have put my faith in the writings of great generals because there is a consistent thread across time, place, and culture. Sun Tzu (whether he was one author or many) put it most succinctly, so I encourage that as a starting point.

    "I wasn't under the impression that we were held in low esteem. In fact, I'm tired of getting phone calls of people outside the Army trying to hire me."

    Army officers do get a lot of very attractive job offers, but I still assert that the profession of arms is held in very low esteem in some quarters, notably New England. Since part of this discussion was about recruiting at Ivy League universities, I thought it was worth mentioning my discussion with the two men from the Northeast. Take a trip to Boston some time. It's a nice city, and I think you'll see what I mean.

    "You come into this profession with a lot of preconcieved notions that may or may not pan out for you. Try not to get so myopic on that which the military is not. Make the most of what you have in front of you."

    I've got a computer in front of me, and I think becoming a contributor to this site is the best thing I've done professionally in a long time.

    Thanks to everyone for your time and responses.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    I am beginning to regret having made an introduction...In the same way, every poster here has something worth saying no matter where he is from.
    Let's be honest, your intro was thin gruel at best. So far your experiences are yours alone. You're going to have to overcome this feeling of inadequacy considering you'll be taking a platoon within the next two years full of junior enlisted soldiers and NCOs with 2 or 3 combat tours under their belt. You have to start somewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    I don't think one proficiency excludes another. Anyone who can not perform basic tasks needs to be remediated, but I hope the people who are the best at basic tasks can also understand higher levels of war. As we said before, the promotion rate is so high that most lieutenants will become lieutenant colonels if they stay with the Army..
    They don't necessarily exclude another, but a book worm who can rattle off the 9 Principles of War who can't make a decision under fire is a problem. They may make LTC, but it doesn't mean they'll command anything. Making LTC isn't an automatic ticket to the command slate.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    You are reading that the way I meant it. My experience is in the Northeast. Few people know much about the military, and the most professionally educated people often have the dimmest view. I would like to hear how we have been promoting our profession to those people if you'd like to share.
    I spoke at a business conference on commuities of practice at Harvard about a year and a half ago about COIN principles and how they relate to the workplace. But, recall that we're an Army at War. The onus isn't on us to educate the masses. We live in a democracy and a volunteer Army at War. We have enough things to do right now than worry if Joe Shmedlap at Brown University understands what we're doing. The point is that our professional discussions, professional journals, and professional seminar process exists, is viable, and useful to our trade.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    This is problematic because we are defining the environment based on our standard operating procedures instead of the other way around. Why can't we change OAKOC or say that OAKOC can analyze demographics as well?.
    Because we've been conducting operations with a standardized format for over 50 years with a military education system that has been teaching the same standardized formats for just as long. Are you suggesting we change exisiting SOPs that have been in place for over some 50 years to adapt to society?


    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    I've got a computer in front of me, and I think becoming a contributor to this site is the best thing I've done professionally in a long time.

    Thanks to everyone for your time and responses.

    You seem to have answers for everything, an attitude that may not serve you well in the future. Good luck to you.
    Last edited by RTK; 09-10-2007 at 10:34 AM.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Default Admin Note (of sorts)

    Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    I am beginning to regret having made an introduction...In the same way, every poster here has something worth saying no matter where he is from.
    A&O - This may seem counter-intuitive - but having thick skin is often critical to learning. You are going to meet all types of folks - some you will lead, others you will follow, some will be you your peers, some will shoot at you, etc - most will have something to say - in one way or another.

    This is a pretty benign learning environment - nobody shoots at you (although you might get e-chewed on a bit) - so make the most of it by getting and staying involved. However, review your question or response before you post if you have doubt that is what you wanted say. Another good thing you can do is consider your audience - the folks you are posing the question to, or asking for a reply from - you'll be doing this as a leader / follower as well. I'm glad you introduced yourself - it helps remind us that there are a wide range of folks involved.

    Make the most of forums like this - before, during and after - you'll find that your skills improve over time, and pretty soon you will give back plenty.

    Best Regards, Rob

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    Default For AdaptAndOverCome

    Don't take any of this personally and remember that in most of your life people who are willing to seriously challenge your ideas and conceptions are few and far between (and more valueable than gold.) It is important to find out at some point whether or not people don't challenge because your ideas are good and accurate or, because they don't have time or patience to deal with them because they are not. We have all been in the later atleast a few times. Being new to the forums I've gotten into an argument or two over more technical areas than perhaps I should have been involved in. Defend your arguments, but avoid being defensive at all costs. Even though they may make remarks about your background its nothing personal, it just happens to be about your person.

    Good luck,
    Adam

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    Don't take any of this personally and remember that in most of your life people who are willing to seriously challenge your ideas and conceptions are few and far between (and more valueable than gold.) It is important to find out at some point whether or not people don't challenge because your ideas are good and accurate or, because they don't have time or patience to deal with them because they are not. We have all been in the later atleast a few times. Being new to the forums I've gotten into an argument or two over more technical areas than perhaps I should have been involved in. Defend your arguments, but avoid being defensive at all costs. Even though they may make remarks about your background its nothing personal, it just happens to be about your person.

    Good luck,
    Adam
    Great post. Great guidance. It's going in my wallet.
    Example is better than precept.

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    Default You forgot Improvise

    "Improvise, Adapt and Overcome" - An unofficial mantra of the United States Marine Corps:

    There's little in your user profile, so all I have to go on is your introduction and six subsequent posts. Honestly, with a user "handle" of Adapt and Overcome, I expected a tad more.

    In the event you didn't already know...This motto is to remind troops how to perform under fire, even under the most dire conditions. But, it actually came from the fact that the Corps received Army hand-me-downs; thus poorly equipped. However and despite this set back, the Corps has been successful because of the creativity of her people and their overall attitude.

    One could say that about all the U.S. Military branches.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    I am beginning to regret having made an introduction. One of the most enlightening posters here is marct who is an anthropologist. This site is so didactic because people from all different backgrounds contribute their diverse viewpoints.
    Your introduction says little to be regretful about. We accept the fact that you are still studying and we appreciate the fact you are joining the military. You could have told us what you are majoring in, your family status, where you come from, etc. It's hard to get a grip on things when there's so little to bite on. It's even harder to understand where you're coming from.

    Frankly, it's beginning to sound like you have doubts about being a 2LT.

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    Let's be honest, your intro was thin gruel at best. So far your experiences are yours alone. You're going to have to overcome this feeling of inadequacy considering you'll be taking a platoon within the next two years full of junior enlisted soldiers and NCOs with 2 or 3 combat tours under their belt. You have to start somewhere.
    I will echo RTK's comments just a bit. If you're having a hard time now, you're going to be in for a real shock with your first senior NCO experience, when he bites your head off.

    You gotta start somewhere. It's that, or somebody will have to convey how you want your remains handled.

    Good luck with your studies.
    Last edited by Stan; 09-10-2007 at 02:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    Great post. Great guidance. It's going in my wallet.
    Thanks, I always try to do my best.

    Adam

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    Default AdaptAndOvercome vs. RTK - My 2 cents

    After making the above statement, here is my 2 cents.

    Note: I meant to post this last night but I was just too tired.

    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    They don't necessarily exclude another, but a book worm who can rattle off the 9 Principles of War who can't make a decision under fire is a problem.
    I have to side with RTK on this, and I don't know if you are quite getting where he is coming from. I don't believe he was being literal when he was referring to reciting The Art of War. He has a point about his priorities. He has another point about book smart people being able to take tests and get the right answers and being incompetent in application. This can be seen in pretty much every area across the board. My favorite example of this is when teachers are required to take tests on Bloom's Taxonomy (in ed school normally) and don't understand that just because you can give answers on something doesn't mean you understand it. There is a difference between the ability to give answers about something and the capability to abstractly apply, modify, reapply, evaluate and modify is a logical leap many people will never make it. The reason I love this example is that Bloom's taxonomy is all about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    By discussing warfare at an intellectual level, I think I removed many Vietnam-era stereotypes that these men had accepted for forty years. I think we need to engage professionals at the same level that their professions engage them.
    I have to agree with RTK on this side. I have to point out that part of what may have lessened their preconceptions is you and your background (which I am assuming is similar to theirs.) I have found that when discussing with people with these notions about the military there is a bit of a psychological hold up on their part. The discussions are quite often very sanitized (due to the terms of art) and yet about a very brutal subject. It's a bit hard for many people to understand how people can discuss such bloody business so casually or unemotionally. They just don't understand that remaining objective is important. Many could understand a historian, but not someone who's opinions and conclusions potentially could save or kill someone.

    Surgeons tend to have a similar problem. Normal people would not deal well with how many surgeons talk about what they do amongst others in their profession. Both in their sense of humor, which is very dark, and in their very calm, and quite often cavalier, demeanor. This is quite often a necessary attitude when performing risky surgeries. When you are performing a surgery where if you are1/20th of an inch off or not done inside 20 minutes the patients dies you cannot have self doubt. Surgeons learn (they do teach this in medical school) how to be diplomatic and how to talk to patients. This is no easy task and many never become adequate and very few master it. The military does not have the time to train officers in this area. I would bet a lot of what makes them good officers (in combat not politics) is what gives them trouble in this area.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    To that end, the Army needs to spend time in its basic courses on grammatical instruction and writing.
    Although I agree with RTK in that a lot of things come first this is a good point and I believe it has been looked at by the army (many years ago.) Many large tactical blunders in history have been due to issues stemming from misunderstood or misinterpreted orders. Unfortunately, this is a difficult task which ranks low on "need to do" compared to more bread and butter skills.

    On the other hand perhaps we should look at most professionals (including the top of the class out of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.) Their grammar is not what it used to be. For that matter neither is their education. I don't want to go off on this tangent. I'll save it for later.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    Commanders must also encourage professional development through reading classics. The Art of War is a very short book, yet I have immense trouble convincing my peers to spend an hour reading it. They expect the Army to train them in everything they need to know.
    RTK is right here, but I have to ask should commanders have to push officers and potential officers. Shouldn't they expect a little initiative. I would dare to say that someone who makes no efforts to expand their capabilities and knowledge perhaps should be going into another profession. I should clarify that if the officer or potential officer is simply prioritizing and sticking to more meat and potatoes education initially I think that he may have a good idea (although if he is not yet in the military, with the exception of those in the most strained circumstances, I fail to find it plausible that some spare time for extra study cannot be found.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    That said, I believe there are many barriers between the military and the professional classes, and one very large one is terminology.
    No, acronyms are the biggest obstacles. It doesn't take a sociologist to guess what human terrain is, but what the hell is a COIN or CJTF. Why is it COIN and not CI? To a laymen that would seem more logical. A cop on the other hand would really be pissed of because he'd have to deal with CI meaning both criminal informant and counter insurgency.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdaptAndOvercome View Post
    "
    You are reading that the way I meant it. My experience is in the Northeast. Few people know much about the military, and the most professionally educated people often have the dimmest view. I would like to hear how we have been promoting our profession to those people if you'd like to share.
    Coming from the Northeast myself be careful about your statements. Say what you want about the Boston area but leave the rest the North East out (it's pretty big.) Look, you probably, like me, came from a nice upper middle class family, lived in a nice upper middle class neighborhood and went to nice upper middle class school. This tends to lead to meeting a lot of people who all live in little boxes on a hillside, whom all go to university and all become identical lawyers, doctors and investments bankers. (I must note for accuracy that my family wasn't one of the identical ones.) Also, quite often the people who talk the most about something are the most ignorant.

    The Northeast I believe you are talking about lives mainly in the drift of the universities. NY for all its loud leftist talk is actually split pretty evenly. There are a lot of people going into the service, but I would have to admit most are enlisting. The issue of recruiting officers in the Northeast I will get to in a new post.

    Sorry about this long post. I wanted to get my 2 cents in. Actually, let's be honest its at least 75 cents.

    What happened to the cent symbol on the keyboard?

    Adam

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    Council Member RTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    What happened to the cent symbol on the keyboard?
    It went away with inflation...
    Example is better than precept.

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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RTK View Post
    It went away with inflation...
    LOL!

    Good one!

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    My favorite example of this is when teachers are required to take tests on Bloom's Taxonomy (in ed school normally) and don't understand that just because you can give answers on something doesn't mean you understand it. There is a difference between the ability to give answers about something and the capability to abstractly apply, modify, reapply, evaluate and modify is a logical leap many people will never make it. The reason I love this example is that Bloom's taxonomy is all about that.
    It's interesting you mention Bloom. When he wrote his taxonomy back in the 1950's he got a lot of nasty comments. The idea that you could create a taxonomy of learning was preposterous. It had been done before, but there was a lot of people who considered knowledge to be like water and brains to be buckets. Knowledge was a quantity to be poured in not absorbed or used.

    Now we accept Bloom and his hierarchy and apply concepts like outcome based education, and learning objectives to everything. Yet to often we find people down around level 1 or 2 defining, describing, reciting, instead of climbing up the ladder to synthesis. Get out the bucket and pour some more knowledge in so to speak.

    Sun Tzu is great, but tell me how it relates to the current conflict and better yet give me a reasoned argument about how it was applied in a previous conflict and use that as a model in the future conflict that we don't know about. Tell me how the operation of a laser jet printer sitting on my desk is similar to the operation of a TOW 2 Missile System. Drawing correlations between disparate ideas to create new patterns of knowledge is what we are really trying to do.

    I remember as a low and rough corporal watching as a lt. scrambled and couldn't figure out what to do when one of our guys walked backwards of a ledge on the rim of Lava Lake. I jumped down in the ditch and was doing the breathing, beating, bleeding number telling my buddy he was an idiot. The Lt. was standing there kind of looking numb. My staff sgt. took the Lt. and said "Sir, don't you think we should call for a corpsman", "Sir, don't you think you should call Company", so on and so on and so on. Perceived power rested on the gold of the Lt's collar but reality placed on staff sgts hands.

    I don't blame the Lt. for freezing in such a mundane no fire no issue kind of situation. Somebody walking backwards off a cliff kind of caught me by surprise too. I watched the staff sgt. and learned you didn't have to beat the Lt. senseless and you never stop learning. I also learned that you can't teach an autonomic response to everything. Some things you just have to experience. When I've told this story in the past I also mention something else. I learned that in the Marines teamwork go's down and UP the chain of command. You can't learn that in a book.
    Sam Liles
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    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    A very wise man (my 1st Bn cmdr as an officer) told me once that we are actually professionals because we have our own terminology, much the same as doctors, lawyers, and bankers do.

    He believed that the ability to kick a football through uprights, dunk a basketball, or hit a homerun did not make one a professional, so I think differing terminologies are fine, and I see that you agree to some extent.

    Grammar, diction, and eloquence are good for only three things in my mind. The first is writng a fitness report on a subordinate. Second, we have to be abe to write good awards. Finally, we must be able to write a good eulogy for our fallen brethren. All else is secondary.

    I think we'd be hard pressed to find a servicemember who left the service because they felt other professions held a prejudice against them as uneducated, or folks who have overlooked the military as a possible career for the same reasons. The reasons are a lot more primal and basic.

    A man or woman is either going to be adventurous and take the plunge into the military, or they won't. That they come from a region like the northeast (where I attended college), bears little on the process if they already have it in their heart. They often do not have it in their heart due to the affluence they have enjoyed all of their life. Put another way, if you are close to your banker father and understand a bit about his profession, wouldn't you be more inclined to follow the same path as you become an adult? If you drove a Saab in college because it was handed down from Mom or Dad, you're going to feel that pull to follow in their footsteps because you want a Saab later on.

    The Northeast is rife with family traditions. Same prep school path...same Ivy League education. "Well Biff, remember that there's that associate partner position waiting for you once you finish school...hmmm...hmmm." Recent military service may simple not be one of them, so it is difficult to maintain that chain.

    Personally, I'd rather stand beside a chaw-chewing, backwards-ass officer or NCO who was a hard mofo and knew how to issue simple orders,than someone who could recite the significance of Waterloo. That's for the folks on the History Channel to take care of.

    Don't get me wrong, I've thought long and hard about the issue of drawing the right folks into the officer corps. Society in general has changed since the 50s and 60s, and without a bipolar state opponent breathing down our necks, perhaps the issue of retention boils down to the fact that some members don't want to roll the dice for the third, fourth, or fifth time and die in the process. I dunno...
    Last edited by jcustis; 09-11-2007 at 02:54 AM. Reason: typo and grammar

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Personally, I'd rather stand beside a chaw-chewing, backwards-ass officer or NCO who was a hard mofo and knew how to issue simple orders,than someone who could recite the significance of Waterloo. That's for the folks on the History to take care of.

    Somebody say Amen....!!!!!!

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