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Old 08-05-2011   #21
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Good words from Pete. Wish I could live up to them - I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when I see problems. People don't generally take it very well. Not sure if the problem is the message or the messenger.
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Old 08-06-2011   #22
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It's not mutually exclusive at all, in fact it's reinforcing each other.

Someone (I think he was registered here) once helped me to understand how unusual the famous 1930's Truppenführung (TF) field manual actually was when he pointed out that it's unusual for a field manual to spend 28 pages on a "leadership" chapter (as 2nd chapter, directly behind a quick overview of the macro organisation of the army).

That chapter wasn't about the kind of leadership that I meant, though. It was rather about the tasks and principles of a leader and about techniques of leadership.

I meant that leaders are responsible for steering the ship into the right direction, and must not allow that drifting becomes the primary method of movement.

A bureaucracy builds a self-licking ice cone in which the majority of personnel becomes "excellent" or "outstanding"? That is what I meant with "drifting".
I have the translation of that book. That section you talk of is translated as 'Command' and does cover command aspects.

Indeed command is not leadership just as neither are 'management'.

Just look up leadership definitions and see how the academics can screw things up.

Leadership is not a function of one's position but rather the intangible ability to induce others to voluntarily submit to leadership.

Watch kids in a playground - applies to all ages - there you will see at play the natural leaders doing what comes naturally.

'All Leadership is influence' - John C. Maxwell

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‘Sound leadership - like true love, to which I suspect it is closely related - is all powerful. It can overcome the seemingly impossible and its effect on both leader and led is profound and lasting’. - Sydney Jary MC 18 Platoon.
Any bureaucracy (including the military) needs to be purged periodically... preferably in the style of Stalin.
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Old 08-06-2011   #23
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Default Weeding out commanders

JMA stated just:
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Any bureaucracy (including the military) needs to be purged periodically... preferably in the style of Stalin.
From my reading of WW2 military history, mainly British admittedly, to a lesser extent WW1, the British can be ruthless in removing senior commanders perceived to have failed; Jim Storr's book 'The Human Face of War' cites the BEF (forces sent to France) had seventeen division and above commanders, five disappeared and six never had a field command again (one was a POW).

Another historian, Peter Caddick-Adams, has looked at lower levels of BEF command and referred in a lecture a few years ago that defeat in May 1940 helped the British Army evolve into a fit, fighting force. When questioned on this he attributed this to the physical and mental collapse of many commanders faced with the Blitzkreig, those taken POW and "weeding out" upon return.

This "weeding out" continued to 1945, for example General Anderson, who commanded an army in North Africa, Operation Torch and then effectively never commanded again:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth..._Noel_Anderson

I know Red Rat has looked at this issue too and has more books than I on this.

"Weeding out" can happen in the UK police too, usually far less public and an academic who studied the RUC noted that after an external review in 1969, a third of mid-rank commanders were retained, a third told to retire and a third encouraged to move - to the mainland or the colonies.

The current PM, David Cameron, has publicly indicated the police service needs a new generation of senior leadership, even from abroad or the military. Bill Bratton, ex-NYPD & LAPD, cited as his preference for the next Metropolitan Police Commissioner. See:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...-applying.html

I wonder if any of the military committed in recent wars have seen weaknesses before or during deployment?

Stalin's purge model is not one I'd follow:
Quote:
At the end, three of five Soviet Marshals, 90% of all Red Army generals, 80% of Red Army colonels, and 30,000 officers of lesser rank had been purged. Virtually all were executed.
At first it was thought 25-50% of Red Army officers were purged, it is now known to be 3.7-7.7%.
From:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_of...y_Organization
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Old 08-06-2011   #24
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JMA; don't trust translations. Some words have multiple meanings.

109. Die persönliche Einwirkung auf die Truppe durch ihren oberen Führer ist von größter Bedeutung. Er muß der kämpfenden Truppe nahe sein.

(The personal influence on the troops by their superior leader is of greatest relevance. He has to be close to the troops.)

115. Bei der Verfolgung muß sich der obere Füher weiter nach vorne begeben. Sein Escheinen in der vorderen Linie wird die Truppe zur höchsten Leistung anspornen.

(In a pursuit the superior leader has to move farther forward. His appearance in the forward line will motivate the troops to utmost efforts.)
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Old 08-06-2011   #25
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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
JMA; don't trust translations. Some words have multiple meanings.

109. Die persönliche Einwirkung auf die Truppe durch ihren oberen Führer ist von größter Bedeutung. Er muß der kämpfenden Truppe nahe sein.

(The personal influence on the troops by their superior leader is of greatest relevance. He has to be close to the troops.)

115. Bei der Verfolgung muß sich der obere Füher weiter nach vorne begeben. Sein Escheinen in der vorderen Linie wird die Truppe zur höchsten Leistung anspornen.

(In a pursuit the superior leader has to move farther forward. His appearance in the forward line will motivate the troops to utmost efforts.)
From the book the translations are as follows:

Quote:
109. The personal influence of the commander on his troops is vitally important. He must position himself close to the combat units.

and

115. During pursuit operations, the commander must move with the forward elements. His presence in the front will inspire his units
.
My point is that this is stuff a natural leader would know without being told.
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Old 08-06-2011   #26
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Regrettably, my translation was a bit sloppy this time, but the translation from your book is even worse.

Improved:

109. Die persönliche Einwirkung auf die Truppe durch ihren oberen Führer ist von größter Bedeutung. Er muß der kämpfenden Truppe nahe sein.

(The personal influence on the troops by their superior leader is of greatest relevance. He has to be close to the fighting troops.)

115. Bei der Verfolgung muß sich der obere Füher weiter nach vorne begeben. Sein Erscheinen in der vorderen Linie wird die Truppe zur höchsten Leistung anspornen.

(In a pursuit the superior leader has to move farther forward. His appearance in the forward line will motivate the troops to highest performance.)


The translator from your book didn't get that "Er muß der kämpfenden Truppe nahe sein." can have multiple meanings, not only a geographical one.

"weiter nach vorne begeben" does not mean that he has to be with his forward elements. Google for example says "go further forward" to this.

"will inspire his units" is simply understatement and conceals the true emphasis of the manual.



About natural leaders; armies don't just use natural leaders. Actually, many of the natural leaders are unsuitable for leading men in warfare. Armies are no warbands.

Armies may in fact - due to their bureaucratic nature - blunt early on what they need the most: People who are not easily satisfied, denounce failure and work for improvement. Such persons are very uneasy subordinates and expose failure of oversight of their superiors.
The bureaucratic response it to minimise the itching by blunting such types.

This drive for improvement and intolerance for failure is what officers need to have without being told to acquire it.

Their effectiveness in getting rid of failures is largely a given if they're equipped with the necessary authority by the bureaucracy. You don't need much charisma for that in an army.


edit: Now you can imagine the problems my former employer's interpreter came into when I was tasked with checking his translations. After a while he conceded that he had to work much more thoroughly and that I always ended up discussing the parts where he hadn't been sure about the proper translation even after much effort!
He had a standard fee per 100 words, so he didn't even increase his income with all that extra work...

Last edited by Fuchs; 08-06-2011 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011   #27
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I do not have the book mentioned above, although I am going to order it right now. There is a Stackpole edition out with the same authors/editors, copyright 2009, that seems to be much cheaper, so I'll probably order that one.

However, from the passages listed above, it seems this book attacks the subjects of command & leadership solely from a combat perspective and that seems to be line in the sand on these threads about excellence, leadership, and so forth. There is garrison management and combat leadership, but unfortunately our garrison managers are wearing the rank that takes them to combat in leadership positions. That is our problem. Seems to me the Germans had a different system whereby their Army was recruited from districts which were overseen by separate commanders that were either not deemed to be combat leaders or were injured or in some other way should not be at the front, and if I remember correctly they employed a similar system for the logistical resupply and garrison/refit environments. But, once they deployed to combat, the combat leaders were in charge.

Perhaps that is a model our military should begin following.
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Old 08-06-2011   #28
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If I could modify my previous post in this thread (Post 20) I would, but I can't. Therefore this clarification of what I mean to say.

Most of the successful leaders in the U.S. armed forces are a combination of being showboats and down-and-dirty people who get things done. It's not quite as binary as my previous message implied. It's sort of a spectrum between the two extremes, and most men and women who wear the green suit fall somewhere in the middle between those two poles.

Many of the leadership essays and textbooks say there is an element of showmanship about leadership. It's a matter of projecting self-confidence and charisma in front of others. It could be when you're addressing your company or battery or it could be while you're giving a briefing in the Pentagon.

Then there is the nuts-and-bolts stuff of being a soldier -- leadership, weapons, tactics, and solving practical problems. You've got to know your stuff, and if you don't the others will know it.

For better or for worse I've known good officers who are a combination of these two types of soldier. On one hand they can be inspiring leaders who get things done in the field or office, but on the other they are military politicians who suck up and brown-nose to their superiors.

In 1994 as a contractor I worked for a young major like that who is now an O-6. He got the operational job done when we were overseas, but some of the PowerPoint briefings he gave about the excellence of the things he was doing were flagrantly dishonest.

It seems to me that many people in the Army think they have to play the politics and appearance-versus-reality game even when they are competent soldiers who know their trade. I suspect that during the last 20 years this syndrome has infected the senior NCO corps as well.

In things like this it's hard to sort out who are the heroes and who are the villains. Nuances and shades of gray.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-06-2011 at 10:29 PM. Reason: Inserted Post 20 for reference and added pointer to this post there.
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Old 08-07-2011   #29
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I think Pete's last comment is probably at the 99% solution. I know my biggest struggle is that I keep seeking to be honest in my assessments and messages. I've grown tired of reading OERs and seeing briefings that are gross exaggerations if not lies.

I do what I can in front of my Soldiers to portray the confidence, but more than confidence, I think passion carries a larger effect. When your troops see that you're passionate about the mission and about taking care of them, that carries a lot of weight. Passion is much more durable than mere confidence.

In the end analysis, I have come to the conclusion that I will never make it to the top shelf ranks in the Army. I am not a self-promoter and cannot keep my mouth shut when I see crap going on. It will probably cut my career short but so be it. All else that we do pales in comparison to combat and that's my focus - training for and leading in combat.

I do wonder though, it seems like the people with the best handle on military/combat leadership are those on this and similar sites, while those with the real power in the military just don't pay attention. I'm not totally ignorant to the time demands our senior leaders have. And I don't think I'd have a problem if they just took over the garrison and admin stuff and then let the real combat leaders take over once they're wheels up and leaving CONUS.
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Old 08-07-2011   #30
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Don Vandergriff and others wrote a lot about that problem and possible solutions.
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Old 08-07-2011   #31
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And so did Doug Macgregor. They are both now on the outside looking in. Both were men of great talent. Both had something vital to say. But both proved once again it is not what you say, the validity of your message, but how you say it and to whom.
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Old 08-07-2011   #32
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Originally Posted by bumperplate View Post
I've grown tired of reading OERs and seeing briefings that are gross exaggerations if not lies. […] I am not a self-promoter and cannot keep my mouth shut when I see crap going on. It will probably cut my career short but so be it.
A friend told me that her grandfather (a career state legislator) once said to her that an important part of being an effective politician was never loosing a grip on the difference between what he told everyone he was convinced was the truth and what he himself was convinced was the truth. I don't know how many people in positions of power think like that. I kind of suspect that a great many of them don't even rise to that level morally, but maybe I am just being cynical.
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Old 08-07-2011   #33
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I do not have the book mentioned above, although I am going to order it right now. There is a Stackpole edition out with the same authors/editors, copyright 2009, that seems to be much cheaper, so I'll probably order that one.
This book is the pre WW2 German Army doctrine.

A quote from the foreword:

Quote:
Despite the evil nature of the regime it served, it must be admitted that the German Army of World War II was, man for man, one of the most effective fighting forces ever seen.
A valuable reference work to have on a soldiers bookshelf.
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Old 08-07-2011   #34
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About natural leaders; armies don't just use natural leaders. Actually, many of the natural leaders are unsuitable for leading men in warfare. Armies are no warbands.
Yes natural leaders come in all shapes and sizes, they lead street gangs, drug cartels and some Wall Street financial firms. So yes not all are suitable top command positions as the Peter Principle applies to them too. But if I were commanding a battalion the more natural leaders I had carrying rank (from L/Cpl upwards) the more confident I would be going into action... especially in a counter-insurgency setting.

As an aside it is often surprising who rises as a leader in a tough combat setting when those with rank falter and here I'm not just talking about acts of personal bravery but acts of leadership.

Quote:
Armies may in fact - due to their bureaucratic nature - blunt early on what they need the most: People who are not easily satisfied, denounce failure and work for improvement. Such persons are very uneasy subordinates and expose failure of oversight of their superiors.
The bureaucratic response it to minimise the itching by blunting such types.
A good natural leader would be able to guide and channel such people to utilise their abilities to the full... I know I worked for a few

Quote:
This drive for improvement and intolerance for failure is what officers need to have without being told to acquire it.

Their effectiveness in getting rid of failures is largely a given if they're equipped with the necessary authority by the bureaucracy. You don't need much charisma for that in an army.
Not quite. In an earlier post somewhere here I suggested that some seats on aircraft out of Afghanistan should be reserved to take officers/NCOs/soldiers home who failed to perform on ops. I was told that the US does not work that way... they reassign them. There lies the root of another problem...

Note: You use of charisma. Yes certain 'high profile' leaders have charisma (definition: A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm.)

This guy says it best:

Quote:
To lead people, walk beside them … As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate … When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves! - Lao-Tsu

Last edited by JMA; 08-07-2011 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 08-07-2011   #35
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Default I agree. Many others do also, I'm sure...

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A good natural leader would be able to guide and channel such people to utilise their abilities to the full... I know I worked for a few
Me, too -- few (unfortunately) being the right word...
Quote:
Not quite. In an earlier post somewhere here I suggested that some seats on aircraft out of Afghanistan should be reserved to take officers/NCOs/soldiers home who failed to perform on ops. I was told that the US does not work that way... they reassign them. There lies the root of another problem...
The US Army would really like to work that way. Unfortunately, the US Congress -- who funds that Army as its whims dictate (and who just orchestrated a down grade of the credit of the US in an absolutely stunning display of their level of competence) do not agree. May be 'unfair', you see; may be based on a whim. Can't have that...

Whims are apparently okay for the Congroids but not for the Army. Nor is mere competence or experience enough basis for personnel decisions -- they must be totally objective and empirically derived (he said, ROFLHAO... ).
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Old 08-07-2011   #36
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I am not a self-promoter and cannot keep my mouth shut when I see crap going on. It will probably cut my career short but so be it.
After the Mexican War U.S. Grant had a big Report of Survey against him when he had been the Quartermaster Officer of his regiment when it was in the Midwest during an extremely severe winter. The regiment was spread out all across the land in detachments, companies and battalions. Grant did all he could to keep them fed, with firewood and forage. When spring came Grant had to face the Report of Survey, and afterwards he had to go about a year without pay to pay it off.

When he was the senior officer of a group sent to California around 1850 the people were hit with a cholera epidemic when they crossed Panama. Men and women, officers and enlisted, children too were shi**ing themselves to death. Grant said it was the worst thing he saw during his military service, war or peace. When Grant got the group to San Francisco he get no credit from his regiment or the Army for his leadership during the affair.

After Grant got the old heave-ho from the Army his wife left him and moved back in with her father. Everyone thought U.S. Grant was an alcholohic loser.

Perceptions changed after he captured Vicksburg. In 1864 Lincoln decided he needed a real soldier in command of the Army of the Potomac, not a showboat, a prancer and dancer, or someone who would juggle the books to cover up a supply discrepancy on the property book. Grant's tactics were crude and bloody in '64-'65 but he got the job done. He was never a showboat and he was wearing a mud-splattered private's tunic when Lee surrendered to him.
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Old 08-07-2011   #37
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I wonder if our Army/Society/Current operational environment would ever allow for a repeat of Grant's story as told above. I suspect it could not happen. We are too worried about metrics with regard to leadership, rather than mission results.
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Old 08-08-2011   #38
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What would be the problem to implement an officer training/education program as it existed in the German Reichswehr 1920-1932?

IMHO a good reading in respect to different leadership and different approaches to officer candidates selection is Jörg Muth's book "Command Culture" published in June 2011, it is the book version of the author's dissertation.
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Old 08-08-2011   #39
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After Grant got the old heave-ho from the Army his wife left him and moved back in with her father. Everyone thought U.S. Grant was an alcholohic loser.

Perceptions changed after he captured Vicksburg. In 1864 Lincoln decided he needed a real soldier in command of the Army of the Potomac, not a showboat, a prancer and dancer, or someone who would juggle the books to cover up a supply discrepancy on the property book. Grant's tactics were crude and bloody in '64-'65 but he got the job done. He was never a showboat and he was wearing a mud-splattered private's tunic when Lee surrendered to him.
Grant's wife didn't leave him. She'd periodically lived with her family, as was quite common during this time. And Grant's star began to rise with Lincoln during the Donelson period, with more motion coming in the aftermath of Shiloh. But that's just the historian talking. Carry on...

To address bumperplate's comment, Grant was in many ways an exception even during his day. Many officers in the pre-Civil War army would look very familiar to us today. Drones and careerists were just as common then in terms of the overall force (remember that we're talking about an army that didn't often clear 20,000 total strength and was often under 15,000). For every Civil War success we remember, there were at least 5 duds from the Regular ranks.
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Old 08-08-2011   #40
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... Grant was in many ways an exception even during his day. Many officers in the pre-Civil War army would look very familiar to us today. Drones and careerists ...
What was exceptional about Grant was that he made it to the top and won the war nobody else could. The problem with this precedent from history is that America won't put a guy like him in charge until it's 5 or 10 minutes until Midnight and the end of the world as we know it is impending. As Churchill said, America can always be relied upon to do the right thing after it has exhausted all of the other alternatives.
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