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Old 08-08-2011   #41
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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.
It's the nature of the system, Pete, and I think you'll find that the US is not alone in this respect. We just talk about our failings more than most other nations do.
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Old 08-09-2011   #42
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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.
Muth's book at £25 is expensive to buy but should be very educational.

In the meantime here is a US document from 1942 on the broader subject of German Army training.

German Military Training

Given the economic condition of Germany after Versailles and the restrictions on the military the methods used to build that war machine should indeed be studied as there must be lessons for other nations in there somewhere.
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Old 08-09-2011   #43
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I'd rather look at the Foreign Military Studies series of documents than those wartime intelligence briefs, which were ridden with mistakes.

For example, Hitler did not solve the problem how to create an officer corps for a 300 division force; even counting Luftwaffe divisions, there were only about half that many, and army officers were always short in supply.
A 300 division force with a (normal) divisional slice of 50k personnel would have been a force of 15 million men; it would have required French- or Soviet-style mobilization to come even close!

Another example is the SA, which became quite irrelevant in 1934 and was certainly not the kind of important organisation in 39/40 as described in that 1942 document.
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Old 08-09-2011   #44
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Given the economic condition of Germany after Versailles and the restrictions on the military the methods used to build that war machine should indeed be studied as there must be lessons for other nations in there somewhere.
Have you seen Triumph of the Will? I watched it for the first time recently. My mouth might literally have hung open during the initial footage featuring units from the National Work Service.

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Old 08-10-2011   #45
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Default Very good source for German officer training 1919-1944

A very good dissertation on the structure, selection, training and expansion of the German officer corps is:

Autor: Richhardt, Dirk
Titel: Auswahl und Ausbildung junger Offiziere 1930-1945
Titel (eng): Selection and trainig of young officers 1930-1945
Erscheinungsjahr: 2002
Fachbereich: Fachbereich Geschichte und Kulturwissenschaften, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Institut: Geschichte und Kulturwissenschaften
Format: Portable Document Format (PDF 2.2M)
URL: http://archiv.ub.uni-marburg.de/diss/z2005/0100/
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:04-z2005-01003
DDC-Sachgruppe: 943 Geschichte Deutschlands

This publication (only in German) gives a lot of hard numbers and describes in detail the dramatic chages of the officer training after 1941 due to the high losses at the ostfront. The combination with Muth's "Command Culture" and parts of Crevelt's "Fighting Power" gives a quite complete picture for the Greman side.
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Old 08-11-2011   #46
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I sat through an IPR today where people talked about the CG going ballistic about "dog & pony" show type of stuff. Then I come home, read this thread and I have to just laugh.

The system is not going to change. It is what it is.

I wonder if there are any units that don't get distracted by the superfluous, garrison, limp-wristed crap.
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Old 08-12-2011   #47
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Funny thing happened today to me, as well.

Was sitting through one of our twice a day production meetings (twice a day? WTF???) and someone mentioned the "80% solution".

"80%, I said... don't you mean 70% solution?" I mean, the basis for the phrase was that 70% was "passing".

But, no, some mouth breathing moron decided that if 70% was good, then 80% is better, so now we need to make sure our product meets the 80% solution, because it is better.

Of course, that doesn't stop the idiots at the top from taking several MONTHS to get an intel product out the door. MONTHS!!!! All in the moronic, risk averse attempt to get product "perfect".

80% solution my *ss....
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Old 08-12-2011   #48
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Was sitting through one of our twice a day production meetings (twice a day? WTF???) and someone mentioned the "80% solution".

"80%, I said... don't you mean 70% solution?" I mean, the basis for the phrase was that 70% was "passing".

But, no, some mouth breathing moron decided that if 70% was good, then 80% is better, so now we need to make sure our product meets the 80% solution, because it is better.
Sounds like someone may have been indulging in the seven-per-cent solution.
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Old 08-12-2011   #49
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Having a clogged nose right now...what is so evil about mouth breathing?!?

There's some kind of political committee report on the Kundus bombing event in the German news now. It strikes me how self-evident it appears to be for everyone involved that an officer who makes one mistake has to be fired and isn't acceptable for further service.

The zero failure tolerance has set in and I didn't see it coming.

Shouldn't it be self-evident that learning from mistakes, not mistakes themselves is critical? We are all fallible human beings, after all!
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Old 08-12-2011   #50
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Having a clogged nose right now...what is so evil about mouth breathing?!?

There's some kind of political committee report on the Kundus bombing event in the German news now. It strikes me how self-evident it appears to be for everyone involved that an officer who makes one mistake has to be fired and isn't acceptable for further service.

The zero failure tolerance has set in and I didn't see it coming.

Shouldn't it be self-evident that learning from mistakes, not mistakes themselves is critical? We are all fallible human beings, after all!
Reminds me of the Theodore Rooseveldt quote:

Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic", delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910

Quote:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
However, there is a line that needs to be drawn between an honest error and the result of incompetence.
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Old 08-13-2011   #51
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Having a clogged nose right now...what is so evil about mouth breathing?!?

There's some kind of political committee report on the Kundus bombing event in the German news now. It strikes me how self-evident it appears to be for everyone involved that an officer who makes one mistake has to be fired and isn't acceptable for further service.

The zero failure tolerance has set in and I didn't see it coming.

Shouldn't it be self-evident that learning from mistakes, not mistakes themselves is critical? We are all fallible human beings, after all!
Zero tolerance? Frankly, I'd like to see the entire officer staff of RC-N relieved and reduced to begging on the streets.

The "fail" is strong with that group of bozos.

The hard part will be finding just one to fire.
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Old 08-13-2011   #52
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I'm on both sides of this issue. At times "eyewash" is a way of putting a bit of snap and pop into a complacent unit. A bit of of it it isn't a bad thing if it causes guys to pay more attention to detail. There is a cross-over point though when too much if it is counter-productive and a waste of effort on non-productive things.

A certain amount of feeling sharp is a good thing. I never felt better than in '77 when we had starched cotton fatigues with highly shined jump-boots. The feel-good-factor went way down when the perma-press uniform came out, and fell even lower when the no-press BDUs were introduced. There was no feeling sharp any more.
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Old 08-13-2011   #53
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I decided the Army should never again press/starch uniforms when, one day, I went to the motorpool and found myself reluctant to get under vehicles or take a knee to inspect them, do pmcs etc - all out of concern for damaging the long hard work I'd done to make myself look sharp. The alternative was to change uniforms when going to the motorpool. Even putting coveralls over top wasn't going to stop wrinkles, creases, etc.

Anyway, it was at that point I decided that starch, pressing, and any form of looking pretty was now a nogo in my book.

I do agree there is some pride to be had in feeling sharp. However, it's never as strong as the feeling as when your unit completes a very difficult training event, or performs well in combat, etc.

Also, to be honest, I've felt more pride in being an arms room officer for instance, and seeing my SPC armorer and I produce a flawless SOP, or go through an inspection with excellent results - not because it then briefed well, but because I knew damn well that he and I both knew what we were doing and that I could trust with him any and everything related to that arms room. Did more for cohesion, esprit de corps, and so forth than any bull#### unit run could have done. Bonding and pride comes from working together to accomplish meaningful things. That stuff is durable. A unit run makes you feel good until you hit the door at the DFAC, and then it's over.

What we have these days is a bunch of commanders that go from one fleeting moment of 'feeling sharp' to another, one PowerPoint masterpiece to another. And they never actually go out there and just accomplish a mission, build a team, lead Soldiers, or anything else that has true, durable meaning.
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Old 08-14-2011   #54
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I'd rather look at the Foreign Military Studies series of documents than those wartime intelligence briefs, which were ridden with mistakes.

For example, Hitler did not solve the problem how to create an officer corps for a 300 division force; even counting Luftwaffe divisions, there were only about half that many, and army officers were always short in supply.
A 300 division force with a (normal) divisional slice of 50k personnel would have been a force of 15 million men; it would have required French- or Soviet-style mobilization to come even close!

Another example is the SA, which became quite irrelevant in 1934 and was certainly not the kind of important organisation in 39/40 as described in that 1942 document.
I did reply to this before but I think it got lost during the recent 'server issues' so I will repeat it.

Any of this 'Foreign Military Studies' stuff available online?

In the absence of available/cheap/in English alternatives the document I posted the link for is a good place to start looking at this particular subject.
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Old 08-14-2011   #55
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Have you seen Triumph of the Will? I watched it for the first time recently. My mouth might literally have hung open during the initial footage featuring units from the National Work Service.
I did reply to this before but I think it got lost during the recent 'server issues' so I will repeat it.

I tend to avoid the political aspects of Germany of that era and focus upon selected aspects of military interest to me. The main one is how after Versailles they put in motion the rebuilding of their military under severe economic and other constraints. There are lessons to be learned there.
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Old 08-14-2011   #56
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The FMS series is available online somewhere), but not for free.

The cheapest way to read one specific FMS study (IIRC 54) that I found was to travel to a distant German archive and read it there, followed by ordering photocopies for 80 bucks.
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Old 08-14-2011   #57
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What we have these days is a bunch of commanders that go from one fleeting moment of 'feeling sharp' to another, one PowerPoint masterpiece to another. And they never actually go out there and just accomplish a mission, build a team, lead Soldiers, or anything else that has true, durable meaning.
There is a danger in deciding the U.S. Army is made up of no-nonsense combat arms guys on one hand who get the job done and self-serving careerist politicians and weenies with their PowerPoint briefings on the other. The U.S. Army and real life is more nuanced than that. I've met both types of guys, but a lot of people are somewhere in between those two poles.
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Old 08-14-2011   #58
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You are right, and probably, if it was assessable quantitatively, we'd see that the number of careerists is about the same as the no-nonsense types. Unfortunately, the careerists have more wide ranging effects as compared to the no-nonsense types. I believe that is why the venom spit at the careerists is so extreme - so many people are affected.

A no-nonsense guy is pretty much looked at as doing his job, which leads to a lack of an appreciation for what they do. The careerists is seen and despised by many and our negativity bias keeps us fixated on their effects. Perhaps, therein lies the cure for this: just ignore the careerists and make more of an effort to acknowledge the true leaders within the ranks. The trick will be getting the "institution" to follow suit.
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Old 08-15-2011   #59
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You are right, and probably, if it was assessable quantitatively, we'd see that the number of careerists is about the same as the no-nonsense types. Unfortunately, the careerists have more wide ranging effects as compared to the no-nonsense types. I believe that is why the venom spit at the careerists is so extreme - so many people are affected.

A no-nonsense guy is pretty much looked at as doing his job, which leads to a lack of an appreciation for what they do. The careerists is seen and despised by many and our negativity bias keeps us fixated on their effects. Perhaps, therein lies the cure for this: just ignore the careerists and make more of an effort to acknowledge the true leaders within the ranks. The trick will be getting the "institution" to follow suit.
There is an additional complication:

A significant number of the "no-nonsense" guys are actually idiots who do not understand that being a senior officer is a nuanced, political job. They are noted by being tall or extremely short and engaging in shouting loudly until they get their way. And "their way" is usually a pretty crappy way of doing things. And they usually get away with their failures by shouting loudly and denigrating others as "pogues" and "fobbits".

I am currently infested with a couple of O-6s who fit this bill. And are actually more harmful than the so-called "careerists".

BTW, anyone who hits O-6 or E-8 is automatically a "careerist". There are no innocents here, and to pretend otherwise is either naive or deceptive.
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Old 08-15-2011   #60
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Funny thing happened today to me, as well.

Was sitting through one of our twice a day production meetings (twice a day? WTF???) and someone mentioned the "80% solution".

"80%, I said... don't you mean 70% solution?" I mean, the basis for the phrase was that 70% was "passing".

But, no, some mouth breathing moron decided that if 70% was good, then 80% is better, so now we need to make sure our product meets the 80% solution, because it is better.

Of course, that doesn't stop the idiots at the top from taking several MONTHS to get an intel product out the door. MONTHS!!!! All in the moronic, risk averse attempt to get product "perfect".

80% solution my *ss....
Unfortunately that's long been SOP at HHQ and theater intel shops.
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