One consistent theme in e-mails and letters from NCOs and junior officers is their opinion that the quality of leadership has declined greatly over the last 10 or so years. In particular, they complain that senior leaders appear more concerned with furthering their own careers and lining up post-retirement employment than with fighting for the resources their troops need to train and be effective. Of course, even a quick glance through military history finds that this is a common complaint, especially in peacetime. Are we in fact seeing an unusual crisis in leadership? If so, what will happen if it continues, and what are the solutions?
8/06/07 Old Dogs and New Tricks: Setting the Tone For Adaptability, by MAJ Don Vandergriff and COL George Reed, both USA, Ret. Fingerspitzengefühl (intuition and judgment) and Auftragstaktik
(ability to use mission-type orders) are great things to have, but how do you develop them? [739 KB PDF - ignore the white space, from deleted advertisements]6/20/07 The Future Personnel System (3.1 MB PPT), by Don Vandergriff. A companion to his “Raising the Bar” briefing and book and the start of his next book (”Path to Victory II”). Be sure to read the notes.
4/30/07 Fire the Generals! by COL Douglas Macgregor, USA, Ret. The American system gives great power and reward to its most senior officers, without a corresponding increase in accountability.
4/28/07 A Failure in Generalship, by LTC Paul Yingling, USA. Excerpt from the article in the Armed Forces Journal.
11/14/05 Mentoring: What does (and doesn’t) work. Message thread mostly among US military officers.
7/02/05 Leadership for the Fourth Generation: Preparing Leaders to Out-Think Our New Enemy, Capt Robert Kozloski, USMC (34 KB PDF)
4/17/05 Raising the Bar, by US Army MAJ Don Vandergriff, with a revised Part 1 and new Parts 11, 12, and 13. Changing not just ROTC or even the officer corps, but reforming the Army for changes in war and strategy.
1/20/04 Lessons Learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, by MAJ Don Vandergriff. “Highly-trained units, led by innovative and flexible leaders, will defeat a larger enemy!” (136 KB PPT)
10/19/03 Marine General: Leading From Iraqi Battlefield Informed Key Decisions by Elaine Grossman, Inside the Pentagon. Maneuver warfare works much better if leaders actually lead.
Unit manning will benefit the many, MAJ Donald E. Vandergriff, US Army. The incoming (as of July 2003) Chief and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army should dust off the 1970 “Study on Military Professionalism” [see below] to remind themselves what can happen when the system “forces its leaders to pick their careers over their soldiers.”
Study on Military Professionalism (US Army War College, 1970) In the middle of the Vietnam War, the Army took a hard look at itself. It documented the erosion of traditional values of duty, honor, and country and their replacement by a focus on whatever it took to get the next promotion. (9.3 MB PDF scan of the 219 page original.)
Chief of Staff’s Leadership Survey (Also 103 KB Adobe Acrobat .pdf file) Sixteen of the sixty-four surveys of students at the U.S. Army’s Command and Staff College. As Tom Ricks wrote in the Washington Post (April 17, 2000): “‘Young officers are getting out because they fell out of touch with leadership,’ the Fort Leavenworth study concludes. ‘Many believe there needs to be a clean sweep of a senior leadership as hierarchical as the military.”
“The Revolution in Human Affairs: Changing the Culture for the 21st Century,” by MAJ Donald E. Vandergriff, USA. Recently, one of the most talked-about presentations in Washington. If we don’t restore the warrior culture, then the other “revolutions” in military affairs are merely ways to spend money. Why our current culture isn’t doing the job, how it got this way, and what it’s going to take to fix it.
Grand Strategy, a brief introduction by the editor of Defense and the National Interest.
The Lewis Report: “Time to Regenerate: A GenX Response to Dr. Wong’s Monograph” In this response to a recent report by Dr Leonard Wong of the Army’s Strategic Studies Institute, former Ranger Officer Mark Lewis gives the views of the Generation Xers themselves: Junior officers are leaving in alarming numbers because they no longer feel they can accomplish what they came into the Army to do. These “job satisfaction” issues indicate deep cultural problems that cannot be solved by perqs at the margin, like more pay, extra time off, or the right to e-mail superiors. [See also Mark Lewis’s update as part of Comment 426 (631 KB PDF file.)]
DCSPER (LTG Maude) Report, 19 Oct 2000. Documents retention rate problems, esp. among company grade officers, and the unprecedented numbers of COLs and LTCs declining command billets (a necessary “ticket” for higher rank.)
“Army Professionalism, The Military Ethic, and Officership in the 21st Century,” By Professor Don Snider, Major John Nagl, and Major Tony Pfaff of the US Military Academy at West Point. Occasionally veers into the academic, but don’t be put off. This paper raises pertinent questions about how the political imperative for force protection (”minimize/ eliminate causalities”) may erode military professionalism (”accomplish the mission”). Bombing from high altitude may result in fewer planes shot down, but when is that a fair trade-off for higher civilian casualties?
Cohesion, by Dr. Jonathan Shay. The author of Achilles in Vietnam explores “cohesion,” the role it plays in combat performance, and how it differs from esprit d’corps. With proper training, most any group can be molded into a cohesive unit and good leadership can avoid conflicts between unit cohesion and overall force effectiveness. (389 KB MS Word document on War, Chaos, and Business.)