Why Emperors Lose their Clothes (II) 

August 31, 1998

Comment: #175

Discussion Thread:  #s 172 & 173


[1] Email from a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel (Attached)

The email below from a retired Marine officer with heavy combat time in Vietnam responds to the Army officer's description of the nature self-inflicted readiness wounds and the responsibility of leadership [#173 ].

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, the following material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]

Reference 1:

That Army officer's remarks on the self-inflicted readiness wound were terrific. This whole tension between "institution" vs. "occupation" extends also to the Air Force, where the compartmentation by MOS is even worse than in the Army (leading to a "not my job" mentality for anything not within the individual's job description -- I saw it countless times and thought much related to having too many officers and parsing the jobs into ever thinner slices).

Of course, advertising the military as a place to get a self-actualizing job is perhaps the worst thing to do -- service to something higher than self is the critical message. The fact that it is touted by only one of the four services shows a shameful failure to appreciate the corrosive cost of educational and monetary enticements. We can have a voluntary military, but we're looking for Jesuits, not job-seekers.

While the Army officer touted the virtues of unit rotation, even the Marines screwed it up. Infantry battalions remain severely understaffed, and a huge effort of robbing Peter to pay Paul takes place when a unit is about to deploy -- shattering whatever fig leaf of unit cohesion exists. Moreover, if the Marines were serious about combat capability in their infantry battalions, they'd go with 4 vice 3 maneuver companies -- the tactical options and the staying power go up exponentially. Yes, it would've cost them a few LCAC's or tilt-rotors, but as in all things, what are the priorities?

The dry rot is evident by the fact that the services' leadership (I use the term guardedly) don't even perceive that they've got a problem.