Senior Officer Email: The Problem with Army Leadership at the Division Level
Posted By Blackfive
Received this email from an Active Duty Army Officer (combat arms, OIF and OEF) concerned about leadership issues and how we are dealing with problems within the troops. Since we've been critical of senior leadership, thought I'd post this with his permission.
1. The same people who approved "morality waivers" to make retention goals are now in charge and wondering why we have so many DUIs, Suicides, and Sex Assaults
2. Seeking treatment for mental health issues is a long-term plan, you're never "cured" and the DOD has absolutely no way to balance keeping the soldier in the force (trained/schooled/promoted) and getting him the treatment he needs.
3. We write policies telling our subordinates to do things that we will not do (cough *counselling subordinates* cough) and we don't punish units for failing.
Case in point: IG inspections.
Generally, these don't exist anymore. Subordinate units get "Staff Assistance Visits" to check that they are doing the things the higher staff is interested in, but not necessarily the way the Army says they will be done (for example, using DTMS to schedule training.)
If a unit has an SAV and fails it completely, the end result is that they will be reinspected, at a later date, to be determined. Usually, that later date is after the people on both staffs have moved on, so what was broken before is still broken. Lather, rinse, repeat. So for failing to pass inspection, a unit has no penalty... what is the motivation to apply resources to the problem to fix it?
We write policies outlining "good order and discipline" telling our soldiers how to behave, but we have no means within those policies to ensure they are being followed, and no penalty for not following the directives. We might, natuarlly, punish a soldier who does not uphold the standards published, but we don't punish that soldier's leaders for failing to influence them to behave within standards. Platoon leaders don't get an ass chewing if their platoons fail muster inspection, Platoon Sergeants don't get shit-canned unless their personal behavior is outside the lines of good order and discipline, and only then if it's for an egregious error like a DUI or raping the CG's cat. Company, Battalion, and Brigade commanders don't get relieved for the failures of their units, they are the cream of the crop in terms of Army officers, (supposedly) and so of course these things can't be indicative of lax standards of discipline on their part. We chase shadows trying to figure out why we have major and minor discipline problems spreading through our formations like a cancer (or more appropriately, like syphillis) when the answer is plain to the casual observer: we have these problems at the rate we have now because we tolerate them. We tolerate the command climates that permit these things to happen. We don't look at undisciplined soldiers as a leadership failure, we see it as an individual soldier problem. We do not look at leaders and hold them responsible for the actions of their troops.
When was the last time the CG walked through the barracks, at night, on a weekend, and asked troops "when is the last time your battalion and brigade commander came through here after hours to check on you?"
I guaran-damned-tee you if it happend once, there'd be brigade, battalion, and company level leaders in the barracks every weekend. Even better, what if he straight relieved the company commander/1SG of the barracks he was most displeased with, and reprimanded the Battalion commander?
What if the CG found PFC Ghettoblaster at the PX with his pants around his ass, hat on backwards, etc. (violating appropriate dress policy) and held him there until his chain of command arrived, and the CG held the Team leader, Squad leader, and Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and 1SG responsible for PFC Ghettoblaster's failure to understand and adhere to the standard? What if he posted them at the PX until they were relieved by the chain of command of the next PFC Ghettoblaster found in the PX? Bet there's be a lot less underwear showing at the PX. (And yes, this would work if the person violating the policy was a dependednt, too. The only modification being the chain of command explaining why their soldier hasn't explained the standards of dress to his dependents.)
I'm not suggesting that an O8 spend his days making uniform corrections at the PX, or walking through the Barracks every weekend. The CG only needs to do these things once--that's all the influence he needs to apply to the problem to reinforce that it is important to him--and will energize his subordinate commanders to fix the problem.
Apply this methodology to "fixing" the sex assault problem in the Army:
CG gathers BN and BDE commanders--again, the theoretical cream of the crop--and tells them "this division has a problem with sexual assault. The next sexual assault that happens, I will relieve the chain of command from battalion down to fire team. What are your recommendations to fix the problem?" They might come up with some hair-brained ideas, but they may just hit upon a decent solution--now that they have skin in the game.
We don't relieve leaders except for their personal failings--we no longer hold them accountble for the failures of their units. There is no multiple wave relief, either, for exceptionally bad failings, we might relieve one leader (usually a Captain or LT) but a LTC? Not happening. A COL? nope.
Essentially, the four State staffers that Secretary Clinton put on admin leave with pay (essentially vacation) as punishment for their botching of the Benghazi murders have been requested to come back to work. Also, they were never intereviewed or questioned about their roles in the Benghazi affair and no one from State ever talked to them.
...A senior State Department official confirmed to The Daily Beast on Monday that all four officials placed on administrative leave were now returned to regular duty and would not face any formal disciplinary action. The administrative-leave designation was not a formal punishment, but did prevent the officials from working while the Kerry team, which inherited the Benghazi issue from the Clinton team in February, reviewed their cases...
So, either the four were put on admin leave because they were responsible and then given paid vacations showing us that Secretary Clinton protected them. Or, they were put on admin leave without explanation or cause in order to serve up some good PR for the department during the Benghazi debacle.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R–California) issued the following statement in response to The Daily Beast’s report:
Obama administration officials repeatedly promised the families of victims and the American people that officials responsible for security failures would be held accountable. Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll. It is now clear that the personnel actions taken by the Department in response to the Benghazi terrorist attacks was more of a public relations strategy than a measured response to a failure in leadership.
In the course of our investigation, the Oversight Committee learned that the State Department’s review of these four individuals did not include interviews with them or their supervisors to either substantiate or challenge allegations. The Oversight Committee will expand its investigation of the Benghazi terrorist attack to include how a supposed ‘Accountability Review Board’ investigation resulted in a decision by Secretary Kerry not to pursue any accountability from anyone.
Posted By BlackfiveArmy Spc. Roger Lewis carries Pfc. Jeremy McCrae to an extraction point during tactical training on Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Aug. 13, 2013. In a real-life situation, casualties are carried to an extraction point where they can be evacuated to receive medical aid. Lewis and McCrae are infantrymen assigned to Company C, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as "The Old Guard." U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.
National Airborne Day: The Best Photo of a Paratrooper by an AP Photographer
Posted By Blackfive
US Army soldiers take rest during patrol in Baghdad suburb, Monday Nov. 17, 2003. U.S. forces have reacted to the increasing attacks in which dozens of Americans and their allies have died by mounting a massive show of force in central and northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
Ah, a paratrooper rendering the proper salute to the press. It brings tears to my eyes...
Airborne! All the Way!
Armed Forces Journal Author (Army LTC): "Purge the Generals!"
Posted By Blackfive
"The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom." - Sun Tzu, 6th Century B.C.
LTC Daniel L. Davis, in a piece that he authored for the Armed Forces Journal (link: subscription needed), goes after a decade long track record of wasted resources and gigantic judgement lapses and is calling for a purge like GEN Marshall did in order to win WWII. The Washington Times' "Inside the Ring" picks up on it:
“The U.S. Army’s
generals, as a group, have lost the ability to effectively function at
the high level required of those upon whom we place the responsibility
for safeguarding our nation,” Army Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis stated in an article published online by Armed Forces Journal.
In Col. Davis‘ view, senior leaders have produced a 20-year record of organizational, acquisitional and strategic failures. <...> To compound the problem, the Army
is preparing to reorganize the service into smaller and less-capable
forces, as threats become more unpredictable and adversaries more
Col. Davis said the purge of generals should be similar to what occurred 70 years ago when Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall found an officer corps ill-suited for winning World War II. He forced scores of generals into retirement..."
...In a disturbing revelation about the treatment of America's most
severely wounded troops, Fox News has learned the military earlier this
month decided to invalidate meal tickets and reduce hours for the sole
dining facility in the Walter Reed building where they are recovering.
The decision affects the Warrior Cafe located inside building 62,
home to all multiple amputees and long-term, recovering patients at
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
The decision would mean wounded warriors who would normally have a
government-funded meal just down the hall would have to walk, wheel or
limp nearly a half-mile across the Walter Reed campus to the temporary
"food trailer" for breakfast, lunch and dinner...
Apparently, someone at the Pentagon has told the reporters that the decision will be reversed but there is no formal announcement or communication to the wounded troops yet. So let's put some pressure on for our brothers and sisters in 62 at Walter Reed. Skip calling the DoD. Call your Congressman or Senator.
I was going to invent a new game show. Only senior military field grade officers would have been allowed to play and the questions would be asked by a neutral Regimental Sergeant Major of my choosing.
And this would have been the title. But Col. Ellen Haring over at the US Army War College has already beat me to it, and she is the first contestant in her own sad show.
The Colonel, you may remember, was one of the escapees from the Asshatery who filed suit saying that women needed to be allowed in combat arms branches, and I think that she thinks she is on a roll; because from the deep depths of her vast combat experience she pulls this nugget out.
Col. Ellen Haring, on the staff of the U.S. Army War College, says commanders need to downplay obstacle courses and judge a service member’s ability to stay calm and think quickly.
Yeah, that will work Colonel. I pray this isn't what passes for "intellectual gravitas" at Army College. I hope she washed her hands after she pulled that fact out of whatever nether region it came from. Based upon this demonstration of intellect, I wouldn't let her be in charge of the copy machine, let alone a brigade of steely eyed killers.
So I am calling her out so that her peers won't have to suffer from having their careers shortened from laughing in her face for such a statement. I want the Colonel to use her ability to be calm and think very quickly to stop me from overpowering her by smashing her in the jaw with the butt of my rifle and then driving a bayonet through her ribs. C'mon, it ought to be easy. Just use your noggin!
All of your neurons firing and becoming the eye of storm aren't going to stop me from doing that; you are going to need physical strength to stop me Colonel, and I am confident I could do it right now even in my prior service, dirtbag civilian, light walking workout, semi chubby state.
But it ain't about me. She called out Audie Murphy, and I ain't gonna let that go...
Apparently, the Westboro asshats are at it again and going to protest at US Army Special Forcers Staff Sergeant Stephen M. New. He was killed in action (small arms fire) on the 28th of July and was with the2nd Battalion of the 20th SFGA out of Jackson, MS.
Please pass this information to anyone you know that may be able to help counter the Westboro haters. I appreciate your help and I'm sure his family would as well. I'm sure the Patriot Guard Riders are on this <- rider info at link, but every person at the funeral could help counter those jackwagons and show a greiving family some support.
Here is the information for the funeral home and the service time.
Funeral Service Saturday, August 10, 2013 2:00p.m. Faith Baptist Church 3755 North Germantown Road Bartlett, TN 38133 901-386-4785
Visitation Saturday, August 10, 2013 11:00a.m. - 2:00p.m. Faith Baptist Church 3755 North Germantown Rd. Bartlett, TN 38133 901-386-4785
No, not a band, and not (in this case) a reference to the special operations community. They are the Silent Professionals, but in this case I'm actually referring to a special class of entertainer.
This morning I was directed to this excellent editorial about Jesse Ventura and his hunt for a meal ticket, er, relevancy, er, recognition, er justice. Yeah, that's it. Seems Jesse is convinced that people think (or will think) he's a traitor, and he can't (and hasn't been able to) get work and fears for his safety, because of that sentence or two in Chris Kyle's book (American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History) where Chris describes decking an unnamed person that is believed to be Jesse from later comments. That's the real reason he's continuing his lawsuit and changing the target to Chris's widow, at least according to him.
Jesse, trust me on this: I, personally, haven't give you more than about ten seconds thought in the last ten years. Nor do I (nor anyone I know) think you a traitor. I consider you to be a delusional narcissistic douchebag, but unless you take up arms against the Constitution there is no way I will ever consider you a traitor to our country. A real man would have laughed it all off, passed it off, and moved on. They would not be going after Chris's widow, and the mother of a fallen SEAL who is getting any money from the book. Any chance of respect, well, you blew it. Long ago even, and the latest just confirms my opinion.
Reading all this reminded me that there are celebrities and then there are stars. The first are all about the fame, and often have little substance. Then you have stars, who (often) have solid talent/accomplishments and something more. I'm thinking of people like Robin Williams, Gary Sinise, Chuck Norris, and quite a few singers/musicians. Want to know what links them, and brought them to mind this morning? Each one of them has done multiple tours to meet and entertain our deployed troops -- on the condition it was not publicized. Yes, you are reading that right, the only recognition they wanted was with the troops. I've also been told that several such people actually insisted on going as far forward as possible, as they wanted not to meet and greet in the rear, but on the line.
While I disagree with the politics of some of them, I also have respect for them and their positions. Celebrities have to have the adulation and publicity on and for everything. Stars don't. I want to thank all of those "silent professionals" who have and are going to do what they can for the troops. You truly are stars and your efforts are noted and appreciated.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.