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Subject: Marines too wimpy to take a crap in front of a woman rss

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Paul W
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A PhD is a good investment if you're going to be engaging in academic research...but I think it'd be a pretty poor choice for a requirement for a general. Yes, you have to do a lot of critical thinking along the way, but it also hinges on a variety of skills that are very specific to academic research and would probably filter out many excellent generals whose skills sets didn't happen to overlap with that particular set of skills.
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Agent J
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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fizzmore wrote:
A PhD is a good investment if you're going to be engaging in academic research...but I think it'd be a pretty poor choice for a requirement for a general. Yes, you have to do a lot of critical thinking along the way, but it also hinges on a variety of skills that are very specific to academic research and would probably filter out many excellent generals whose skills sets didn't happen to overlap with that particular set of skills.


In Tropico, soldiers have high school educations, but generals have to go to college. True story.
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William Boykin
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As I argued above, the problem is ticket punching. There is a general feeling in both the US Army and in the USMC that there isn't enough accountability of the senior leadership, too many yes men, and not enough encouragement of a true spirit of excellence.

A lengthy series of blog posts and comments starts more or less here on Tom Rick's blog on military affairs.

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/?page=7

A blog post from two former infantry commanders in the USMC is a good start on the discussion.

Quote:
At last Friday's beer call(-Note, this was a meetup about a previous article on the blog that stirred up considerable controversy, and not just a basic "Hey, lets go meet at the pub" social gathering.-Dar.) we had a turnout of eight people. It was an intimate group of truly concerned people, and the meetup went very well. The only consensus was that the current system isn't working, but the discussion helped the two of us refine our thinking. As usual, it left us with more questions than answers.

Here are our notes:

We've produced an organizational culture of risk-aversion and conformity, as well as a "stay in your box, just do your time" mentality. This is a tactical/operational reflection of a strategic leadership problem.

The causes put forth were all related to incentives: short deployments, high rates of turnover, inability to fire people for poor performance (you can only fire for ethical transgressions), and a habit of sending non-performers away on training teams to Iraq/Afghanistan, even while we preach partnering as the main effort.

As relates to personnel policy, we discussed it in the context of the RAND study which talked about DOPMA essentially unionizing the military. The group agreed that it's had the effect of driving many top performers away. Worse, for the ones who do stick around, the military is limited in its ability to reward them with faster promotions or movement to more prestigious/influential billets.

A common trend is that all of this stuff is happening at such a high level, and yet it's having a dramatic impact on the lowest ranks (not just officers-it doesn't take long for enlisted Marines to know which of their leaders is good and bad).

So who's to blame?

Should we blame the high-performer who decides to walk away? He could keep serving, but how long can you be frustrated and under-appreciated before you go look for something better?

Should we blame bad leadership? That's an easy answer, but most of the bad leadership is just a response to incentives. "That's just the way the game is played" has more power than we acknowledge.

Should we blame the Marine Corps? It operates within the law, Anbar and Helmand are arguably the biggest success stories from the two wars, it's maintained expeditionary units across the globe the entire time, and oh by the way it stood up a new branch for Special Operations Command. It's certainly done its part.

Should we blame the Congress? They aren't familiar with the personnel policy-most of them haven't served. And who puts them there in the first place?

So should we blame the American people for electing the Congress? For choosing not to serve in the all-volunteer force? How can we? The message they got was to go shopping and that the wars would be quick and easy.

What we decided was that we all share in the blame. No one person or group can take responsibility for everything that's going wrong. Instead, at every level, this is a response to incentives.

So how do you change the incentives? We can debate specific fixes for hours. But most simply, you have to take care of your top performers and you have to get rid of those who aren't up to the task. That's not pleasant when someone has served honorably for a decade and has a family, but who does the military exist to serve?

PS: We'd like to give a shout-out to Schlafly Pumpkin Ale.


Encouraging top performers to get PhDs in fields that they excel at is a key element- but only ONE element- of keeping these top performers in the services and not opting out.

Another article- one that was read by everyone at the Beer call listed above- is this one by Tim Kane from The Atlantic.- "Why Our Best Officers Are Leaving".
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/why-our-...

An excerpt of his opening argument-
Quote:
Why does the American military produce the most innovative and entrepreneurial leaders in the country, then waste that talent in a risk-averse bureaucracy? Military leaders know they face a paradox. A widely circulated 2010 report from the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College said: “Since the late 1980s … prospects for the Officer Corps’ future have been darkened by … plummeting company-grade officer retention rates. Significantly, this leakage includes a large share of high-performing officers.” Similar alarms have been sounded for decades, starting long before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made the exit rate of good officers an acute crisis. When General Peter Schoomaker served as Army chief of staff from 2003 to 2007, he emphasized a “culture of innovation” up and down the ranks to shift the Army away from its Cold War focus on big, conventional battles and toward new threats. In many respects (weapons, tactics, logistics, training), the Army did transform. But the talent crisis persisted for a simple reason: the problem isn’t cultural. The military’s problem is a deeply anti-entrepreneurial personnel structure. From officer evaluations to promotions to job assignments, all branches of the military operate more like a government bureaucracy with a unionized workforce than like a cutting-edge meritocracy.


The argument- though long- is quite interesting to read. I've been following it over the last few months. And it is quite apparent that while there is a lot of contention on some of the key details in questions, there is a broad consensus that something is wrong in the officer corps of the Armed forces, and that now, given that we are drawing down out of Iraq and Afghanistan, is the time to seriously start reflecting on the failures of the last decade and start re-envisioning the future of the US military.

Darilian
 
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Paul W
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Just starting to skim through it, but there's certainly a big difference between "generals should have to get PhDs", and "educational achievements should be encouraged as an option to advance". The latter has some merit (though given the time involved, I think the PhD subject matter should be relevant to a role in the military), but the former is a terrible idea.

Again, having only skimmed the linked article, the problem seems to be only of inflexibility and oppressive bureaucracy, and I think degree options only address that in an extremely tangential way (and as a requirement, probably would serve as an exemplar of the worst aspects of the current system).
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David desJardins
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I've met a fair number of American generals and admirals. Most of them are pretty well educated. Our system does encourage that. Of course, some of them are brighter than others, but that's true anywhere.

Saying "they should have a PhD" is credentialism, which I don't endorse. And, really, the primary purpose of a PhD is training for research, which isn't really what most officers need.
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