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GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD LEADERS GONE? |

March 27, 2008

WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD LEADERS GONE?
Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 3/27/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: c/o bouhammer.com

In 1997 I started my career on Active Duty and had some amazing leaders. Ten years later, I am disgusted with what has become of the officer and senior non-commissioned ranks in the US Army. I know some are blind to the reality of what the “big” Army has become. I am an NCO* myself with only 10 years in, a mixture of active and reserve time; I am abrasive, opinionated, and I ask a lot of questions. The questions come because I feel it is pretty important to know as much as possible when it concerns your own life and the lives of your buddies.

I have been accused of being rude and disrespectful, but never have I been accused of not knowing my job. Some have even regarded me as a Subject Matter Expert, a title I personally feel is overused and untrue; no one is an expert on anything. I have lost rank, caused a few disturbances for standing up for my men and for what I believe in, but hell I was being a good NCO! So with that introduction done and over with, let’s get back to what the title of this post means, and what the hell is going on here.

I am currently located in Afghanistan, and have had the eye-opening experience of seeing officers and senior NCOs pushing aside their subordinates and pressing issues to do the following: complain in staff meetings about people taking too many goodies out of the chow hall, or wearing a patch that is unauthorized by Army regulations (for many ETT/PMT* members here anyways); a CSM* that we have all seen just once, at indoctrination -- out of 20 guys only two know his name or actually have seen him on camp; a MSG* who has a skill set of level one soldier but is in charge of JOC*; a senior officer who claims to know more about Army regulations than anyone else (by the way, he is in the Navy), and feels he has the authority to approve or disapprove awards (type the shit up and shut the hell up).

We have an executive officer at the Regional level who has no concept of convoy operations, and thinks driving four hours without a break is acceptable. We had men order cold weather equipment in August of 2007; it arrived late January of this year. It takes months to get parts for our trucks, paperwork disappears, officers argue in public about who is getting what awards regardless of position. According to them, they are a certain rank so they deserve it, right?

Where are the priorities? And please do not give me usual answer, "You don’t see the big picture." What is the big picture here? I sure as hell cannot see it through all the pettiness. Are certain individuals' personal crusades and agendas more important than the young officers and enlisted that have to accomplish their tasks with little or no backing? What mission is so important to you that you would sacrifice manpower and equipment to accomplish it?

I am going to attack the National Guard here for a minute, and those in power would probably get really pissed about it if it wasn’t so true: Those who come to active duty and are reservists gain a large amount of power quickly, and it has been my experience that these men cannot handle it. It is as if they are given a limitless credit card when they are on active status. I find these are men with little control over their personal lives (I had a LTC* screaming at his wife on the phone next to me at the phone center, which is very professional), and they are not looked upon as real leaders or respected by the troops of their units. They abuse their position and think their rank entitles them to be right at any cost, or to bend Army rules and regulations when it behooves them. They make the assumption, “Well we are active duty now, and this is how active duty is." Where the hell did that idea come from?

While in Iraq we had females in bikinis and guys in swimming shorts sitting around pools on their days off. That was part of the active duty I was on. We could wear civilian clothes to the gym. My God, the chaos that just might cause if we allow this here in Afghanistan.

I had an officer talk to me the other day like I was five because I questioned the way his operation was going to go down in a discussion I was part of. Apparently he can remember every military definition, yet cannot realize possible ambush sites if they kick him in the face. If I have to hear one more speech about duty and all that other bullshit I am going to puke. For most of these guys, it’s their first and last tour, yet they speak as if they have been to hell and back. I take these speeches personally, because most of these jerk-offs will never deploy again yet they feel as if they are the ones winning the war. So I ask, WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD LEADERS GONE?

If you are a good leader and your men respect you, continue to stand up and do the right thing. If you took this post personally and feel that I am simply crying, well look in the mirror and ask yourself how much have you done lately to make sure your troops have everything they need. I bet for some of you that will be very hard to do. So get back to your desk, write your BS* OER/NCOER* and continue to be a self-proclaiming jackass that can care less about the kids on the ground duking it out. Your master plans on winning this war aren’t working and haven’t for a long time. Grow a set of balls and tell your bosses what the real deal is!...

Common Sense. Do what you are supposed to do, without someone having to tell you, despite your own personal discomfort or fear. SH-21-76 (Ranger Handbook).

*
NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
ETT: Embedded Training Team
PMT: Police Mentoring Team
CSM: Command Sergeant Major
MSG: Master Sergeant
JOC: Joint Operations Command Center
LTC: Lieutenant Colonel
BS: Bullshit
OER: Officer Evaluation Report
NCOER: Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Report

Comments

Where have all the good leaders gone? Just start at the top! The apples don't fall far from the tree.

You just described almost every key leader in my unit when I was deployed in 2003-4. We're National Guard, and what you said fit the bill to a tee with our E7's and above, our LT's on up, and even some of our E6's.

While I never lost rank for questions, I was often selected "at random" for BS details because of them.

What saddens me is the more and more troops in theatre I talked with, the more the problem you described is growing. Not just with reserve components, but on the Active side of the house as well. I've seen too many of the good soldier/leaders end up frustrated and leaving the military because of the other types. What concerns me is the number of multiple deployments in increasing, while the number of quality personnel is decreasing.

I keep my fingers crossed that enough quality people stick it out long enough, and that the numbers increase enough, that good things can and will happen.

Keep your head down, be safe, and thank you for sharing your experiences.

I wonder how one does his duty when the leaders can't or won't lead him to do it. Well, keep taking care of your men, your mission and helping your leadership stay alive and learning without too many mistakes. I am always amazed by the number of great officers I served with and under - but then I was a problem for many, and still am, but too old to help you or this army. God bless all your best, remember - exploit success!

Gee, and they said this war was nothing at all like Viet Nam!

Right on brother! I was Navy in Nam and the PI. We had the same stuff. Petty junior officers for whom this was the best war they could get. They made sure they got theirs first. Screwing over the enlisted men was an Olympic sport.

Out of that I got a raging hard-on for officers. I distrusted every single one. A few were great guys, but on average, you had to watch your back every step of the way.

I revisited, at Bremerton Shipyard, the New Navy, and it had all changed. The raging hard-on turned to an absent minded ball scratch. It just wasn't the Old Navy (mean spirited, overbearing, unfair, autocratic, despots) at all. So, there is hope.

It must be the stress. It brings the worst out in us all. Our DO charged several of ou best guys with mutiny and sent them to Mast (NJP) most of the rest of us REQUESTED (you usually don't ever mess with the CO, but we had to) Mast to speak in their defense.

I got out as soon as I could. I thought about career, but . . . I've worked with boats, shipyards, commercial fishing and recreational boats all my life. I realize now that one of two things would have happened. I could have mustanged out(enlisted to officer - the hard way), or wound up as a career E3 with five red hash (four years each; gold hash for good behavior - red for disciplinary magnets).

Hang in there! You are needed. History will show you to be right. But don't expect any recognition in this lifetime. But the old guys know . . .

Cheu Houy!

This is why the smart folks vote with their feet and get out. Our unit lost just about every college degree holder to better paying civilian jobs and stable family lives. There comes a time when you just can't bear the silliness any longer.

This is why the smart folks vote with their feet and get out. Our unit lost just about every college degree holder to better paying civilian jobs and stable family lives. There comes a time when you just can't bear the silliness any longer.

Wow! Not like I wasn't scared shitless before reading this. Having 2 children in the Army National Guard! Neither have been deployed yet and I have to say I am very grateful for that. Sorry if that offends. I KNOW Freedom is not Free and you are maintaning it for me today! You have no idea what LOVE I have for you because of that. Please stay safe!

Cathy

Col. Hackworth would be proud of you. You are the pro, and Thank God for you! Keep 5 yards...

Hmmm-sounds like what I saw during my time in-during and after Viet Nam. The good officers for the most part kind of disappeared-sometimes with riffing (reduction in force, leaving us with a few good ones-but a lot of ribbon-chasers, ass-sniffers, and other low lifes who our battalion xo referred to as idiots masquerading as officers. A lot of NCO's met the same fate...I also stood up to the illegalities and mindlessness-and lost stripes-I would not change that for the world. At least I could look myself in the mirror. Hang in there-you who know what you are doing, protect your charges as best you can. Good luck, God Bless, and keep your heads down...

Hmmm-sounds like what I saw during my time in-during and after Viet Nam. The good officers for the most part kind of disappeared-sometimes with riffing (reduction in force, leaving us with a few good ones-but a lot of ribbon-chasers, ass-sniffers, and other low lifes who our battalion xo referred to as idiots masquerading as officers. A lot of NCO's met the same fate...I also stood up to the illegalities and mindlessness-and lost stripes-I would not change that for the world. At least I could look myself in the mirror. Hang in there-you who know what you are doing, protect your charges as best you can. Good luck, God Bless, and keep your heads down...

I've been AD enlisted loved it, but wanted to get my degree, so I got out and joined the National Guard. Minnesota has some quality units - they are not full of nepotism. After I graduated, I attended OCS and was commissioned. Unfortunately, I moved to a different state that has a bunch of sh*t b*rds running the National Guard. We deployed in 2003 and the CSM was so f*cking wishy-washy you couldn't trust a word he said. The BC was just as bad (when he was around). Now I am back again. This time I'm with an organization trying to do good things, but has to many "leaders" trying to bunch that golden ticket. IDK, good leaders are leaving - why do you think the Army is dangling the $35,000 golden carrot out there to keep CAPTAINS? We need someone at the Pentagon to do a purge like GEN Marshall did in 1940 and fire a bunch of Generals and Colonels. And why not a few CSMs while he is at it.
War is certainly not perfect, but we do need good, competent leaders that can MAKE A DECISION, even if it may only be an 80% solution. You can FRAGO it later. So, where have the good leaders gone??

That was my thought,too.

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