Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Millington: "The Root of all Evil?"

We've discussed the stultifying environment that comes from the Millington Diktat that, immune to even a decade of war, continues to warp our officer corps with all the resulting abnormalities we see.

It isn't just the Navy though; in his book, Bleeding Talent, The Hudson Institute's Tim Kane nails it;
The military is perhaps as selfless an institution as our society has produced. But in its current form, Mr. Kane says, it stifles the aspirations of the best who seek to serve it and pushes them out. “In terms of attracting and training innovative leaders, the U.S. military is unparalleled,” he writes. “In terms of managing talent, the U.S. military is doing everything wrong.”

The core problem, he argues, is that while the military may be “all volunteer” on the first day, it is thoroughly coercive every day thereafter. In particular, it dictates the jobs, promotions and careers of the millions in its ranks through a centralized, top-down, one-size-fits-almost-all system that drives many talented officers to resign in frustration. They leave, he says, because they believe that “the military personnel system — every aspect of it — is nearly blind to merit.”
...
 He looks at today’s military and sees suppressed entrepreneurs among officers and enlisted ranks alike. “America’s armed forces are a leadership factory,” he writes, saying that former military officers are three times as likely to become corporate C.E.O.’s as their raw numbers would suggest.

In surveying recent West Point graduates, he found that only 7 percent believed that most of the best officers remained in the military. It is not the combat, the low pay or the pull of family life that is the top reason they quit in surprising numbers, Mr. Kane writes, but rather the “frustration with military bureaucracy.” One study found that young officers left because they wanted a sense of control over their careers. In short, they wanted what the rest of us want.
...
 ACCORDING to Mr. Kane, “the root of all evil in this ecosystem” is the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, enacted by Congress in 1980 to standardize military personnel policies. But the system has defied efforts by successive defense secretaries to bring about change.

That act binds the military into a system that honors seniority over individual merit. It judges officers, hundreds at a time, in an up-or-out promotion process that relies on evaluations that have been almost laughably eroded by grade inflation. A zero-defect mentality punishes errors severely. The system discourages specialization — you can’t expect to stay a fighter jock or a cybersecurity expert — and pushes the career-minded up a tried-and-true ladder that, not surprisingly, produces lookalikes.
Exactly. 

Along with Goldwater Nichols, we have reached the point where the military serves the system, as opposed to having a system that serves the the needs of the military. I've got to read that book.

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