Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's not their fault, deployment made them do it?

So, what do leaders think is the cause of servicemembers being shown the door for poor behavior? 

Lolita C. Baldor takes a stab at it. I'm not a fan of what she was being told.
The number of U.S. soldiers forced out of the Army because of crimes or misconduct has soared in the past several years as the military emerges from a decade of war that put a greater focus on battle competence than on character.

Data obtained by The Associated Press shows that the number of officers who left the Army due to misconduct more than tripled in the past three years. The number of enlisted soldiers forced out for drugs, alcohol, crimes and other misconduct shot up from about 5,600 in 2007, as the Iraq war peaked, to more than 11,000 last year.
Ummmm ... no. Never once have I ever heard someone say - at least in this war; "You know what - he cheats on his travel claims, wife, and is a toxic leader ... let's give him more power and responsibility."

No. One. Ever. Said.

The implication is that those who serve well in combat are somehow less ethical and worthy? I know some Navy selection boards may act that way ... but that is not the message we need to be using as an excuse.

Look who is making these excuses ... blaming war? Really?
"I wouldn't say lack of character was tolerated in (war) theater, but the fact of the last 10 or 12 years of repeated deployments, of the high op-tempo — we might have lost focus on this issue," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's top officer, told the AP last week. "Sometimes in the past we've overlooked character issues because of competence and commitment."
"We're paying a lot more attention to it now. We are not tolerant at all of those showing a lack of character," Odierno said. "We have to refocus ourselves so we get to where we think is the right place."
Good googly moogly. Either you are saying it or not. Diagram that logic and plan of action for me. Odierno has been in DC too long - and worse - he has put a shadow on everyone who advance through deployment and success on the battlefield.

To be fair - this is a tough issue and he might be trying hard to explain what to him is unexplainable (always a sign of bad staff work). 

Let's try again - is this any better?
"It is not the war that has caused this," Dempsey said. "It is the pace, and our failure to understand that at that pace, we were neglecting the tools that manage us as a profession over time."
Maybe it is just me, but this doesn't wash. What examples are backing this up?
... the demotion of Army Gen. William "Kip" Ward for lavish, unauthorized spending; sexual misconduct charges against Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair; and episodes of gambling and drinking by other general officers.

More recently, there have been cheating allegations against Air Force nuclear missile launch officers and a massive bribery case in California that has implicated six Navy officers. Examples of troop misconduct include Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters and soldiers posing with body parts of Afghan militants
None of those people are even remotely acting as a result of being deployed too long. As you try to unpack all that fried air - you eventually find the real story.
As the Army began to reduce its ranks in recent years toward a goal of 490,000 in 2015, leaders have been more willing and able to get rid of problem soldiers. That is likely to escalate because the latest plan would reduce the Army to 420,000 later in the decade if deep, automatic budget cuts continue.

The Navy went through a similar process.

When the decision was made to cut the size of the 370,000-strong naval force in 2004, the number of sailors who left due to misconduct and other behavior issues grew. In 2006, more than 8,400 sailors left due to conduct issues.

As the size of the Navy began to stabilize — it's now at about 323,000 — the number of problem sailors leaving also began to decline steadily, dropping each successive year to a new low of about 3,700 in 2013.
You can also find similar results, I would wager, on PRT issues.

If you are looking for character flaws, look to a culture that uses NJP and arbitrary PRT enforcement as a force management tool. Either standards mean something, or they do not. If you have to reduce the force, then do it - don't hide behind the skirt of the JAG and measuring tape.

Well, "Go Navy" in this respect;
The Navy has become known as the most transparent service, often quicker to publicly fire commanders for misconduct or poor leadership. But the number of Navy officers forced out has remained relatively constant, ranging from 84 to 107 annually for the past eight years. The bulk of those were for what the service calls "unacceptable conduct" or unfitness for duty.

The Air Force, which is smaller than the Navy and Army, reported far fewer cases of airmen leaving for misconduct, both for officers and enlisted service members. The number of officers separated from service since 2000 due to a court-martial ranged from a low of 20 in 2001 to a high of 68 in 2007. For enlisted airmen, the number ranged from a high of nearly 4,500 in 2002 to a low of almost 2,900 in 2013.

Data for the Marine Corp, the military's smallest service, was not broken out by officers and enlisted personnel. Overall, it showed that Marines leaving the service due to misconduct was about 4,400 in 2007, but has declined to a bit more than 3,000 last year.

Those forced to leave for commission "of a serious offense" has nearly doubled from about 260 to more than 500 over the past seven years. The number of Marines who left after court-martial has dropped from more than 1,300 in 2007 to about 250 last year. The Marine Corps also grew in size during the peak war years, and is now reducing its ranks.
Something tells me that we may have a complete lack of desire or clue to dig behind the numbers - either out of disinterest or not really wanting to look at where it is coming from - if you can.
"I don't think there is one simple answer to the issue of ethics, values, a lapse in some of those areas," said Hagel during a recent briefing. "Was it a constant focus of 12 years on two long land wars, taking our emphasis off some of these other areas? I don't know."

He said he is appointing a top officer to work with the services on the problem, and he will be addressing the topic at regularly scheduled meetings with his military leaders.
Oh yes, a study group - by all means - a study group. Call it Blue-Ribbon panel, that will work. The Beltway punt it is.
The military services have been adding more lectures on ethics in their schools, and are also targeting top officers.

"We are talking to senior leaders about the consequences of power and how that changes somebody's personality," said Odierno. "Some don't realize it's happening to them."

Lower-ranking service members are being asked to evaluate their higher-ranking superiors as part of the annual performance reviews. That process is slowly being expanded.

"As we conduct operations around the world we represent the United States with our moral and ethical values," said Odierno. "We believe we should be held to a higher standard."
More NKO. More "sit here and endure" drones at a podium. Could this not have been written any time in the last few decades? Great advice ... but one I used to give to LPOs.

What is really going on here? Are we reporting more, are we letting people get away with too much when they are junior that the bad habits show up in spades later? Are we promoting the wrong personality types for the wrong reasons?

Look at what we have going on here: we have sexual misconduct, misuse of funds, abuse of power, with a little abusive command climate thrown in. That is most of it.

What would be nice to see, as apposed to a bunch of fuzzy navel gazing, it a hard look - to start - via a science based examination for common threads in those who get in trouble. A full demographics break down along with socio-economic, personal, educational, and career data too. Have one of our statisticians look for what factors they have in common - if any.

In parallel, you can then start interviewing their peers under Chatham House Rules.

Blaming our failings as leaders because we were sent to do our jobs? No. Without some good facts to back that up, it sounds like lazy excuse making.

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