Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hyperbole Does Not Grow Credibility

From our EVALS and FITREPS to our awards system, one thing we do not do well in the military is avoid hyperbole.

Under-promise and over-deliver is a rare thing - and the habit of always turning the knob to 11 when 8 would do just fine .... knowing that someone will move it to 8 in the end anyway ... well, that is our culture. Candor is not well known outside the gate.

When overstate inside our lifelines, it is bearable. Like the entrail reading that is done on selection boards, you ignore most of the chatter and just look at the metrics. You know the show, and you work around it.

What happens when those outside the lifelines listen when we bring our bad habits of diction in to the open air?

Micah Zenko over at FP pretty much calls out the men at the top - calling them "Myth Dealers."

The myths? He has five of them in his article that are in many respects steering the national security conversation; uncertainty, Asia-Pacific, cyber & drones, land war phobia, and the utility of allies.  

Required reading. They can most be trailed to this statement;
It is remarkable that defense leaders, who acknowledge an inability to forecast future conflicts, claim to hold a remarkable prescience about what weapons will be required to fight unidentifiable foes.
He focuses in on the primary cause of the issue we have raised here as well.
What is perhaps most unsettling the Pentagon's defense planning process is not only the absence of budget predictability from Congress, but also the lack of an updated National Security Strategy from the White House. That document serves as the reference point for national security priorities for all U.S. government agencies. Spend time with military officials and their staffs and they can all quote from memory those sections that guide the offices where they work.
The big takeaway reminder I get from the read is this; if we want respect for our advice, and for people to take us at our word, we need to first set all things we do on a sound foundation of serious observations based on fact. Not feelings, thoughts, or beliefs; but facts. Otherwise some smart guy is going to find the facts and beat you over the head with them.

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