The good folks over at AOL Defense have posted another article of mine about the future of the Army, this one about the human dimension:
America’s soldiers have learned a lot over the last 10 years, most of it the hard way, but that irreplaceable expertise could walk out the door in the coming drawdown if the Army doesn’t figure out how to manage its people better. Despite everything else that’s changed since September 2001, the ugly reality of 2011 is that the Army still trains its personnel, assigns them jobs, and promotes them through a centralized, bureaucratic system that was already dysfunctional in World War II and that Donald Rumsfeld was trying to reform back in 2001, before he got distracted…..
(Click above for the full story).
Rumsfeld, in fact, cited a National Journal story of mine on the subject at a press conference – back in August 2001. A month later, his mind was on other things, but the Army has still (mostly) solved one of the two big problems I wrote about in ’01. Unfortunately, the other half of my story remains just as relevant ten years on. While the Army personnel bureaucracy no longer routinely sabotages teambuilding (kind of important in combat) by shuffling individuals from unit to unit, it still tries to micromanage military careers in ways that make it hard to develop skills in, say, foreign cultures. National Journal has graciously allowed me to reprint the text of that 2001 piece here, since it’s no longer accessible on their site: Reforming the Ranks – National Journal 2001-08-08.
The current story quotes three servicemembers who participated in oral history interviews with me: Maj. Trent Gibson, US Marine Corps; Capt. Paul McCullough, US Army; and former Army major Christopher Cummings. Also relevant are the personnel (mis)management misadventures of another soldier I had the honor to interview, Army Maj. Shaw Pick; click here for his story.
Readers are encouraged to comment below.