- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Don Vandegriff, always an interesting military thinker, writes in a review of Ann Scott Tyson’s book about Maj. Jim Gant that it is a “must read” for military professionals. He sees the book as an indictment of Army culture, especially its personnel system, writing that:
“. . . in the true test of a military professional, Gant succeeded in his mission and in doing so, he made some military leaders look bad because they were more focused on routine, process and remaining in FOBs (Forwarding Operating Bases) than doing what it took to win. Jim even received an email from his commander prescribing the length of facial hair of Special Forces soldiers while he was in the middle of making his plan work in combat!”
“. . . [Gant’s] approach countered military leaders’ operational tempos focused on short-term data accomplishment and clear cut order. Therefore, the establishment had to find a way to get rid of Jim Gant before he was too successful, and it rocked everyone’s comfortable boat.”
“The underlying message of the book is also about the culture of the Army, particularly how powerful the personnel system has become, while creating an unadaptive and self-serving culture. The personnel system sees war as an aberration to the prescribed timeline and management system it has grown very comfortable with, so much so, that it will not even adapt by selecting, promoting and putting in place those individuals that have proven to excel at the very thing the profession claims to prepare for in order to win those wars.”