Best Defense

How is faculty morale doing at CGSC? A 2013 survey says some feel pretty bad

It is a very mixed picture.


It is a very mixed picture. To be sure, in this 2013 survey, many respondents reported high morale. (For example, “I love my job. Best job I have had and I have been working for DOD for 25 years.”) Also, a lot of the complaints that are made in it are trivial whining — parking, smoking, and puddles. On top of that, the survey was done at a time when many at Leavenworth were upset over the threat of a government shutdown.

Yet the comments section, beginning on page 86 of the report (or page 93 in the counter), contains many striking passages that have to make me wonder not just about faculty morale, but about the quality of education being provided by the Army to its officers:

Faculty morale is low, and yet the East Wing seems to actively be looking for ways to remind the faculty that they are no more than hourly wage-earners in the grander scheme of things.”


“I have never seen morale so low in the faculty. For the most part, the civilian faculty works hard and is driven by a desire to do right by the Republic, yet none of that seems to matter. Over the past four years, the faculty has seen the staff grow more bloated and inefficient (and secure in Title 5 jobs) while the Title 10s have become mere replaceable parts. I have lost all faith in your system. I have lost all hope of any reform.”


“I feel like the only one who cares whether I do a good job or even have a job is my department. I think the DC, Dean and the leadership have done a poor job. I deserve better.”


“Hiring retired military officers –almost exclusively–to teach civilian education at AMSC is a poor design and will get increased criticism as this practice continues.”


“My Team Leader is excellent. The same cannot be said of my Director, who is seldom here and

capricious as well. Let me explain. My Director plays favorites among his friends; the result is that the contributions and ideas of those who are not in his inner circle are discounted, demeaned, or ignored. A specific example: our last departmental Instructor of the Year was both embarrassed by receiving the accolade and well known in the department as regularly failing to complete tasks, such as turning in grades, on time.”

Senior leaders seem to lack credibility:

“The most significant issue that pervades the staff and faculty at CGSC is the perceived disconnect of

the day to day activities of the college and the priorities of senior leadership.”


“Why in an organization dedicated to Mission Command is there none. The DC seems totally uninterested in the mission of the college. He is all about LD&E I guess, because no one shares anything.”


“Top-down driven, lock-step execution of Mission Command Week was perceived by students as a farce, and absolutely antithetical to the foundational concepts of Mission Command. That is just one example of an institution that appears to be selling one concept, but actually behaving in an opposite manner.”

Some faculty members seem to be looking to leave:

“Faculty morale has taken a turn for the worse this year. It’s deeper than sequestration and potential furloughs. Instructors find it difficult to prepare to teach at work because of various administrative requirements and feels increasingly taken advantage of. Several civilian colleagues have mentioned to me that they will retire soon. I have decided to not seek employment at the college after retiring from the military even though I enjoy teaching majors.” 

World class? These two respondent don’t think so:

“Quality of recent military faculty is marginal at best.”


“Very little cutting edge research or even best practice work is actually done here. We’re truly a ‘Training’ outfit.” (Tom note: The spelling throughout this document is atrocious. I am hoping it was committed by the typist compiling it, not by the faculty and staff.)

Nor this one:

“I currently work at SAMS and frankly I’m unimpressed by the education/training level of the students coming out of ILE.”

Or this one:

“The schedule of classes is still an absolute joke. It resembles that of a trade school rather than an academic institution (which is what we are supposed to resemble). It’s only made worse by an out-of-control guest speaker program… “

And it seems that not all the plagiarism is being committed by foreign students:

“Enforcement of Academic Honesty policies is dismal; cases of plagiarism continue to rise yet officers who commit it are not disciplined in ways that matter.”

And even in the “morale is great” camp, there are some issues:

“Overall LD&E is a great place to work. However, I believe that the working environment is deteriorating rather rapidly.”

My question for you all: Have things changed since this report was published three years ago? I hope so. Both as a citizen and a taxpayer.

(P.S. — The survey failed to redact the names of some supervisory personnel who are criticized. That struck me as unprofessional, so I am not mentioning the people named.)

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Thomas 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

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