Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The dangers of medals (II): a follow-up

    Yesterday I carried a comment questioning the awarding of medals to people who drive Humvees into bombs. A few hours later, a reader pointed out that Maj. Neil Smith, an officer at the Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Center, on a Leavenworth blog earlier this year discussed this issue of whether medals sometimes encourage counterproductive behavior: ...

575145_091223_medals2.jpg
575145_091223_medals2.jpg

 

 

Yesterday I carried a comment questioning the awarding of medals to people who drive Humvees into bombs. A few hours later, a reader pointed out that Maj. Neil Smith, an officer at the Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Center, on a Leavenworth blog earlier this year discussed this issue of whether medals sometimes encourage counterproductive behavior:

 

 

Yesterday I carried a comment questioning the awarding of medals to people who drive Humvees into bombs. A few hours later, a reader pointed out that Maj. Neil Smith, an officer at the Army/Marine Counterinsurgency Center, on a Leavenworth blog earlier this year discussed this issue of whether medals sometimes encourage counterproductive behavior:

. . . [A]re valor awards potentially counterproductive in a COIN environment?  Hypothetically, an officer who does effective clear, hold, build, develops partner capacity, and brings a sector to success will likely receive a BSM, if anything.  A lethal focused officer, who shoots his way through his deployment, will get a BSM/V or Sliver Star for one of these combat actions.  His sector will often be coming apart, but guess who will get the respect at the next military ball and promotion board?

I’m torn on this as a valor award recipient – we must reinforce those that display heroism but it is not uncommon for someone to go on patrol looking for a fight IOT get that CAB or BSM/V.

Starbuck points out in the comments that Boss Mongo also dove into some of these depths.

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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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