Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

What is the root cause of troubles in the Army — leadership or politics?

Government Executive carries a thoughtful article by Katherine McIntire Peters about what is behind the spikes in suicides, drug abuse, indiscipline and other troubles in the Army. A recent Army study on soldier suicides concluded that the problem is leadership, and specifically that commanders and senior NCOs had forgotten how to lead soldiers in garrison. ...

afahlund/flickr
afahlund/flickr

Government Executive carries a thoughtful article by Katherine McIntire Peters about what is behind the spikes in suicides, drug abuse, indiscipline and other troubles in the Army. A recent Army study on soldier suicides concluded that the problem is leadership, and specifically that commanders and senior NCOs had forgotten how to lead soldiers in garrison. But this article features a strong rebuttal from retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, who argues that no, that this is what happens when the nation chooses to fight two interminable wars with a relatively small force. "I don't care if you've got an army of Robert E. Lees, the anecdotal evidence clearly shows the ground forces are going through an unprecedented realm of emotional stress," Scales told the intrepid Mrs. Peters. "I think it's irresponsible to blame leadership."

If Scales is correct, and I suspect he is, I don't know what the Army really can do except provide palliatives.

(HT to RD)

Government Executive carries a thoughtful article by Katherine McIntire Peters about what is behind the spikes in suicides, drug abuse, indiscipline and other troubles in the Army. A recent Army study on soldier suicides concluded that the problem is leadership, and specifically that commanders and senior NCOs had forgotten how to lead soldiers in garrison. But this article features a strong rebuttal from retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, who argues that no, that this is what happens when the nation chooses to fight two interminable wars with a relatively small force. "I don’t care if you’ve got an army of Robert E. Lees, the anecdotal evidence clearly shows the ground forces are going through an unprecedented realm of emotional stress," Scales told the intrepid Mrs. Peters. "I think it’s irresponsible to blame leadership."

If Scales is correct, and I suspect he is, I don’t know what the Army really can do except provide palliatives.

(HT to RD)

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

More from Foreign Policy

The Pentagon is seen from the air over Washington, D.C., on Aug. 25, 2013.

The Pentagon’s Office Culture Is Stuck in 1968

The U.S. national security bureaucracy needs a severe upgrade.

The Azerbaijani army patrols the streets of Shusha on Sept. 25 under a sign that reads: "Dear Shusha, you are free. Dear Shusha, we are back. Dear Shusha, we will resurrect you. Shusha is ours."

From the Ruins of War, a Tourist Resort Emerges

Shusha was the key to the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Now Baku wants to turn the fabled fortress town into a resort.

Frances Pugh in 2019's Midsommar.

Scandinavia’s Horror Renaissance and the Global Appeal of ‘Fakelore’

“Midsommar” and “The Ritual” are steeped in Scandinavian folklore. Or are they?