Best Defense

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)

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.

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