Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

How to fix the Army in 66 easy steps (I)

By "Petronius Arbiter" Best Defense department of Army affairs A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better: Philosophy CSA position needs to be Commandant-like, commanding the Army, not just directing the Army staff, assigning Generals or formulating the Army budget. Army structure should empower him to ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

By "Petronius Arbiter"
Best Defense department of Army affairs

A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:

Philosophy

By "Petronius Arbiter"
Best Defense department of Army affairs

A few small things, some annoyances, and some big fixes that could make a good Army better:

Philosophy

  • CSA position needs to be Commandant-like, commanding the Army, not just directing the Army staff, assigning Generals or formulating the Army budget. Army structure should empower him to do so.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit mistakes, acknowledge that the institution made a mistake and then fix it, even if it means going back to the way something was in the past or even getting a black eye.
  • Do not, I say again, do not, have a regulation/policy/or law that you are unwilling or reluctant to enforce; examples, enforcement of the height/weight program, or the prohibition of cell phone use in moving autos. To do less is to violate the first principle of leadership and makes a mockery of the institution. Enforce unilaterally, not out of convenience. Perfect example is the inability to enforce the Army height/weight standards in order to maintain force structure manning for deployments. Cynics develop over things like that.
  • Eliminate NCO business or NCO time as an institutional mantra. It becomes Army business or all our business, focused on one solution and focus.
  • Do nothing in the Army that does not build soldiers’ and officers’ confidence in themselves and their units.
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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