Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Fixing the Army (V): LTs who fail should be busted to enlisted to finish their time, and corporal should be a position of honor

Tom says: In the personnel area, I’d make an entirely different series of recommendations, focussing on rewarding success, punishing failure, and holding people accountable while still encouraging flexibility and adaptiveness. But this is his guest column, not mine. By "Petronius Arbiter" Best Defense department of Army affairs Personnel Bring back Command Sergeant Major as a ...

lafrancevi/Flickr
lafrancevi/Flickr
lafrancevi/Flickr

Tom says: In the personnel area, I'd make an entirely different series of recommendations, focussing on rewarding success, punishing failure, and holding people accountable while still encouraging flexibility and adaptiveness.

But this is his guest column, not mine.

By "Petronius Arbiter"
Best Defense department of Army affairs

Tom says: In the personnel area, I’d make an entirely different series of recommendations, focussing on rewarding success, punishing failure, and holding people accountable while still encouraging flexibility and adaptiveness.

But this is his guest column, not mine.

By "Petronius Arbiter"
Best Defense department of Army affairs

Personnel

  • Bring back Command Sergeant Major as a rank, not a position. We have too much structure tied up in making CSMs functional. Time to return to them being just the senior enlisted advisor. There can only be one commander in any organization and only one person responsible. Under normal circumstances, it is "tomfoolery" to relieve a CSM when a Cdr is relieved. The Cdr is the only one responsible for the actions of his organization and himself. The senior NCO works for him.
  • Remember CSMs are senior enlisted advisors to the commander, not strategic leaders.
  • Establish a policy where LTs are on probation until promoted to CPT. Commanders should have the option of transferring those not to be promoted to 1LT to the enlisted ranks where they will complete their service obligation. Some attrition is good. Bet that would shake up the attitude of some junior officers who think they are just buying time until they meet their five, four, or three year active service commitment.
  • SPCs in NCO positions of leadership must, no option, be laterally appointed to CPL. That imparts them with legitimate credibility and authority. At one time Corporal was the most respected rank in the Army. Make old and young alike respect Corporals again.
  • Address the issue of pregnancies and deployability. Don’t run away from it. Solve the problem because it is having serious impact on unit readiness and military effectiveness. While attacking with vigor the impact of pregnancies on unit and combat readiness, also analyze why 16 percent of the Army is women but only 8 percent of the deployed force are women.
  • Certain branches/MOSs/units should be allowed/required to have branch specific physical fitness standards and tests to enforce those standards. They also must continue to meet APFT requirements also. Example; Cannon artillery and armor have requirements for extensive upper body strength other branches do not have (so do mechanics by the way), train, and test accordingly. Get over the one-standard-fits-all mentality.
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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