Best Defense

A good idea for Army personnel policy?: Short post-assignment growth sabbaticals

Recently I was reading a bunch of Army War College papers. Most of them were nothing much to write home about, but a couple stood out.

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Recently I was reading a bunch of Army War College papers. Most of them were nothing much to write home about, but a couple stood out.

Lt. Col. Lamar Parsons, an MP officer, had the interesting suggestion that leaders returning from operational assignments should have mandatory 90-day educational sabbaticals upon completing the redeployment. “Educational sabbaticals, conducted at home station, blend institutional and self-development domains of learning. The educational sabbatical would be conducted separately from the unit and would be the leader’s sole focus for the duration.”

He also suggests that officers be allowed to remain in positions for which they feel well suited. “Major Smith, who is extremely talented in the cyber domain, has started a network for an organization and is an extremely proficient and valuable team member…. Under the new system, Major Smith would not be penalized and allowed to continue to serve and contribute.”

This reminds me of a Marine intelligence officer I knew who, just as he felt he was getting to understand the situation, was due to head home. He requested another tour — back-to-back. He was turned down. It was someone else’s turn, he was told.

Image credit: Sabbatical (TV series)/Wikimedia Commons

 

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. @tomricks1

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