Skip to comments.An Officer and a Family Man
Posted on 01/17/2008 10:46:52 AM PST by Lorianne
Why is the Army losing so many talented midlevel officers? ___ The early retirement of a lieutenant colonel ordinarily wouldn't merit the slightest mention. But today's news that Lt. Col. John Nagl is leaving the Army is a big deal.
It's another sign, more alarming than most, that the U.S. military is losing its allure for a growing number of its most creative young officers. More than that, it's a sign that one of the Army's most farsighted reformsa program that some senior officials regard as essentialmay be on the verge of getting whacked.
Nagl, 41, has been one of the Army's most outspoken officers in recent years. (This is a huge point against him, careerwise; the brass look askance at officers, especially those without stars, who draw attention to themselves.) He played a substantial role in drafting the Army's recent field manual on counterinsurgency. His 2002 book, Learning To Eat Soup With a Knife, based on his doctoral dissertation at Oxford (another point against him in some circles), is widely hailed as a seminal book on CI warfare. (It was after reading the book that Gen. David Petraeus asked Nagl to join the panel that produced the field manual.) From 2003-2004, he served as the operations officer of a battalion in Iraq's Anbar province, where he tried to put his ideas into action (and, in the process, became the subject of a 9,200-word New York Times Magazine profile by Peter Maass, titled "Professor Nagl's War"). And since then, he's written thoughtful, if provocative, articles for Military Review and the "Small Wars Journal" Web site.
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
Didn’t I see this guy explaining the new joint Army/USMC CI manual on C-SPAN last year?
He may retire from The Army,but I think we’ll still have good use of his services in other capacities.
Count me among those...
He was welcomed on the Daily Show. “Nuff said.
Military life is not for everyone. We, as a nation, will never realize the sacrifices families and servicemembers make during their careers.
Ever see Heartbreak Ridge? It’s the same story in reverse. You have senior leadership who spent their career at peace, and junior officers, almost universally in some large segments (Combat Arms, for example), who have served multiple tours in combat. They can’t identify with and can’t really have confidence in say a Colonel who’s got 20 years, but never served in combat or at least never in any protracted combat. How many Vietnam vets are left on active duty? Not many. So, you have a Capitan, with maybe eight years in, whose been deployed, in combat, for five years. And a Colonel (or General), who joined in ‘75, and has grown up in peace time military.
In World War II, we had the same situation, but the military turned over the officer corps very fast, and they were promoting combat veterans. By 1945, you didn’t have any Majors commanding a combat unit who hadn’t served in combat, and your Generals who had operational commands were either WWI vets or relatively young. Not many who joined in 1920.
What do you think?
You are 100 % right... There are peace time officers and war time oficers. They do not co-exist very well. Been there. Viet Nam 68-69 Cpt CE LTC retired.
If they've been in since '75, they've had some combat experience. I would definitely call that "skirmish" over in the Middle East, "wartime experience."
The Army needs him, as it needs the thousands of captains and majors who are also bailing. It's losing its middle management.
i dont see a problem at all. NCO’s run the army.
A lot of them are getting out, too.
there are plenty more to step up.
but of course, you do have the retards who move up as well. thats with any corporation.
and that can be discouraging when you are working for a retard who takes all the credit. just have to suck it up and drive on.
Sounds like a better explanation than the one given in the article.
I never thought about it until now, but maybe it’s worse for your leaders to have had atypical combat experience than none at all. A leader whose “been in combat” meaning a week in which they encountered some resistance, has a personal experience that they can rely on, but one that didn’t include dealing with the logistics problems that become greater when you are at war for longer, his men were probably performing at their peak the entire time (as opposed to after a year of frequent combat, as in Vietnam, or even longer in Iraq). His equipment was probably at its peak, as opposed to now, where your equipment has been afield for a few years. It might even be worse, because those leaders, who are probably in the minority, “know” things that will be different from the things their subordinate officers “know”.
All that said, I’m not saying there is no one who served in combat between 1976 and 2002. Of course there are. We’ve had a some large scale operations Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Kosovo, Gulf War, etc., and a lot of smaller scale conflicts. But those activities were more different from Iraq than was Vietnam, and maybe even Korea and World War II. Additionally, those peace time actions involved fewer personnel, so it’s less likely that that a given officer served in there.
Most importantly, it not a question of how many company grade officers saw combat in the early Eighties, but how of todays field and general grade officers came from those ranks. In a peace time military, different traits are looked for in officers than in a wartime military. To the degree that there are many people, myself included, who believe the military passes over the officers who are a bad fit for the culture today, not realizing that they will need them tomorrow. Sometimes they get recalled, which may or may not allow them to serve in an operational unit (there is an officer I’m thinking of who I know casually, who was a good wartime officer, who got bounced out in the early 80’s, only to be recalled during the Gulf War until he served until his recent retirement, but by the time they brought him back he was older, out of shape, and probably too old to be leading an infantry company( where he started), but great at headquarters (where he ended up).