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On DoD blogging policy... and weak leaders.

Back when the new DoD and Army directives were published, there was much gnashing of teeth in the milblogosphere.  I didn't gnash as hard as many - but I did observe that one thing about the "flexibility" in the new regs was that good commanders would be able to use it to guide their policies and let their soldiers get their stories out.

And weak leaders would use it to shut down strong, but perhaps stubborn, subordinates.

Well, it's happened.  KaboomWarJournal is on hiatus.  Or, as LT G., put it - a tactical pause.

A Tactical Pause

 
Due to a rash posting on my part, and decisions made above my pay-grade, I have been ordered to stop posting on Kaboom, effective immediately. Though I committed no OPSEC violations, due to a series of extenuating circumstances – the least of which was me being on leave – my “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage” post on May 28 did not go through the normal vetting channels. It’s totally on me, as it was too much unfiltered truth. I’m a soldier first, and orders are orders. So it is.
Well and good.  A good, seemingly honest acknowledgement on LT G's part or errors made and orders given.

Heh.  Until you read the post in question.  "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage."

Then you realize... this shutdown is a "Weak Leader" response.  Someone who was twitted (properly in my mind) for being... well, a classic, almost to Colonel Blimpish fashion, Courtney Massengale kind of officer.   Which might be a disservice to the actual field grade leader involved in this, I don't know - but in this instance, well, hello Colonel Massengale.  Managing the Lt. Damons can be hard, can't it?

Heh.  From LT. G's post-
Don’t fall on your sword, Lieutenant. No one likes a martyr.

Can’t help it, I’m Irish. And. Yes. They do.

Fine, I’m not going to make you do it. (Even though I spent three days trying to do so.) But you are now on my shit-list, and I want to fuck you over for daring to defy and defying to dare. A bullshit tasking will eventually come down the pipeline, and I got a rubber stamp with your name on it. And yes, I know your performance has been outstanding, and we have consistently rated you above your peers, at the top echelon. Doesn’t matter now.

You’re right. It doesn’t. Doesn’t matter at all. Even if I’ve only haggled a few more months with the Gravediggers, it was worth it; I came here to fight a war, not to build a resume. My men need me. And. I need them. It would have been worth it for a few more days.

Victory.

Mustangs don’t blink.

You know where we learned how not to?

It wasn’t behind a desk.

Every day of free-roaming makes it worth it.
 
 

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41 Comments

Well said.  I wholeheartedly agree.  LT G's right about the Irish and martyrs and he was a welcome, gifted voice conveying 'the suck' as he puts it to those of us who have to live it vicariously.  He will be missed.  It is unfortunate that the insecure have to torment the secure and capable but they do to the detriment of all.  I hope that when Lt G goes off to academia he isn't coopted.  Weak leadership will rear its ugly head there too.
 
And the irony is - he was probably trying to *keep* LT G.  Heh.  And then got pissy when he realized he wasn't going to succeed.

I got the same reading from the narrative. My hunch is that he decided G needed to decompress and putting him somewhere he wouldn't need to keep his head on a swivel would let him re-think his decision in a more *rational* manner.

Some people don't handle rejection well...
 
My thoughts, at this point, are pretty much unprintable, John.

I'll just ask this question: how many good men and women are there out there who don't think the universe exists primarily to provide an audience for their next staging of the war on terror as performance art? Who manage to serve out their deployments - the highs and the lows - without blowing every frustration all over the Intertubes? Because there are generally two sides to most stories, and the guy who runs to you screaming his tale of woe isn't always the most reliable source.

Just a thought.

In case it wasn't apparent, I'm not terribly impressed by officers who pitch public temper tantrums on the Internet. He could have taken a time out in a way that didn't generate a colossal sh*tstorm in a teacup, but hey, then it wouldn't have been all about teh drama, would it?

And they say women are emotional.

Further commentary once I have collected my thoughts sufficiently that I can express them without showing off my playground vocabulary, which I'll freely admit would be difficult at this time.
 
I have to admit, I was surprised to see that Martyrdom post when it first went up--surprised that it had been vetted and allowed to retain the tone it displayed.  I think John is right in that it's a leadership issue because although LT  G may have been unwise and inappropriate in that post (and perhaps not show his own best side), a wise and secure leader would figure out how to bring him back in line without further alienating him.  Stupid.
 
That's not a bad riposte, Cassandra, and as valid a point about bad followership as my point about weak leadership.
 
I think I'm with Cassandra on this one. Soldier first, leader second, blogger third. I can't say I always kept my priorities straight all the time, either. But I think that's the lesson. I think it best to take LT G at his word, too, that he stepped on it, enough said, don't make it about whether or not his commander was right, wrong, weak, whatever. Take responsibility, as LT G did.

Life's not only about the blogging, anyway. Good opportunity to get some perspective.
 
Because there are generally two sides to most stories, and the guy who runs to you screaming his tale of woe isn't always the most reliable source.

True enough, Cass. But when you've personally seen this sort of thing happen at least a dozen times and know of at least another dozen instances in other units, you *know* what parts fit the pattern. I made the Sh*t List a couple of times -- once for following an Army Regulation that one particular O-5 didn't "interpret" in the way it was written.

Perhaps the main reason it continues to happen is that no one has publicly screamed about it before...
 
Cassandra-

If I hadn't recently gotten engaged, I'd ask you out for a nice steak dinner. You sound like my kind of lady.

LT G
 
Massengale might be the consumate empty suit officer.

But as a former enlisted person...We promounced it Massengill....which is a feminie hygiene product..

As a member of a family that emigrated to America in the 1600's....and fought in most of the nations wars....I'd like to personaly salute Colonel Massengill...he's earned it.
 
Lt G:

First of all, let me assure you that what I am about to write is not personal. This happens to be a hot button issue with me, as John would be the first to tell you. It is the application of a general concept.

I have major heartburn with airing personnel issues in a public venue, and when officers are involved I have double the heartburn. What I don't quite think some of you realize is that there are certain things a command cannot just allow to pass, even if they might personally wish to let them go. Even if it would be easier for them, personally, to ignore them.

And to be called a "weak leader" for doing your job is really just about the last straw, and where I start to get fighting mad. And again, John knows how hard it is to get me angry. It has been - quite literally - hours since I read this and I'm still furious. So you really hit a nerve, John.

There are only a few principles I hold dear and that I'm willing to go to the mat over. To me, this is a matter of integrity. I am sick and tired of seeing Milbloggers diming each other out for doing their jobs.

I understand we all have opinions. We all have certain body parts which shall remain nameless too, but we don't have to wave them about in public. Part of an officer's job is (who knew?) to represent - and hopefully instill some confidence in - the officer corps as a whole. Or even as a hole :p

If you think a senior officer is a doofus, and he may well be, you still paid enough money to be a professional instead of running to your Sergeant and NCOs and regaling them with tales of how the Col or the General can't put his jock strap on without your expert assistance. What you REALLY don't do (work with me here, guys) is run to the newspaper (Internet, anyone?) and gun out your learned opinion regarding the many and splendored deficiencies of your seniors: this on the gen'ral theory that such actions tend to be less than confidence inspiring in the service as a whole.

Or hole. As the case may be. It's that whole "Big Picture" thingy officers get paid the Really, Really big bucks for.

Think about that for a second, why don't you? And ask yourself how good an idea it is to have an officer blogging who just demonstrated not only his public contempt for a senior officer, but his incomplete grasp of the very basic duty of respect for the position, if not the person?

If that officer had NOT done as he did, I'd call him weak. Doesn't matter one whit what happened earlier.
 
True enough, as far as you take it, Cassandra.Yet, if the officer involved - the senior officer - hadn't gotten quite so petty... this might well have not happened, either.That's my point.I can agree that LT G didn't need to post that post... and the fact that he left it up is potentially instructive, too, though since the LT is checking in we'll let him tell the tale, if any.I should have written with a different tone, perhaps.  I wasn't really writing in support of what LT G did, as much as I was writing in exasperation with what transpired from a senior perspective, as Bill alluded to in his 2:05pm comment, seemingly fulfilling my concerns about the way the policy is written and implemented.It was almost a case study.Which, I suppose, really makes the post all about me, in a sense.  Urk!Anyway, yes, LT G could have prevented this from being public.  So, too, could the more senior participant.  From whom should I expect the better behavior?And therein lies my gripe.

This discussion is, in a sense, what I was hoping for.

It's a lesson in leadership.  I'd use this as a discussion vehicle in Basic and Advanced course classes.  And at CGSC, truth to tell.

This situation, already public, hits at several different aspects of the issue - all of which are worthy of discussion.,

While I *always* regret driving Cassandra to an early vermouth-drowned olive... I don't regret this post, or the discussion issuing therefrom.

Because it's a good discussion.

We need some serving field grades, vice us auld pharts, to weigh in, too. 
 
John, as I look at this whole situation, I saw BillT's comment #2, I believe he is the most accurate on this situation. I would add, look at the title of the post and it speaks volumes. Get that individual the help he needs.

Grumpy 
 
I think there's a little too much presumption built in here.  LT G knows what's going on but the rest of us are making assumptions based on his pause and the originating post.

Am I wrong here?
 
dear god people-

first, the title of LT G's post comes from a Chuck Palahniuk novel. (the guy who wrote Fight Club.) I doubt he's actually suicidal. He'd be able to take care of that in a combat zone if he was.

second, it sounds like A) he called it like it was and B) is now paying the consequences for such. Sorry, but as a former O, this is one of the reasons I got out. The truth should outweigh all, even the sanctity of the Officer Corps. Maybe if we didn't have so many shitty field grades, they wouldn't have to worry about getting called out.

Having served on the front lines myself, I understand LT G's emotions and thoughts. Now he's paying the piper, and acknowledged such. What more do you want?

 
John, I decided to continue.  The article in question is titled, "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage". As you read the article, you see a soldier who has essentially made a decision. This can be a good or bad thing. It appears he decided to NOT re-enlist.  This was the result of an internal assessment and a real honesty with one's self. This is much more difficult than it appears.

What happens when command does not allow the troops the time to process and make decisions. They need to have some down time as BillT suggests. I don't quite know how to say this. When the soldier feels that he/she is really cornered, what are they supposed to do? They can work their way through it and carry on or they can take their own lives.  I have seen it before, and YES, SOME PEOPLE SEE THIS AS THE ONLY HONORABLE THING TO DO, REGARDLESS OF WHAT WE THINK. This is especially true of families with a long Military History.

Grumpy
 
"What more do you want?"
For the officers to live up to the same expectations we have for the 'strategic corporal'.  Meaning, don't do something  stupid to create a public relations nightmare(like implying that most field grade officers are useless idjits) that kills morale internally and domestic support.  That's not too much, is it?  You know, there is a war on and all.  We've historically been able to overcome bad officers(90 day wonders anyone) but not overcome flat out disbelief----Korea before Ridgeway, when the gestalt was them Red bastards were everywhere and cutting 8th Army to pieces so we'd better bug out).  I'm thinking in terms of Patton coming down with both boots on any fool who shot his mouth off about the quality of American armor back in the day.  That chit matters, yo. 

Maybe LT G's superior was a rah-rah tool who tried to strong arm him.  G needed to blow steam on it.  Fine.  But he did do something I find wrong in so many of people my age or a little younger:  he needlessly turned it into a tear down exercise of mocking someone he didn't agree with(rah-rah, Jesus freak, whatever, same frickin' deal) and that more than anything I think is what brought down the Emnity of Authority(which can usually handle being not listened to, but not challenged or mocked).  When you're 35, have burned more bridges than your talent and genius can make up for, you might get what I'm saying on this score.  Sure, I used to say 'Well, if they don't get it f'em, the soulless humorless hacks.' alla time too.  That self righteousness always feels good at the time, but it rarely is ever true.  Sometimes it is, but most times it ain't.

Run down of stupid stuff to avoid in the future.
1)  Admit you lied to a superior by writing something he's bound to right off on or have someone check.(I lied to your face,teehee)  That's bonehead or intentional.  If boneheaded it's forgivable as we all do it once in a while.  If intentional, yeah, you kinda deserve having that rubberstamp waiting to send you on crap details.  You flip the bird to the guy above you then you've really got little complaint when chit rolls down hill, do you?  That isn't intimidation or the whinny reply of a weakling.  That's someone who probably not to long ago was a hard charging JO, just like you-- responding to your challenge and saying, ' f'er, it's really funny now, huh?'  People often push back like that.  Amazing. 

What's the saying?  'Don't chit where you eat?' 

2)  Spend so many words telling the world your superior, who's going to eventually read it, that you think he's totally lame and a coward. Great message to send to not only the rest of the Army but everyone back home, yo.  (See that strategic corporal remark above). 

3)  Avoid the generational(those of us born 'tween 75 and '90, raised on Monty Python, Airplane, and Mel Brooks) need to be smat@55es all the time.  I suffered from it too, and still do occasionally.  Had he not flipped the bird G might've gotten away with it.  Simply writing that he'd been pressured to take a promotion he didn't want he'd likely have gotten away with it. 

4)  Do not write:  "ME Tarzan; you chit for brains, useless, paper pusher who not got clue one and not empty a boot of water if instructions were on heel.'  Lawsy me, that's just begging for anyone with a pair to come down on you for.  I guess you've got to have someone ruin your day more than a dozen times before you learn that lesson.  And again, if you're presenting a message for everyone back home that the war is being run by incompetents?  Dude.  Real nice way to kill off the belief and trust back here at home in the military at home.  What's the point of being all literary if you don't recognize the larger narrative your weaving, eh? 

5)  If you've got to, just can't avoid it or you'll burst,  do a full teardown like this then put it in a personal diary or in an email to a select few friends where you know it'll die.  It serves the purpose of blowing steam without making a hash of it all.  If it's simply you want to show someone up?  Have the brains to wait until your out from under him and then go to town for your own preservation, or go the Riekhoff way and write a memoirs for a heap of cash---preferentially after the conflict is over.  Why?  So, you know, we don't lose faith in the people you think are competent who stayed in. 

Why?  Again, the strategic corporal *isn't'* just a corporal. 

I feel for the guy.  He's obviusly a talented man who has now been given a cruel lesson.  I hope he learns the right lesson, which isn't that one has to knuckle under and obey the system but rather that flipping the system the bird isn't likely to do much good while drawing chitstorms.  (Now, if only I could practice what I preach.  Sigh.) 
 
Concur with Cassandra.
 
O.K., I've been had. Now tell me, what are you going to do when you find somebody you served with in combat hanging from a tree?  I have seen 10 incidents that came with the same conclusions, since I left the Military over 40 years ago? We assumed the worst and hoped for the best. Now tell me what do you do? Well?
 
A Son of an old running buddy of mine (read that as fellow drunk on Shemya AK back in the 70's) asked me about military blogging.  I told him have two blogs.  Put mil stuff on the mil-blog and personal stuff on the personal blog and never let the two cross.

If you have to vent put it on the personal blog, change the names and situation and write it as fiction.

LT G, even though of leave vented on the mil-blog.  Thus indeed he did step ont it.  However, if his Boss is not a WEAK Leader admitting it should go a long way.  It at least leads to the "Let me explain why I HAD to stomp on you" conversation.  These are called Teaching Oportunities by Strong Leaders .

 
 
Just to throw a little kerosene into the fire, here's a

*ahem*

completely hypothetical situation.

Field Grade O has an established reputation of being petty and vindictive, with an annoying habit of throwing subordinates he deems "obstructive to his rise" under the bus. It's common knowledge within the chain, but no one speaks up during his rise up the food chain -- and rise he does, because he's very good at taking care of those who assist him on his rise.

He eventually rises to the point where stars are on his immediate horizon. People finally speak up, but their objections are deemed to be sour grapes and, after the dust settles, Field Grade O is now General Officer O.

Submitted for your consideration:  Half the command now thinks O's methods are the way to go and the other half are determined to advance despite the machinations of O's faction.

What will be the overall effectiveness of that command?

Who will be the new "risers" in it?

I already know the

*ahem*

hypothetical answers...
 
I'm thinking in terms of Patton coming down with both boots on any fool who shot his mouth off about the quality of American armor back in the day.

Kasserine Pass.

Airing dirty laundry for the folks back home isn't always a bad idea.  But in this instance, the Germans already knew how to deal with individual Shermans, what they couldn't handle was our fix for being individually underarmored and undergunned -- we changed our tactics on the fly. What would have happened if the Home Front had demanded we halt all tank production until we had a proven 88mm-proof, diesel-powered behemoth with a bigger gun? V-E Day in 1950, maybe? With the Iron Curtain anchored on the Rhine...

The TF Smith debacle sure changed our initial mindset in Korea. Airing the laundry was a *good* thing, in that instance.

The vulnerability of helicopters to small arms fire didn't come as a huge surprise to anyone back here during Vietnam -- the shock was at how many of us fling-wing drivers were surviving multiple shootdowns. But revealing the *near-parity* kill-ratio on the fixed-wing side pulled the rug out from under the whiz-kid, entrenched  "missiles-only" mafia running the procurement and tactics shows.

Remember *why* the MRAP program got started? Strykers didn't live up to the hype, and people back here found out about it.

Of course, I'm cherry-picking -- I could just as easily point to more instances "proving" that we should just keep our traps shut and drive on...
 
A poison pill commander is bound to screw it up, true, but so do the 'mustangs' who do the 'stop me or I'll kill again' thing(Dick Marcinko comes to mind).  Both suck.  What's yer point?  (Oh, look, something shinny.) 

But what of the 'bigger' thing?  I'm thinking '1st the men, then the self, but always, always the mission.' 

Yeah, I know, it's the weekend.  I'll get you a  beer, Chief, and then start cleaning the leaves outta the Moat while you 'supervise'.  (sigh)

My point on Patton is not so much a military effectiveness angle so much as not causing domestic support to drop thru the floor.  It's in his memoirs that he went out on those speaking tours saying the Sherman was top notch because if he didn't FDR and Marshall would be USCWAP if the public believed they were sending men to war in 'ronsons'.  Same-same.  If you generate the narrative that so many of the field grades are idjits and incompetents(you know, 'cause they're not blood in their teeth warrior types) then whatta you got?  The exact thing Patton sought to forestall. 

All right, all right, beer and prettifying the Moat, you don't have to prof with 'yer boot you know. 
 
In some respects,  we're *all* correct, and we come down where our experience leads us to come down.

We can *all* come up with counter-examples.

We have.  But a good point about a blog on the subject, vice an article in Time, say, is that this discussion occured with the article - so people can get a fuller picture.

The medium exists, isn't going to go away, and we all have to shape and adapt to it.  Lt G and his boss.  Perhaps my visceral response is more driven by the fact that I watched the Prince of Darkness, who may become our next SecDef, literally destroy people in similar situations.  Just.out.of.spite.  Which parlays to what Bill said.

But I'm with Bill - more often than not, putting stuff out in the open is better than letting the blanket cover a multitude of sins.  But I also know, as one of the several guys who has spent the last 5 years poking and prodding DoD and the Services to get their heads in the 21st Century game, bringing it out in the open is what got us to where we're at now, which is a helluva lot better place than we were in 2003.
 
Yet, if the officer involved - the senior officer - hadn't gotten quite so petty... this might well have not happened, either.

..this discussion occured with the article - so people can get a fuller picture.

And here's my contribution to the fuller picture. My first Battalion Commander after I returned from RVN (I used'ta be an RLO, too, remember) introduced himself with the words, "Oh, f*ck -- another gahdamm aviator. I *hate* aviators." But he gave me the complete, unvarnished truth about the BCT unit that was to be my command. He gave me invaluable advice on the Care and Feeding of Drill Sergeants. He told me he wouldn't be able to help me with my cadre shortage (40% strength) because he didn't *have* anybody to toss my way -- but he promised me that the first really *good*  NCO who came in would be mine, and he kept his promise.

He rated me solely on my performance and he told me how badly it grated him to have to give me a max OER. Every. Single. Time.

He maintained his professionalism. He bent over backwards to help a gahdamm aviator succeed in an Infantry world. And because *he* maintained his professionalism, I busted *my* ass for him and got *him* attaboys from the CG, and I was happy to be able do it for him.

We didn't part as friends and I suspect he still hated aviators until his dying day. But I can honestly say he was among the best commanders I ever had...
 
John, This has been a good and helpful journey for all of us. There are three comments that were good.

@Armorer  6/27/08 8:42PM - You stated the purpose of the post with goals. Interaction, being one of them. You even left the door open to the auld pharts. But as is everything in this blog, it is under the "Rulez of the Castle". Thank you.

@Ry 6/27/08  11:34PM - You wrote on the subject of Narratives. It was a good read. In my view, there are two types of narratives. We have A Narrative or the bloggers' view and THE Narrative or the historical view. This is actually a mosaic of many views. "A Narrative" is expendable, but "THE Narrative" is not. This is what I saw you saying and I don't want to add to it.  Thank you.

@Dadmanly 6/27/08  3:32PM - There was a real wise insight shown here. Rather than to comment, I will be quoting directly. Speaking of priorities, he wrote, "Soldier first, leader second and blogger third." Again quoting, "Life is not only about blogging, anyway. Good opportunity to get some perspective." Well said! Thank you.

Thanks, to all of the commenters,
Grumpy
 
I don't have a dog in this fight, and no mil experience to go with.  But the scenario obviously has similarities to civvie environments, and my guideline is to spill my guts privately, when I need to vent.  Particularly when the subject of said vent is likely (in this case almost guaranteed?) to read the venting if I actually put it in a public venue.  That's simple CYA. 
Even if I want to push my views to a level above or equal to the perpetrator, I would not do it in a public vent, but in this case perhaps the mode wasn't there.
Bottom line - I am sorry that the Field level O is a jerk, and sorrier that LT G is in trouble for airing dirty laundry on his blog.  Reality is that those serving don't really have freedom of speech, and here's the proof.
 
As a short synopsis, I don't air views of subordinates in public and I expect that they give the same courtesy.

I will disagree politely with policies and suggest changes, but saying, publically, that somebody is an a=hole because they don't support your ideas, particularly when you are the subordinate, is career suicide, even in the civilian world. 
 
Back in the day I was the NCOIC of a large Air Force shop. I had a very talented individual that was planning on NOT reenlisting. I tried all my powers of persuasion on him to no avail. In reality I was putting a lot of pressure on him. Then came' 'he incident'. It was a career ending episode and the only reason he didn't get a general (or worse) discharge was because his separation date was so dang close. I kept in touch with the young man for quite a while after and one night over beers he told me 'the incident' was neither an accident or mistake. I wasn't taking no for an answer and he felt the only way out for him was to do something that would guarantee he could not re-enlist.  Better communication on his part and paying more attention to the non-verbals on my part could have  averted the whole thing. Lessons learned, eh?  I'm wondering if our young el tee  took a similar route.   Truly a pity, sounds like the kind of young el tee I would have liked to have around :) Good luck, G. Hope it all works out for you.
 
I'd be happy to take a promotion...if anyone's offering...

*crickets*

Ah well...
 
Since HF6 got moved to Full Denizenne status, there's an opening for Assistant Moat Sweeper. You'll be working for ry, though. And he hoards the Cheetos...
 
Dave, I thought similar thoughts...
 
@Barb  6/28/08 2:28PM You write, "I don't have a dog in this fight and no mil experience to with." I would respectfully disagree, you do have a dog in this fight. You are here and writing. Thank you. BTW, MIL EXPERIENCE IS NOT A BLANK CHECK! It depends on what type of service.

@John/ Armorer 6/28/08 7:41AM You talk of trying to get the DoD to get their heads into the 21st Century. Sir, in my view, this is no easy task. BUT, they are still just getting the dust off of the surface. Many view secrecy as equaled to National Security, wrong. The Security comes from the PERCEPTION of transparency of factual information. The only thing I can say to you is this, "You are the person who can push a chain up a hill."

@Dave 6/28/08 6:58PM Dave, THANK YOU, for your service. I'm a disabled vet from the Viet Nam era. It is strange but sometimes these people, the man not re-enlisting, find that the Military Mission is not theirs. The Military Mission in the "GWoT" is not the only valid mission to support this Nation. These people, at times, come home and "find their mission" in things like First Responders and Education and do it for the rest of their lives, to the benefit of everyone.
 
you ever been a leader in combat, Cassandra?

didn't think so.

listen, the LT stepped on his pecker. That much is obvious. But I'd much rather have a hell-raising LT fighting to stay with his men than just another meek yes man in that position. What's the lesson his higher-ups are teaching him here? Who's more at fault - the young, fire-eating junior officer whose heart was in the right place but brain wasn't, or the higher-ranking senior officer whose so insecure with himself that he lets a freaking lieutenant's blog get under his skin so much that he orders it shut down?
 
Mebbe I'm weird. Mebbe it's cuz I was never an occ-e-fer. But I think John got it when he said we are all more or less correct. To me, airing out a command issue on your blog is not any different than airing out a command issue to your troops. It doesn't do anyone, any good. And at worse it can spread things like a cancer. That being said when you between the devil and the deep blue sea where do you go? The LT took a calculated risk, one that some NCO's will take with other NCO's vs E-4 and down. He got bit for it. I chalk it up as a lessoned learned. If the leadership did want to keep him perhaps this is a knee jerk reaction and in a week or so it will all be back to normal. Either way, I've served under excellent officers, and I've served under officers I would just as soon never see again my natural life. (I had one who I repeatedly told him I was going to turn in my two weeks notice. Heh. Which of course you can't do and was an utterly foolish spit at tornado action to purposely aggravate but darn it it was *my* petty act of revenge.) The same is true in the civilian world, except there you can quit move on or otherwise. Who knows? I don't think there is a truly right or wrong answer here. Someday you get chickens some days you get eggs. But I will always, always, always, *always* expect better out of the senior leadership. For "Lead by Example" is the name of the game, in my book anyway.
 
I left the Army because I wasn't very good at it. Not good as a platoon leader (though I did have moments). Pretty competent staff officer. Not good at sucking up to superior officers, or even at avoiding conflict with them.

I was perpetually amused at the odd notions that various officers had on how things work. I was so disappointed with the Army that I spent years designing my own, with infantry based on fire teams rather than squads, with each fire team equipped with its own carrier, mortar/cannon and heavy machine guns. Communications which used electronic email, voice and graphics. Rifles with laser range finders, GPS compass and text messaging to provide precision direction of fire to THAT window RIGHT NOW. Right down to uniforms which put the camouflage on the outside and armor on the inside, and helmets which had face armor, thermal vision, and built in NBC equipment.

I eventually got my patent for a bullpup weapon operating system, but never succeeded in marketing it, or its ability to convert between 12 gauge, 5.56, .45ACP or 7.62x51 with a barrel and magazine change. Soldiers in Iraq still carry separate shotguns along with their barely effective M-4s. I am powerless to improve their lot.

So, I work as an engineer for one defense contractor or another, doing fairly technical work that ignores my odd insights to ground tactics and strategy.  I have no aspirations for management, as that would rely on my dubious skills at interpersonal interaction rather than my ability to calcuate 17th roots in my head. Life goes on, the kids hug me when I get home. John Moses  Brownings title is secure.
 

Lt G's superior was a tactical idiot and, as the senior officer, bears responsibility for the way the conversation turned out.

Defeating Lt G in that argument would only be possible if Lt G was not suited for the job while pressing for the desired conclusion right then and there was likely to make him (a junior officer, remember?) even more determined to follow the undesired course of action if he was suited for advancement as a fighting officer.

Alternative course of action? Disengage early with some parting words like, "You have a better grasp of the needs of your men than many who seek a career. We need more like you to offset the officers making the decisions that made your life miserable in the field."

Then SHUT-UP and let Lt G think that over.

OK, I wrote this pretty far upstream, before I read Dave's post.

Yeah, Lt G may well have gone to this as a career ender to get a block headed superior off his case. Said block headed superior needs a bit of counseling about interpersonal relations.

It's not a communications problem, it's a stubborn block head demanding he get his way, RIGHT NOW.

Granted, Lt G was unwise, but he was a junior officer in need of further development.

There was not, until the career ending incidents, anything preventing Lt G or Dave's subordinate returning to the military after a bit of time in the civilian world, was there? There's times the wise leader does not press for victory.

 
@Horace 6/29/08 7:06AM I took the time to re-read "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage". I also re-read the "Hiatus Statement", but this time I read all of the comments associated with each of the articles. He has a large and loyal following. You characterize the man as a "hell-raising LT fighting to stay with his men" and "heart in the right place but brain wasn't". The question becomes, not where was his brain, but where was his mind? I will tell you, I don't know. Where did the "shut-down" order come from, in the Chain of Command? Was it the next level higher or even higher in the Chain, both are possible? OPSEC is not the only issue for bloggers to be concerned about in their writing. I don't know the accuracy of this comment @Deer Boy (screen name) 6/27/08 9:28PM suggests some of this came from a published book. Unless the book is a self-published book, the author may not own all or part of the Copyright. Therefore, the publisher's attorneys may get involved for copyright infringement issues. This would put the multiple layers of Chain of Command in a different light, they are in essence, protecting him.

We live in a different world. This is a "Network Centric War", everything is watched. Hopefully, a problem, or even a potential problem can be addressed before it becomes deadly for his troops or for their counterparts. The Chain of Command will use whatever force is deemed necessary for him to learn. If Chain of Command is wise, it will use the minimum force. Why, because they are also being watched. Just a thought,

Grumpy
 
Three words ...Scott Thomas Beauchamp.

A proven liar writing for a leftist rag. Continual breaches of OpSec. A case for Sedition could be made, in that he accused fellow soldiers BY NAME of war crimes and atrosities and revealed ongoing operations in a war zone.

Until such time as the bloggers of the right made all this pukes violations of the UCMJ something that could not be tolerated by Army brass - he was allowed to continue to write for The New Republic after first being told to stop.

Thought provoking, no?


 
I remember being young, dumb, and full of...applesauce. If this incident really was a career ender for Lt G such that he couldn't go back in later, then it's yet another example of how the zero defect mentality in service deprives us of people with initiative who take responsibility when they screw up and who aren't too busy covering their asses to get out there and fight.

Anybody worth a crap as an alpha personality could have made this mistake at the typical Lt. age. Anybody who wasn't at least *at risk* of this kind of stepping on his sword at that age either isn't an alpha personality or isn't worth a crap. When young, the very good ones occasionally do the stupid.

Zero defect career standards are dysfunctional for any military. We're getting away with it so far, but the legacy of zero defect--driving  out the best--is causing an awful lot of grief to the guys on the ground.
 
Who's more at fault - the young, fire-eating junior officer whose heart was in the right place but brain wasn't, or the higher-ranking senior officer whose so insecure with himself that he lets a freaking lieutenant's blog get under his skin so much that he orders it shut down?

1. What does having been in combat have to do with this? Yeah, I thought so.

Think about what you just said. I don't know Lt. G well enough, but don't you think a commander (much less a blogger with a considerable audience) needs both his heart AND brain to be in the "right place"? And of the two, frankly I'd prefer that his BRAIN be in the right place. The last thing we want is someone shooting off his mouth online if his brain *isn't* engaged.

And yet, you have a problem with him being asked to shut down for a while?

2. re: the "getting under his skin" charge: As I've already pointed out, the Lt is an officer.

He violated a regulation. Normally this could have been dealt with by perhaps warning him not to do it again - by counseling him. Unfortunately, not only did the Lt break the rule, but as he broke it, he chose to give his reporting senior the finger - quite publicly.

If Lt. G had broken the rule in a less public and contemptuous way, the other officer would have had more latitude in his reaction.

But the bottom line is, if someone who is paid to lead by example (i.e., NOT BREAK THE FARGING RULES) not only breaks the rules by gives the command the finger while he's doing it, perhaps we should not be surprised if he loses the "right" to continue publicly flipping off his reporting seniors - on the Internet - in front of potentially thousands of people in a medium that everyone in the command can read?

The phrase 'prejudicial to good order and discipline' comes to mind. The "punishment" was not unduly harsh, it was comensurate with the offense, and the only reason any of this is a big deal is because people are making a fuss over it.




 
Cassandra asks: "What does having been in combat have to do with this?"

uhh, everything. it's a credibility issue. its easy for you to criticize as a keyboard general. but if you've been there - which you obviously haven't - you'd be a lot more understanding of LT G's perspective. Did he mess up? Obviously. And he's taken responsibility for it. And now he's facing the consequences.

CAPITALIZING THINGS ARE GREAT FOR EMPHASIZING POINTS