Friday, September 27, 2013

Marine Corps Disaster?

Click here for related story
[Military Times]

The Military seems to have changed a great deal during this Administration; it seems to be falling apart, perhaps for lack of leadership from the Commander-in-Chief all the way through the ranks.

We are scratching our collective heads on the changes the USMC Commandant is instituting -- or should we say, re-instituting, to reinvent the Military to what it was ten years ago. 

When did the Marines [et al] change from a Military organization to a social gathering!

In the referenced article, Marine Commandant Jim Amos raises issues and calls for reforms to correct the many problems rampant in the Marine Corps, and in the Military across the board.

We fear we may be seeing only the tip of the iceberg.

Here is the gist of General Amos' reform package:

1) Sergeants and corporals will live in the barracks with the troops
2) Officers and NCOs will be in and out of the barracks regularly at all hours
3) Officers and NCOs will have "staff duty" requirements
4) On-Duty Marines will wear service uniforms
5) Two NCOs, plus a Firewatch, will be on duty per barracks
6) No TVs or video games allowed in the watch-standers place of duty; watch-standers will patrol the barracks throughout the night.
7) Marines or corporals will no longer be promoted in groups -- but rather on personal assessments.

Every one of these changes were standard operating procedure when I was on Active Duty.  Has the Military eroded to such an extent that command authority has disappeared.  Could this situation explain some of the horrific situations we see in our Military today?

I'm reminded of a similar degradation of the Military under President Jimmy Carter, when we were required to adopt a "kumbaya feel-good" approach to running the Military.

When I was a detachment commander at Ft Bragg [1975-78], our new Brigade commander, Colonel Sydney T Weinstein [later Lieutenant General/DCSINT] ordered a Saturday morning "Commanders Call", and, in a shrieking tirade, demanded that the commanders fix the problem with the 525 MI Brigade's rowdy and undisciplined enlisted troops.

When he was finished with his histrionics, he shouted:
"Any questions?"

So, naturally, I raised my hand, causing smoke to billow from his ears, and he demanded:
"What part of what I just said do you not understand!"

I replied:
"Well, Colonel, I'm curious as to why you're telling your commanders of this problem"
-- which caused more shrieking and stamping of feet, and fire blowing from all his orifices.

He replied:
"Because YOU, as commanders, are responsible! Who else do you think is going to handle this problem!"
I responded:
"Well sir, have you noticed that big, fat ugly guy sitting next to you with all the stripes on his sleeve?

Weinstein replied:

I advised:
"Well, he's your Sergeant Major, your chief of all things enlisted.
"He's the only guy you should be talking to right now about problems with his enlisted troops. By demanding that we do his job, you undercut his authority, and that of all the non-commissioned officers in your command. You might want to discuss this issue with him, tell him what you want accomplished, and then back him up with full authority to accomplish his mission. He's your guy!

Colonel Weinstein then turned to his Sergeant Major and asked timidly:
"Is what Davis is saying true?"

The Sergeant Major leered at the colonel and growled:
"You're God Damned right!
"Why don't you let me do my goddam job and quit undercutting me with your namby pampy West Point horse-shit!"

[The sergeant major was not one to mince words.]

Colonel Weinstein then glared at me and demanded to know how I knew such things,
and I replied:
"Well, Colonel, before I was an officer, I was a non-commissioned officer, that is, a sergeant. I've spent my entire life around the military as a dependent or as a soldier, so I picked up these pointers from NCOs and officers.  May I suggest you consult with your Sergeant Major on a regular basis and you'll find he can manage a great number of the issues that confront you on a daily basis."

Colonel Weinstein then closed the meeting, after which the Sergeant Major came to me and said:
"Captain, I still think you're an asshole, but I respect you for standing up to the colonel, and I'd be proud to serve under your command in combat!"

I thanked him for his kind words, and advised I would seek him out at the first signs of our next war.

Tom Weinstein and I had a turbulent relationship since my detachment, responsible for training all USFORSCOM units in tactical intelligence, took its direction from the FORSCOM Commander rather than the 525 MI Brigade or 18th Airborne Corps Commander.  But, he left me alone since his Brigade took the credit when all the commendations came in from the commanders of the units we trained, and from the Pentagon.  And, he did write my Officer Efficiency Report, so we reached a productive working accord.  I later briefly served under him at the Pentagon where he was Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and I edited the Black Book -- a highly classified daily intelligence brief for the Pentagon General Staff. 

Weinstein's management style, unfortunately, never improved.