Are Our "Best" Officers Leaving?

Are Our "Best" Military Officers Leaving the Service Short of a 20 Year Career?

  • Yes

    Votes: 11 84.6%
  • No

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other

    Votes: 2 15.4%

  • Total voters
    13
  • Poll closed .

Marauder06

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Lengthy but interesting article in The Atlantic:

Why are so many of the most talented officers now abandoning military life for the private sector? An exclusive survey of West Point graduates shows that it’s not just money. Increasingly, the military is creating a command structure that rewards conformism and ignores merit. As a result, it’s losing its vaunted ability to cultivate entrepreneurs in uniform.
The author starts with the premise that "the best" officers are leaving the military, resulting in "mediocrity" versus "meritocracy." Do you accept that premise? Are our "best" (your definition of "best") officers leaving? If so, what can we do to fix it?
 

Etype

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I'd say of the ones I've known in my short time in the military, the majority of GREAT officers, not good, were either uninterested in doing 20 or fed up with the games and ready to leave.
 

Mac_NZ

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I'd say of the ones I've known in my short time in the military, the majority of GREAT officers, not good, were either uninterested in doing 20 or fed up with the games and ready to leave.

I'm with E Type. Also I have seen great Capts and Majs leave to do their staff postings with higher and come back completely indoctrinated into the BS.
I think once an O reaches a certain point they get sucked into the empire building vortex of a higher officers ego. The good ones that don't conform and refuse to play the BS games fall by the wayside. Their are infrequently some good ones up the top but their underlings become the ones that cause the problems. You know the type, those clinging to the shirt tails of a better man hoping for advancement.

Being an O should be about leading men and enabling them to do their job. Sadly I see them forced to play politics IOT survive more often than I do either of those.

I have a dream that 10 years from now every Brig Gen and above will have led troops at Pl/Coy and BN level and thus be able to remember the reality of the job and not some vague recollection of the distant past.
 

AWP

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Are "the best" leaving? Some are and some aren't. Are a large number of exceptional officers leaving? Without a doubt. Don't take risks, conform, cut and paste your way to a promotion, micromanage, your NCOs and soldiers are expendable.

Again, does this encompass all officers out there? No. Are a large number in this category of exceptional medicority? I believe so.

This story reminds me of Paul Yingling's "A Failure in Generalship."
 

Manolito

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I don't care for how this whole subject is presented. Just the title and content infers any officer that chooses to remain is suspect as a less than capable officer. Up until recently I have interviewed and hired former officers for employment and two very distict topics come out. #1 an officer can be accused by EEOC and even if the officer is clean as can be he is suspect and hard pressed to move up the chain. #2 my senior officer would throw me under the bus to save his or her own ass. #3 I love the military and after four or five deployments in the last 6 years my kids are growing up without a parent.
Just my thoughts.
Bill
 

DA SWO

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I don't care for how this whole subject is presented. Just the title and content infers any officer that chooses to remain is suspect as a less than capable officer. Up until recently I have interviewed and hired officers for employment and two very distict topics come out. #1 an officer can be accused by EEOC and even if the officer is clean as can be he is suspect and hard pressed to move up the chain. #2 my senior officer would throw me under the bus to save his or her own ass. #3 I love the military and after four or five deployments in the last 6 years my kids are growing up without a parent.
Just my thoughts.
Bill

I agree with #1 and 2.
SOF guys have had this deployment schedule/rate for years and stick with it.
 

Teufel

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I think the article is pretty accurate. I'm not going to say that all of the best officers are leaving but a lot of my buddies took off after their fleet tours were over. I would say that poor leadership was the biggest factor, and that is largely a result of promoting based on time instead of merit. Some guys stuck around a little longer but took off after their second fleet tour.
SOF guys had a 7 months on and 7 months off deployment before the war? Besides, I know MARSOC and the Marine Reconnaissance community have been having a retention problem for quite some time now. I am sure that holds true in the other services. I know for me, the hardest thing for me was seeing how tough missions, poor leadership and decision making resulted in unnecessary casualties. I thought a lot about leaving myself after each of my deployments because of how frustrated the system has made me.
 

Manolito

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http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG.../dacowits/docs/aug2005/3NovRetentionDraft.doc
This is 03 and 04 data but around page 24 is some information that I found pretty interesting.
My thoughts are based on what I saw in the DOD work force and I don't have any first hand experience like either of you.
The attached article has some information on SOF but not enough to get a good feeling on the cause and effect of SOF officers leaving before retirement.
Bill
 

moobob

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PC and Risk adversion. The military may be a "values based" organization, but a lot of people forget that our #1 value is really accomplishing the mission, which usually entails killing things and breaking shit, not Equal Opportunity, Sensitivity Training, etc. Someone shouldn't get promoted because he had less alcohol related incidents in the command, or his unit collected more money for the Combined Federal Campaign. Yes, discipline is a direct reflection of the command climate... but our priorities for moving people up are very skewed.

That said, you'll never going to eliminate favoritism and the good ole boy system when it comes to promoting people.
 

Marauder06

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I'm not sure all of our "best" officers are leaving short of a 20-year career, but I am convinced we're losing a lot of "very good" ones. The reasons for this are many- the deployment tempo, the fact that there's a war going on, the evolving culture of the military... plus the fact that the officers we consider "good" probably have a lot of options outside of the military as well. I think we can all recall officers who we thought stayed in the military because they would be utter failures in the "real world."

I think a lot of attrition could be solved with early and meaninful involvement from the chain of command. It's too late to change a lieutenant or captain's mind about getting out when the first time you see the person is at the exit interview. I think if junior officers get the sense that their work is valued, that they are rewarded commensurate with the level of job performance, and that non-hackers are called to account, it would go a long way towards keeping the kinds of people in that we need to have stay in.

One of the problems now is that less-than-stellar officers often have the ability to rise to very high rank because of simple attrition- at the end of the day they're the "last man standing" when it's time to pin on that bird or that star. That, of course, has a trickle-down negative effect throughout the Army.
 

surgicalcric

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...The military may be a "values based" organization...

Or so they say...

I have watched quite a few team leaders (CPTs) leave the Army because of the risk-averse leadership styles which seem to permeate the Army, including SOF/SF.

I spoke to one recently, whom I have known since the SFQC. He is a great leader, great SF soldier, great officer but horrible at toeing the party line, if you will. Told me he came to SF to do a job and since the Army apparently doesn't want him doing said job he will find employment elsewhere. He even turned down MAJ to stay on an ODA...

He is going to work for an alphabet agency; I am sure he will be unhappy there as well.
 

Brill

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He is a great leader, great SF soldier, great officer but horrible at toeing the party line, if you will. Told me he came to SF to do a job and since the Army apparently doesn't want him doing said job he will find employment elsewhere. He is going to work for an alphabet agency; I am sure he will be unhappy there as well.

Sadly, I believe you are correct. Management simply wants to hear that everything is great, there aren't any problems, and everyone is special in their own individual way. USG = everyone on the soccer team gets a trophy.

It's nucking futs I tell ya!
 
J

JJ sloan

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I agree with #1 and 2.
SOF guys have had this deployment schedule/rate for years and stick with it.

Not sure what you mean here. SOF guys are no different than anyone else. I know alot of guys that are slowing down in order to be closer to their children.
 

DA SWO

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Not sure what you mean here. SOF guys are no different than anyone else. I know alot of guys that are slowing down in order to be closer to their children.

SOF had a high deployment rate prior to 9/11/01.
That rate hasn't slowed, and won't after we are out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Guys still stick with it.
I think Military BS and risk aversion cause more folks to leave then deployment schedules.
i can tell the boss I am tired of deploying, and get no grief. tell the boss that I am tired of risk aversion ass kissers, EO classes, and other non-warfighting BS and see what the response is.
 
J

JJ sloan

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SOF had a high deployment rate prior to 9/11/01.
That rate hasn't slowed, and won't after we are out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Guys still stick with it.
I think Military BS and risk aversion cause more folks to leave then deployment schedules.
i can tell the boss I am tired of deploying, and get no grief. tell the boss that I am tired of risk aversion ass kissers, EO classes, and other non-warfighting BS and see what the response is.

Agreed.
 

Scotth

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I wonder if we aren't moving into a similar type of situation that our military found itself in after the Vietnam War. During this last decade of war we have lowered standards and that is especially visible for enlisted basic training standards and the kinder softer Army Basic Training. We work to lower standards so we lose less recruits and retain people that should have been weeded out of the ranks because we need bodies to fill a slot. After Vietnam it took nearly a decade to for the military to shake off the acceptance of mediocrity and start kicking people in the butt and start expecting a higher standards. I think we are beginning to reep what we have sewn by lowering standards and retaining people for the sake of meeting short-term manning goals.

It has already been mentioned that the highest quality officers have other opportunities outside the uniformed service and that statement has never been more true then in today's world of defense contractor. I think it's real comparable to the fights the Navy and Air Force have had in the past to retain pilots against the money that could be made as a commercial pilot. There are so many opportunities for exceptional officers to bring there experience and skills to the contractor market. I would like to see stats of how many officers end up leaving the service and end up working for defense contractor.
 
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