Sickening leadership failure

| March 8, 2013 | 50 Comments

When I joined the Army back in 1991, my original plan was to spend a couple years as an enlisted infantryman and then apply to become an officer. I still believe that’s the right way to serve as an officer; there is not a single officer in the military today who would not have improved with prior enlisted service. So around the two year mark of my enlistment I went down to a Green to Gold briefing at Fort Lewis. For those of you who don’t know, Green to Gold is an Army program that takes enlisted soldiers and puts them on a track to become officers after a period in College. In the briefing, however, they told me I could not qualify for a four year scholarship unless I chose to attend a predominantly black college. At the same time, the Army leadership was offering full four year ROTC scholarships to any 18 year old high school students who wanted one, and with none of the same racist restrictions. After thinking about it overnight, I realized it was all bullshit, and that I wanted nothing to do with the Army, at least as an officer. I realized that the Army leadership was sick and racist, and actively discriminated against enlisted men who wanted to become officers. So I did the rest of my time honorably, got out, and here I am, an incredibly successful part-time blogger who gets to post on this blog when nobody is watching.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I went to visit the Army recruiter in Ukiah, CA, in an advisory capacity to a young man — the son of a family friend — who wanted to serve his country as an infantryman. While we were there, I made sure the recruiter explained how the GI bill benefit worked. He also explained that everyone in the Army is eligible for tuition assistance while on active duty, and that the Army is serious about getting its enlisted soldiers time to learn. I thought that was a good thing. It jibed with my own experience of getting to take advantage of a similar program in the early 90’s which paid for classes I took with my unit in between deployments. Thumbs up. But then today, I noticed that the Army and Marine Corps have announced they are going to take away the tuition assistance consideration.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m willing to bet that conversations about Army tuition assisctance benefits between recruiters and future soldiers like the one I witnessed a couple weeks back have been happening for years all across the country, from Ukiah to San Diego to Austin to Boston, and that there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who signed up, at least in part, based on this tuition assistance consideration. And for each one of these soldiers, there’s probably an influencer like me who — at least in part — made his recommendation to the future soldier based on that consideration as well. The cheap target here is Obama. After all, he chose to prioritize golfing with Tiger Woods and sending $250,000,000 to the Muslim Brotherhood, and flying on Air Force one for date nights with Michelle to New York City and million dollar vacays to Hawaii over putting the money into defense. And he has failed to submit a budget on time for 4 of the last 5 years. And the unserious budgets he has submitted were voted down unanimously by the Senate in each of the last two.

But the real target for blame here is, I think, the Army leadership, specifically those field grade and general officers who, perhaps because so few of them have enlisted military experience, prioritize members of their caste by fucking over enlisted soldiers in favor of, say, fucking over ROTC or West Point cadets.

Now I know what you’re going to say if you’re one of these officers. You’re going to say something to the effect that: “Education isn’t as important for enlisted soldiers as it is for officers.” Or maybe you’re going to say to the private, “Hey Private, you signed on the dotted line and you agreed to everything in your contract including the part which specifically says in subsection b part 4 Section IX that nothing the recruiter promised which is not in the contract is guaranteed so shut the fuck up and do pushups.” Or even better you’re going to blame the victim and say “Oh booh hoo, the recruiter lied to you.” And then you’re going to elbow one of your officer buddies, or perhaps one of your sychophantic senior NCO’s and say “I bet Private Snuffy thinks he’s the first soldier a recruiter ever lied to ha-ha-ha!”

To which I feel obligated to respond on Private Snuffy’s behalf: Fuck you in your fat, bleached asshole.

Category: Politics

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  1. Gangland says:

    I agree whole heartedly with you on this one and this benefit was one of the very reasons I enlisted. It even was the final nail in the coffin in convincing my wife to support me. While as an Infantryman I don’t have much time for classes, it’s complete fuckery that now the progress I WAS making on my degree will have to halt because there’s no way I can afford it on my basic pay.

    That would hurt on it’s own, but to learn that Obama and our leaders covered their own asses and paid for golf outings and bullshit vacations instead of a big chunk of America’s future, and the very people that protect it and fight it’s wars is just too much. I have almost no faith that this country has any hope anymore and that’s a sad sad thing for a soldier to say.

  2. RunPatRun says:

    Kinda agree but with a few points. This is not the first time TA was pinched due to the budget, and the suspension isn’t going to last forever. I also remember being promised fee healthcare after twenty years, and we all know how that is working out. TA will be back, mark my words on that. Definitely sucks at present, and it is a leadership failure.

  3. K.J. Hinton says:

    As a former enlisted man who went the exact same route as you indicated… and who lost too much of his hearing to qualify for Combat Arms and had to take the Shield of Shame, (And who could only stand it for 4 years) I have to agree with your assessment.

    I was an RA graduate from the UW ROTC in Seattle and the thought frequently occurred to me that many of my classmates were unfit to operate an elevator, let alone led men (Or is it just plain “people” these days?) in combat.

    I believe that we should look at what was, at least, the Bundeswher model where they had a program that involved taking guys in, they signed a longer than usual draftee contract: they served 4 months as enlisted, 4 months as junior NCO, 4 months as platoon sergeant (seconded to the real leaders at each position) for mentoring and evaluation… and then, if there evals were good enough, they went to an OCS type school and were commissioned. The only difference on the uniform was that each person in the program wore both their enlisted rank and a second lieutenant’s… I dunno… badge or whatever they call it… button or something (usually worn on the shoulder of actual officers) on their sleeves.

    Every officer should spend time as an enlisted.

    My time was 72-86. Started out life as an 11D, wound up pushing paper behind a desk… a major suck.

    But if race was a consideration back then, I never observed it.

    Now, of course, with a president who hates the military and a bunch of toady, political generals who won’t set that empty-suited asshole straight, I fear that we will be forced to suffer a major blood-letting as a result to even make the possibility of the right changes from this society coffee-klatch bullshit we’re running now to get us back on course.

    Many of us are going to die needlessly. And the cause will be the ever-shrinking concentric circles that end in Washington, D.C.

    Meanwhile, the troops get screwed for political points.

    I thank God every day that I kept my kid from signing up as cannon fodder under this regime.

  4. DaveO says:

    Who will speak for the children when child care is taken away?

  5. Just Plain Jason says:

    I really get tired of the false bravado that some of the asshats get when they say, “you didn’t join for…” Well no shit, but the benefits of the job are what make it acceptable. Keep taking them away and the job sucks even more.

  6. Edward1811 says:

    Wow man, serious anger issues with Army Officers. I’m a LT in the Reserves for the Navy. Went ROTC, served 5 years active. The Navy drilled two things into me during that time.

    1. Mission Accomplishment
    2. Take care of your people (This was #1 whenever we weren’t deployed)

    Maybe Navy Chiefs have a different leadership style but as a junior officer they made it clear that beyond getting Qual’d my only job was to make sure my guys were good to go. Or maybe I just had some really good Chiefs. Anyway, if I had the chance to send a motivated sailor to OCS it happened. Mustangs make the Navy better and my commands knew it.

  7. Green Thumb says:

    I was Green to Gold.

    11B (E-1), 11V (E-4), to 11A (O-1E to O-3E).

    Never forget why the “Sky is Blue”.

    Enough said.

  8. Uber Pig says:

    @Edward1811 my issue isn’t with Army officers in general, just with those who never bothered to serve as enlisted first. Some of you manage to do your jobs effectively in spite of this personal deficiency. For all I know, you’re one of them. But all officers, including you, would have been better at your jobs if you had the stones to serve as enlisted first.

    @green_thumb thanks for your service.

    — UP

  9. fm2176 says:

    There goes the easy way to working on classes this deployment. I’ll have to a) find a scholarship or other assistance, b) waste more of my GI Bill, or c) wait until TA is brought back (as it most likely will be–eventually).

    My experience with officers is mixed. The vast majority of those whom I’ve served under have been extremely supportive of enlisted Soldiers seeking an education. Most units I’ve been in have commander’s policies allowing for Soldiers to attend a semester of college full-time if they reenlist current station stabilization. One of my Soldiers is about to graduate from West Point now, and another from the platoon graduated last year. Sometimes I feel like the odd man out–many of my old TOG peers are now officers or warrants.

    With TA gone for now, there are still plenty of other incentives to serve. Unfortunately, this comes at a point in my career where even the upbeat, love the Army guy in me has been considering options (reclass, transfer to Guard, stay in). This deployment, and the next year or so in general, will help me make a choice. Tuition Assistance being suspended, in part so that our illustrious CinC can continue his charades, is just a small sign of where the Army is headed. The bigger signs are acronyms such as QMP and QSP. “Thanks for your service, we’ll call you for the next war.” When the military is looking to downsize anyway, sequestration might be just what the brass is looking for.

  10. PapaMAS says:

    Hard to see what your point is except a rage against the machine.

    It sucks that some douchebags are trying to score political points with TA, and so screwing over troops who are working hard at bettering themselves. I have had to deal with that and other crappy fallout from the sequester, and my head aches to think on it.

    It sucks that there are plenty of drones wearing officer ranks who make life miserable for everyone else and are only good at covering their own asses. I have to deal with nimrods like that everyday.

    If you are ranting that all or most of the officers are no good because they have not come up through the ranks, Man! The only thing I can say is that is a non sequitur at best. We have all seen our share of spineless officers and general officers – and NCOs. Being enlisted didn’t seem to help them any.

  11. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ Edward 1811 …. First, are you a Special Agent? Second, the Navy ain’t the Army … it is different!

  12. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    @ Edward 1811

    1. Take care of your people.
    2. The people will complete the mission.

  13. Uber Pig says:

    PapaMAS I never said that officers without enlisted experience are no good. What I did say is that “There’s not a single officer in the military today who would not have improved with prior enlisted service that all officers would have been improved by the enlisted experience.” There is a subtle but important difference between these ideas and I encourage you to reflect on them.

    You’re welcome to disagree with on my statement. But is it a non sequitor? I kinda feel like it sets the table pretty well for the rest of my argument. It offers one hypothesis about why the Army leadership class, the vast majority of which has no enlisted experience, is failing to treat these enlisted soldiers fairly today, just as it failed to treat me fairly when I was enlisted, a long time ago.

    Namaste,

    UP

  14. SJ says:

    I was blessed as an LT from The Citadel to go VFR direct to the 82nd. Graduated on 1 June 63 and reported to Bragg on 2 June. The BN CO told me I was given a platoon in name only…it was S/Sgt Jones’ platoon and that I would listen to him. S/Sgt Jones would say things like: “Would the LT like for me to do xyz?” I would say: “Excellent idea S/Sgt Jones”. I learned something there because I had never thought of doing that. The NCO’s in that Battalion made me a good officer and I have never forgotten that. They, frankly were very happy to be great NCO’s doing mission oriented things without having to put up with the petty BS that the officers had to contend with. Whatever military career success that can be ascribed to me came from the NCO’s I served with.

  15. Stacy0311 says:

    As a prior enlisted (19 years) who crossed over to the dark side (twice, long story) I see my most important job as being a “stupid filter”. Taking all of the stupid assinine things that come down from higher and mitigating the impact of stupidity on Joe, and still accomplish the mission. For example, is all of that mandatory training (SHARP/POSH/EO etc) really going to help him “shoot, move, communicate”?

  16. Uber Pig says:

    SJ it sounds like you succeeded at being an officer in spite of not having prior service. If so, congratulations. And thankyou for your service.

    — UP

  17. PapaMAS says:

    @13

    I am not one to defend Army officers. I have had to deal with plenty and most were more concerned with their own well being than with the troops or the mission (not all, just seemingly most of those I have worked with; the good ones were few and far between). It seems to me you were saying only weenies would screw with TA and the like, and officers are weenies because they were not enlisted. I submit they are weenies because they are weenies, not because they have never shared the enlisted experience.

  18. Uber Pig says:

    @17

    Fair enough. However if officers were forced to spend time as enlisted first, a much larger percentage of the weenies would not have become officers.

    — UP

  19. cannoncocker says:

    Philosophical question: Why are West Point Grads so fucked up?

    If you have a problem with that question, you either graduated from West Point and are butt hurt about it or you haven’t worked with any West Point grads. And if you’re butt hurt about that question, drink water and drive on. I don’t care.

  20. Uber Pig says:

    @19 it’s not that West Pont grads are fucked up. Some of them are solid. My only point I was trying to make is, even those West Point grads who do become good officers would have been even better officers had they the benefit of prior enlisted service. And I have to believe that forcing those West Point guys to spend two years as enlisted would have gotten rid of the worst of them.

    — UP

  21. 1SG DB says:

    Uber Pig,

    Although this decision is not a popular one, it comes at at level of redundancy that won’t actually hurt a smart Soldier who is enrolled right now. Yes, Army provided tuition assistance will be cut off, but not until after this semester. If Joe is smart and has his ducks in a row, he is double dipping TA + Post 9/11 GI Bill and can revert to just the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If he hasn’t been double dipping and just using Fed TA, he can jump to Post 9/11 pretty easily depending on how sharp the VA Affairs Office at the University is.

    What the Army needs to do right now is circle the wagons and pay for functions that support and train for warfighting. An educated Enlisted Soldier or NCO is definitely a goal and goes a long way, but not at the expense of anything to do with actual warfighting.

    Basically the Army took a look at tuition assistance and said, this is a program where our Soldiers can find support from other agencies (like the VA) and decided to make the cut.

    Now, before you accuse me of being some sort of Pentagon lackey who clicks his heels and falls in line, understand that I am not. I just want bullets. I want trained Soldiers. I want a uniform pattern that makes sense. If that comes at the price of Joe having to do some legwork to get his free education – so be it.

    (By the way, I’m currently using my Post 9/11 GI Bill to finish my B.S. in Business Management, running a 3.95 GPA with two semesters left to go)

  22. Uber Pig says:

    @21

    1sg db — All of what you write may be true. I hope it is. But TA is a benefit promised to future soldiers. It needs to be delivered. You’re obviously a smart soldier, as evidenced by your GPA. For my own part, I prison-raped the GI bill to pay for Stanford. But we both know most enlisted soldiers aren’t as smart as we are. And a lot of those who are smart are not very well-disciplined. We owe it to them, as well as to the dumb ones, to see they aren’t being taken advantage of here. Help me to help them, please. And fuck anyone who thinks this is okay.

    — UP

  23. Mike says:

    Yah they aren’t giving a rat fuck about joe nowadays.

  24. Gravel says:

    “Fuck you in your fat, bleached asshole.”

    Coffee out my nose, all over my keyboard and screen.

    Instant fan of your writing … for more reasons than just that line. I look forward (agree or disagree with) your future postings and points of view on whatever subjects strike your fancy enough to write about.

    Best,

    Gravel

  25. fm2176 says:

    I just wanted to make a couple of points:

    1) I’ve read comments elsewhere about Soldiers getting enough benefits and TA basically being icing on the cake. True, but as pointed out above, it has been promised to virtually every enlisted Soldier who has joined in recent history. I just remembered the presentation checks we Recruiters were encouraged to give to enlistees at their graduation. Most of the time the check amount would be calculated using the GI Bill, any bonuses received, and TA for the number of years enlisted. It looks good showing all the education money the Army offers/offered on paper–especially when that education money could total over $100k plus bonuses. $13,500-18,000 in TA for a 3-4 year enlistment was a strong added incentive for some kids.

    2) While there is no doubt that prior enlisted service would make many officers better leaders, I just remembered one of my Old Guard platoon leaders. When he first arrived my fellow NCOs and I felt marginalized by him. My opinion at the time was that he was the worst kind of Lieutenant–a prior service Specialist who had gone to West Point. Unlike two of our company commanders, who were a SSG and a SFC before going to OCS, this guy came across as a “know-it-all” who felt he knew everyone’s job better than they did, especially that of his squad leaders. He ended up being a decent guy, and maybe his quirks were the result of the culture shock most PLs experience when they leave their first assignment and have to adjust to TOG. Or maybe as a junior SSG at the time I was too easily butthurt. I do have few doubts that we’d have gotten along much better if he had actually worn stripes before going to West Point.

  26. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “Why are West Point Grads so fucked up?”

    It’s part of the West Point Code, I think. They have always been that way. Many get straightened out as they climb a couple of ranks but then they get all screwy again until, one day, they retire, disappear for a while, and then show up as commentators on MSNBC or CNN where they display their fuckedppedness for the entire world to see.

  27. DFK says:

    Let’s make sure we put blame where it’s due. The order to kill TA came from the Secretary of the Army, just as the order to kill the USMC TA came from the SecNav. Presumably, both of them got their orders from their immediate superiors. I wasn’t something that originated within either the senior NCO corps, or the Officers, this is the civilian leadership aiming for maximum misery. While there are always things to gripe about with regards to the chain of command, this isn’t one of them. The most anyone in the military could do would be to publicly denounce the policy decision, a la the revolt of the Admirals, but like the revolt, and as with every soldier who has publicly spoken out against the civilian leadership’s flawed decisions, all it would accomplish is getting them relived and fast tracked to separation. It’s up to veterans who are already out to point out the flaws of the policy, but if we point the public at the wrong target, we accomplish nothing.

  28. Hondo says:

    Uber Pig: a couple of comments.

    1. Your assertion that “every officer would benefit from prior active-duty experience” is both true – and irrelevant. The services have determined that they want officers generally to have college degrees. Requiring a 2-year enlisted tour (realistically the minimum you’d need for a guy/gal to “learn the ropes”) before ROTC or Service Academy attendance as opposed to making that one of several ways to attain a ROTC scholarship/Service Academy appointment would in all likelihood drive off too many prospective attendees.

    The only workable alternatives IMO would be to go OCS-only or to drop the de facto degree requirement for officers. I don’t see either happening, even if either might be workable. And I’m not sure either really is workable.

    2. Not sure that source of commission (e.g., Academy or ROTC) makes all that much difference. I’ve seen good officers and “fools and tools” from both sources. Both kinds come out of OCS, too. The Academy grads do seem to start out at a slight disadvantage – IMO probably because the population at the various service academies is less diverse (attitude-wise) and more controlled and they thus learn fewer ways of dealing with people. However, after about 2-3 years that seems to be pretty much gone.

    3. I’d guess we’ve only seen the beginning of some lean times. Since your service began in the 1990s, I have to tell you – you haven’t seen really bad times in the military. I grew up near a major military installation during the early 1970s – e.g., during the Vietnam-era drawdown – and served during the Carter years. From what I saw of each of those, even the Clinton-era “peace dividend” cutback times were good times by comparison. TA got sporadic as hell during the 1970s and 1980s. (And for those who came in under Carter, there wasn’t really any “GI Bill” to fall back on. VEAP sucked the big wazoo.)

    My point? It’s probably gonna get worse, and few serving today have any real idea of how bad it can get.

    4. I’d also disagree on the basic problem here. From what I can see, with sequestration DoD leadership has been handed the proverbial excrement sandwich and told, “Eat it and like it.” All the options are bad. And TA cuts and deployment extensions (Army) or curtailments (Navy) are IMO only the beginning.

    Unfortunately, we’ve been living as a nation far beyond our means for at least 2 to 3 decades. I’m afraid it’s about to get really ugly, and that TA cutbacks are only the first in a series of things that will impact the uniformed side of the house (which since 2001 has frankly fared reasonably well, financially speaking, in comparison with many others). I’d guess fm2176 above is on-target with the prediction of QMP and QSP starting maybe next year (or possibly this year); ditto officer-side reductions as well (RIFs and/or SRBs). Promotions will in all likelihood slow way down, both enlisted and officer. And selection rates will likely drop as well.

    I’d also guess we’ll see a reduction in total active duty strength, unit deactivations, ships and aircraft being taken out of service, maintenance deferrals, and the like. You may see some major programs take a hit, too (though I’d guess that’s not too likely – most major programs have strong friends in Congress because they create jobs in Congressional districts). But unlike their civilian colleagues, at least it looks like those in uniform probably won’t be facing an outright pay cut. Hopefully.

    None of that is new. Even all at once isn’t new – ask any post-Vietnam or Carter-era vet. No, none of that is “right”, and no – it shouldn’t happen. But I’m guessing it will.

    Why? Money. As the guy in the suit from DC said to Chuck Yeager and Jack Ridley in The Right Stuff: “Funding. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.” And for the next few years, I’m guessing DoD is gonna see a serious shortage of bucks. Neither party seems to be willing to mention the elephant in the room – e.g., the fact that entitlement spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the like is bankrupting the country. The resulting automatic cuts are gonna be painful as hell to anything that’s not exempted.

  29. FltMedic says:

    So I am in a class right now of all military Medics, about half of us are prior active duty, but a few folks are from the guard and reserve. All of us that served on active duty are using our GI Bill. The kids from the guard (that haven’t deployed so don’t have enough time on active duty) are relying on the TA and they just got notified that it’s done after this semester. So yea fuck the generals who decided that TA doesn’t need to be there. I’m pretty sure there are a ton of things they could have chopped.

  30. Alberich says:

    #24, you should look up his “Ask an Infantryman” posts at Blackfive sometime. Without the coffee.

  31. TrapperFrank says:

    The only personnel that made tuition assistance work while I was in were REMFs. In most combat arms units, it was damn near impossible to make TA work. A soldier had to be super dedicated to getting and education.

  32. PFM says:

    I kind of like the prior service requirement for officer thing, but I have met a few mustangs over the years that forgot everything they knew from their enlisted days and/or were major dicks with huge chips on their shoulders. My Reserve unit used to conduct BRM at West Point back in the day for the pre-cadets, and there was always one or two “prior enlisted” (E2s that spent about 6 months in their permanent party unit before trying for cadet) that knew it all and did it all, and were royal pains in the ass. Others had a problem with that big bad Sergeant bossing them around and by God when they got those butterbars they were gonna set the Army NCO Corps straight. I served with a lot of prior enlisted officers, and they were on the whole pretty awesome, but when you got a bad one they were the worst of the worst.

  33. Edward1811 says:

    @MCPO NYC – I am, with the Service in NYC. You’ve probably seen us around during that huge pain in the ass called the General Assembly every September.

  34. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    Edward …. I think I know you! Not in a biblical way …

  35. OWB says:

    Yeah, it stinks. Yeah, there are some really bad officers. There are also some really bad NCO’s. And some really bad E-1’s. Some folks are capable of learning and some are not.

    As one who lived through it, the 70’s were good and bad. The 80’s were good and bad. The 90’s looked worse through my eyes perhaps because by then I had enough life expedrience to see more of the big picture. And through it all I served with some very excellent officers and enlisted and others who were worthless. One of the worst officers I served with was prior enlisted. And some of the most educated were enlisted.

    In other words, the military reflects the greater society – there are good folks and there are lazy folks. At least in the military there are some standards to which most aspire to conform. And not every decision serves us well. Such is life.

  36. Rob says:

    @Uberpig – I agree that most officers would benefit from prior service, but I am interested to hear what benefits you believe an officer would receive from being prior enlisted.

  37. Rob says:

    That was a bit redundant, but you get the point

  38. prior service says:

    Uber Tard,
    (See how I just throw out ad hominem attacks about things, like you do?)
    I am a prior service 11B that got a commission after having served as a rifleman, auto-rifleman, RTO, Dragon gunner, team leader, and squad leader. I have since served at all levels up to and including battalion command.
    After reading your bomb-throwing, and aspersions-casting rant and stripping out all the filler words, the following remains:
    1. You didn’t become an officer because of some alleged racism.
    2. Prior service makes for better officers
    3. Some segue about Obama.
    4. Officers apparently manage all budget decisions and are making them purely to screw enlisted Soldiers.

    My opinions:
    1. Have no idea what you are talking about, but if you chose not to pursue a commission because you didn’t like the school they were willing to pay for your education at, perhaps that is a bit shallow.
    2. While I agree with your opinion that officers should have prior service, it is double edged. some of the worst officers I have seen were prior service. As were some of the best. It is hard to make the transition. You either get it, or you don’t. Good officers are good, regardless. Very little, beyond an understanding of the Soldier’s lot in life is relevant. If any thing, it makes Soldiers more accepting of the officer but doesn’t make him better at doing tasks that are officer-specific.
    3. Whatever
    4. The decision on TA halt was from the SEC Army. Look to your civilian leadership, not army and certainly not field grade leadership. Majors through colonels don’t do that kind of decision. By the way, considering that I have no money to even roll a tank or Brad until the end of the year, no wait, no money to buy repair parts, or even go to a small arms range. get a clue about the full impact of sequester, which is on straight-up combat readiness. I can’t even print briefings right now because paper costs too much. There is no OMA money and you are pissing and moaning about TA? I used TA when I was enlisted. My wife used it. I used it when I was going after my masters’ too. But given a choice between combat readiness and TA I would take readiness. But guess what? There is no choice because there is no money to be had for anything. None.
    5. Put the blame on your elected officials who made stupid decisions,get over yourself and your generalizations about officers, and learn how to provide thoughtful, fact-filled analysis vice tripe about officers. And, yes, this is coming from an officer that acknowledges and concurs with a fair amount of the negative stereotyping about officers.
    6. This is not a sickening leadership failure by the army but a hard decision that was probably not made easily, by people with no good options, placed there by politicians unwilling to spread that burden across the entirety of the federal government. That is what is sickening. Place the blame where it rightfully lies.

  39. Uber Pig says:

    @38

    I’m glad that somewhere along the way to becoming a Battalion Commander, you learned formal logic, and thus what an ad hominem attack is. You also figured out how to mischaracterize someone’s position (formal logic: straw man) because it makes it easier to defeat that person’s real argument:

    “1. You didn’t become an officer because of some alleged racism.”

    — In part, yes. But are you familiar with the facts of the Green to Gold program in the early 90’s? If not, take some time out and get educated. Otherwise you “allegedly” sound like a “retarded” highway patrolman who watches too much NCIS. Oh snap. How’s that for a mothafucking ad hominem?

    “2. Prior service makes for better officers”

    — Yes.

    “3. Some segue about Obama.”

    — Why yes, a segue about Obama in which I place some of the blame for fucking over enlisted soldiers on Obama and, by extension, the Secretary of Defense he appointed. Perhaps I should have made that more clear. In any case, it’s a segue that does address your bullets numbered 5 and 6, so I won’t even bother addressing those further.

    “4. Officers apparently manage all budget decisions and are making them purely to screw enlisted Soldiers.”

    — Sure dude. Because that’s EXACTLY the stupid straw scarecrow argument I put up and which you, in Obama-like fashion, seek to tear down. Hey, maybe you are the change you are looking for?

    “My opinions:
    1. Have no idea what you are talking about, but if you chose not to pursue a commission because you didn’t like the school they were willing to pay for your education at, perhaps that is a bit shallow.”

    — You wouldn’t be the first person to call me shallow, but most of the people who call me shallow have taken the time to do their research. And the vast majority of are female. Or fat. Or both. In any case, it’s probably worth mentioning that the University I did end up attending is Stanford University. And I think that most people would agree that if you have an opportunity to attend Stanford or Harvard or CalTech or any other top school, you should probably do that. Have it your way, though. And who am I to judge? Maybe a masters in Physical Education or Business from some random mail order college really is just as good a degree as one from Stanford. I don’t know. I haven’t walked in your shoes.

    “2. While I agree with your opinion that officers should have prior service, it is double edged. some of the worst officers I have seen were prior service. As were some of the best. It is hard to make the transition. You either get it, or you don’t. Good officers are good, regardless. Very little, beyond an understanding of the Soldier’s lot in life is relevant. If any thing, it makes Soldiers more accepting of the officer but doesn’t make him better at doing tasks that are officer-specific.”

    — Sounds like we agree on this.

    “3. Whatever”

    — OMG LOL Whatevs!

    “4. The decision on TA halt was from the SEC Army. Look to your civilian leadership, not army and certainly not field grade leadership. Majors through colonels don’t do that kind of decision. By the way, considering that I have no money to even roll a tank or Brad until the end of the year, no wait, no money to buy repair parts, or even go to a small arms range. get a clue about the full impact of sequester, which is on straight-up combat readiness. I can’t even print briefings right now because paper costs too much. There is no OMA money and you are pissing and moaning about TA? I used TA when I was enlisted. My wife used it. I used it when I was going after my masters’ too. But given a choice between combat readiness and TA I would take readiness. But guess what? There is no choice because there is no money to be had for anything. None.”

    — I think what you’re missing here is the whole breach of contract thing. This TA is something that was promised by recruiters all across the country for years. It’s something this country owes it’s soldiers, whether that is in the contract they signed or not, just like it owes them a paycheck. So I don’t give a shit whether you think that money would be better spent buying office paper or 8-ply toilet paper or sheet protectors your briefings, because that is not your choice to make. And if you and the rest of the Army’s leaders — including the Commander in chief — can’t get your shit together and figure out how to pay the TA that you owe, then maybe more of you need to resign in protest. That would be the right thing to do. So go do it. Or at least do something to make a stink. Nobody listens to me, but they might listen to you. In fact, a prior service officer who has made it to a battalion command is exactly the sort of person a Congressman would listen to.

    — UP

  40. Green Thumb says:

    “Why is the Sky Blue?”

    Very easy.

  41. Uber Pig says:

    @36 Rob

    An officer with enlisted experience accrues a number of advantages over those without. The officer knows when he is being bullshitted. The officer has had an opportunity to see which leadership techniques are effective on him, and his fellow enlisted, and thus is more likely to employ similar techniques as an officer. The officer knows which fights to pick with his senior NCO’s, and which not to pick. Most importantly, though, the officer is going to be given the benefit of the doubt by most enlisted soldiers.

    I think that @3 kj hinton had some interesting practical ideas. I’d like to see, specifically, 2 years of enlisted experience as well as a minimum rank of Corporal and some kind of team leader experience. This is would be more difficult to achieve during peace time than in war, so I’m interested in hearing other ideas.

    — UP

  42. fm2176 says:

    #29,

    Some states (most?) offer state educational incentives for the National Guard. Virginia used to offer free in-state tuition to public schools, but I’ve heard VARNG students were low on the priority list. Reserve service members have no benefits besides what the federal government extends to them, so eliminating TA is going to derail the plans of most USAR students. More than a few kids joined the Reserves looking at the $4500 in addition to the GI Bill.

    Hondo,

    QMP (affecting E-7 through E-9) started last year. Our Master Gunner was a Ranger-qualified SFC who was selected for separation and retired last September. I don’t know his history and he had ten years in grade, so he likely had a black mark somewhere on his record (i.e. DUI, UCMJ).

    QSP (affecting only Staff Sergeants) starts this year and affects all SSGs with dates of rank before 1 February 2009, including myself. Our 1SG called me and a couple of other E-6s into his office just before Christmas to let us know we were on the list of those being looked at for separation. The other two are both over 15 years in service, making them eligible for early retirement, while I’m at just over 11 years, making me eligible for a kick in the ass. Having come from recruiting (a “career-enhancing” assignment, though I haven’t reaped the benefits yet) and currently serving in a SFC position I shouldn’t have to worry much, but there is always that chance. They are looking for NCOs who have grown stagnant in their career or who have had discipline problems. From what I understand the QSP board is running concurrent with the SFC selection board, meaning that in a few months some of us will be getting our sequence numbers for promotion while others will be getting an ETS/retirement date.

  43. Hondo says:

    fm2176: thanks for the update. I haven’t followed the current personnel practices that closely during the last few years and didn’t realize both QMP and QSP were already in play.

    Uber Pig: the situation with TA today is exactly the same as it was for military retirees who joined in the 1950s and 1960s regarding their post-retirement “free medical care for life”. Were they promised exactly that? Certainly – on a “space available basis”. And everybody knew there would always be plenty of space at military medical facilities, right? Hell, there are military bases all over the country!

    All of us who know someone from that era (or know the history) know exactly how that turned out.

  44. Hondo says:

    prior service: Uber Pig’s “segue about Obama” is IMO relevant in this discussion.

    DoD’s TA cost for FY2011 was approx $562 million. I’ve seen unverified estimates for POTUS/First Family vacation costs last year of roughly 3 times that when all costs (security, travel, salaries) are included.

    I don’t begrudge the POTUS a reasonable amount of time off, and I understand he and his family can’t just hop on a commercial flight and go somewhere due to security issues. But I also don’t see the need to spend the equivalent of the salary of around 28,300 working guys/gals (at $60,000/year) to fund his and his family’s vacations annually, either.

  45. Wigwam says:

    I love this post. Gen Patton/Field Marshall Montgomery would be damn proud. I tell you, the day we fight a COMPETENT enemy, the day this country falls apart. USAF grounded, then the guys on the ground are stuck with nothing heavier than a .50cal. It’s like Task Force Smith all over again, this time with Lloyd Fredendall accolades. If we aren’t willing to ask questions at the Top then what good is the Bottom?

  46. Ex-PH2 says:

    I love peace and quiet just as much as anyone else does, but I’m not stupid enough to think you can have it without keeping an eye on your surroundings.

    I’m always mystified by the sheer stupidity of people who do things like sailing in pirate waters off the Horn of Africa — that’s the part that sticks out like a rhino’s horn, in case anyone doesn’t know — and then get hijacked by pirates. And then they want to be rescued.

    You don’t run sheep in wolf territory without a ocuple of sheep dogs. It’s that simple.

    Storm clouds gathering….

  47. David says:

    What makes a good or bad officer is in two parts and happens early on in that Officer’s career regardless of anything else.

    Part 1: The ability and willingness to listen to senior enlisted advisers (i.e. first platoon sergeant). This also applies to “mustangs”. I’ve told several Lieutenants and Captains who were prior service that “you may have more time in service than I do, but I have much more time as an OFFICER than you do”. Same goes for platoon sergeants and first sergeants, just because an officer might be a prior E7 doesn’t mean he has more experience running that particular platoon than the current PSG.

    Part 2 (and this is the kicker): Quality of first senior enlisted adviser. A crappy Platoon Sergeant (especially if you have a bad first sergeant as well) will make that Lieutenant go through his entire time as an officer not trusting senior NCOs.

    All advantages or disadvantages an officer has prior to commissioning are gone the moment he pins Captain. From then, everyone is equally qualified to succeed or fail providing nothing stupid between 2LT – 1LT (such as a DUI or a platoon leader drinking alcohol downrange)

  48. Razorblade says:

    Don’t hold back Pig, why don’t you tell them how you really feel. I’m a retired Army CWO club manager with 15 years enlisted Air Force time, limited semi-combat arms in early years in the Air Police, and 20 more years as a fat cat MWR Chief civilian. Son-in-law is an Army LTC Chem type with no enlisted experience and a damn fine officer who takes care of his troops, especially on his just completed Afghan tour with NATO Training Mission-Afghan. Bottom line is there are good officers and there are bad officers, the same as good NCO leaders and shitheads. Rank and education don’t mitigate being an asshole, it goes across the board. Absolutely prior enlisted experience during wartime is a big plus for an officer. In lieu of that, simply listening to your NCO’s can make up for no prior enlisted experience.

  49. prior service says:

    Perhaps the most accurate piece of your reply is the fact that it is not my decision as to where money is spent. Likewise it is not the fault of field grade officers that the decision was made. That is the crux of my argument. Personally I am for TA, and have used it frequently. I would prefer it continue. But it is not, in the short term. DOD is paying for the current semester, just not allowing new enrollment, and it will likely start again next fiscal year. Sucks. I’ve seen it before. I have always encouraged college, OCS, and green to gold use by my Soldiers.
    As for your continuous use of the word Stanford, let me add pretentious to shallow. Impressive surely, but brings zero credibility to the current topic. I appreciate the not so subtle digs at my education (been too busy being deployed to step out for a fancy education) though I will match both my professional standing and care for Soldiers against you at any time. What do you do with this degree beyond reminisce about the days when you were an earth pig? (Any infantryman deserves that term of respect, and I appreciate you raising Soldier’s issues, even if off the mark on this one.)
    Lastly, based on my last 6 months of training, the army considers my unit to be one of the most ready in the army. In the unlikely event that I am deployed, I hope you are as quick to editorialize and deplore our lack of training dollars for the next six months as you are the short-term loss of TA.

  50. Uber Pig says:

    @49

    Prior Service — Oh for Christ’s sake. You tell me I’m shallow and retarded then you get all butt hurt because I take you down a peg. I don’t know where you went to college and I don’t give a shit. If it makes you feel better, I dropped out of Stanford. Feel free to make all kinds of shitty, stupid assumptions about me based on that fact. And then fuck off.

    — UP

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