A must read article by Lt Col Paul Yingling USA is in this month's Armed Forces Journal at:
Do his observations apply to some Marine generals or other senior Marine leaders?
Reflections on 'Generalship' by LTC Paul Yingling at the Small Wars Journal blog.
More at the link...Friends,
I've recently joined Small Wars Journal and I want to express my thanks for the terrific debate on my recent 'generalship' piece.
I thought I would share some common questions/comments about the piece, as well as my responses.
Most of the response has been very positive, and some of it has been intensely personal. I've received some very disturbing emails from Soldiers and family members describing how bad leadership has impacted their lives. To be honest, I was not prepared for that response and I'm very troubled by what I've heard.
The most common criticism of the piece is that I did not address the role of civilian authorities more explicitly. While I don't think a serving officer should publicly criticize civil authorities, there is a more substantive question here. Who does society hold responsible for the application of non-military instruments of power to achieve the aims of policy? That's a much larger question than the one I took on regarding the responsibilities of general officers. However, it's a fair question that I would like to take a stab at eventually. Any thoughts on this topic are very much appreciated...
"The choice of making war to achieve a better peace is inherently a value judgment in which the statesman must decide those interests and beliefs worth killing and dying for. The military man is no better qualified than the common citizen to make such judgments. He must therefore confine his input to his area of expertise — the estimation of strategic probabilities."
I want to point out, respectfully, a contradiction here. A "military man" wrote this piece and he writes without hesitation what a Statesman ought to do, only to later say that a military man should confine his judgements to his area of expertise. If this is indeed true it begs the question, then why is he (a military man) making a judgement (the oughtness) on the business of statesmanship?
LtCol Yingling mentions peer ratings in his discussion of officer promotions. It has long been known that the single best predictor of the subsequent performance of a Marine officer is his peer ratings at The Basic School. So far as I know, those ratings do not, however, become part of his promotion record.
Should they, and if so, how?
"It has long been known that the single best predictor of the subsequent performance of a Marine officer is his peer ratings at The Basic School. So far as I know, those ratings do not, however, become part of his promotion record."
Are these "peer ratings" apart of any offical record? Is there documented proof/authoritative source that supports this claim as "the single best predictor"?
I know of no formal study, nor do I know whether raw TBS performance date is retained.
If this is so (i.e. no proof) why do you believe this is so (i.e. the single best predictor)?
It is possible that the conclusion is based on anecdotal evidence, although there may be a study of which I am not aware. It was nevertheless generally accepted as true by a fair number of competent officers over a lot of years. The point remains that if it can be verified as true, might the information serve a useful purpose?
I'm with you - if it can be verified true it most certainly can be useful one way or the other. In other words, such verification could determine that "a fair number of competent officers over a lot of years" were wrong...or right for that matter. The problem still exists that we really don't know but I think it would be a great issue for Manpower to take up. I can only imagine how much harder I may have tried (to stay awake) if such empirical data was displayed at the beginning of TBS.
I enjoyed the discussion IndiaSix, have a good one.
I, too, might have done less courting and more studying, but it would have mattered little, since, as best I recall, there was little correlation between academic standing and peer ratings. The latter tended to be more a reflection of whether one worked at being a Marine at all times or just when the SPCs were watching.