Military reform, now and then: the majors speak

I have read through (several times now) a fascinating document from 1999 and the late Clinton presidency: it's a summary of interviews conducted with 760 mid-career army officers (majors and a few lieutenenat colonels). The remarks found in this report match up well with this blog's military reform thread. I have direct quotes shown in bold.

I'll summarize:

Theme: Iraq was fought by a Second Generation (Civil War) military culture concerned with centralized decision making, rigid hierarchies of communication and execution, linear formations (with an emphasis on preserving linearity at all costs) and synchronized operations.

[There is] overcontrol of what and how we think.

The Army has no strategic vision of its operational or training environment.

Theme: A Second Generation (Civil War) Army, such as the one we have now, will always use technology for Second Generation ends (increased centralized control, more dressing of the ranks, more synchronization, alignment, oversight, information generation.)

We are field grade officers and we are still treated like privates.

PowerPoint and the computer has only allowed higher level commanders to control and micromanage more.

[Generals are] Monitor Watchers...

Micromanagement: a killer on the front line...

Theme: A professional army will lack the warrior ethos of a civilian army.

Warrior ethos [is] disappearing.

...Senior officers are out of touch...

We need a complete revision of how and who we recruit. For example, the Army continues to entice young men and women with quantitative rewards...

Theme: The Civil War victory of the professionals has led to "too much professionalism," which results in ticket-punching, job-hopping, focus on material rewards, and a caste system.

"... we reward officers who follow a rigidly prescribed path to success; being innovative will get you fired..."

There is no socialization as a unit.

... because senior leaders are devoted to micromanagement and their own career advancement they spend most of their time avoiding mistakes...

Top-down loyalty DOES NOT EXIST.

Theme: Combat is the true sort criteria for merit; an army led by staff men cannot function rationally in battle.

Seniors [generals] MUST set the example.

There seems to be an alarming number of bad leaders out there.

[There is a] Deteriorating trust in senior leadership.

... treating soldiers like pieces of meat...

Senior officers must stand up and be counted.

The Army leadership is out of touch, not trusted.

[This] is an administrative Army ... not tactical.

Setting aside the matter of blog themes, there are a number of comments that resonate with Civil War echoes:

[The] Army is a 'who you know' society...

We must get our politicians more involved [in recruiting].

Perceived lack of respect of the [Clinton] Administration for the military is debilitating.

Are they [generals] more concerned with pleasing the civilian leadership at the expense of the Army?

Take note of this one: "Readiness reporting - absolute lies!" I would add "Civil War strength reporting and muster rolls - absolute lies!" Here's another: "Relative depravity perception [of generals]." Sounds like a Sickles or Butler problem has jumped the divide between political apointees and academy graduates

The Civil War book that started us down this road is linked here.