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Where have all the good leaders gone?


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One PO'd fella.....

Name: Mike T.
Posting date: 3/27/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: c/o bouhammer.com

In 1997 I started my career on Active Duty and had some amazing leaders. Ten years later, I am disgusted with what has become of the officer and senior non-commissioned ranks in the US Army. I know some are blind to the reality of what the “big” Army has become. I am an NCO* myself with only 10 years in, a mixture of active and reserve time; I am abrasive, opinionated, and I ask a lot of questions. The questions come because I feel it is pretty important to know as much as possible when it concerns your own life and the lives of your buddies.
I have been accused of being rude and disrespectful, but never have I been accused of not knowing my job. Some have even regarded me as a Subject Matter Expert, a title I personally feel is overused and untrue; no one is an expert on anything. I have lost rank, caused a few disturbances for standing up for my men and for what I believe in, but hell I was being a good NCO! So with that introduction done and over with, let’s get back to what the title of this post means, and what the hell is going on here.
I am currently located in Afghanistan, and have had the eye-opening experience of seeing officers and senior NCOs pushing aside their subordinates and pressing issues to do the following: complain in staff meetings about people taking too many goodies out of the chow hall, or wearing a patch that is unauthorized by Army regulations (for many ETT/PMT* members here anyways); a CSM* that we have all seen just once, at indoctrination -- out of 20 guys only two know his name or actually have seen him on camp; a MSG* who has a skill set of level one soldier but is in charge of JOC*; a senior officer who claims to know more about Army regulations than anyone else (by the way, he is in the Navy), and feels he has the authority to approve or disapprove awards (type the shit up and shut the hell up).
We have an executive officer at the Regional level who has no concept of convoy operations, and thinks driving four hours without a break is acceptable. We had men order cold weather equipment in August of 2007; it arrived late January of this year. It takes months to get parts for our trucks, paperwork disappears, officers argue in public about who is getting what awards regardless of position. According to them, they are a certain rank so they deserve it, right?
Where are the priorities? And please do not give me usual answer, "You don’t see the big picture." What is the big picture here? I sure as hell cannot see it through all the pettiness. Are certain individuals' personal crusades and agendas more important than the young officers and enlisted that have to accomplish their tasks with little or no backing? What mission is so important to you that you would sacrifice manpower and equipment to accomplish it?
I am going to attack the National Guard here for a minute, and those in power would probably get really pissed about it if it wasn’t so true: Those who come to active duty and are reservists gain a large amount of power quickly, and it has been my experience that these men cannot handle it. It is as if they are given a limitless credit card when they are on active status. I find these are men with little control over their personal lives (I had a LTC* screaming at his wife on the phone next to me at the phone center, which is very professional), and they are not looked upon as real leaders or respected by the troops of their units. They abuse their position and think their rank entitles them to be right at any cost, or to bend Army rules and regulations when it behooves them. They make the assumption, “Well we are active duty now, and this is how active duty is." Where the hell did that idea come from?
While in Iraq we had females in bikinis and guys in swimming shorts sitting around pools on their days off. That was part of the active duty I was on. We could wear civilian clothes to the gym. My God, the chaos that just might cause if we allow this here in Afghanistan.
I had an officer talk to me the other day like I was five because I questioned the way his operation was going to go down in a discussion I was part of. Apparently he can remember every military definition, yet cannot realize possible ambush sites if they kick him in the face. If I have to hear one more speech about duty and all that other bullshit I am going to puke. For most of these guys, it’s their first and last tour, yet they speak as if they have been to hell and back. I take these speeches personally, because most of these jerk-offs will never deploy again yet they feel as if they are the ones winning the war. So I ask, WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD LEADERS GONE?
If you are a good leader and your men respect you, continue to stand up and do the right thing. If you took this post personally and feel that I am simply crying, well look in the mirror and ask yourself how much have you done lately to make sure your troops have everything they need. I bet for some of you that will be very hard to do. So get back to your desk, write your BS* OER/NCOER* and continue to be a self-proclaiming jackass that can care less about the kids on the ground duking it out. Your master plans on winning this war aren’t working and haven’t for a long time. Grow a set of balls and tell your bosses what the real deal is!...
Common Sense. Do what you are supposed to do, without someone having to tell you, despite your own personal discomfort or fear. SH-21-76 (Ranger Handbook).
NCO: Non-Commissioned Officer
ETT: Embedded Training Team
PMT: Police Mentoring Team
CSM: Command Sergeant Major
MSG: Master Sergeant
JOC: Joint Operations Command Center
LTC: Lieutenant Colonel
BS: Bullshit
OER: Officer Evaluation Report
NCOER: Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Report