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5 Ways New Leaders Can Change The Military For The Better
It seems almost everyone thinks they’re the smartest and most innovative person in the room. Oftentimes, the same people who claim to have the best ideas are the same ones who complain about how nothing ever changes. As with everything in life, in the military there’s a big difference between saying something and actually doing something.
“Innovation” and “entrepreneur” have recently become buzzwords du jour in the military, after having been part of the civilian lexicon for years. Everyone talks about how the military needs new ideas. That’s great, but if you work at DARPA, you already know innovation — the creation of new ideas that improve devices or processes.
The place where the most innovation is needed isn’t necessarily at the top level or in think tanks or labs. It’s at the mid-level and ground floor, where every day, someone is saying, “Why are we still doing it this way?” That’s where the rubber meets the road, and innovation can make a meaningful day-to-day impact.
All too often, though, that day becomes a military “Dilbert” cartoon. We get so caught up in the daily grind, doing our work and complaining about our work, that we forget that the possibility of change exists.
Mid-level officers and noncommissioned officers — you are in a position to make some changes or influence those who do. Here are a few recommendations to start with.
1. Get rid of your “template.”
The military runs on plagiarism like Rand Paul discussing genetics. Need to write a letter of instruction? Grab one from last year and change the date. Need to brief a mission? Grab another guy’s PowerPoint and update the graphics.
That might be good enough to get by, but doing the same thing as the last 10 guys isn’t exactly making you a catalyst for change, is it? Start with a blank sheet of paper every now and then and you’ll be shocked at ideas you come up with, and the results.
2. Write a position paper.
Talk is cheap. Bosses hear complaining and whining everyday. Most of it is about things that won’t change. Most of it has no solution to whatever problem is so horrible. You want to stand out? Make a comprehensive written proposal advocating a solution. You think you’re too low on the totem pole to do that? Most officers in charge or commanding officers who get a well-thought-out, reasoned plan from a junior service member and not just a “Why the hell is this so jacked up?” will be so bowled over, they can’t help but at least try it out.
3. Know when to ask permission and when to beg forgiveness.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle isn’t your commander, it’s the one guy in the staff meeting quoting an ambiguously worded paragraph in a regulation and expressing concern over how a higher headquarters or inspection team won’t like your proposal. Do your homework. If your idea is within regulations, know the appropriate section verbatim. Too many good ideas are torpedoed by naysayers who only vaguely know the rules and use them sloppily to avoid having to change. If appropriate, call a contact at the higher headquarters or the inspection team to make sure your idea is cleared hot before it gets hit by a blue falcon in front of your boss. Sometimes, you have to just do something without asking. But even if it’s definitely the right thing to do, you still have to make sure you know your stuff.
4. Run an experiment.
Not every great new plan will allow a test run, but many will. If you’re a pilot with a new idea, try it in the simulator first before you propose burning jet fuel on it. If you’re a ground pounder, wargame or “red cell” it. If you’re in admin, see if you can run with your new idea for tracking travel claims for a couple of weeks to see if it works better. Whatever it is, first document how the system currently works. Then try your idea and track how it affects the results. People don’t always like to tip over whole apple carts on faith. But sometimes they’re willing to chuck at least a couple apples in the street to see if it works.
5. Who dares, wins.
You want to make a difference? Things aren’t always going to work perfectly. They don’t work perfectly to begin with, but the guy doing the same thing as the last ten guys gets to say, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” That won’t apply to you, Mr. Innovator. Your idea is out there to sink or swim on its own. If you are known as a hard worker, you’ll survive either way. Still, doing things differently has its risks, be they catastrophic failure or only damaged pride, but that’s true anywhere, not just the military. If the change is worth doing, then it’s worth the risk.
The man won’t know about your ideas unless you show him your ideas. Before you go off saying the military is immune to change, be the change.
Investigation shows Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon was fired for 'misconduct' but has not been charged
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
That's right, Superman is (at least temporarily) trading in his red cape, blue tights, and red silk underpants for a high and tight, a skivvy shirt and, well, he's still rocking silkies.
A first look at the 'CoD Modern Warfare' reboot shows juggernaut and ghillie suits return to multiplayer
Late last month Activision's Infinity Ward dropped a teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare — a soft-reboot of one of it's most beloved games — and just two weeks after the May 30 reveal, the game developer unveiled some new details on what's in store for the first-person shooter's multiplayer: Juggernaut and ghillie suits!
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Iran says it will exceed limits on its enriched uranium stockpiles agreed in its 2015 nuclear deal, the latest escalation in tensions after the US accused Iran of sabotaging oil tankers last week.
Under the 2015 deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — Iran agreed with the Obama administration and several European states to limit uranium production.