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McChrystal’s Plan To Shake Up The Service Shouldn’t Stop At Senior Ranks
The military personnel system is frequently credited with the oft-cited “brain-drain,” the Defense Department’s longtime problem with personnel retention. Many believe that the military loses its best performers to private industry due to its rigid personnel process.
Usually, these discussions are long on problems and short on solutions. Recently, though, retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, known as a man who’s been around, discussed one possible solution in an interview with the Washington Post.
McChrystal recommended that the military allow direct commissions of certain people, give them some initial training, and bring them into senior positions.
“They'd step in and it would be seamless — because they solve problems and they lead people,” McChrystal said. “Take Brad Smith from Intuit. He could be brought in as a three- or four-star general in the military, and he'd be value-added at the end of the first week.”
Bringing in a high-level leader who’s never served in the military would certainly shake things up, perhaps most notably within the power politics played by generals and admirals. There would be major challenges. The military is one of the most insular subcultures of American society. Outsiders would have a hard time fitting in with both their new peers and their subordinates, neither of whom would feel that some high-powered former CEO has endured the sacrifices and hardships one normally endures to reach such a position.o
By way of example, former Marine commandant Gen. James Amos received a lot of underground criticism for not having a Combat Action Ribbon signifying participation in ground combat, despite a distinguished 42-year military career. One can only imagine the type of reception a CEO might get if his only time deployed was in a villa in southern France, no matter how talented he may be.
It’s appropriate that McChrystal is the one proposing more lateral entry. He has an extensive background in special operations, having served in Special Forces, as a Ranger, and as head of Joint Special Operations Command. In that type of work, performance and expertise often matter more than rank. He understands that sometimes one has to put ego aside and just get the right person for the job.
Bringing individuals directly into the military at high ranks would harken back to an earlier era in American military history, but it’s something that’s no longer done. Warfare today is more technically demanding than it was up until the beginning of the 20th century, when a man who could raise a battalion could lead that battalion. For many combat arms and operational commands, bringing in someone with no direct military experience might not work well.
Nevertheless, for certain jobs and certain projects, McChrystal’s idea has a great deal of merit. The military could give a superstar the resources and authority to tackle a troubled command or a particular major project. Who wouldn’t accept his aforementioned Brad Smith to revamp the military’s information technology? Sailors and Marines who’ve dealt with the infamous tech platform Navy Marine Corps Intranet, called NMCI, or “Non-Mission Capable Internet” would certainly agree. For that matter, I’d give Amazon’s Jeff Bezos a chance to revamp military acquisitions or FedEx’s Fred Smith a shot at logistics. While obviously some of these individuals would have no interest in serving, others might decide that a new challenge and the opportunity to serve might be worth it.
Even at lower ranks, bringing in some top talent could bring new ideas and expertise into the mix. There are more people than one might think who want to serve, but who may think they’ve missed their window. These are people at the top of their games. Telling this pool of talent, “Tough luck, should’ve joined 10 years ago,” is leaving a lot on the table. The services should take a closer look at what fields can employ direct commissions, looking beyond the usual medical and engineering fields into others with civilian analogues, such as logistics, maintenance, even some flying jobs. This could be to an active duty or the reserves. Warrant officer and specialist ranks could also be targeted.
In the long run, the most productive way to shake things up will be a hybrid approach. Just as we can allow a limited number of civilians in at levels above the ground floor, we can balance that out by allowing, even encouraging, people to leave the service and come back later. Currently, “broken time” is usually a career death sentence. It happens when someone gets out and has regrets when things outside aren’t as easy as he or she planned. We need to tell our best performers that they can go out, take a break, get varied experiences, and still be welcomed back in later.
Allowing service members to take breaks from the service — going into the civilian world or the reserves and then return — will, over time, bring the best parts of the civilian world back to the military. Almost as importantly, it will bring the best of the military back to the civilian world. Whether by sabbaticals, fellowships, or exchange programs, we need to encourage varied experiences. The aforementioned civilian accessions may be impractical for military-unique fields, but these programs aren’t.
The military is one of a very small number of institutions today that still demands a full career of unbroken service. There is a place for this, but there’s also a place for a personnel model that’s more dynamic than it’s been in the past, just as the world is. With any luck, McChrystal’s idea is just the leading edge of a more sweeping change.
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
Former Army Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn will plead not guilty to a charge of murder for allegedly shooting an unarmed Afghan man whom a tribal leader had identified as a Taliban bomb maker, his attorney said.
Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
John Wick is back, and he's here to stay. It doesn't matter how many bad guys show up to try to collect on that bounty.
With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
As it turns out, there's a good reason for the caliber of gun-play in John Wick. One of the franchise's secret weapons is a professional three-gun shooter named Taran Butler, who told Task & Purpose he can draw and hit three targets in 0.67 seconds from 10 yards. And if you've watched any of the scores of videos he's uploaded to social media over the years, it's pretty clear that this isn't idle boasting.
The Navy's electromagnetic railgun is undergoing what officials described as "essentially a shakedown" of critical systems before finally installing a tactical demonstrator aboard a surface warship, the latest sign that the once-beleaguered supergun may actually end up seeing combat.
That pretty much means this is could be the last set of tests before actually slapping this bad boy onto a warship, for once.
The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.