U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kate Thornton
In part one, I discussed the proposition advanced by David Barno and Nora Bensahel that a rigid and anachronistic personnel system is inhibiting our ability to retain our most talented officers. I took issue with their apparent remedy: to give more perks and benefits to individuals who already enjoy substantial perks and benefits. Their analysis of the issue was logically inconsistent in that it identified requirements, but lamented those requirements when implemented. Their analysis was incomplete in that it did not consider opportunities to serve in our civilian workforce, did not consider whether talented officers whom we are losing are actually the most talented among their peers, and it ignored the reality that problems concerning family life, stability, and predictability are improving as deployments have become less frequent.
Recently, a paper from the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College entered the military zeitgeist. Its title was provocative: “Lying to Ourselves: Dishonesty in the Army Profession.” Those who simply read the headlines and skimmed the condensed summaries in the civilian media likely just came away with the impression that the study was just another hit piece on military problems, bemoaning the poor character of service members.