Photo illustration by Task & Purpose

Let me know if this sounds familiar: An Army soldier deployed overseas as part of the United States' global fight against terrorism up and decides to abandon his post. Attempts to recover him result in the permanent injury of at least one other U.S. service member. Back home, the circumstances surrounding his decision to go AWOL become highly-publicized and controversial, and some even see him as a traitor.

This description encapsulates the saga of Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl — but it could easily describe Capt. Steve Rogers, the former Army O-3 who broke from the U.S. government before assembling an elite squad of international fugitives to wage an insurgency against a batshit crazy purple tyrant.

Yes, I know what you're thinking, but just hear me out.

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(U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Sarah Anderson)

What can we do to counter the negative effects of ambitious promotion seeking? I offer the following:

  1. Don't look at your evaluation
  2. Speak truth to power
  3. Strive for impact, not promotion

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A friend mentioned that he found my approach to reading history so unusual that I thought I might write about it, briefly.

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By John Bolton

Among the islands of Micronesia, a strange phenomenon occurred after the first Westerners arrived. Not understanding how industrialization had created ships, guns, and cannons, the islanders assumed a strikingly similar response: presuming magic had given the whites "Cargo." Soon, emergent "Cargo Cults" preached a forthcoming doctrine of abundance, believing that if they built the artifices of "Cargo" such as wooden docks, bamboo roads, and dirt airfields, the goods would return.

If at first inclined to scoff at stone-age ignorance, we should consider that the Army's implementation of Mission Command follows a similar pattern. The natives mistook the artifacts of "Cargo" from supporting its factors, processes, and systems just as the U.S. Army is mistaking mission orders and disciplined initiative as the tools of Mission Command rather than a changed Culture.

Consequently, Cargo Cultists provide an example of how not to implement change — one the Army should consider as it struggles to make Mission Command a reality.

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I am skeptical of a lot of the recommendations I read on leadership, which often strikes me as pyramids of buzzwords, but I liked this article by a former British submariner who went on to do a PhD in leadership.

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