During a tense mid-July meeting with his national-security team over the state of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump dismissed the counsel of high-ranking military commanders, saying he leaned toward the advice of rank-and-file soldiers over that of his generals.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonathan R. Waldman
Here’s a familiar scenario for most enlisted Marines: You’re walking along when you see an older Marine barreling toward you with an immaculate eight-point and a shit-ton of black stripes and rockers on his collar. As you get ready to greet the fast-approaching staff NCO, you realize you can’t read his rank. The black chevrons have perfect concealment among the foliage of his woodland MARPAT uniform. He’s 15 feet away, then 10, then five. Oh shit, is he a first sergeant, no a gunny, no a master serg— Too late, so you spit out the first words that come to mind: “Good morning first sergeant.” Phew, nailed it.
I was privileged in my 23-year Army career to work directly with four very successful general officers. The lessons I learned from them can be applied to both military and civilian leadership at every level and I promised my peers that one day I would write down what I saw.
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Farrington
The U.S. military has been an all-volunteer force now for over 40 years. Despite some misgivings, everything has turned out pretty well. Our services are better manned, trained, and equipped than ever before. The military is barely recognizable compared to the force that deployed to Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s: Its speed, ferocity, and dominance are unmatched.
Recently, a friend sent me a flier and invite for a program teaching critical skills to those veterans going through a tough transition period. The administrators work individually with participants to help them determine what their interests might be and how to improve their career opportunities. The flier was great. It said: