18 April 2009

A Blog from LTG Caldwell

The Challenge of Retaining Majors in Our Army

A recent article in the Armed Forces Journal by MAJ Myles Caggins, III, discussed possible incentive plans to retain U.S. Army majors. Caggins asserts that qualified enlisted recruits receive up to $40,000; Army captains $35,000; Navy officers $121,000; and a typical Army major – nothing. He offers some creative proposals he believes would help retain more of our field grade officers – you all.

The Global War on Terror has tested our Army’s personnel management systems. The shortage of majors has many causes, not the least of which is junior officer retention rates, the creation of modular brigades, and growth of our Army.

Consider, for example, the “cohort” of Army officers who were commissioned in 1998. They originally numbered 4,155. Those the Army retained have now served 10 years of active duty. Although the Army still requires about 2,200 of these officers, it has only kept about 1,800. Additionally, the ranks of captain through lieutenant colonel are only manned at 80 percent strength.

The Army cannot accept risk in its officer corps, and the consequences of how we act now will have generational impacts. We’re soliciting your help. Please provide feedback on how you think we can retain quality field grade officers. Specifically, what motivates you and your peers to continue to serve? Do you think there should be increased incentives? Should there be changes in assignments, policies or education? What would you recommend?

Would encourage you to read MAJ Caggins’ article and comment on the pros/cons of his argument. We need to get this right and we need your help.

Thank you for helping shape the public debate on this important subject. We will highlight your feedback with leaders at the highest level in our Army as they look for creative solutions to today’s complex personnel management environment. Nothing would send a more powerful message than to have the entire CGSC class sound off and provide input. We look forward to your thoughts and recommendations.

Apr 17 2009, 08:09 AM by LTG Caldwell

16 January 2009

Major's thesis cites impending officer crisis

Major's thesis cites impending officer crisis

By Melissa Bower Staff WriterPublished: Thursday, January 8, 2009 8:51 AM CST

A recent graduate of the Command and General Staff College is concerned the Army's shortage of majors may be sooner and more serious than originally thought."I'm mainly putting this out there," said Maj. George Brown, who graduated in the 2008-02 class. "It's kind of like the Army suggestion program."Brown based his opinions on research for his Master of Military Art and Science thesis, "A Pending Major Crisis: An analysis of the critical shortage of U.S. Army officers in year groups 1991-1997."

"If you don't do something now, the shortages are critical to the point where it may affect mission readiness," he said.For his thesis, Brown conducted a survey of majors in the 2008-02 and 2009-01 Intermediate Level Education classes. The Army already knows it is facing a shortage of intermediate level officers, Brown said.Officers nearing the 20-year mark of service are the targets of Brown's thesis. Although they are leaving at a 20 percent rate now, that rate could grow to 60 percent. By 2014, the Army could be 30 percent short of lieutenant colonels and 20 percent short of majors. Some branches could face shortages greater than 50 percent by 2014, he said.

"The shortage of officers is only going to get worse over the next few years because nothing is being done to encourage officers to stay in past 20 years of service," Brown said.Reasons officers leave after their 20 years are because of the high operational tempo, understaffing in the mid 1990s, and long and multiple deployments to the Global War on Terrorism. Officers who are not deployed must pick up extra duties, Brown said. Another survey of officer spouses, conducted by Angela Crist in 2006 for Central Michigan University, found similar results to Brown's for reasons why officers leave."Nearly half of the branches are so understaffed in the rank of major that these branches would be considered not ready for combat using the U.S. Army Unit Status Reporting system," Brown wrote. "Any significant loss within these branches could be devastating."

Officers typically receive a letter at 18 years of service from the Army Career and Alumni Program with information about retiring at their 20-year mark. Because Brown himself served a few years in the National Guard, he received that letter after 15 years of active-duty service instead of 18 years."I could retire by 2012, not 2015," he said.Brown hasn't made his own decision for retirement; he said that is something he'll have to talk about with his family.

"These officers are not disgruntled, but are tired, frustrated and starting to leave the service," Brown said of those surveyed. "Persuading these officers to stay in longer is imperative, but currently, there is surprisingly little being done."That's why Brown suggests a three-pronged approach to encouraging longtime service members to stay in the Army. First, he said a short-term information campaign could help encourage support. Mentoring and career counseling, he said, would provide a "sense of organizational belonging.""Senior leadership in the U.S. Army should reach out to the officers approaching 18 years of service or sooner and take part in the edification process," he wrote in his thesis. "Addressing the majors at CGSC would be an example of a quality forum where this process should begin."

He suggests formalizing bonus and incentive programs the Army already uses and creating a monetary bonus program similar to the one for enlisted Soldiers. Brown said providing money across the board simply isn't enough; financial incentives need to be targeted toward those who genuinely want to stay in the Army and fill a need.The shortages aren't yet felt in every branch, Brown explained, so one branch might be short by 50 percent, while another branch might only be 10 percent short."Find those in critical MOS branches and offer them bonuses to stay longer," he said.

Brown's thesis received the attention of a Washington Post article in August 2008. According to the article, the Army projects that it will fill the captain shortage by 2011, but will continue to have a shortage by 2013. Brown's survey disagrees."Senior leadership agrees that we have a bigger problem approaching," he said. "They already know they have a problem. They just don't realize how bad it could be."

02 December 2008

Record number of Divorces and Suicides in the Army and Marines

From USAToday.com

Enlisted soldiers and Marines divorced their spouses at a higher rate in fiscal 2008 than at any other time in at least 16 years, according to Pentagon data released Tuesday.

About 4% of married enlisted troops in the Army and Marines, or 8,842 GIs and 2,842 Marines, obtained divorces during fiscal 2008, the numbers show. The data reflect a steady upward trend in divorce among the Army enlisted since 2003 and enlisted Marines since 2005.

From 2007 to 2008, there was a 5.4% increase in divorces for soldiers, and an 11% increase for Marines, records show.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that stress among military families remains intense after years of multiple combat deployments and lengthy separations.

"I can't say I'm surprised. I can say I'm concerned," says Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Family Military Association. Raezer says she worries the rise is a result of many young marriages in the Army that are hurt by long deployments.

Many soldiers saw their combat tours extended to 15 months in 2008, and many returned for only about a year at home before facing another deployment.

The strain has also been reflected in the record number of suicides in the Army, which military doctors blame largely on relationships damaged by lengthy deployments.

Retirement System Reforms


There is a request to congress to take away military retirement payments at 20 years of service.

I have written about this (from the Report of the Tenth Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation dated July 2008) in my thesis: the concept is to bring equality to the Reserve/National Guard and the active Army and also to allow those with 10 years of service to eventually receive part of their retirement pension. In my opinion, it is a method to keep officers in past 20 years of service because the incentive to take the retirement paycheck after just 20 years is gone. Almost no one will get a retirement paycheck until you reach 60 years of age! There is no “grandfather” clause in this request by the SECDEF to Congress.

The full memo is 41 pages long, but here is the part I am talking about.

Retirement System Reforms — recommendation 28:

Congress should set the age for receipt of a military retirement annuity at 62 for service members who serve for at least 10 years, 60 for members who serve for at least 20 years, and 57 for members who serve for at least 30 years. Those who wish to receive their annuity at an earlier age should be eligible to do so, but the annuity should be reduced 5 percent for each year the recipient is under the statutory minimum retirement age (consistent with the Federal Employees Retirement System).

For reserve component members, retired pay would continue to be calculated on the number of creditable retirement years, based on earning at least 50 retirement points per creditable year.

a. Congress should expand current statutory authority to permit all service members to receive up to 5 percent of annual basic pay in matching government contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan; the government’s contribution would vest at 10 years of service, and the Thrift Savings Plan benefit would be portable and thus capable of being rolled over into a civilian 401(k) account.

b. Congress should pass laws providing that the military retirement system allow some portion of its benefits to be vested at 10 years of service.

c. As part of the reformed retirement system, retention would be encouraged by making service members eligible to receive “gate pay” at pivotal years of service. Such pay would come in the form of a bonus equal to a percentage of annual basic pay at the end of the year of service, at the discretion of the services.

d. As part of the reformed retirement system, service members who are vested would receive separation pay based on the number of years served and their pay grade when they complete their service.

This recommendation to Congress on the change to the military retirement system is a bit under the radar now, but could bring down morale and recruitment for big Army if it passes Congress. This is a decision by Congress, not SECDEF.... BUT, the office of the SECDEF did not note "The Department does not support...” as it did in some other sections. By recommending nothing, I think the SECDEF circuitously supports the request, or at least does not fully disagree (political jargon).

It is a bit in-line with my thesis (shortage of field grade officers) but only makes the situation worse: I think this would only encourage more offices to get out sooner; there would be little incentive for the officer with 10 years of service to stay in until 20. In my opinion, this is the military shooting itself in both feet. Whatever happened to the second half of the "Mission First, People Always" slogan?

I doubt Congress would approve this system as is... but if they did, I could see most officers getting out with 10-14 years in. This would make a bad situation critical and bring down our volunteer military within a year. It may not happen, but what if...

29 November 2008



As Thanksgiving is coming to an end I just wanted to bring attention to and give thanks for our Soldiers who are deployed. Equally important are the families of those Soldiers who are overseas.

For the first time in two years I was able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, and while we were eating I could not forget about the Soldiers who are overseas away from their families. I also could not forget about the Soldiers of my previous unit who like me are spending their first Thanksgiving at home in two years, but will be going back overseas soon, many on their third deployment in five years.

It is great to see that there are still people in this country that have a sense of duty and are willing to sacrifice for our way of life.

In conclusion, hopefully this blog meets the tasks, conditions, and standards of a blog entry.


22 November 2008

Army Execution

The Army has scheduled the execution of Army Pvt. Ronald A. Gray for Dec. 10, the first of a servicemember since 1961.

The DB does not have the ability to handle the execution, so Gray will be put to death at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Ind.

Gray was convicted in civilian and military courts on charges stemming from four murders and eight rapes that occurred around Fayetteville, N.C., between April 1986 and January 1987.

A court-martial sentenced Gray to death in 1988 after he was convicted of raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery; raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver; and raping, robbing and attempting to kill a female Army private.

President Bush approved Gray’s execution on July 28. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, only the president, as commander in chief, can approve a death sentence.

The last servicemember to be executed was Army Pvt. John Bennett, who was hanged after being convicted of raping and attempting to murder an Austrian girl. Military authorities carried out 160 executions between 1930 and 1961.

17 November 2008

One of the requirements to graduate CGSC is to post to a blog, so here I go.

Below is an article by Ben Stein that I think is pretty good.

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is 'eonline FINAL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I st art ed. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end. It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's change have overtaken it.
On a small scale, Morton's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie.
But Morton's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again. Beyond that, a bigger change has happened.? I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to. How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.
A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit , Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad . He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad .
The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.
We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.
I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton's is a big subject.There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament..the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards. Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse.
Now you have my idea of a real hero. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters This is my highest and best use as a human.
I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin or Martin Mull or Fred Willard--or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them. But, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms. This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York . I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.

By Ben Stein

I think he makes a few valid points.


14 November 2008

Addition to Military Leave Policy

The government is set Monday to unveil a significant shakeup to a federal law that lets more than 77 million eligible employees across the USA take unpaid time off to care for family medical needs.

The new provisions, which follow two years of wrangling, institute first-ever leave for military family members and establish new rules on how employees must notify employers about their need for time off. It goes into effect on Jan. 16.

Leave for military: Eligible military family members will for the first time be able to take up to 26 weeks off in a 12-month period to care for a service member with a serious duty-related injury. An estimated 130,000 family members a year are expected to take advantage of the leave.

Leave also will be granted to family members of those in the National Guard and Reserves.

22 October 2008

A class visit to a college Spanish class

A few days ago, I did a guest speaking gig in an undergraduate Spanish class taught by my brother. I was assured that this being a 200 level class, the students were passed simple things like introductions, asking directions, colors, etc, in Spanish. The point of my visit was to share with the students my own experience of the utility that knowing Spanish and having knowledge of various South American cultures has served me over the course of my career. I didn't tell them immediately what my career was. I was supposed to be prepared to talk about cultural, political, and geographical topics in Espanol. I wouldn't say that my expectations were high but they weren't low either.

Then I started the discussion...in Spanish...or tried to. Then I tried to start in English...or tried to. I quickly realized that maybe I should have stuck with basics such as "what is your name", in English no less.

I did a quick survey of the class and found that most understood the words I was saying but they had absolutely no idea about geography, culture, politics, other current events nationally, much less about areas that spoke Spanish. I took another quick survey by a show of hands to get an idea of what degrees the students were seeking. I should have guessed. Education. No offense to the folks out there studying Education and I know this group was a small sample. I'm not claiming that this was proof obtained by flawless sampling methodology. But, talking to this group of kids sort of reaffirmed past experiences with Education folks, not a hope inducing experience. I asked how many had backgrounds in science, math, chemistry, geography, English, etc beyond a couple of 101 level classes. Maybe 2-3 out of a class of 20. So, color me "not hopeful" for the future of our public education system. I was bummed to think that many of these folks, if they even finished college, would be teaching the next few generations. My impression is that they're studying HOW to teach without having a real solid foundation about WHAT to teach, such as the aforementioned topics.

What added further to that bummed feeling was the conversation we ended up having in Spanish: "What's the grossest food you've eaten in SA?", "Is Brasil a cool place to party?", "Which country has the prettiest girls?" Important questions if you're worried about spring break but not if you're interested in really learning about a place.

So I answered their superficial questions and ended with how the Army is doing good things around the world and to ignore the silly tv shows and movies and explained to them that I was in the Army and had seen first hand the many good things US MIL folks are doing to improve the lot of many people around the world. Things such as hurricane relief in the US, disaster relief in different parts of the Americas, and other things such as demining operations and projects to improve health and welfare of remote populations.

We ended on a positive note. What gave me a glimmer of hope at the end was a couple of kids came asking where they might find more info about how to join the Army. I told them to visit the recruiter and, oh, by the way, put my name down as the one who referred them if they did end up joining. So I'm hoping...

18 September 2008

A Major Adaptation of a Knowledge Resource

Counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan has become the US Army’s primary training mission, but does our military have the ability to prepare to fight the next war? This is a very complicated and complex issue that requires input from many experienced leaders; many of these leaders are busy fighting, recovering or preparing to fight one of the two wars. Priory of the manning resources of the US Army is obviously going to the deploying units. The US Army is facing a shortage of officers and therefore the institutional Army bears the brunt of the workforce deficiency. The institutional Army could use some help and perhaps the students in the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) in Ft Leavenworth, KS can provide a quantity of quality support.

If it has been said once, it has been said many thousands of times: “the most students get out of attending CGSC is the interaction with the other students”. This statement has been as true today and it was when Ft Leavenworth used to host CASSS. As with the now defunct CASSS and today’s CGSC (AKA ILE and SAMS), the attendees are knowledgeable of the material being taught (perhaps by an instructor little more experience) and obtain the majority of the edification from the adult learning process and informal conversations between classes.

ILE attendees are required to research and write approximately 50 papers throughout the ten month course (this does not include those officers completing a masters program). These assignments range from individual to group and from one page to ten. With over 1200 students attending each year, this is over 60,000 reports, or about a quarter of a million pages of work. These assignments are turned in to one instructor who has ten working days to return the graded work, graded on the experience/background of each individual instructor. Regarding these reports, there is typically no cross pollination of intellectual research and discovery between students or the operational Army. The current system is comparable to training on a stationary bike: it is great for the individual, but benefits no one else. Continuing this analogy, it should be possible to link all the stationary bikes to a generator to provide additional power to the institutional Army.

Because of the officer shortages, the institutional Army is taking some of the hardest hits on manning. Doctrine and updated training methods are not keeping up with what is needed by the operational units and leaders. For the first time in over 30 years, ILE is filled with majors with recent on the ground combat/stability operation experience in command and senior staff positions. These students could perhaps be used as think tanks and become directly involved with moving the intuitional Army from continually attempting to keep up with ground truth, to affecting forward thinking.

One suggestion is to task CGSC student sections to review/develop doctrine (example: how should a staff war game COAs for stability (Phase IV) operations); this program has recently been adopted at CGSC, but on a small scale. The idea would be to gather suggestions from the field/branches/school houses to a CGSC committee to coordinate review by the students.
A staff group section (or sections) would be tasked to develop a revised or new method. Other staff groups can then take the new concept and “beta test” the applicability. Results would be sent to the proprietor branch, placed in the professional publications like “Military Review” (conveniently located in Ft Leavenworth, KS), and/or posted to professional blogs.

Another proposal is to require ILE students to contribute to the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL). The wealth of experience, from both training and deployments, is not being formally captured on a large scale. Students could also be tasked to review, organize and document the mass amount of information entering the CALL system.

In summary, the Command and General Staff College is an important learning environment for the individual student, but could also become valuable to the greater Army. There are many techniques in which this knowledge power generation system could be adapted with the ultimate goal to ensure every available resource the US Army has is used to support and win the current and future wars of our nation.


09 September 2008

For Sale: 1st ID

This has been out for a while but now appears to be drawing the ire of lawmakers such as Rep. John Murtha and Army retirees. In my opinion this decision follows a trend of a few progressive leaders that are looking at new and innovative ways to conduct Information Operations at the strategic level at a time where recruiters are struggling to fill the roles of an expanding Army. Marketing the brand of the "Army" is vital in times where 3 in 10 citizens in the recruiting pool fail to meet the entrance requirements.

In August the National Guard was at 103% of its authorized strength due to progressive recruiting measures including soldier and retiree referral bonuses, increased enlistment and retention bonuses, better benefits and enlisting the services of celebrities like Dale Earnhart and Kid Rock to promote the National Guard to the younger generation of prospective enlistees. Enlistees that are almost 60 years younger than Rep. Murtha

The promotion of a Division with the rich lineage of the 1st Infantry Division is a step in the right direction. What they should be complaining about is the poor decision to market with Sears instead of a merchandiser that may actually target the audience in the 17-25 demographic market. Who in that age group buys clothing at Sears? That's where I buy tools and durable goods. Rep. Murtha should be asking why not some of the trendier merchandisers like Old Navy, American Eagle Outfitters, or Hollister (or better yet find someone 20 years younger than me to tell us what is in).


Army, Sears clothing deal irks lawmakers
By: David Rogers September 9, 2008 09:22 AM EST
From Cantigny, France, and the Argonne Forest to North Africa, Normandy, Vietnam’s Iron Triangle and Iraq —and now hauteconcept.com?Foreign battles aren’t new for the 1st Infantry Division, but this firefight is from another world, a clash between the New Army and Old over plans to commercialize the 1st Division’s historic “Big Red One” insignia in a sportswear line at Sears.After days of questioning, the Army confirmed Monday the arrangement was first reached in June 2007 on the advice of an outside licensing agency, The Beanstalk Group in New York, but the full scope of the royalties to be earned has yet to be disclosed.“I’m astounded,” said Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), who chairs the House appropriations panel overseeing the Pentagon’s nearly half-trillion-dollar budget. “There is a great deal of concern among the senior Army brass about this deal,” said a Defense official.But Sears, Roebuck and Co. is already moving to market its 1st Division “collection” this fall, and All American Apparel Inc., a privately held New York manufacturer, told Politico on Saturday that it had license from the Pentagon to proceed.Caught most by surprise are combat veterans of the 1st Infantry Division, who see their familiar red-and-green shoulder patch splashed across Internet websites celebrating soldier chic.“The U.S. Army launches an all-out fashion offensive,” reads the headline on stylelist.com. A Sears corporate press release quotes an unnamed Army spokesman extolling the new line for melding the “Army’s timeless traditions with iconic styling.” And following the Republican convention, the fashion blog Haute Concept added this note: “Now gun-toting soccer moms like Sarah Palin [can] get all their fight gear with one stop!”Charles Horner, a retired Army officer now working for Murtha, isn’t happy. He served with the 1st Division in Vietnam, as did his father in World War II, including landings in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy.“That patch is to be worn by only people who served in the 1st Division,” said Horner. “What right does the Army have to sell our patch?”Ed Burke, president of an association for veterans of 1st Division’s 28th Infantry — in which this reporter served in Vietnam as an infantry medic — is more philosophical. “Surprise is what I hear most — and not knowing what is going on,” he said of the reaction to the Army’s venture. “[Defense] didn’t talk to anyone.” Where the money goes — and how much — is a concern for the larger House Appropriations Committee, which has pressed the Pentagon for more answers.All American Apparel refused to discuss any financial details when questioned by Politico but said it will pay a royalty to the Army on each item sold by Sears.Burke said there is already substantial Internet trafficking in 1st Division items not sanctioned by the military. And as part of their marketing appeal, Sears and All American emphasize that the sanctioned products will yield revenue to help the troops.
But the Pentagon’s own internal directives suggest that the licensing fees initially will go to a “clearing account” that is first used to defray the costs of the Defense Department’s larger efforts to enhance its “brand” with future young recruits.How this breaks down exactly is unclear. House Appropriations staffers said that the Army estimates $2.5 million has made its way into the morale and welfare account since the licensing program was authorized in 2005. But little apparently has been spent, staffers said. And a December 2007 Pentagon directive lists “providing financial support to morale, welfare and recreation activities” as seventh among the responsibilities assigned to the program. Higher priorities include “enhancing the name, reputation and public goodwill of the DOD Components” and supporting the recruitment and retention of personnel.“Strong brand identification through retail sales of products potentially can enhance the Army’s recruiting efforts and the public’s general goodwill towards the Army and its activities,” the Army said in its statement Monday evening. “The various marks can help build unit pride and esprit de corps, raise public awareness of the Army, support its recruiting effort.”In a statement Saturday attributed to its president, Bob McGuinness, All American told Politico it had been granted a license by the Army “to use the Army’s unique marks and insignia on apparel that is designed and sold by our company.”“All American Apparel Inc. is legally registered to do business as All American Army Brand,” the company said. “All of our apparel is designed in the U.S. Our production is sourced globally and is manufactured in facilities that meet all required labor and workplace standards. Our efforts have resulted in a great product at a great price that people can wear, enjoy and show their support for our troops.”Robyn Kures, a Los Angeles-based spokeswoman for the fashion launch, said “every tag, label, design and final product sample must be approved by the Army before it is sold.”“The apparel is inspired by the rich tradition of the U.S. Army; there are no political statements, just high-quality and high-style apparel,” she said. “All American Army Brand will roll out several collections, consisting of a range of styles and silhouettes, from T-shirts, hoodies, henleys and denim to knits and outerwear.”Organized in 1917 as the 1st Expeditionary Division, the 1st Division was among the earliest U.S. combat units in France in World War I and, after being reorganized in 1942, fought in North Africa and Europe in World War II.In 1965, it was sent to Vietnam and suffered an estimated 20,770 casualties before being pulled out in 1970. It has since seen combat in both the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the current Iraq war, as well as peacekeeping operations in the Balkans.The full reach of this history is illustrated by the 28th Infantry, which earned the name The Black Lions of Cantigny in France in 1918. A half-century later, units of the same 28th were still wearing Black Lions patches and assigned to fight communist forces in the old French colonial-era Michelin rubber plantation region of Vietnam.
© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC

03 September 2008

Responsible Reporting???

As I monitor the blog posts on CNN's coverage of the Republican Convention, in particular Gov. Palin's speech I am absolutely appalled by the biased one sided coverage they present on their website. Approximately 98% of the posts are negative towards the Palin, McCain, and the Republican party. Really only 2% of the people who watched the speech and then checked the coverage on the various news websites to include CNN supported and liked Palin's speech?? Really is this responsible reporting?? I flipped back and forth between FoxNews, CNN, and MSNBC to get their initial reactions, and the CNN commentators were absolutely silent. Now many of the news correspondents are stating that this was such an historic speech, one of the best of all time, yet apparently none of the "intelligent" bloggers for CNN seem to agree. This is just a prime example of how a corporate business wants to slant the information and the views of their customers to support their own agenda. It is absolutely embarrassing. Isn't it the duty of the media to provide information (hopefully as unbiased as possible) to the public on the issues, not to editorialize everything according to their opinion and beliefs?

By the way as I am watching CNN right now, Arizona just voted to officially nominate John McCain, and guess what the banner said at the bottom of their screen, "John McCain won the party nomination at the DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION!!" Are you kidding me?? Can they really take themselves seriously as a news organization or a entertainment show for the democratic left??

Seriously responsible reporting. This is absolutely embarrassing and a sad state of affairs for those in the public who want the information on both sides of an issue to make an informed decision themselves. If you don't want to be informed, have someone form your opinion for you, go ahead and believe what they tell you to believe. That is our current media's specialty!!

01 September 2008


The US military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.

This is the type of news that is hard to find on the front page of any newspaper or even talked about on the ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN. The province was once a hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency, and the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.

The handover marks a major milestone in the US Army’s strategy of turning security over to the Iraqis so we can eventually go home.

29 August 2008

Officer Shortage

The draft thesis and summary on the US Army field grade officer shortage can be found at:


Comments (positive and negative) are welcomed to help improve on this draft.


If you want to make enemies, try to change something.
Woodrow Wilson

20 August 2008


The days of the green Class A’s are over.

The Army’s plan to make dress blues the only Army Service Uniform has been approved and soldiers who own the uniform are encouraged to begin wearing it now, the Army announced Wednesday.

The move to eliminate the green uniform is designed to streamline soldiers’ clothing bags while modernizing the way the traditional blue uniform is worn.

The new wear policy was announced Wednesday in an Army-wide message from Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston.

The most significant change, aside from the switch from green to blue, is the option to wear a combat service identification badge, something that was not allowed with the blues.
“This uniform is part of a larger modular uniform system. It’s the culmination of a transformation effort that began back in 2004,” Preston told Army Times, referring to the development of the Army Combat Uniform and its introduction in May 2005. “The ACU really streamlined the impact on soldiers and, of course, that same thought process was really applied to our dress uniform.”

Preston said the blue uniform has come out overwhelmingly ahead in several surveys of soldiers asked their preference for a dress uniform, and in more than 150 forums he conducted over the past two years.

The vast majority of soldiers also expressed a desire to display their combat credentials, he said.
Other changes include:

• Soldiers who wear green, tan or maroon berets, soldiers assigned to air assault coded positions and military police on duty will be permitted to blouse their trousers with the black leather combat boot.
• The black, tan, maroon and green beret will be permitted with all uniforms. Men and women in the rank of corporal and above will have the option of wearing a service cap, for which there will be a stipend. Commanders will be authorized to determine which headgear should be worn for a particular event.
• During the development of the uniform, a grey shirt had been considered, but the Army decided that white shirts will be worn with all Class A and B uniforms because it “showcases the soldiers’ uniform,” Preston said.

The new uniform will be available at clothing sales stores next summer.
Soldiers graduating from basic training will get it as part of their clothing bag by the summer of 2010.

Clothing allowances will be adjusted, and every soldier will be wearing the blue uniform by 2014.


16 August 2008

The Army's Deficit of Majors

The story that is loosely based on my MMAS thesis has been published by the Washington Post. It missed the mark, but not by much.

In this military school of higher learning, the combined education and experience of the officers in our staff group often produces some powerful discussions. The collective knowledge generated by these conversations is unfortunately left behind at the end of the day; nothing captured, nothing passed along. How many hours have we spent working on papers, only to file it away after being graded – can there be a better use of our time in support of our military that is at war and facing major shortages? Why not make better use of our time here by not only providing an education, but also give back to the collective knowledge of the military? Many of the support commands, (ie Training and Doctrinal Command) are understaffed and I expect would welcome the opportunity to tap into this resource.

I did not wait for this to happen, I took it on myself to research and push out information on the shortage of officers in year groups '91-97. We have had this discussion dozen of times with our peers, now perhaps it will generate some open/public discussion on the issue and maybe some action... at worst, nothing is done and we spend the rest of our career watching the situation deteriorate.
What are your thoughts?


13 August 2008

Stuck on dinosaur

ILE maybe stuck in the old. When we first started ILE we discussed the next kind of war and the potential for a new revolution in military affairs. We discussed counter terrorism and the COIN fight. But when it comes to exercises we are fighting a conventional HIC war. We are fighting an armored horde that uses conventional soviet tactics. Really what changes has ILE made? When we leave ILE commanders will expect us to be masters of our craft and yet we are still fighting HIC warfare. We are working outside of our career field. Regardless of our chosen professions in the Army, our time at ILE should be focused more on mastery of our individual skills, rather than some broad brush stroke. Lets be honest, most of us will be returning to the fight. A fight which is not going away by Dec 12th (our graduation). ILE needs an overhaul. It needs to admit reality, and prepare young field grade officers for the fight they will be in. Regardless of the level we go to, most of us will be in a fight. There is to much still being executed here under the pretext of "that's how we've always done it."

10 August 2008

The new kind of war

The exert below is taken from the Reuters report posted on Yahoo News:

Potentially widening the conflict, the leader of Abkhazia, a second pro-Russian breakaway Georgian region, said on Sunday he had ordered 1,000 troops to push Georgian forces out of part of his territory and called up reservists.
Georgia quickly denounced what it termed "new aggression" prepared by Moscow in Abkhazia, a strip of land along the Black Sea coast which broke away from Georgian control at about the same time as South Ossetia.
In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was profoundly concerned over mounting tensions in Abkhazia.
Russia's navy also entered the conflict, deploying a small group of ships off Georgia's Black Sea coast. There was no official comment on their mission but the Interfax news agency said they would prevent weapons and military equipment reaching Georgia by sea.

As we discussed in the begining of ILE, the US may infact face a change in the type of wars it will be called upon to fight. As we shift our military to a lighter, more adaptable, modular force, it maybe just what is needed to fight these small scale regional fights. Or are we to become a perminent peacekeeping force. The fight between Russia and Georgia is threatening to expand to yet another province.

I think we should stop what we're doing in ILE and W200, and take a real world look at the conflict happening right now under our noses. I understand that this potentially could become a classified exercise, but its time for ILE to stop being a dinasour and live up to its claim of being a higher learning organization. What better use of our time and energy then to analysis the present conflict and come up with options that many of our piers ourside of the school house are most likely facing. The school has an oppertunity here to do some real learning, to take young field grade officers and get them to analysis a real senerio. I challange the school house to step up and be the adaptive, learning organization that they claim to be.

08 August 2008

Tangled up in blue

What did you see my blue eyed son?

As I just finished watching the Opening Ceremonies to the Beijing Olympics, I wonder why can't the world get a long as harmoniously as it did this magical night. Yes I am quite aware that as I type Russia and Georgia are now involved in a very intense conflict, but that action did not prove to be the overture for the ceremony. Why is it that we scoff at the thought of a truly peaceful world society, one that we saw in a microcosm tonight? Is it wrong to aspire to a thought of this nature?? Now many may go on and on about the pageantry of the show, but the images I will remember will be those of athletes gathering together getting pictures of one another, sharing the fleeting moments of a magnanimous night together. If these competitive personalities can come together for a night to enjoy in the vision and embrace the spirit of that which is the Olympic Dream, then why cannot civilized countries do the same. Is the world just a competitive zone, and its people just resources for the few who are in charge?

Is it really that hard to get a long with one another and respect human life?? Do we have to be that competitive if we fear someone is embarking on our territory??

If someone asked me if there was no war, no threat of war, and no possibility of war, what would you do in the military... I would have to laugh because that question is neither logical or rational. Our consciousness has yet to fully grasp that we are one society one people, sharing one planet, and it really is up to us to save this world. It doesn't matter what one's ethnic origin is, we are equally charged with the responsibility of making this a better world for those who follow us. We can continue on our path, using and abusing every resource available, but is that truly how we want our generation to be remembered??

There are so many different steps that we can take to make this truly a better place; which one will be your step??
Just someone trying to provide shelter from the storm.

07 August 2008

Panel Recommends Changes to Military Retirement

A panel looking at military compensation has recommended dramatic changes in the military retirement system. The defined benefit would be 2.5 percent of the average basic pay for the highest 36 months of the individual's career multiplied by the number of years of service, with service members vested at 10 years of service. Payments to retirees would begin age 57 for those with 20 years of service or more and at age 60 for those with less than 20 years of service. (FULL STORY ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THIS WEEK'S LAMP)

If the US Army finds itself in a critical officer shortage situation that HRC did not predict, the US Congress will have no issue taking away from some of our benefits IOT maintain the strength/abilities of the US Army.

The US Army HRC does not think there is a problem with the shortage of majors, but I think that after winning the war on terrorism, predicting the future of the strength of the US Army should be the highest priority of the US Army.

What do you think?

01 August 2008

Why the Air Force will be alright

Yes, Defense Secretary Gates asked both our top civilian and our Chief of Staff for their resignations. Yes, a nuclear-loaded B-52 flew from Minot to Barksdale, and then the wing failed a subsequent inspection. Yes, a missile crew didn’t properly secure a crypto device before they went to sleep. Yes, we shipped nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan. Yes, DoD and the GAO are taking over the selection of our next aerial refueling tanker. So how is it possible that an organization mired in so many “scandals” is alright?

Because adversity is inevitable and the men and women of the Air Force have not walked away from our core values: Integrity is always first; Excellence is in everything we do; and Service to our nation is put above personal needs.

Gen Schwartz is ready to take the helm and has the right background to revector the AF. With Special Ops, airlift, and Joint Staff experience, he’s got the right background. In his last job at USTRANSCOM, he worked joint issues directly supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He didn’t do this wearing an AF hat…he did this by taking requirements from frontline troops and filling it with the right capability from the right service. It’s that “Joint” mentality that makes him the right person to lead the AF right now.

A nuke crisis? No. Each incident is separate and falls under the control of a different major command. The B-52? Air Combat Command. The missile crew? AF Space Command. The fuse shipment error? AF Materiel Command. The commonality? They were all AF. Don’t get me wrong, they were all significant oversights. But we’re correcting things. For instance, 8th Air Force is splitting off all of its Cyber-related missions to re-concentrate on its bomber fleet.

Finally, the on-going tanker saga. Was anyone really surprised that there’s a re-compete? On a projected $100 billion deal? It was inevitable that the loser would protest, no matter who the AF chose. If they had gone with Boeing, Northrup-EADS would have protested and Congressmen from Alabama would have called foul. GAO taking over and making the final call was the only outcome possible.

The AF isn't in a downward spiral. We'll keep doing what we do best--dominate in the air, space, and cyber space.


In a recent article in Navy Times, sailors sound off on "shipmate" -- a term that to many has come to mean "screw-up." Talk of heritage and tradition is taking a back seat as some compare the word’s current usage to an insult. Who's to blame? How can the Navy rescue "shipmate"? Or should the term just be sunk?

31 July 2008

Yet again...

Wanted to post this under the comments below about Obama, but the pictures would not show up.

Repaint your plane to remove the flag. Complain about wearing the flag on the lapel. Not showing up at a hospital, seems like a trend...

Below is a message found out in web land, this time with a picture from another website....

WHAT A DISGRACE!!! Snopes says this is true!

Obama The Patriot - Removes American Flag From His PlaneThe Patriot Room Posted on Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:11:07 AM by Bill DuprayBarack Obama recently finished a $500,000 total overhaul of his 757. And as part of the new design, he decided to remove the American flag from the tail...What American running for President of the United States would remove the symbol of his country? And worse, he replaced the flag with it with a symbol of himself...
Please forward this on if you're not ashamed of your country or it's flag & think this is a disgrace!

IN THE NAVY: Correct Punishment?

Smoking appears to have sparked a fire that caused $70 million in damage to the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

The announcement by the Navy came as Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, relieved the carrier's commanding officer, Capt. David C. Dykhoff, and the executive officer of duty, Capt. David M. Dober.

Adm. Willard cited lost confidence in the commanding officer and his failure to meet mission standards after the investigation found unauthorized smoking by a crew member appeared to have ignited flammable liquids and other combustible material that were improperly stored.
Is the punishment correct, should it have been less, or should we expect more?

29 July 2008

Iraqi Olympic Hope is Back...

After I saw first hand how the Iraqi soccer team was able to help bring together this new democratic nation last, I thought it was distressing when I learned that Iraq could not participate in the Olympic being held in CHINA… is this not ironic?

UPDATE: The International Olympic Committee ruled today that Iraq could participate in the Beijing games, reversing itself after Baghdad pledged to ensure the independence of its national Olympics panel.

A compromise was worked out after mediators from Germany and China became involved in talks, and Iraq pledged to hold free elections for its national Olympic committee under international observation. The IOC had insisted the old committee be reinstated even though four members were kidnapped two years ago. Their fates remain unknown.

Iraq is expected to send two athletes to Beijing to compete in track and field events. The decision came too late for five other hopefuls in archery, judo, rowing and weightlifting. The deadline to submit names for those sports expired last week.

28 July 2008


President Bush on Monday approved the execution of an Army private, the first time in over a half-century that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the US military.

Private Gray was convicted of committing brutal crimes, including two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. Gray has been on death row at Ft. Leavenworth since April 1988.

The military also has asked the President to authorize the execution of Dwight J. Loving, who has been at Ft. Leavenworth, since 1989 after being convicted of killing two taxicab drivers while he was an Army private at Fort Hood.

25 July 2008

Civil Military Relations

We had a panel of PhDs a coupld of months back and they lectured the CGSC Majors on the need for us (the Majors) to be sure and educate ourselves on our proper place in the Civil Military relations continuum.

A thought occurred to me: I know for a fact we're getting educated on that topic, heck, it's part of our credentialing process if we want to continue up the ranks. What standards and credentials are required of the civilian leadership? It seems that a civilian just has to be at the right place and time for a political appointment or be a nimble GS employee to keep moving on up. It seems lopsided. What say you all?

Obama skips visit to wounded Soldiers...

Politics is largely about priorities; so is life, for that matter. Barack Obama's priorities were put into sharp relief today when he canceled visits to two American military bases in Germany. He still has time, of course, to play the "rock star" in front of cheering multitudes of Germans. Ed Morrissey broke the story:

Der Spiegel’s blog reports on Obama’s priorities:
1:42 p.m.: SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that Obama has cancelled a planned short visit to the Rammstein and Landstuhl US military bases in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The visits were planned for Friday. “Barack Obama will not be coming to us,” a spokesperson for the US military hospital in Landstuhl announced. “I don’t know why.” Shortly before the same spokeswoman had announced a planned visit by Obama.

The message here is that thousands of screaming German fans at the Tiergarten take precedence over visiting Americans serving their country at Rammstein and Landstuhl. Maybe one of the networks following Obama could interview a few of the Soldiers about how they perceive that set of priorities from Obama.

Landstuhl, of course, is where Soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan are sent for treatment. Obama's visit there no doubt would have included meeting some of them.
It turns out that Obama didn't stiff the servicemen because of a schedule conflict. Rather, as Jake Tapper pointed out, apparently without knowing that Obama had canceled planned visits to the two military installations, Obama is going sightseeing in Berlin tonight. I can't say it any better than Ed did:

Obama canceled a previously-planned stop to visit thousands of American service personnel, including troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan being treated at Landstuhl, so he could hold a political rally for Germans and go shopping in Berlin. Now that’s a nice set of priorities for a man who wants to become Commander in Chief.

The Obama camp's explanation was that since the Europe trip was funded by his presidential campaign, it wasn't right to schedule a visit with our injured soldiers (and I use that term to mean soldiers, sailors, marines, and members of the Coast Guard) and that the decision was made out of "respect" for the members of our armed forces.

Newsflash: the best way to show "respect" to our wounded is to visit them, spend time with them. Each and every one of them is a hero who volunteered to serve his or her country in uniform, and then shed their blood so that the rest of America's citizens could go about their daily lives in ignorant bliss.

I also heard that the reason he cancelled the trip was not because he did not want to use the soldiers as a campaign backdrop, it was because the military would not let him. No media would be allowed at the base, only military photographers, this is why he cancelled the trip.

I do not know if this is true, but I also have reports from Soldiers in Iraq that when Obama visited the area, several times he walked past lines of Soldiers without taking the time to shake one hand.

24 July 2008

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Is Reexamined

The news article on Early Bird from the LA Times says that Washington DC is relooking the don't ask don't tell.
Do you think it is time to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly?

New Army Officer Recruting Campaign

Just as a side note, how could the Army allow this bad press on 2LT Caleb Campbell? *Safety Caleb Campbell became the first Army player to be drafted by the NFL in 11 years when the Detroit Lions selected him in the seventh round last April.

Does this decision help or hurt our Army in getting quality members to join USMA or ROTC? We may have gained one good officer, but lost many, many more. This is another shot in our own foot.


New BDEs to Afghanistan

Afghan Shift Could Be Near
Gates awaits report; units likely to be small.
By Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Top Pentagon leaders are expected to recommend soon to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates which additional U.S. troops could be sent to Afghanistan in the next month or so, according to a senior military official.
The units are likely to be small and could include engineers, ordnance-disposal troops, and other support forces needed to shore up fighting needs and the training of Afghan forces.
Officials have not ruled out identifying a larger, brigade-sized unit before the end of 2008 that could be shifted to Afghanistan from a planned deployment to Iraq or moved from some other location.
U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have been asking for three combat brigades, or roughly 10,000 more troops, to help quash rising violence.
The senior official, who requested anonymity because the proposals are not public, said the recommendations had not yet been approved by Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or delivered to Gates.
Last week, Gates said he hoped to address some of those requirements sooner rather than later.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said yesterday that any sizable increase in troop levels in Afghanistan might not come until the new administration takes over next year.
Any decision to shift large units such as combat brigades into Afghanistan after they have been preparing to go to Iraq later this year would take additional training and time, Morrell said.
"You can't snap your fingers and make this happen, unfortunately," he said.
He added later that the Pentagon was not kicking any decisions down the road to the next White House. Rather, he said, decisions made now may require months to execute.


23 July 2008

Army needs a stealth tank

The Air Force has stealth planes:


The Navy has stealth ships:

The Zumwalt was conceived as a stealth warship with massive firepower to pave the way for Marines to make their way ashore. It features advanced technology, composite materials, an unconventional wave-piercing hull and a smaller crew

Now the Army needs a stealth tank:

20 July 2008

US Army Officer Shortage of Majors

(The following is a summary of a master’s thesis titled “Major Crisis: An Analysis of the Critical Shortage of US Army Officers in Year Groups 1991-1997” (pp125) by Major George B. Brown III)

There is a potential crisis in the US Army that has received little attention, but is having a critical effect on the military and its ability to continue its high operational tempo: a shortage of US Army field grade officers that entered the US Army from 1991 to 1997.

The reason for the current shortage is not really important: it is likely a combination of the under-accessions of officers in the early to mid-90s; loss of officers being wounded/killed in war; increasing the need of field grade officers due to modularity; officers leaving before retirement because of too many deployments; increasing the size of the military; etc… there is a shortage- no argument: 5% company grade; 17% majors; and 8.5% lieutenant colonels (AC basic branches). This shortage is not equal among all the branches, and is already critical in some.

Much is being done, with some success, by the US Army Human Resources Command (HRC) to increase the numbers of officers entering the service and retaining junior officers. The issue discussed in my thesis is the indications of a growing shortage of field grade officers. The theory is that the shortage of field grade officers is going to get worse over the next few years because little is being done to encourage officers to stay in past 20-years of service. Contributing to this shortage is the number of officers that will reach 20 years in service sooner than their year group peers. This is because over 35% of these majors have prior-service experience (enlisted service time before becoming an officer is credited towards cumulative years).

The retirement rate of officers reaching 20-years of service last year was 20%; the survey conducted for my thesis indicated this will grow as much as 60%. This loss rate suggests that by 2014 the US Army may be short 30% lieutenant colonels and 20% majors. The most critical aspect of this 30% shortage of lieutenant colonels and 20% majors will be that it is not equally distributed across all the branches. By 2014, indications suggest most of the US Army officer branches will face shortages greater than 50% of their requirement for lieutenant colonels and majors.

In other organizations, for example the State Department, an individual could join as a GS-14 (government position equivalent to a lieutenant colonel) based on education and experience. The US military does not have this type of program for most branches. It takes over 15 years to grow lieutenant colonels, so the loss of each lieutenant colonel is significant.

Something should be done to address the issue of such a large number of officers in year groups 91-97 from retiring at the 20 year mark of service. At 18 years of service, most officers start the decision process for retirement. This decision and planning process is done with their family who, with the officer, has become worn down from the high operational tempo of the US Army. At 18 years of service, the Army Career Alumni Program (ACAP) sends a letter to each officer letting them know about services to help them retire from the US Army and find a job in the civilian community. At 18 years of service flight pay goes down for US Army aviators. At 18 years of service Variable Special Pay goes down for dental and medical officers. At 20 years of service, members of the military may retire and receive 50% of their base pay for the rest of their life and maintain many benefits from active duty. Although there are many incentives for the US Army officer to leave the service at 20 years, there is virtually nothing officially being done to encourage officers to stay in past 20 years of service.

The Human Resources Command has many good informal incentive programs that might be better utilized if publicized and controlled by one centralized section. Allowing officers to more easily exchange assignments, across branches, would be an example; transferring to another branch (from full strength branch to one that is undermanned) is another option. These options would be at no cost to the US Army but, require additional staff at HRC dedicated to run this program.

Many of the officers in this research agreed that a monetary incentive of varying types would convince them to stay in the US Army longer. A one-year base pay cash bonus for three years of service was the most accepted option requested from the survey; matching TSP funds up to 10% was number two. A monetary bonus, in the correct amount, and targeted to the branches that are critically short, is undoubtedly an effective method for the retention of the officers to stay past 20-years of service. This is true, not only because the value of non-monetary benefits is not easily recognized by personnel, but also because a system that favors monetary benefits would enhance the freedom of each officer to decide how best to use his/her benefits, thus increasing the value of those benefits.

The one-year base pay bonus for three years of service over 20 years could provide a monetary incentive to officers in branches that are critically short and is already common practice with enlisted US Army Soldiers. An average of 1,400 officers reach 20 years of service each year. At 20 years of service, most officers would be at the rank of lieutenant colonel with a base pay of $88,473.60 a year. This would equal a yearly program maximum cost of just under 124 million dollars, even if every officer was given this bonus after reaching 20 years of service. The cost of the captain menu of incentives program is over three times this amount and one-year base pay is a common bonus to enlisted Soldiers in critical jobs. This program could be used to target specific branches with the greatest shortages, but would require a change in federal law to facilitate this option.

Another way to think about cost of this bonus program is the US Army is short approximately 15% of its authorized strength of majors and 8.5% lieutenant colonials. That means that part of the budget set aside to pay these officers salaries is not being used. In theory (and practice), 85 majors are working harder to do the job of 100 majors, and not getting any extra pay. That 15% of the salary from majors could fund bonuses, or other incentives, for those who are working harder than ever. (Philman 2008) The US Army is short 2,228 majors for a savings to the US Government of over $210 million. This might be an oversimplification, but premise is sound.

The spouses of these officers are also weighing in on the decision to get out; overlooked in the compensation calculations is a complete family focus. There is a popular t-shirt slogan that sells well on post, it reads: “Military Spouse: The Toughest Job in the Military”. The military members pay also must compensate for the loss of income from their spouses. These officers marry smart, competent, career-capable partners, but frequent military moves while effectively single-parenting during deployments; it's next to impossible to also have a viable career. It may not be about the money, but these spouses are comparing their family lives to their brothers, sisters, friends from college, etc. Comparisons are inevitable and many spouses are counting the days until 20-years of service have been met to start their career. If the compensation doesn't keep pace at a family level, in addition to stresses of military service, the spouse is most likely to cast their vote to get out.

The survey I did for this thesis was approved by US Army Command Arms Center and supervised to ensure quality. Out of the 780 majors that were sent a survey, 412 responded giving the survey a confidence level of over 95% (Taylor-Powell 1998) and a confidence interval of +/- 5% for a population size of 15,000. This response allows for an accurate assessment of all the majors in the US Army today. Similar survey results were published in June 2006 by a spouse of a CGSC student for Central Michigan University. (Crist 2006)

The thesis explores the potential critical shortage of officers in year groups 91-97 as they start to reach 20-years of service. These officers are the future lieutenant colonels: the battalion commanders and senior staff members of the US Army. This shortage of lieutenant colonels could move this significant shortage from a hardship to an incapacitating element in the US Army's ability to accomplish missions the nation requires.

It is obvious to me that the situation is troublesome and the indications are that the shortage will get substantially worse. More senior-level discussions on this topic are required. There is an opportunity for action, but less options and assets are available the longer no action is taken.

Something must be done to address the issue of the officers in year groups 91-97 from retiring en masse. There are three categories of effort where improvements can be made in the short, near and long term: conduct an information campaign (short term); formalizing incentive programs already in use (near term); and creating monetary bonus similar to those already in use for enlisted Soldiers (long term). Other drastic options are available to address the shortages, but the second order of effects may be too harmful to the US Army.

(Copy of the full text of “Major Crisis” is available on request)

06 July 2008

Success in Iraq

The truth is out there… but not from the liberal media. The blogs have it:

Iraq's efforts on 15 of 18 benchmarks are "satisfactory" — almost twice of what it determined to be the case a year ago. The May 2008 report card, obtained by the Associated Press, determines that only two of the benchmarks — enacting and implementing laws to disarm militias and distribute oil revenues — are unsatisfactory.

Of course, the Associated Press had to put their nasty spin on this wonderful news today... because, 5 years is just way to long to build a functioning democracy in the Middle East:

“No matter who is elected president in November, his foreign policy team will have to deal with one of the most frustrating realities in Iraq: the slow pace with which the government in Baghdad operates.”

It's no wonder Americans do not understand we are winning in Iraq. Even the good news is so slanted you don't know what the heck you are reading.

More good news...
Iraqi officials will take over security responsibility of
two more provinces. Already, the Iraqi democracy is in charge of 9 of its 18 provinces.The Democratic government of Iraq will take over responsibility of al-Anbar, a province once reported as lost, and Qadisiya (Diwaniya) Province in the coming days (Severe sandstorms prevented the transfer earlier this week).

Some say more solid progress could have been made had the administration starting pulling troops out sooner.

Of course!

The surrender campaign members have convinced themselves that declaring defeat and handing Iraq over to Al-Qaeda and Iran would have brought this same kind of success :)

03 July 2008

The First 4th of July

Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Four of the signers were captured by the British as traitors, and at least two tortured. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well-educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Eillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Morris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told us a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. Our forefathers didn't just fight the British. They were British subjects at that time, and they fought their own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted...and we shouldn't.

So, let's take a few moments while enjoying our 4th of July holiday and silently appreciate these patriots and thank the God who moved them. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
(*) I researched the above information the best I could; I feel confident that most is true or at least very close to the truth. I do not want to take away for the many Soldiers that have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom today, just to highlight those brave men that started this great democracy experiment.

27 June 2008

Partners & Friends

This photo is from the UK/US CGSC exercise held the last week of June 2008.

FCS rocks?

The army has lost its way with Future Combat Systems. As Sec. Gates annonces another round of changes to the program, I have to ask are we developing systems because we can or are we developing systems because they will help prepare us for the next war. Technology will not solve the problems the army has with preparing soldiers for war, it is not a substitute for training and discipline. More later...

26 June 2008

Looking back...

It has been six months now since my return from Iraq. As I look back on the last few months, my time in Iraq seems so many, many years ago… almost a different lifetime. I get the same feeling now as I got when I had returned from Desert Storm… remembering is like recalling an old movie; an actor I saw, not really something I did. I guess the mind has its own way with dealing with memories.

15 months away from family and the comfort of the environment I grew up in was very difficult. 15 months of working seven days a week and 16-18 hour days, no holidays, was demanding. Living 15 months in a combat zone was not enjoyable. But was it worth it? It saddens me to say that only time will tell. There is the possibility that our efforts in the Middle-East may be the single greatest endeavor our country has been involved with since WWII and the Marshall plan… but our next president will have to close the deal. There is also the possibility that Iraq and the Middle-East will revert back to the way it was ten years ago, all our efforts, blood and treasure wasted.

But are we winning? I say yes, for two reasons: (1) Iraq is no longer in the headline news. Good news does not happen in spectacular fashion (ie large explosion with hundreds dead), it is often the lack of news that is good (ie no explosion, zero dead). This does not play well in the media. And, (2) not only has their not been a terrorist attack in America since 9/11, but the world is also at relative peace.

I freely admit that people are still not playing nice in the world - but it is much better than our fathers or grand-fathers can remember. I grew up with the fear of the USSR and US on edge with the capability to blow the entire world up several times over. Over the past four hundred years, the world has only gotten better at killing. General estimates place lives deliberately extinguished in the 1800s by politically motivated carnage at around 45 Million compared to 170 million in the 1900s. Heck, since 3600 B.C. the world has known only 292 years of peace. During this 5,600 year period there have been almost 15 thousands wars, in which over 3.6 billion people have been killed. To put this in perspective, the current population of the world today is around 6.6 billion.

The good news is that the world is becoming a better place to live, but we have a very long ways to go.

What do you think?

25 June 2008

In the Navy

Where can you find pleasure
Search the world for treasure
Learn science technology
Where can you begin to make your dreams all come true
On the land or on the sea
Where can you learn to fly
Play in sports and skin dive
Study oceanography
Sign of for the big band
Or sit in the grandstand
When your team and others meet

In the navy
Yes, you can sail the seven seas
In the navy
Yes, you can put your mind at ease
In the navy
Come on now, people, make a stand
In the navy, in the navy
Can't you see we need a hand
In the navy
Come on, protect the motherland
In the navy
Come on and join your fellow man
In the navy
Come on people, and make a stand
In the navy, in the navy, in the navy (in the navy)

-- The Village People, 1971


This blog is a project of a few field grade military officers attending the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The Command and General Staff College is a one year graduate level course with a mission to prepare students for the future by providing an accredited education with emphasis at the operational & tactical levels of war. The typical attendee is the US Army major, but our school also has many officers from the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and international officers from several countries.

The course we are in (08-02) started in February 2008 with 293 students; including forty-one international officers from thirty-nine countries.

We created a blog in order to facilitate a forum of discussion between us and the people we work for… the taxpayers. The publications of the officers on this site do not represent official military views, rather a candid & open discussion based on individual experiences.