Monday, September 23, 2013

The Trap of Garrison Thinking

We often feel that we live in a high tech, high speed new generation. We have iPhones, iPads, Tweets, Facebook Friends and LinkedIn business contacts. The MISO force is pretty much out of Afghanistan and the deployment rat race seems abated for the moment.

Yet perhaps this is not really the case.

Gilda Radner, the late Saturday Night Live Comedian titled her biography “It’s always something.” 
Interesting this is an apt description of what is happening in today’s military. 

I had a couple of sources for today’s posting, some of my on-line students at American Military University and a highly competent field grade officer who I have known for years. Based on these inputs and some others, it seems as though the Army in particular is retreating into a Garrison based personality.

This means that ‘requirements’, however well intentioned, are being dictated down from higher HQ resulting in the prostitution of training schedules and plans that were laboriously crafted based on the unit’s missions and the CDR’s assessment of its training needs.

While the issues addressed by these new top down initiatives are serious and surely merit attention, as a former CDR I believe these issues are best handled by the units themselves, probably at the BN level down. 

Getting out of the garrison or the drill hall provides the opportunity to practice MOS, soldier and survival skills, and serves to bond the unit and give everyone a new perspective to consider.
CDRs need to have the confidence to go back up the chain and push for a direct common sense approach while trying to insure that their soldiers are prepared to do their jobs under the most adverse conditions.

At least we don’t have the ‘paint the rocks white’ details we did when I first entered the service, I suspect there is a 21st century version of this busy work that continues to go on. 

Reader feedback encouraged.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like your post is about leadership failure as opposed to a "garrison" mentality.

While I can't vouch for the veracity of your 'sources' (whomever they may be); I regret to inform you that they they are incomplete in their analysis. The PSYOP Mission continues to march along within Afghanistan, and will do so for at least another year. Those who argue differently are examining the overall picture through a very narrow straw. Typical of our community, though.

"Painting Rocks" is usually a reaction to an ill-attempt at developing a training schedule. While a training schedule may in fact be published, they are often underresourced due to ill-planning. Commanders don't need to be confident in pushing back, per se - they need to spend a few hours adequately planning, resourcing, and ensuring that their subordinate leaders are prepared to conduct training.

At least that is my perspective from my narrow straw.

Lawrence Dietz said...

@Anon - Afghanistan, less troops normally means less support personnel. In this case perhaps contractors are replacing troops to accomplish the mission.

Anonymous said...

You are correct - less troops means less support personnel.

Although official numbers are not widely available - given that we have between 45,000 and 68,000 currently deployed doesn't seem too small.

True, contractors are augmenting the effort, but I am not sure if they are "replacing" anything.