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The Up-Or-Out Policy - Why?/Where Did It Come From....

April 4 2005 at 6:48 AM
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GyG  (Login Dick Gaines)
Owner
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Ref
http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG117.pdf>;

"Background
Th e military’s up-or-out policy has drawn #64257; re from critics since it became federal law in 1947. While the legislation was before Congress,
Senator Guy Cordon argued that the policy was “wasteful and illogical
for the technical services.”3 In 1976 the Defense Manpower Commission
concluded that the policy caused morale problems and personnel
turbulence.4 More recently the U.S. Commission on National
Security/21st Century argued that “the triple systems of ‘up-or-out’
promotion, retirement, and compensation do not #64257; t contemporary
realities.”5 Many individual o#64259;cers have also argued against the up-or-out

system.6
To understand why up-or-out is still policy after 57 years of controversy, one must understand its origins. Prior to 1947 the policy was neither up-or-out nor up-or-stay; it was a strict seniority system that could be characterized as “stay-then-up.” The system had a pernicious e#64256; ect on the readiness of senior military leadership at the outbreak of World War II.

3 U.S. Senate, Committee on Armed Services, O#64259; cer Personnel Act of 1947, Hearings 80th Congress, 1st Sess., July 16, 1947, p. 5.
4 Defense Manpower Commission, Defense Manpower: Th e Keystone of National Security, Report to the President and the Congress, Washington, D.C., March 1976, p. 261.
5 Th e U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, Road Map for National Security:
Imperative for Change, February 2001, p. 103.
6 For example, Donald Vandergri#64256; , Th e Path to Victory: America’s Army and the Revolution
in Human A#64256; airs, Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 2002. For an older critique, see Nicholas J.
Schmitt, “Th e ‘Up-or-Out’ Policy,” Navy Proceedings, December 1979, pp. 35–40.
4 New Paths to Success
George C. Marshall was compelled to create a “plucking board” to remove
o#64259; cers deemed un#64257; t for command,7 and Dwight Eisenhower later testi-
#64257; ed to Congress that “not over #64257; ve” of the Army o#64259; cers available to command
divisions and corps at the start of the war served in World War II.
“All the rest . . . had to be replaced and gotten out of the way, and younger
men had to come along and take over the job.”8 Th us, up-or-out became
law as a solution to a speci#64257; c problem.9
Up-or-out has been a career management policy for more than
half a century now, and its corollary “youth and vigor” ethos is ingrained
in military culture. Conventional wisdom holds that without
up-or-out, the military will once again be burdened with antiquated or
substandard o#64259; cers. Many o#64259; cers therefore see a very clear bene#64257; t of
keeping the up-or-out policy. When presented with the possibility of
changing or eliminating it, they ask a fair question: “Why?”
Th e easiest case to make would be that up-or-out has some obvious,
#64257; rst-order e#64256; ects that the services #64257; nd undesirable, such as a
large number of O-3s who are forced to separate when they are not
promoted to O-4. Th is would support Senator Cordon’s argument that
the practice is wasteful. However, the members of the line communities
we met with do not believe this is happening. Some communities
are paying critical skills retention bonuses (CSRBs) to reduce manning
shortages; some #64257; ll billets by having very high promotion rates; all have
the ability to selectively continue o#64259; cers who are not promoted.10"

Ref
http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2004/RAND_MG117.pdf>;

NOTE:
The above cut-n-paste job from the above url turns out lousy here--click on the url for better resuls.




~~~~~~~~~~



R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

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GyG
(Login Dick Gaines)
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69.69.144.8

Hmmm....

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April 4 2005, 6:50 AM 

So...Eisenhower, who was MacArthur's clerk, and a junior LtCol just prior to WW II, was then promoted again and again, then to claim that only 5 officers in the Army were qualified to lead a corps or division in WW II, and so all others were gotten rid of, and replaced...

Hmmm, indeed!




~~~~~~~~~~



R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

GyG's Globe and Anchor! --Sites & Forums
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http://gunnyg.blogspot.com
~SITES/FORUMS FOR THE THINKING MARINE!~

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GyG
(Login Dick Gaines)
Owner
69.69.144.8

Come to think of it....

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April 4 2005, 12:40 PM 

Come to think of it, I had no idea that the Marine Corps had also started the up-or-out policy for enlisted Marines as well--I remember some mention of this in a thread on this board not that long ago--think it was somewhere in the following thread...

http://www.grunt.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=38034
http://www.grunt.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=38034



~~~~~~~~~~



R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

GyG's Globe and Anchor! --Sites & Forums
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~SITES/FORUMS FOR THE THINKING MARINE!~

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GyG
(Login Dick Gaines)
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Allow Full Enlisted Careers

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April 6 2005, 4:39 PM 

http://www.g2mil.com/enlisted.htm

Allow Full Enlisted careers

One of the most wasteful and cruel practices in the US military is the "up or out" career system, where those not chosen for promotion are forced out of the service. This article will focus on the method in which enlisted personnel are forced to retire in their 40s. Prior to World War II, enlisted men were required to serve until age 60 to draw retirement. Improved health care since World War II allows the average American male to live six years longer, however, a bizarre career system emerged after World War II in which enlisted must retire in the 40s.

Generals can serve until age 62, so why force enlisted to retire in their 40s? Few have college degrees and most do not have skills that relate directly to the private sector, so they'd rather stay in uniform, even after reaching their maximum retirement pay of 75% base pay after 30 years of service. Unfortunately, current law requires enlisted to retire at the 30-year mark, and time-in-service limits require E-8s and below to retire even earlier. These vary slightly in each armed service, and change every few years as Generals impose different manpower management philosophies. The Marine Corps recently published an update which provides an example of how enlisted careers are managed. A key element are promotion rates mandated by law:

PROMOTION MINIMUM STANDARD MAXIMUM
TO OPPORTUNITY OPPORTUNITY OPPORTUNITY
E-6 SSGT 70% 80% 90%
E-7 GYSGT 65% 75% 85%
E-8 1STSGT/MSGT 60% 70% 80%
E-9 SGTMAJ/MGYSGT 55% 65% 75%

Time-in-service limits are the other career factor. Enlisted who have not been promoted after a given number of years are discharged, no matter how well they perform or how critical their position. Higher pay and benefits make an enlisted career far more attractive than in past decades, so competition for promotion is much tougher and many good enlisted are forced out by service limits. The average servicemen enlists at age 19, so the average age has been added to this chart of Marine Corps service limits for clarity:

GRADE PROMOTION TARGET SERVICE LIMIT AGE DISCHARGED

E-4 CPL NA 8 YEARS 27
E-5 SGT 4 YEARS 13 YEARS 32
E-6 SSGT 8.5 YEARS 20 YEARS 39
E-7 GYSGT 13 YEARS 22 YEARS 41
E-8 1STSGT/MSGT 17.5 YEARS 27 YEARS 46
E-9 SGTMAJ/MGYSGT 22 YEARS 30 YEARS 49


Promotions to corporal and sergeant require achieving standards to reach a certain score. Most Marines who avoid trouble will make sergeant (E-5), except those squeezed out due to overages in their specialties, which is done by limiting reenlistments and requiring a higher "cutting score" for promotion. Sergeants face their first promotion board for staff sergeant (E-6) where around 20% are passed-over and discharged at age 32. The "promotion opportunity" percentage varies slightly each year to help manage manpower.

So for a group of 100 E-5s who stayed out of serious trouble for 8.5 years, 20 will fail promotion and face discharged after 13 years of service at age 32. This could be questioned as a waste of skilled manpower, while others argue that this is needed to prune poor performers from the career force. This also provides a manpower pool of E-5s for mobilization to replace combat casualties. At the 13-year mark, this group of 80 E-6s faces another pruning as 20 more are passed-over and forced to retired after 20 years. Once again, this need is debatable, although retired E-6s provide a valuable pool for wartime augmentation.

However, there should be little debate that the remaining 60 (now E-7s) should be considered career Marines and allowed to serve as long as they are able; like the E-7 pictured right. They met the promotion requirements for E-4 and E-5, and were selected for promotion to E-6 and E-7 above 40% of their peers. E-7s and above serve in positions which limit their risk of becoming battlefield casualties. They cannot all become E-9s, yet there is no reason they cannot remain in the Marines for 30 years or more. Nevertheless, 18 of these 60 E-7s are forcibly retired at age 41 after failing selection to E-8. Of the 42 survivors who make E-8, 15 more are retired at age 46 after failing promotion to E-9. Then the 27 of the original pool of 100 E-5 Marines who survived to E-9 are forced to retire at age 49 when they hit the 30-year mark.

No other organization in the world manages careers with such a method. This "up or out" system of early retirement places tremendous stress on enlisted as they must scheme for promotion just to remain in uniform. Even if they succeed with promotion to E-9 ahead of 73% of their peers, they will be forced into retirement in their 40s and forced to find menial jobs to support their family. This is cruel and wasteful. First, all E-7s and above should be allowed to serve 30 years. This can be done without a change in the law and should be implemented by Generals immediately.

PROPOSED CHANGE TO ALLOW E-7s AND E-8s 30-YEAR CAREERS

GRADE PROMOTION TARGET SERVICE LIMIT AGE DISCHARGED

E-4 CPL NA 8 YEARS 27
E-5 SGT 4 YEARS 13 YEARS 32
E-6 SSGT 8.5 YEARS 20 YEARS 39
E-7 GYSGT 13 YEARS 30 YEARS 49
E-8 1STSGT/MSGT 17.5 YEARS 30 YEARS 49
E-9 SGTMAJ/MGYSGT 22 YEARS 30 YEARS 49


The next step is to ask Congress to alter the law to allow all E-7s and above to serve to age 56. There is no reason they can't serve to age 62 like Generals, but a sudden major change will cause turmoil for manpower planners and stall the promotion process for years. In fact, this step should not be implemented until several years after E-7s and above are allowed to serve to the 30-year mark to allow the manpower and promotion systems to adjust. Allowing enlisted to serve to age 56 will require an adjustment of promotion targets to reflect longer careers. This may require a reduction of promotion opportunities to E-7, unless the numbers of senior enlisted are increased as part of a reduction of the officer corps by replacing many officers with senior enlisted.

PROPOSED CHANGE TO ALLOW E-7s AND ABOVE TO SERVE UNTIL AGE 56

GRADE PROMOTION TARGET SERVICE LIMIT AGE DISCHARGED

E-4 CPL NA 8 YEARS 27
E-5 SGT 5 YEARS 14 YEARS 33
E-6 SSGT 10 YEARS 20 YEARS 39
E-7 GYSGT 15 YEARS NA 56
E-8 1STSGT/MSGT 20 YEARS NA 56
E-9 SGTMAJ/MGYSGT 25 YEARS NA 56

Some will express concern that it will be impossible to retire fat or lazy senior enlisted personnel. In fact, each service has procedures to demote poor performing enlisted, although they are rarely used as lazy officers prefer to just write bad evals and let the "up or out" system discharge them a few years later. A full career system will prod officers to take action to demote or retire poor performers. Keep in mind that an E-7 has already proven himself during his first 15 years in service where he outperformed 40% of his peers. Another method is to require E-8 and E-9 promotion boards to retire senior enlisted whose performance is not only unworthy of promotion, but substandard for their current grade.

Physical fitness may concern some, but that is more a factor of exercise than age. The current system is irrational anyway as an E-9 who joined the service at age 30 can serve until age 60, while one who joined at age 17 is forced out at age 47. Enlisted who become warrant officers are allowed to serve until age 60, as though pinning on a red and gold colored bar provides youthful vigor. Few E-7s and above fill positions which require great stamina and they still must pass annual fitness tests to remain in service. It may become common for senior enlisted to be urged or forced to retire before age 56 because of weight gain or poor fitness, something that is already common for servicemen in the 30s and 40s.

A final step is to allow enlisted a better second chance at promotion. Currently, enlisted who are passed-over for promotion are allowed a second chance the following year. While this seems fair, tough competition for promotion makes those passed-over lepers, and 95% are passed-over again. However, if they did not come up for promotion until four years after being passed-over, they would have a far better opportunity during their second chance. They will have four more years of experience and several more performance evaluations. Any poor evaluation which hurt them four years prior will seem less important to the board. In addition, manpower requirements change over time; World War II happened within four years. They may have been passed-over because of an overage in their specialty at the time, which has since become a shortage. The passed-over stigma will still hurt their promotion chances, but four more years of experience should greatly increase their chances at promotion.

This will keep those passed-over motivated for promotion three years longer than today. For example, an E-6 now passed-over twice must retire after at the 20-year mark six years later no matter how they perform. They can earn the Medal of Honor and serve years in combat, but they must retire after 20 years. A four-year wait means they will retain hope for promotion until their second chance at the 19-year mark, then are retired at the 20-year mark should they fail again. Ideally, passed-over E-7s and E-8s will be considered for promotion every four years until retirement age. This will keep them motivated throughout their careers, and it may become common for most E-7s and E-8s to be passed-over during their first try in favor of more experienced enlisted considered for promotion during their second, third, and even fourth review.

These simple changes will result in a much more mature and experienced enlisted force. Some will grumble that promotions are slower, yet all will rejoice at the option to remain in uniform until age 56. In addition, E-7s and above will become "tenured" like college professors, allowing them to offer opinions without fear of alienating an officer who may end their career with a single bad evaluation. This will eventually save the armed services almost a billion dollars a year in retirement costs as those who retire early will do so at a lower grade, while others forgo several years or retirement pay by remaining in active service past the 30 year mark. In addition, readiness will improve as thousands of high skilled and experienced maintenance experts are not kicked out of the service each year. It is past time to eliminate the cruel and wasteful "up or out" career system for enlisted personnel and allow them full careers like everyone else.

Carlton Meyer editor@G2mil.com

©2004 www.G2mil.com




~~~~~~~~~~



R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

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Gary Coates
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Shafted by Father Time

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April 23 2005, 5:24 PM 

I hear you guys. I served 27 years as a regular and reserve Marine. First time from 1959 - 67 and then as a reserve from 1983 - 2002. Our unit was activated for the Iraq War in 2002, and since I was about to turn 60, I had to retire. I guess a 60 year old Marine who consistantly runs a 280+ PFT and has good fitness reports is somehow not fit to fight. Maybe now that the recruiters are having a tough time getting recruits, someone will change the rules. I'm still ready!

I can remember when I joined the Corps in the late 1950s. We still had a few "lifers" around back then. These Marines had been busted (usually for getting drunk out in town) several times but were otherwise outstanding Marines. It wasn't too unusual to see PFCs who had served in Korea or CPLs who were WWII vets. These were men who you'd want by your side in combat. For some of us AGE is only a number.

MSgt. Coates (USMC Retired)

 
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GyG
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Truth@Readiness.Mil

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April 6 2005, 4:41 PM 

http://www.usni.org/proceedings/Articles99/PROvandergriff.htm

TRUTH@READINESS.MIL

By Major Donald E.Vandergriff, U.S. Army

Proceedings, June 1999

The readiness crisis facing all the services has generated a host of solutions: more spare parts, more training, more technology, more pay, more money. We may be missing the forest for the trees, however, by ignoring far more serious problems--a lack of real leadership and a pervasive unwillingness to engage in debate about how U.S. military power is to be used.

On 29 September 1998, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee there were serious problems with readiness. Congress was shocked! The previous February, these same four-star flag and general officers--the heads of all the services of the U.S. armed services and their 1.4 million men and women--informed Congress that there were no readiness problems. To paraphrase their words, U.S. military forces were as capable as those that fought and won Desert Storm against Iraq in 1991.1

What happened to the U.S. military in these few months? Was it defeated in battle, struck by a plague, or hit by a natural disaster? Or is there a hard truth that declining readiness has been a problem for some time and continues to get worse? Even harder to swallow is the reason behind declining readiness--despite our spending seven times more than any potential opponent.2 It is based on intangibles that many Americans are uncomfortable dealing with--e.g., outdated leadership styles, training, education, and a lack of unit cohesion.

Oddly enough, the current information revolution has exposed the truth. If, during the last few months, the Chiefs of Staff and their aides hustled to find a few culprits behind the "leaks" to the press or to congressional leaders regarding declining readiness, they are going to be disappointed. There are just too many of them to punish. Thousands of middle- and junior-grade officers, NCOs, and troops from all the services have used the new electronic infiltration tool called e-mail, and exposed the denials of declining readiness by senior military leaders. These e-mail infiltrators bombarded not only their superiors (who did not appear to listen), but also their elected officials who, after initially ignoring their pleas, finally had to do something to reply to the flood. The foundation of this readiness tragedy is that it did not occur as a result of defeat on the battlefield--but rather because of the culture embedded in the military.3

During the hearings held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, several reasons for declining readiness were highlighted: lack of spare parts; lack of training time; old equipment wearing out and becoming harder to maintain; high operating tempos that stress out service members and their families; and a pay gap between civilian and military job earnings. Each of these problems reflected a lack of money. Nothing was said about leadership as the cause of declining readiness.4

The Senate Armed Services Committee's reaction to the startling testimony of the Joint Chiefs of Staff epitomizes the problems of the current officer culture, which is based on a tradition of 96 years of management science. Theoretically, this culture molds, shapes, and develops officers under the premise of selfless service. In reality, it advocates the advancement of the individual--for example, recruiting individuals by offering vital skills, frequently moving personnel among units to ensure career progression and equity, and promoting personnel rapidly. This "career management" is done at the expense of the organization, because of the lack of unit cohesion it creates in order to achieve short-term goals.

Our military culture, shaped by its current personnel system, also is based on 200 years of complex evolution and a desire to serve the needs of the individual while providing for an effective defense. Present theories of personnel management arose from the culture of management science introduced by Secretary of War Elihu Root at the beginning of this century. Conventional wisdom of this period held that personal awards through power, financial gain, and rapid promotion are more powerful than rewards from the shared effort of a community or professional enlightenment.5 More significant was the succeeding period. Here, the military was bound by the need to mobilize to fight World War III. Senior leaders such as George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower gave significant testimony leading Congress to pass the Officer Personnel Act of 1947 (OPA 47).6 These two periods witnessed similar themes that still shape today's culture dramatically; both held that careerism was good and that the best would rise to the top. As a result, a conflict between the needs of the individual officer and the words "duty, honor, country" developed.

Yet senior officers continue to state that the U.S. military is effective, and that is the problem. We need to create effective personnel policies and not rely on technology in order to prepare the military for the battlefields of the 21st century. Of course, there are some brilliant men who already understand how to solve our readiness problems--if those who make the decisions would only listen.

The late retired Air Force Colonel John Boyd, one of our most creative military thinkers and theorists, was a self-taught mathematician and aeronautical engineer whose energy maneuverability theories of the 1950s and 1960s revolutionized the design of modern fighter aircraft. Boyd's most important insight was, "Machines don't fight wars, people do, and they use their minds."7 To understand which technologies work on the battlefield, for example, one first must understand how people think and act in the fog, fear, and chaos of combat. Only with such understanding is it possible to design technologies that serve the needs of the people involved. Boyd's focus on people has obvious application to the services' officer personnel systems. Just as technology must serve the service member in combat, so too must the military's structures for selecting, indoctrinating, assigning, and promoting officers serve the service member in combat. Only by understanding the needs and dynamics of the people who serve in a fighting unit is it possible to design a personnel system that advances the organization's combat objectives.

Today, the U.S. military's officer culture has strayed far afield from these common sense ideas. Technology now is an end in itself, not a means to an end. Joint Vision 2010 and similar service literature explicitly state that technology--especially highly complex, expensive technology--will revolutionize the conduct of war.8 Indeed, the notion that machines fight wars and that people are of secondary importance has become so deeply ingrained that the Department of Defense posters commemorating Armed Forces Day over the past four years glorified the nation's defense arsenal rather than the sacrifices of its service members. Even more troubling, the military's personnel system reinforces these misguided priorities and has created an officer culture that is ill-equipped to meet the challenges of the post-Cold War era.

The historical experiences of World War II and the Cold War--and their legacies of attrition-style warfare supported by mass mobilization that have shaped the current officer personnel system and its command structure--are no longer valid. In addition, the U.S. military's outdated personnel system and command structures are reinforced by, and have contributed to, its preoccupation with technology. The current structure actually militates against combat readiness and effectiveness. The military's future effectiveness does not depend upon a technologically driven revolution, but upon a true cultural revolution. The military's doctrine, education system, and the way it accesses, develops, and promotes officers must be revised to elevate military professionalism above competing political and economic concerns. Inevitably, this will require the realization of Boyd's vision and a shift in our leaders' focus from technology to the people who use technology to defend the national interest.

Why Our Officer Culture Is Harmful

Today's officer culture is the product of four overlapping generations: an early tradition of improvisation and the myth of the frontiersman; personnel policies derived from the Progressive Era at the turn of the 20th century; World Wars I and II; and the obsession with mobilization for World War III. These periods established trends that can be tied to the change in testimony by the service chiefs regarding deteriorating readiness from February to September 1998. The legacies of the first generation have allowed Americans to forget about their military's initial disasters owing to its unpreparedness. The next three generations saw the implementation of policies with good intentions, but these ended up creating unintended negative consequences. These policies include the up-or-out promotion system which is related to a subjective, highly inflated evaluation system. Together, these are used to determine promotions and selections by centralized boards of senior officers who make the decisions based on selection by exception, or by weeding out officers--sometimes on no more than a single negative mark in their service records. These practices also are related to personnel management policies derived from a management practice of trying to give everyone a "fair" chance at critical positions needed for promotion and selection. Finally, when combined with a bloated officer corps at the middle and upper levels, these factors force officers into a few key "jobs" such as command, Pentagon, and Joint Staff time, with little time to learn or gain experience. To the servicemen and women in units, squadrons, or on ships, the process resembles a revolving door. Officers are not allowed to make mistakes or rock the boat without paying for it at the next promotion board. The military has created entire generations of risk-averse officers who see intellectual challenges as threats to their career well-being.

The first generation, which began with the establishment of the Continental Army under George Washington, was shaped by two disparate influences: the aristocratic traditions of the British officer corps and the challenges of the American frontier experience. The continuation of the aristocratic model during the early national period has left the Army and the other services with traditions of anti-intellectualism and anti-professionalism, and a belief that Americans simply can improvise required armed forces during war-time. In addition, with Washington's and succeeding generations, officers' energies were channeled into the pursuit of career advancement. With very little to do during the duty day, and because they were recruited from a relatively broad social base, American officers took matters of rank and promotion seriously. A tradition began of identifying rank as the principal determinant of both status and financial well-being. This later would be labeled as careerism. Despite this, in the period between the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, professionalism began to take hold in the form of professional journals and the establishment of military schools.9

The second generation of American warfare began with Secretary of War Elihu Root's attempt to professionalize the Army following General Emory Upton's visit to Germany in 1876, and encompassed the Army's failure to mobilize effectively to fight the Spanish-American War in 1898. The age of Progressivism was sweeping the country. While younger officers embraced professional studies and education in military arts, the more senior officers were shaped largely by the theories of management science involving the bureaucratic organizational model and an education system that followed Cartesian methods of math, which follow a systematic approach to problem solving; i.e, if one simply follows a formula or checklist, the problem will be solved. When applied to the battlefield, Cartesian methods treat the enemy as a nonthinking entity and assume that well-served technology will overcome any opponent. The need to mobilize, train, and ship millions to Europe rapidly for World War I only tightened the second generation's grasp on linear solutions to nonlinear problems.10

The third generation, which began in World War I and continued through Vietnam, was characterized by an authoritarian and centralized command structure. With only a small peacetime officer corps--consisting of a few professionals who understood war--during the interwar period, there was no choice but to choose a top-down style of command in order to execute an attrition-style doctrine, enhanced by technology. The expansionist nature of the military created a doctrine that emphasized firepower. Attrition doctrine--with its industrial-age individual replacement system, supported by the vastness of American industrial might--was assimilated easily by the millions of amateurs the country began to train.11 After World War II, Chief of Staff George Marshall institutionalized the mobilization strategy by convincing Congress to pass OPA 47. The impact of OPA 47 is felt today with a bloated officer corps--in all the services--at the middle and upper grades; the up-or-out promotion system; and the all-or-nothing, 20-year retirement system. These three factors lie behind today's culture, which is characterized by a destructive competitive ethic, constant promotion anxiety, and officers who are risk-averse.12

But when these approaches led to failures in combat, officers did step forward to challenge and reform the culture. The fourth generation encompasses the military's dramatic reforms of the 1970s and 1980s--which affected almost every aspect of the military's operations except its officer personnel system. A new, more maneuver-oriented doctrine called AirLand Battle was adopted by both the Army and Air Force and actually aligned emerging technology with the way the United States fought. Education was improved, while the Army and Marine Corps strove vainly to make a unit-replacement system work within a larger individual personnel system. This dramatic move within the personnel bureaucracy sought to do what history has proven to be a combat multiplier--forming and keeping individuals and leaders together for years by rotating cohesive units in combat. Instead, the personnel system analysts destroyed these programs by applying tangible measures applicable to individuals--such as reenlistment rates and individual weapon qualification--to whole units. Measures that are quite effective in determining the worth of weapon systems failed in quantifying unit personnel systems.13

Ironically, the victories in Panama in 1989 and the Gulf in 1991, and the drawdown of the military afterwards, allowed the military to retain its old culture and diminish the effect of the reforms of the late 1970s and 1980s. While many senior leaders pointed to the downsizing of the early 1990s as a cause for increased careerism, downsizing actually exposed the larger problems that had been covered up because of the plentiful years under President Ronald Reagan. As a result, we have returned to our old friend technology as the solution to all problems.

Keeping the Past

Before Congress addresses readiness by throwing money at the problem, it must insist that the military first reform, reshape, and readjust its officer personnel system. The personnel bureaucracies in the services no doubt will oppose any diminution of its power. The effects of the officer personnel system, including its accession, promotion, and development subsystems, feed and shape the doctrine, acquisition, training, and education that build and maintain a war machine. It has produced a war machine with at least three interrelated consequences that weaken our military's responsiveness and its capacity to fight effectively.

First, it takes a long time for our military to prepare to fight. The United States either must rely on a strategy to buy time, such as using a coalition that is willing to hold and bleed an opponent for months or years (e.g., France and Britain in World War I, or the Soviet Union in World War II), or have an adversary give us an inordinate time to build up and train a force for action (e.g., Iraq before Desert Storm).14

Second, the prescribed preparation period is made longer and more turbulent by the use of a management-driven individual replacement system, rather than the more cohesive unit rotation system (where personnel are kept together and units replace units). This prevents the United States from applying low-cost, yet constant, political and military pressures in contingency situations with an ability to rotate cohesive units that are maintained at high readiness levels.15 Instead, units are stripped of individuals--sometimes from returning units--in order to fill deploying units to authorized levels.16

Finally, once this unwieldy bureaucratic mammoth actually goes to war, it employs a doctrine of centrally controlled firepower that would make World War I British General Douglas Haig and French General Robert Nivelle smile in vindication. The main thought behind U.S. operational art is to throw in the tonnage and push opponents back with a bloody, attrition-driven frontal attack (e.g., it took outside intervention by the Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor to get General Norman Schwartzkopf to plan a "left hook" into Kuwait, rather than a frontal assault up the Wadi al Batin--and still about half the Republican Guard escaped through the open back door).17 It is clear that even as it fights a new, attrition-driven conflict in the Balkans, the U.S. military remains very conservative in its thinking.

The Trend Continues

Our military is fueled by a culture that views argument directed toward higher command as disloyalty. Dr. Williamson Murray, a renowned military historian--in his article, "Military Culture Does Matter"--warns of the dangers inherent in a military culture that discourages free thought. Dr. Murray contends that any military "that remain[s] totally enmeshed in the day-to-day tasks of running [its] administrative business, that ignore[s] history and serious study, and that allows [itself] to believe [its] enemies will possess no asymmetric approaches [is], frankly, headed for defeat."18 Active and retired officers have called attention to the fact that the officer corps discourages academic debate about its decisions concerning doctrine, force structure, and personnel issues. In the foreword of Bob Leonard's book, The Principles of War for the Information Age, Major General Robert H. Scales Jr., Commandant of the U.S. Army War College, scolds the officer corps for its lack of debate. He writes, "Increasingly, our young army officers do not include themselves in the great doctrinal debates, nor are they challenged enough to investigate the principles which form the very basis of our profession." Leonard adds that, "The problem is that [debate] is not rigorous. It has yet to seriously challenge basic beliefs and gut-level issues. Military and civilian leaders are still in their comfort zone concerning the character of future war."19 With these points in mind, generals and civilian leaders should be asking what is causing this aversion to dialogue, and whether it is good for the U.S. military and the country.

Not surprisingly, we are seeing the results of this one-dimensional mindset demonstrated with the continuing air war against Serbia. Historians recall how similar attacks affected the morale strength of their targets in years past. The German V-2 missile attacks on Britain enraged the British. Saddam's scud attacks on Israel and Saudi Arabia enraged Americans. It is unclear at this point whether or not the bombing of Serbia has had any meaningful effect on the Serbians' willingness to resist. Because most of the so-called defense intellectuals do not understand war, the fear of even the smallest number of casualties limits the United States to poor strategic options. Is this because of a lack of confidence in the ability of men to do the job, and a greater faith in machines? If officers within the military--particularly senior officers--cannot debate among themselves, then how can they be expected to tell Congress the truth? If this trend continues, the use of e-mail remains the only way the truth will continue to rise from the ranks to disclose true readiness problems.20

Major Vandergriff currently is serving as assistant professor of military science at Duke University, Army ROTC.

1. Rick Maze, "Congress hears readiness woes," Army Times, 12 October 1998, p. 4.
2. This includes the United States and its NATO allies, and South Korea divided by a combined dollar value spent by rogue states as North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, and possible opponents such as China and the Soviet Union.
3. This can be seen in a number of e-mails that Congressmen, journalists, prominent defense reformists, and senior officers receive. The author daily receives e-mail that concern readiness problems.
4. Discussions with Mr. Franklin "Chuck" Spinney on 8 October 1998. Mr. Spinney is a noted defense analyst who has compiled detailed and accurate data on the cost of the modernization program that is undermining readiness and costing the American taxpayer billions of dollars.
5. A number of works discuss the influence of management science on the officer corps: Andrew J. Bacevich, Jr. "Progressivism, Professionalism, and Reform," Parameters , March 1979, p. 4; Samual P. Hays, "Introduction," in Jerry Isrel, ed., Building the Organizational Society (New York, NY: The Free Press, 1971), p. 3; Jack C. Lane, The Armed Progressive (Novato, CA: Presido Press, 1978), p. 150; Paul Y. Hammond, Organizing for Defense: The American Defense Establishment in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 10; Russel F. Weigley, "Elihu Root Reforms and the Progressive Era," in William Geffen, ed., Command and Commanders in Modern War (Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1971), p. 24.
6. U.S. Congress, Officer Personnel Act of 1947 (Congressional Record, 1st Session, July 1947), p. 289.
7. John Boyd, "A Discourse on Winning and Losing," unpublished briefing, August 1987, pp. 5-7. Discussions with Mr. Franklin Spinney.
8. Joint Warfighting Center, Concept for Future Joint Operations: Expanding JV 2010 Ideas (Fort Monroe, VA: U.S. Training and Doctrine Command, 1997), pp. 2 & 13.
9. Faris Kirkland, "The Gap Between Leadership Policy and Practice: A Historical Perspective," Parameters, September 1990, pp. 54-55. Discussions with Dr. Faris Kirkland, 12 April 1998. See also Edward M. Coffman, The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime 1784-1898 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 61-64, 194-198.
10. James H. Hays, The Evolution of Military Officer Personnel Management Policies: A Preliminary Study with Parallels from Industry (Washington, D.C.: RAND, 1978), pp. 105-114.
11. Kirkland, "The Gap Between Leadership . . . ," pp. 54-55.
12. William Hauser, "Restoring Military Professionalism," (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 1985), pp. 1-3.
13. William Hauser, "The Peacetime Army: Retrospect and Prospect," in Robin Higham and Carol Brandt, ed., The United States Army in Peacetime (Manhattan, KS: Military Affairs, 1975), p. 217. See also David McCormick, The Downsized Warrior: America's Army in Transition (New York: New York University Press, 1998), pp. 89-111.
14. Edward N. Luttwak, The Pentagon and the Art of War (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1985), pp. 100-105, 188.
15. Based on discussions with Dr. Steven Canby.
16. Russell F. Weigley, "American Strategy from its Beginnings through the First World War," in Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 439-441.
17. James F. Dunnigan, How to Make War (New York, NY: William Morrow and Company Inc., 1993), p. 584-585. See also James Burton, "Desert Storm: A Different Look," unpublished briefing, June 1995.
18. Williamson Murray, "Military Culture Does Matter," Foreign Policy Research Institute Wire (downloaded from the Internet), January 1999.
19. Robert Leonhard, The Principles of War in the Information Age (Novato, CA: Presido Press, 1998), pp. vii & xiv.
20. Chuck Spinney, "Email Common Sense (II): TacAir Readiness, Suppressing Email from the Troops, and the Widening Wedge of Mistrust," Chuck Spinney Comments (downloaded from the Internet), 6 Feb 1999.

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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
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1952 (Plt #437)--'72

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GyG
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GyG--Concluding Remarks...

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April 6 2005, 4:43 PM 

I think the above Rand report, plus the additional reorts that I added, tells pretty much the whole story of up-or-out and its effects on our military since 1947. Of course, it (up-or-out) has some good points--evil always does. For me, it's the difference between Semper Fidelis, esprit de corps, gung-ho, loyalty, brotherhood, etc. (matter of fact, I consider the up-or-out thing to be anti- all of the above), AND corp (that's corporation, not to be confused w/Corps). Up-or-out is the way a corp (corporation) does things--cutthroat! It turns one individual against another in competition to prevail and eliminate the other. Maybe that's why so many can't even get the spelling of Corps straight anymore--Freudian slips.

In a corp (oration) it's hooray for me an fvck you, remember. I am reminded of, in 1952, as a PFC, an old M/Sgt correcting me on my mention of Semper Fi--he slapped his left hand over the chevrons on his right arm, bringing his right forearm and fist up in the classic Italian salute, saying, "I've got mine, buddy, how're YOU doing, fvck you!" Hence, my preference for using Semper Fidelis, over Semper Fi, to this day. Thanks, Top--much appreciated!

I printed out the Rand report--120 pages, not all of it that interesting, but historical--at least Rumsfeld shares my view of up-or-out. And the other two reports are as if they were written as a continuation of the happenings of 1947.

This has brought to light, for me, the whys/hows of some of the problems I have seen for a long time in the military due to this policy--our enemy within again. What a better military/Corps it would have been w/o the forced corporate attitude and lifestyle. The answers are always there, somewhere, if you look for them they are eventually found.

Semper Fidelis
Dick



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R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

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GyG
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Re Discussion @ GyG'sP;ace @Sgt Grit's...

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April 6 2005, 4:44 PM 

http://www.grunt.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=42165
http://www.grunt.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=42165



~~~~~~~~~~



R.W. "Dick" Gaines
GnySgt USMC (Ret.)
1952 (Plt #437)--'72

GyG's Globe and Anchor! --Sites & Forums
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GyG's Old Salt Marines Tavern ~Interactive~
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~SITES/FORUMS FOR THE THINKING MARINE!~

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Major Dad
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More on the Up or Out Policy

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May 18 2005, 12:52 PM 

I wrote an article for the MC Gazette over ten years ago when I was still on active duty about this subject. Up or out, or "Competitive Selection" has been around far longer than just 1947. It goes back to the end of the 19th century when the military was faced with aging Civil War Officers who were given de facto life-time appointments as reward for federal service during the War. So there was a lot of deadwood then that the military failed to remove. So they thought up the idea of up or out. It helped alleviate some problems and even some noted Marine leaders said that without it, we would have had some tougher times in WWII in the Pacific, as we would have been stuck with sub standard Officers.

But the policy had a dark side. At the end of the 1800s, A Navy Captain named Caspar Goodrich said that competitive selection would destroy an Officer's love of the Service and would instead transform one's career into "a mad scramble for promotion." Over the last half century his words have proven true.

The problem today (although I am no longer in the Marines) stems from every time a bunch of officers gather all they talk about is their careers. Who got what assignment? Who got what promotion? Who got selected for School? etc etc etc. They rarely ever talk tactics, combat, Marine welfare, its always about careers. And who can blame them, their only incentive is to manage their year over year life in the Corps as a quest to make it (a) to retirement eligibility rank and (b)to maximize their grade and time in service. If they don't then they face being passed over and forced out of the service. Many successful career Marines don't understand that from a private sector standpoint, being a 30-35 year old former servicemember means you are a 30 year old with no skills. Or civilians say to the 45 year old retired MSgt or Major, "Hey, you have your pension!" Try getting a job to make up the difference in lost pay at age 45 in today's marketplace, in order to feed your kids.

It stands to reason that a Gunny or Major with 15 years of service (or less) has "proven" their worth to the Service and should, like a federal judge or college professor, be given some sort of tenure in the organization. If the Marine Corps says a Gunny is a professional, or a Major is a professional, then why not let them continue on for the next 15 years. Why not treat them professionally? Does your family doctor have to go in front of a "board" every three years to keep his license? Does he get forced out at age 45? Does the Parish Priest get forced out of the priesthood ig he doesn't get promoted to Bishop?

The answer has always been the fear that tenured Marines will become fat, lazy, and unaccountable. So what does this then say about the judgement of those who promoted them in the first place? What does it say about the culture of the Corps if you assume everyone will act that way? What a system of seniority would create is a culture not of careerism, but of dynamism. Marines would not be terrified that their COs will give them lukewarm reports, but instead would have some freedom from zero defects leaders who use the fitness report as a slegehammer. Plus, leaders would have to become true leaders, who would have to inspire their men, rather than hold them hostage with the performance evaluation system.

I retired Colonel once asked me, "do you think the Corps would be worse off if it accidently flipped the promotion list and all the Captians scheduled to be passed over for Major actually got promoted, or if it accidently flipped the promotion list and promoted all the Brigadier Generals to Major General who were slated to be passed over?" The answer, of course is the Corps would be crippled by promoting the wrong Captains, because we assume that ALL the Brigadier Generals are top notch. So his message was that the up or out policy at some level reaches a point of diminishing returns and actually causes more harm than good.

Lastly on this subject, Colin Powell mentioned that after he had successfully finished his first tour as a Lt., his Battalion Commnder called him in and told him that unless he did something really wrong, he could retire as a LtCol and spend the next 20 years in uniform. Now that was an era when the service still provided growth and opportunity, it was still expanding (i.e. post Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, etc). Its not like that anymore. Money is tight and many a good Staff Sgt or Major wakes up having done everything the Corps asked of him and being told "you don't have any flaws in your record, no DUIs, no disciplinary activity, but you just didn't measure up, so pack your bags and make sure you pick up a copy of your GI and VA benefits on your way out."

Who knows maybe things will change...Can the Corp produce a Pete Ellis again?

 
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