ARLINGTON, VA – Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno announced today the results of an Army-wide study on company and field-grade leadership, which showed Majors are far more dangerous to soldiers than Second Lieutenants.
“While this was something we suspected for a long time,” Odierno said, “this study confirms it and provides the scientific background so we can appropriately react.”
US Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Commander General Robert Cone briefed the results of the study. “Two years ago TRADOC awarded a significant contract to Booz, Allen, Hamilton to review tactical after action reports (AAR) from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Cone said. “They conducted thousands of soldier surveys and reviewed thousands of Officer Efficiency Reports looking for trends that they could tease out of the data and extrapolate their findings.”
After several pie-chart-rich slides, Bond summarized, “While we all know 2LTs have no experience and practically no training to mitigate that, no one expects anything more than marginal performance from them and no one gives them any real responsibility. That rests with their platoon sergeants.”
“Majors, on the other hand,” Bond explained, “with around 10 years’ experience in the Army are expected to actually know something and can be given positions of pretty significant authority. With that authority, bosses expect these majors to perform. Unlike when they were lieutenants, these majors seriously think they can succeed without a senior NCO carrying the weight for them.”
Odierno admitted that this was a problem he has had his eye on for a while. “Remember I was there once. When I was a 2LT, I had a Platoon Sergeant looking after me. When I made major I was the battalion S3, Ops Officer, and suddenly the Battalion Commander had expectations. Fortunately they were low expectations. At least I didn’t lose two vehicles like the major in supply. Of course Dennis recovered and he’s the Commanding General at Army Materiel Command now. Our boss just kept reminding us we were really lucky he graded on a curve.”
“Now that we have a documented problem we can fix it,” Odierno went on, “but how do we fix it in a resource constrained environment?”
Odierno’s answer: promote Captains two years earlier in their careers. While he admits this solution is not perfect, he also says he does not have a lot of cards to play.
“To have these guys ready to fill the role of a field grade officer as soon as they get promoted to major is going to take an overhaul of the way we train and foster the careers of company grade officers. That’s just not going to happen with the resources we have available. So, we’ll promote them earlier and get their screw ups out of the way sooner.”
Odierno summed up his plan. “Since we can’t raise performance, we’re just going to have to lower expectations.”