Saturday, March 26, 2005

An Echo, Not A Plan

or 230 Years of Tradition Finally Encumbered by Progress

Re(1): 'Its Good to Know Leadership Gets It', Timmer, Sgt Styker (2005/03/23)
Re(2): 'Delete from TbPerps Where ...', Wretchard, Belmont Club (2004/09/09)

A Sgt Stryker blog entry illustrates an intriguing and heartening demonstration of progress near the battlefield front lines of the United States Marine Corps. A Four Star Marine Corps General is using networks, data, communication, and automation to flatten his command structure. This is dangerous in an environment that requires structural command – but it is increasingly important in the net-centric GWOT. You simply can no longer afford the luxury of passing information and ideas through Byzantine command structures via intermediaries unfamiliar with a required expertise. You must be able to ask questions and get correct answers. However, actual leadership on the field of battle cannot be flattened to single points of failure and/or emasculated to the point of internal insurrection.

Back to topic: While it is now getting obvious that battlefield commanders are starting to make use of networks and databases, it should also be noted that the very expertise on which such progress is based is being phased out of the Marine Corps. Training in the data manipulation MOSs (Military Occupation Specialties) ceased at least three years ago. The remaining personnel were instructed to change fields or get out of the Corps. A huge majority of the NCOs and SNCOs retired or ended their active service at the end of contract. There was no place in the Corps for them. Simultaneously, the computer networking and hardware occupations were dramatically reduced in force as a result of implementing the NMCI contract. Currently, there are very few positions stateside in which to place enlisted personnel that permit one to learn and apply high end techniques and technology in a 24/7 environment. Thus, Fleet units will be devoid of technical leadership – and in fields such as this a leader must excel in both Marine leadership and technical skill.

Who cares: General Cartwright will care when his expertise returns home and nothing is sent his way. There is no ‘structure’ in the T/O to replace his personnel.

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