I thought I would share some common questions/comments about the piece, as well as my responses.
Most of the response has been very positive, and some of it has been intensely personal. I've received some very disturbing emails from Soldiers and family members describing how bad leadership has impacted their lives. To be honest, I was not prepared for that response and I'm very troubled by what I've heard.
The most common criticism of the piece is that I did not address the role of civilian authorities more explicitly. While I don't think a serving officer should publicly criticize civil authorities, there is a more substantive question here. Who does society hold responsible for the application of non-military instruments of power to achieve the aims of policy? That's a much larger question than the one I took on regarding the responsibilities of general officers. However, it's a fair question that I would like to take a stab at eventually. Any thoughts on this topic are very much appreciated.
Many people have asked me what impact this piece will have on my career. I don't know the answer to that question, and I don't mean to be dismissive or overly stoic, but I don't think it's a very important issue. There are Soldiers and Marines and family members who have risked and sacrificed much more than promotion to full colonel over the last six years.
What I hope will happen: increased Congressional oversight of the systems that produce our senior leaders. Also, that junior leaders believe that our system of governance is capable of self-correction on even the most important issues.
What I fear might happen: inaction by political and senior military authorities, coupled with growing resentment and disillusionment by our junior leaders. I'm very worried about the communication gap between stars and bars, and I hope that my article does not make matters worse. As I said, I've been surprised by the emotional intensity of some of the responses I've received.
An interesting observation. The Vietnam generation did not fully assimilate their experiences until after the war was over. In units and service schools, the captains, majors and lieutenant colonels discussed their experiences, drew conclusions and argued for reform. In the information age, this dialogue happens in real time. Junior leaders are able to compare what senior leaders say with what's happening on the ground in a matter of minutes. I don't think our organizational models and leadership theories have caught up with the impacts of the information age. That's probably a statement of the obvious to most, but came as a revelation to a Luddite like me.
I welcome your questions and comments and am very honored to be part of SWJ.