Marine officer Aaron MacLean at WaPo bemoans the military's lack of talent management (via @Doctrine_Man). Many readers may disagree with the below comparison, but I challenge them to compare and contrast the mediocre beneficiaries of the military welfare/jobs program who use the lock-step promotion metric to justify their existence and satiate imaginations of grandeur with truly exceptional performers. For those crying "experience," I have news for you: top performers with the right assignments can absorb very quickly what most don't learn in 20 years.
Imagine you are the CEO of a major American corporation. One of your executives, who is responsible for operations in, say, Kansas, is a phenom. ... If this wunderkind is so good in Kansas, it stands to reason that he could provide the same profitable results for your shareholders on a larger scale. Based on these considerations, you decide to make him manager of all Midwestern operations.
Now imagine that you are not a CEO, but a senior leader in the United States armed forces. Faced with a comparable situation—instead of a statewide manager, our hotshot is now an infantry company commander achieving remarkable success in Afghanistan—your options are far more limited. In fact, you are prohibited by both policy and regulation from exercising anything near the flexibility available to your private sector counterpart. This is the case despite the fact that your firm’s wages are uncompetitive compared to what top performers could earn elsewhere, and that you demand sacrifices of your leaders and especially of their families far in excess. Most importantly of all, your hands are tied despite the fact your charge is not just to produce the best profit for your shareholders, but to win a war for your country.