Current Status: The military suffers from a leadership culture that does not align properly with combat effectiveness. For over a decade the military effectively has a zero tolerance culture, where officers become risk-averse to avoid the possibility of a black mark on their record—which may hurt or stop promotions. Mandated social engineering projects force priorities upon officers that are often counterproductive to combat preparation. Budgetary pay freezes and a high demand for experienced leaders in the civilian sector create retention problems—demonstrated by the best and brightest officers often leaving the military for more worthwhile endeavors. These factors combine to create a negative force that regularly promotes the least capable, most timid, most politically astute officers to senior command positions. These are not effective military leaders.
Correction toward the Ideal: The military promotion process must be overhauled to reward officers for traits that correlate to actual military combat effectiveness—not the ability to avoid risk and be politically correct. Military pay and benefits for legitimately promoted leaders should be competitive with the civilian market. The military leadership at all levels must recognize that mistakes are learning experiences and avoid penalizing promising officers in front of promotion boards. Officer performance criteria should focus on things which directly contribute to combat effectiveness and metrics that demonstrate true leadership and competence.
Supporting Information: See the Learn More section to the right for more information on this topic—especially our white paper on A Crisis of Leadership.