Back to Old-school Army | Milpages – Military Blogs, Military News and Military Forum

Much of the focus is on bringing back standards and traditions that fell by the wayside during ten-plus years of warfare. In short, it’s time to bring back old-school Army discipline. The desire is to ensure that soldiers consistently and undeniably look and act like soldiers, to go along with the extensive warfighting competence that’s been developed over the past decade.

There has always been some degree of tension between the garrison environment and the field (or now, combat) environment in the Army. GEN Colin Powell in his autobiography criticized what he called “breaking starch,” referring to the tradition of starching utility uniforms to the point that it was necessary to shove a broomstick down each leg of the trousers to separate the fabric before they could be donned. His point was that superficial practices received more emphasis, in his opinion, than did training and combat effectiveness at that early period in his career.

via Back to Old-school Army | Milpages – Military Blogs, Military News and Military Forum.

Spit and polish do not a combat ready Army make. But the very best units I served in were, in fact, spit and polish units. They weren’t the best units because they looked good. They were the best because the insisted that ALL standards be maintained.  High standards and attention to detail in garrison lead to high standards and attention to detail in the field.

There is a finite amount of time and resources available to any unit for training, or even combat. Good leadership is critical to ensuring that those resources are used to best effect.  One simple (but not necessarily easy ) step is to make sure your NCOs have the authority commensurate with their responsibility to maintain standards.  That means troops will be ready and fit to train or fight.

The troop who won’t shave closely or ensure his uniform is serviceable and clean in garrison is the same one who is bound to forget some mission-critical piece of equipment, or not pay attention during the briefing.

Now, as most of the Army transitions back to a peacetime force, there will undoubtedly be units that focus on the form of standards, and not the substance. And I can tell you, those units will be miserable to serve in, and lack combat readiness.

But good units will strive to excel in garrison as well as having the right stuff in the field.

4 thoughts on “Back to Old-school Army | Milpages – Military Blogs, Military News and Military Forum”

  1. A garrison Army is not a good Army to serve in. When I went to flight school in spring of ’76 there was a fog over the post that was hard to explain, but you could see it in the units I encountered. Yeah, I had to worry about spit and polish (I was a Warrant Ossifer candidate after all), but there was something lacking in the spirit of the men running things.

    I think we will see much the same thing happen again. The lack of real victory, combined with political idiots in charge will combine to produce a garrison Army such as I saw in ’76.

  2. How soon until the combat boot has to be sanded down and poiliched and the ACU has to be starched?

    Combat Standards are critical and must be stringently enforced….but the chickencrap needs to not come back.

    Too many CSMs drinking coffee and measuring how the grass looks is not what we need…..something I experienced A LOT of in the 70s and 80s.

  3. The problem goes deeper. Back when Fort Bliss was a TRADOC post, we had SGMs and COLs who never left their air conditioned offices. One day they handed out a post policy about soil contaminted by oil & fuel. Cue most batallion CSMs and 1SGs thinking it ment NO MUD AT ALL on vehciles in the motor pool. Now picture soliders scraping mud off trucks and launchers, puting the mud in garbage bags then putting the full baggies into the dumpster. A dumpster on the fenceline.

    Too often I see “soldiers” and “NCOs” who are ^$#bags who can make themselves pretty. Ditto soldiers that get special treatment from the 1SG or the commander, so you can’t correct their soup sandwich uniform.

    Now we have a post CG & CSM who are tankers/infantry. We have to be off by 1700 (1500 on thurstays). IG is no longer the commander’s pet and things are getting done. But there is still the room for garrison games. A clean uniform doesn’t make a good soldier if they can’t do their job. Even a squared away troop can mess up if they think they’re special. Leaders need to keep a professional distance from their troops.

    We need to stop saying “work smarter not harder” and actually do it.

Comments are closed.