Some thoughts on how to improve the selection of brigade commanders

I often encounter senior officers and NCOs who express disappointment in Army brigade commanders who perform poorly while in command and in positions shortly after brigade command. The disappointing behaviors that they describe usually include:

1) Inability to build and employ an executive, multi-function team or build informal alliances beyond their own organization.

2) Misapplication of tactical and direct-leadership solutions to executive, interagency, and strategic problems.

3) Poor interpersonal skills (perhaps merely a variation of #2).

4) Inability to adapt to strategic ambiguity and non-linear organizations.

via Some thoughts on how to improve the selection of brigade commanders.

I like linking Best Defense because I know it drives Esli crazy. But I also try to only link guest columnists.

The author has some interesting ideas on how to improve the selection process.

As noted, today the selection board basically gets a look at the officers file and photo, and judges from that.

As a contrast, when a young Specialist is trying to get promoted to Sergeant, he has to appear, physically, before a board of his battalion’s First Sergeants and Command Sergeant Major.

One issue I’ve had for some time with the Army promotion system is that it is focused on fairness. What’s wrong with that? Well, that means that it is NOT focused on finding the best leaders.  I’m not sure how a large bureaucracy can do that, and certainly the Army should be as fair as possible. I’m open to suggestion.

6 thoughts on “Some thoughts on how to improve the selection of brigade commanders”

  1. Am I missing something here? The four disappointing behaviors don’t seem to have much to do with leadership in combat. They all suggest “the main problem is that he is a bad bureaucrat and poor at office politics”.

    ” I’m not sure how a large bureaucracy can do that”

    Plenty of armies have done that throughout history. Whether or not those methods can be applied to the US Army in 2014 is another matter.

    “certainly the Army should be as fair as possible”

    I would argue the Army should be as ruthlessly meritocratic as possible, and fairness be damned. It is not fair to send our men into combat with leaders selected in any other way.

  2. I’m gonna have to agree with Tarl, here.
    It should *NOT* be about “fair”, but “effective”.
    Merit is everything.
    Fairness is a way to get your troops killed.
    Enough said…

  3. I disagree with most of this for a variety of reasons that would be too time consuming to deal with on my kindle keyboard right now. Maybe I will post later.

  4. ‘I pick my team’
    First rule of me leading a team.

    I simply refuse to be held accountable for team members I did not put on the team.

    If you don’t trust me enough not to implement a ‘no Jews or Blacks’ policy, wtf are you doing trusting me to make the calls on tens of millions of pounds?

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