Oh, dear. That’s gonna leave a mark.

We know we encouraged you, dear reader, to write. Seriously, it’s a good idea.

But that doesn’t mean we want you to shoot yourself in the foot.

Young 1LT (PROMOTABLE!) Max Lujan actually wrote as a guest author at Foreign Policy. That’s a pretty big audience. Unfortunately, it seems he might have benefited from some time in the minor leagues of the blogging world.

Gary Owen (a psuedonym, of course) at Medium has some helpful pointers on how Lietuenant Lujan, and his peers, might better approach the subject.

A promotable first lieutenant in the US Army, presumably a functioning adult who doesn’t require a caretaker, wrote a guest column in Foreign Policy. Beyond the fact that lieutenants, even promotable ones, know little and should talk less, this one gets comical early and often. I don’t normally recommend this, but do read the comments. Lujan’s digging himself deeper with each engagement there, and it’s a little sad to see.

But like all good trainwrecks, there are lessons to be learned: things to sustain, and things to improve. In the interest of all things Army, then, here’s a few lessons learned, a hot wash of five things to learn, or at least understand, about Lujan’s masterpiece.

Let me just address one of GO’s points, innovative training.


Here’s the thing about “innovation” for junior leaders. Before you can think outside the box (successfully, anyway) you have to know what’s inside the box. The Army has been around for a couple hundred years. Your platoon sergeant has been around for 15-20 years.  There’s a good chance that they’ve seen your innovative approach before, and know why it wasn’t adopted.

It’s a lot easier to borrow someone’s proven good idea, than come up with a new idea and then set about proving it is actually good.

4 thoughts on “Oh, dear. That’s gonna leave a mark.”

  1. I actually agree with a couple of his points, though he comes across like a punk. Glad he was not one of mine. But then again, if he was one of mine, he wouldn’t have seen the problems he was describing.

    Concur with your comment about learning it right. You better be very proficient in the Army way, or my way, before you go trying it your way. That means, know the drill cold in the day, night, and NBC conditions. And with the loss of key leaders. And while in all forms of contact. After that, you can try your innovation.

    And who is this guy to categorically state that all officers lack integrity?

    1. Once upon a time our company was setting up an NDP in a tropical faraway land. Our new Lt., barechested and bareheaded, was doing whatever it is that new Lt.s do when no one was supervising them. A local patrol reported hearing possible movement near the perimeter. In a flash our young Achilles, still barechested and bareheaded, was yelling and sprinting in the direction of the alleged movement, M-16 w.one magazine in hand. Since the rest of us were standing around in stunned amazement, the only thing that kept Lt. Quixote from running off into the jungle alone and unafraid was the Platoon Sgt., who had to physically restrain him while calmly trying to explain why he might want to take a moment to formulate a plan.

      Gotta love ’em, but also gotta closely watch ’em.

  2. As my old platoon sergeant asked the PL a long time ago – 40 years to be exact – “What Army are you in LT? Cause I’m in the US Army and I’ve never heard anything like that before.” I’m really surprised Ricks let this go through with the LTs real name and easily identifiable unit. It’s going to leave a really big mark for this young man.

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