There is a lot of talk in the media, and amongst soldiers, about how and why the Army has come off the rails in so many ways.  Some of it is the same bitches, gripes, and complaints that have been around since the Romans sacked Gaul, but the use of statistics to measure job competency, online safety training, and e-mail (rather than human) based organizations are a relatively new phenomena.

A common complaint is that, during the Clinton administration, a new era of Political Correctness was ushered into the US Military.  I don’t deny that political correctness exists throughout the government, however this phrase has come to dominate the discussion as a catch-all, and because of that has lost much of its meaning.  Political correctness also gives the impression that the people making the changes are ideologically driven.  On this point I strongly disagree: the motivations are corporate career-driven.

I also thought that it was the era of PC that really began to change the Army during the 1990s until just recently.  I recently finished reading a superb Vietnam memoir called Mike Force by Lt. Col. L.H. “Bucky” Burress, a book that disabused me of the notion that the Army’s corporatization began in the 1990s.  In fact, it started right after the Vietnam War.

Most of us understand that the years following the Vietnam War were a challenging time for the Army, and for the military in general.  America had finished fighting a protracted and unpopular war.  The Army’s morale, budget, and the soldiers themselves were in shambles in so many ways.  Let us look at a few of the points that Lt. Col. Burress makes in relation to that other Post-War Army, the one we are about to have in 2014.

Education has become more important to an officer’s career than experience, management more critical than leadership. (242)

Today’s military is placing an added emphasis on education, particularly in Special Forces.  This is an initiative that Linda Robinson has supported in her “Future of SOF” white paper.  Q-Course graduates now graduate with an Associate Degree.  Officers are being encouraged to attain graduate degrees.  Some day, NCOs in Special Forces may also need to have a Master’s Degree to attain certain duty positions.  I’ve supported this myself, provided the education focuses on foreign cultures, military history, terrorist networks, and other subjects which the soldier can actually use.  We don’t need to waste a Green Beret’s time by sending him to PE class or English Lit.

But this brings about other issues.  When that soldier is receiving his education, he is removed from the force.  His peers are out actually doing the job.  Now, do we promote these Officers and NCO’s with advanced degrees over their team mates who have more actual job experience?  Education may be important, but is it as important as experience?

In Vietnam, with the ever-increasing number of staff positions versus field leadership positions which were created…the norm was for a captain to spend six months in command of a company-at best barely enough time to learn the job. (242)