Monday, August 27, 2007

Grunt complain about those who don't fight

Where is the evidence that an officer’s guaranteed promotion to Captain and Major does or will result in a weaker Army? Has the performance of the Army and Marine Corps in the war suffered? Does the fact that many non-combat arms types have not deployed to combat zones mean they are incapable of performing their duties competently and honorably? Does the same argument hold for Naval and Air Force officers who have largely sat out the war? Are they de facto incompetent for not having combat experience?

The Small Wars Journal posting reads like grousing masquerading as analysis. Grunts complain about anyone not going through what they are but I have known plenty of combat-experienced grunts who could not compare to some in the supporting establishment. Here is heresy: after 17 years as a grunt, and intelligence weenie and a training standards officer, the finest Marine I ever met was a female imagery analyst Corporal who worked for me. I have known many Marines who got out before the war started who would have been outstanding leaders in combat. Does the fact that they who never had the chance to prove it mean they were not as good as the ones who went? To say yes is to indict the training that Marines receive, the Commandant’s reading list and those Marine’s own conscientious efforts to improve their leadership and decision-making.

Combat can solidify lessons learned and can teach new lessons but it cannot magically make soldiers and Marines on the left side of the bell curve into latter day Audie Murphys. Combat doesn’t make the soldier, it shows him to be what he is.