Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone can become a leader. We have promotions systems that force people up or out but many times, especially when you see a unit with morale problems, individuals have been promoted beyond their capabilities causing strife and creating problems.
We could allow current serving individuals who wish to change to the specialist or warrant ranks to transfer out from potential leadership positions. Promotion in the technical arena will be based on just individual performance as a soldier and technical expert. Promotions for the NCOs and Officers who choose to remain on the leadership track, will be based on leadership and job performance.
I’ve been in Combat Arms, Combat Support, and Combat Service Support. There is no substitute for the learning by experience on how to be a soldier. Military personnel do more than just their basic skill. Many of the things they do are based on institutionalized learning on the job, it is not taught in a school. You cannot gain that by osmosis. You only get it by being there in that environment doing both your assigned job and all the other tasks that go along with it.
Pinning rank that gives a specific salary to attract talent will not get us a viable fighting force. It will ruin cohesion and ostracize the very people we say we want. If instead, they receive a technical appointment, where the salary is the only real important factor, then the disruptions will be limited. If they are good enough and want the challenge, they can apply themselves for assignment and promotion to the NCO or Officer ranks, after they have proven themselves.
An additional benefit, if someone has failed in their leadership roles, but still happens to know how to do the job, they can be laterally transferred and have to earn their way back. We keep the talent pool where the talent is needed instead of pushing people beyond their capabilities and ruining them or getting people killed in the process.
Leadership in war is not for amateurs. Yes, I said that.
This article first appeared in The Havok Journal 25 July 2018.