*Bleeding Talent*, the Tim Kane critique of the U.S. military

Here is a review from The New York Times:

In “Bleeding Talent” (Palgrave Macmillan, $30), Mr. Kane gives us a veteran’s proud, though acutely critical, perspective on the American military. He offers an illuminating view of the other “1 percent” — not the privileged upper crust, but the sliver of Americans who have accepted the burden of waging two of the longest wars in our history.

The military is perhaps as selfless an institution as our society has produced. But in its current form, Mr. Kane says, it stifles the aspirations of the best who seek to serve it and pushes them out. “In terms of attracting and training innovative leaders, the U.S. military is unparalleled,” he writes. “In terms of managing talent, the U.S. military is doing everything wrong.”

The core problem, he argues, is that while the military may be “all volunteer” on the first day, it is thoroughly coercive every day thereafter…

ACCORDING to Mr. Kane, “the root of all evil in this ecosystem” is the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act, enacted by Congress in 1980 to standardize military personnel policies. But the system has defied efforts by successive defense secretaries to bring about change.

That act binds the military into a system that honors seniority over individual merit. It judges officers, hundreds at a time, in an up-or-out promotion process that relies on evaluations that have been almost laughably eroded by grade inflation. A zero-defect mentality punishes errors severely. The system discourages specialization — you can’t expect to stay a fighter jock or a cybersecurity expert — and pushes the career-minded up a tried-and-true ladder that, not surprisingly, produces lookalikes.

Tim is a frequent (unofficial) member of the GMU lunch crew, and you can buy his book here.  Here is Tim’s Wikipedia page.


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