Monday, September 7, 2015


I once used to work for a commanding officer who assured me that he only had 5 number one priorities. That's all. He merely expected me to accomplish everything else required as a simple matter of priorities. I was the chief engineer on a ship that found itself less than 20% manned due to monthly rotations of the crew to ships serving in the Persian Gulf. Their crews returned to the ships left behind in their home ports in Puget Sound but we got nobody back in return for the first 4 rotations which left the ship with fewer crew each month.

We come now to the Department of Defense and its impossible priorities. By Directive, the DoD orders all organizations within the Department of Defense to:
a. Promote equal opportunity as being critical to mission accomplishment, unitcohesiveness, and military readiness. Evaluates Service members only on individual merit, fitness, capability, and performance. 
b. Ensures that:(1) All Service members are afforded equal opportunity in an environment free from harassment and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.
These are worthy goals although I feel free to question whether or not it is "critical to mission accomplishment. Our personnel policies clearly show complete indifference to mission accomplishment. (Maternity, first time drug use, fail a fitness test and the person is transferred within a couple of days without regard to the mission.)  Little that occurs by such directives has a beneficial impact on mission readiness. Mostly, such broad sweeping policies gut accomplishment rates, destroy unit cohesion and reduce military readiness. The final sentence about evaluating members only on merit, fitness, capability and performance is completely undermined by the requirements outlined in the Strategic Plan that serves as the basis for the directive.

The Strategic Plan that outlines the Implementation of the DoD Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan: A Framework for Change Through Accountability reveals the underlying trap that makes the directive impossible to implement or achieve. It states that:
Department of Defense (DoD) leaders must be held accountable, and hold others accountable, for moving the organization toward its diversity vision.

Compliance is the first pillar of an enduring accountability framework: If there are no clear and enforced rules about who is responsible for upholding diversity and inclusion-related policies and procedures, or for tracking metrics and meeting interim goals, then it is unlikely that DoD will make significant progress toward its long-term goals for diversity and inclusion. Metrics that quantify demographic representation, describe organizational diversity climates, focus on processes, and locate organizational barriers are key components of this pillar. 
Communication is the second pillar: Strategic communication should explain the changes being made and convey both the importance of compliance to the organization and the consequences if compliance does not occur. 
It seems a worthy ambition on the face of it doesn't it? The leaders at the lower levels will be accountable for meeting the metrics imposed upon them by the senior leaders. If they fail to achieve those goals due to Service members individual merit, fitness, capability, and performance, that is the failure of the lower level leaders and those leaders failing to meet the numbers demanded by the senior leaders for merit based promotion must be body slammed to the deck and pummeled most severely about the body and head and then fired. Too bad.

Going back to the little problem I once experienced working for a leader who only had five number one priorities, consider the following as you ponder how a midlevel leader is going to meet metrics based solely on population data. The following is from The American Enterprise Institute and it shows the magnitude of the problem encountered when letting simple population metrics drive your diversity goals and objectives.

That is the actual snapshot underlying the failure of any organization to meet the demands of diversity bureaucrats. They always phrase the basis for their argument as one of simple metrics. To all of them it is a simple fact that minority representation should meet or exceed their percentage as a whole of the population. Midlevel leaders are fighting like hell to get and retain that 3.2% and they are competing against other organizations such as schools, banks, law offices, government and community organizers for that 3.2%. They are also fighting like hell to get and retain that 9.2%.

How many of that tiny group can the military attract? A surprising number if we fight like hell to offer them a free college education and follow on training in leadership and management. Retaining them after that is the problem because the aforementioned also very much want them and are willing to pay them a lot more and guarantee no further follow-on sea tours or unaccompanied years abroad at places like Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Qatar, Djibouti, Iraq, Turkey or Korea.

The directive, the strategic implementation guidance and the diversity mafia demand the impossible. Given the numbers above, the midlevel leaders are already screwed by a system that is designed to keep basic minimum standards for commissioning and retaining leaders; far less actually promoting them once they're in the system. Everyday after that can only lead to lower and lower numbers as attrition through merit occurs because there is always attrition when the lowest performing 15%  are inevitably removed at the end of each trial period.

What are the trial periods for officer accessions? Graduate high school. Graduate college in 4 years with a degree the military finds worthy. (I worked for and learned engineering from a LT who was a music major in college), pass the entry physical, pass entry level training as an officer, continue to pass the physicals annually, work sufficiently to pass the standards to get promoted on time every time. Don't get caught (see my On Navy Leadership page).

I understand and support the need for diversity. I don't see it as critical but that kind of thinking came out of the race riots of the late Vietnam War and may have its adherents to this day. I do think it is impossible, given the data, to create a professional organization "that looks like America" if merit, skill and professionalism are to remain the top 3 essentials for retention and promotion. A professional organization that discounts these will lead to disaster. You can see what happens when merit, skill and professionalism don't count anytime you care to look at America's enemies over the last 40 years. Sadly, you can also get a look at what our allied militaries look like now that they have totally discounted merit, skill and professionalism and look like the socialist workers ideal.

Surely the first test of life these days is getting passed Planned Parenthood. The next test is surely getting an education worthy of the name and life is just a matter or learning and applying knowledge as both increase over time. There isn't much room out there for illiterate people who are equally ignorant of math and science. It's not like we have vocational technical school tracks anymore.

No comments: