Adaptive Leaders Course
* I am amazed that we would give credence to the academic theory of "adaptive leadership" ("Adaptive Leaders Course: Old Dogs Teaching New Tricks," November) when we have forces in the field in active combat. That discussion is better suited to a peacetime think tank (such as the Army Capabilities Integration Center, whatever that means), where it was first broached as part of the transformation effort. Despite the cute dogs, this way lies madness.
To begin with, there is a basic mismatch between the abstract theory of a learning organization and the reality of the active Army. A learning organization is typically an organization that is low in specialization, formalization and centralization, which is the antithesis of the Army. Such an organic organization is typically small and manned by highly educated, technically skilled professionals who need little guidance to accomplish technical tasks. As an organization grows in size, it requires a more mechanistic organization, with greater standardization, formalization and centralization, lest chaos replace effectiveness. In addition, organizational strategy determines whether an organic or mechanistic approach is appropriate. Providing an efficient, effective service-defense of the nation-clearly dictates more standardization and centralization.
Were that mismatch not reason enough for skepticism over the application of the theory to today's at-war Army, any philosophy that allows "those who make a mistake in action [to] attempt to explain why they erred" has no place in combat. Tolerating failure ends with training, where lives are not involved.
Encouraging initiative and involvement in subordinates does not require anything but good old-fashioned leadership of the kind espoused by frequent contributors Generals Kroesen and Meloy. Comparing the overblown, jargon-laden explanation of an adaptive leaders program with the concise writing found in the "CompanyCommand" feature clearly supports that point.
COL. MICHAEL D. MAHLER, USA RET.
* For years I have opened my new issue of ARMY Magazine with the eagerness of a young boy in the 1950s opening Boys' Life or the Saturday Evening Post. My favorite place to turn is the book reviews section. Your reviewer, Col. Cole C. Kingseed, U.S. Army retired, is by far one of the most interesting and readable writers for ARMY. Occasionally, he even displays a sense of humor when necessary. You can tell he has researched his material well, compared his reviewed book with others of its type and developed a style that makes you just want to go out and read it. His turns of phrase are mixed with knowledge of his subject and a comfortable understanding of his readers' military history experience level.
Please encourage him to continue reviewing.
COL. DENNIS L. CRIPPS, USA RET.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
* Twenty years ago, I wrote a lengthy letter to ARMY Magazine and was delighted to see it published in the next issue. Through the mid-1990s, I submitted several more. One was even cited in the source notes of a book published in 1999. After that, ARMY's content no longer raised written responses from me. I became too immersed in supporting the mobilization and demobilization activities of Army Reserve units and soldiers for operations in Bosnia and Kosovo and in post-9/11 contingencies to make any further intellectual attempts at doing so. However, faced with the deadline for deciding whether or not to renew my membership in the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) for the first time since my transfer to the retired list, I feel I must try to explain myself.
For me, and perhaps others, this has not been a happy time in which to bring a long and active Army career to its conclusion. At this time last year, when I began my retirement processing in earnest, I determined that, for the sake of benefits due to my family, I would be as thorough as possible. …