Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

This is coolbert: It seems that there are three types of officers in the U.S. military.

One type could be called the "fighter". These are the men at the lower levels of command [exist also at the higher echelons too, but predominate at the lower levels]. Persons who command the combat arms platoons, companies, and battalions that actually do the fighting. These officers are most concerned with the tactics used to fight the battle they are entrusted to win. Their greatest interest is in having units that can fight and win using that proper combination of tactics, weaponry, communications, intelligence, organization, etc. When most civilians think of a military officer, they are usually thinking of a "fighter".

A second type of officer can be referred to as the "manager". Perhaps better called the logistician [the term logistician was first used by the U.S. Navy during World War Two]. But manager is the word usually bandied about in military circles, so I use that term here.

The manager is usually categorized as a staff officer who is concerned with the beans and bullets aspect of the military. And this is of paramount importance to the U.S. military in particular. Of all militaries in the world, the U.S. military is the one that is most concerned with fighting a war thousands of miles from it's home base. Overseas. Sometimes on the other side of the world. To fight a war, say in Iraq, you first have to move the troops to the site of the combat, and then sustain that force of troops and the scene of the fighting for sometimes years. As was done in Vietnam.

The managers job is to provide the troops with all the necessary impedimenta required by a modern military. This impedimenta is usually called "supplies", but is much more complicated than just food and ammunition. Supplies for the modern military includes all resources which are expended and must be replaced during the course of normal military actions. Runs the gamut from petroleum to sheets of paper.

A constant flow of supplies must be maintained to keep a modern military going. A constant flow that is the task of the manager. Procurement, shipping, transshipping, further shipping, and allocation is all the job of the manager, at various levels of command. In this sense the manager very closely resembles the business supervisor, the logistics operation being run on the same principles as a business would be run. Many managers DO have business management degrees for this reason.

The third type of officer to be found in the U.S. military can best be described as the "perfumed prince" [this the term being applied by David Hackworth].

A senior officer who operates in a sphere that is quite often not military. Operates at the political level. Acts as an advisor to the civilian elected officials that command the military at the highest level under our democratic system. The "perfumed prince" understands the geo-political ramifications of proposed military actions and advises what course of action is proper and warranted. What are the positives and negatives. The "perfumed prince" when acting in a capacity overseas as a senior commander has to be able to understand the foreign culture and history and be adept at interpersonal relationships with the leaders of foreign nations. May have to command or act in concert with the militaries of foreign nations as well.

Such officers often are prepared decades in advance for such assignments. Persons such as Wesley Clark. West Point grad, Rhodes Scholar, White House intern, staff and war college grad, etc. All this prepares the "perfumed prince" for assignment at the highest levels of command. Levels of command where abilities and skills not usually associated with a military man are needed to act effectively.

In the modern U.S. military, all three types of officers are a MUST. We must have a military that has fighters, managers, and "perfumed princes". If we are weak in any of the three officer "types", our entire military will be weak.



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