I’ve been fortunate to receive some media attention following the publication of Bleeding Talent (which effectively sold out on Amazon.com & is being filled on back order, but seems available at bn.com here). Foreign Policy had asked me weeks ago for permission to publish an excerpt, which they edited along with some extra remarks from me into an article on their website (it has been the #1 most read piece on their site since last Friday, and in my opinion is as good as anything in the book itself — that’s the power of good editors). However, even before it was published, the New York Times ran a positive review in the weekend paper, which has opened many other doors. I never expected an academic book about personnel policy to get this much media attention, and I suspect the explanation is that it touches a nerve with the majority of enlistees and officers who serve.
I know there are a lot of folks who want to discuss the ideas in Bleeding Talent with me personally, which is great. I welcome comments here on this post and will be happy to interact. Two rules: first, no personal attacks or curse words. Second, the first rule shall be suspended for Navy football. Or you can write to me privately at tim AT hudson.org.
Here are some links:
- New York Times book review, January 5, 2013 (excerpt below)
- Forbes.com book review, January 8, 2013
Foreign Policy, “An Army of None,” January 10, 2013
- NPR “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook 11:00-11:40 AM, January 13
(To listen: click here)
- HUDSON Event : scheduled for January 31, 10 AM at Hudson HQ (you can register or watch live via web streaming via this link at hudson.org). The event will be hosted by my colleague Chris DeMuth, including a panel with GEN Jack Keane (USA, ret.), LGEN David Barno (USA, ret.), and COL Martha McSally (USAF, ret). May be covered by C-SPAN.
The Military Machine as a Management Wreck
By FRED ANDREWS
The New York Times
January 5, 2013
IT was once a wry joke that the military was designed by geniuses to be run by idiots. Not anymore, Tim Kane writes. As an all-volunteer force, the young men and women who serve these days are top drawer; it is the institution that is idiotic, he argues. And he has a drastic remedy in mind: a dose of classic economics.
… Mr. Kane knows whereof he speaks. An Air Force Academy graduate, he worked in military intelligence for five years before resigning, in the mid-1990s, after the Air Force declined to send him for graduate studies in economics. He is now chief economist at the Hudson Institute, a conservative research group. In the years between, he helped start a couple of small companies and picked up a taste for entrepreneurship.
… In 2005, Mr. Kane made a mark with empirical studies demonstrating that the “myth of the stupid soldier” is indeed a myth. His data showed that the enlisted ranks were brighter and better educated than their civilian counterparts.
… 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.