Home » Opinion » Editorials
Code of conduct: One for generals, that is
But I don't think we have a good idea of what discipline looks like in a general. I would begin with this list of characteristics or rules of the road for flag officers:
-- Thinks of himself as a steward of his profession, rather than as a member of a mutual protection guild.
-- Rewards success and relieves incompetents in his command after giving them a fair chance.
-- Enforces standards for his peers as well as his subordinates, and is transparent in these efforts, explaining what he is doing and why, and not just on a "need to know" basis.
-- Understands that it is his duty to speak truth to power (in a respectful manner, and mainly on matters of importance, rather than as a constant burr under the saddle) but then, when the decision is made, executes lawful orders without griping to subordinates or leaking to the media.
-- Seeks to surround himself with officers and other advisers who can think critically, but understands that it is his job first to think, and that the task cannot be farmed out to "the 50-pound brains."
-- Strives to ensure that he is not only trained as a general, but educated as one. (Training prepares one for the known, education for the unknown, which is the bulk of what a senior officer must deal with in the chaos of war.)
-- Doesn't do his subordinates' jobs. Turns off the "Predator" feed after a few minutes. Focuses on his level, and pushes decisionmaking down as far as possible. Only does the jobs that only he can do.
-- Doesn't complain about lack of "bandwidth" because he realizes it is part of the job of a general to manage his time and inbox in order to give himself time to think. Understands that if George Marshall could run World War II and still leave the office by 5, he can run Camp Swampy without burning out subordinates - or second-guessing their every move... Doesn't abuse his power. Watches himself on that account.
-- Welcomes loyal dissent, and cultivates an atmosphere of trust that rewards subordinates for expressing doubts and concerns.
-- In retirement, doesn't drag his service into politics, but is free to be involved in politics if he doesn't use his former rank or service affiliation.
-- In retirement, doesn't go off to work in the defense industry and sell stuff to his former subordinates.
-- In retirement, if commenting as an expert on TV, learns to say "I don't know," if he doesn't.
-- When in doubt, he asks himself "WWGMD?" ("What would George Marshall do?")
(Thomas Ricks, author of the best-selling "The Generals, American Military Commanders from World War II to Today," wrote this copyrighted piece for Foreign Policy magazine. - Editors).
READER COMMENTS: 20
- Anti-SUV flop: Americans love utility - 8
- What Bartlett left: A Founding Father mostly forgotten - 1
- Hang Havenstein! He once quoted the President - 4
- Obama's priority: Raising money - 35
- Hey, bear: That ain't Fozzie - 0
- Obama's debt: His real legacy is coming - 14
- Paying for Medicaid: How will NH do it? - 42
- Into the woods: With knowledge and tools - 3
- Derry's brand: It is not 'Space Town USA' - 2
READER COMMENTS: 9
- 37 hikers rescued from Mt. Major in Alton during weekend - 2
- Rochester eyes another Legion baseball crown - 0
- Only a freshman, Kennedy excelled on the track - 0
- Looking Back With Aurore Eaton: The Manchester Opera House makes its stunning debut - 0
- Another View -- John Dumais: Mandatory GMO labeling is all cost, no benefit - 5
- What’s the rush? Executive Council follows Pelosi plan - 2
- On Baseball: Fisher Cats prove point - 0
- Evan Turner, Celtics see upside in new deal - 0
- Thunder take two from Fisher Cats - 0
Market Basket workers urged to 'shut it down'; deposed CEO urges fired workers be given jobs back
Shaheen's record: On insurance, it is dismal
Anti-SUV flop: Americans love utility
Police say boy, 6, found in getaway car
U.S. appeals courts issue conflicting rulings on Obamacare exchange subsidies such as NH's