Loyalty in the Army and in Life

W. Edwards Deming Dept.

 

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=== Nathan says, re: the US military ===

The idea is put forward that the Army is not acting exclusively in its self-interest when training, paying, and feeding the Soldier. 

This may not be the appropriate forum, but could you expand on these premises? I'd genuinely like to explore this.

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=== Jeff says, re:  the US military ===

Sure.  First topic - Have you served?

Let's start with:  who are the people you have best known, who have had honorable careers in the U.S. armed forces?  Could you tell us a little bit about those people?

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=== Nathan says ===

I have not served. My father served in the Air Force in his younger years. He was mostly absent from my life but is, on the whole, a good man. My father-in-law (the man I admire most in life) is a career marine and is currently making his living as an instructor at a military academy. To keep this short, he's a great man. My wife's ex served in the army and I would consider his overall worth to be less than ideal. : )

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=== Jeff says, re:  the US military ===

There we go.  My experience has been similar.  The Servicemembers I have known have been a cross-section of society generally.  Most of them are good men (and women), and some of them are bozos.

The same is true at Boeing.  The same was true in my 11th-grade class.  The same is true at the church where I work.  The U.S. Army is made up of people.  It's not a cyber-organism.  When you say "the Army cares about its Soldiers" or "Boeing cares about its employees" you are saying that the Major cares about people, that the District Manager cares about people.  Which they do.

..........

One of my best friends, a guy named Ed, is a crusty old drill sergeant who, one time after his recruits had a lousy day at the range, walked them all into the shower and punched them one by one.  He got busted down in rank and put at a recruiting station.

But he was a good man, and he cared about the young men he trained, and he wanted to make the world a better place.  That guy IS the Army, and he wasn't acting exclusively in his self-interest when he trained recruits.  He was living his life according to his beliefs.

If Ed had been in a firefight in Jordan, and one of his men caught a bullet, you think Ed would have carried his man out on his back, at risk to his own life?  You'd better believe it.  Why?  What do you think motivates him - and by extension, what motivates the Army?

You want rreeeaaaaallll inspiration, start with stories of Army heroism.  The guy in the picture above is an example.  In Afghanistan 2009, Staff Sgt. Romesha's position was overrun by the enemy.  Men around him dead and dying, his position ... um ... "tactically indefensible," Staff Sgt. Romesha dug in like a pit bull and "led the fight to protect the bodies of fallen Soldiers, provide cover to those Soldiers seeking medical assistance, and reclaim the American outpost."

The President said, "Throughout history, the question has often been asked, why? Why do those in uniform take such extraordinary risks? And what compels them to such courage? You ask Clint and any of these Soldiers who are here today, and they'll tell you. Yes, they fight for their country, and they fight for our freedom. Yes, they fight to come home to their families. But most of all, they fight for each other, to keep each other safe and to have each other's backs."

There's no end of these stories of loyalty.  Yet sometimes it seems that every Soldier, and commander, would do the same.  Is the Army strictly self-interested and exploitative?  Well, are the people IN it that way?

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More than 50 years ago now, W. Edwards Deming changed the face of Corporate America by convincing the CEO's of a very simple thing.

Nobody wakes up in the morning, driving to work, wanting to do a lousy job that day.

Once the CEO's were able to see this, the CEO's were able to place a tiny drop of trust and faith in their people, and to start giving them some respect.  To start treating them like fellow human beings.  I've known a college professor or two who could have done with a smmaallllll dose of this respect for the average American.

Sergeants in the Army don't wake up thinking about how they can do a lousy job that day.  Neither does Eric Wedge.  These guys love their wives, love their sons, and want to make the world a better place.  

You put a young man's life in their hands?  They're not hoping to ruin the young man's life.

Sure, the Seattle Mariners want to win.  They've got 15 guys who would like to be the starting catcher this spring, and they MUST tell 14 of them No.  But the Mariners would like to treat those 14 men well.

The Army wants to win its wars.  But the commanders in the Army would also like to see the young men, under their command, better themselves.  And go on to good lives.

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Comments

Nathan H's picture

Nathan H

::Nods::
Good points and applicable throughout life. Any invented entity doesn't *really* exist. People exist and it is people who shape a given circumstance. In that light, no, no entity can be exclusively one thing or another.

But these invented things, a country, a military organization, a Sunday brunch steering committee all are invented for a *purpose*. A group of people get together to decide what is the best way to accomplish a specific purpose and create an organization to accomplish it. The members of the organization that drive that organizational thinking, their thoughts and beliefs, direct the purpose of that organization. The policies enacted by an organization (in this case feeding, clothing, and training a soldier) are self-serving even if they also might have an ancillary benefit to the soldier. The army isn't in the business of creating good citizens, it's in the business of completing specific objectives by any means. The treatment of the soldier are a means to that end exclusively.

I don't know. You make good points in this article.

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There are 300 million Americans milling around :- ) but when we add a Constitution, a flag, a territory, a set of laws, a tax system, we have a Nation.

There is the U.S. Senate, which forms when a gavel bangs, and there are U.S. Senators who go home and, apparently, work out with P90X.  That entity "U.S. Senate" exists.

That Senate, as an entity, "believes" in certain things, has a mission, correct?  It's not to fly to the moon or perform abortions or win the American League pennant.  It's to uphold the Constitution and provide expediencies toward life, liberty and happiness.  The Senate's "purpose" is identifiable.

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That the Army is NOT in the business of creating good men, I'll have to take the other side on that one.  Bat571, Lonnie, and others will take the other side also (as far as their branches go!).

It isn't Staff Sgt. Romesha alone who believes in Loyalty, Duty, and Honor.  Those are institutionalized Army Core Values.

To the extent the Army, as an institution, believes anything, it believes in Loyalty, Duty and Honor just like it believes in winning wars.  Ask the Servicemembers.

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You can say that it's in the Army's own interest to create men of good character, and you'd be right.  But it's in my own interest to make a good man out of my son.  It's in my own interest to send cash to poor people in the Philippines; I get self-esteem out of it, right?

... if I CHOOSE to sourly deny all my fellow human beings any credit for anything they do -- because you CAN always argue that I was self-motivated! -- then where will I end up?

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Nathan H's picture

Nathan H

If I were to speak to the goals of military duty toward the individual, I'd be speaking from ignorance. I can defer to those who have served in this case. To those who have served, are Loyalty, Duty, and Honor instilled to make you a better person or because it would make you a better soldier?

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