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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #1
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Default Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

This story has a very strange start, but it's not gaming related at all.

I was playing SW:TOR, as the Jedi Knight. One of the earliest missions on Tython (Jedi world) involves a Master assigning you trials in order to qualify you to lead Republic troops in battle, because not all Jedi are qualified. The trials were nothing more than destroying droids programmed with Imperial protocols and upgraded each time*.

I know it's a game and that it was by far the easiest trial the devs could devise, but it got me thinking. Why would somebody be qualified to lead soldiers on the grounds that they're a good fighter? Shouldn't/aren't there many more tests somebody has to pass before they're given command?

Just asking because I have no idea, but it seems fairly logical to me that there should be many tests of aptitude before somebody is allowed to command.

*Note: I know that fighting "adaptive" droids requires mental prowess too, it just seems very basic to me so I decided to leave it out.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

Haven't been involved with military of any sorts. And others may be inclined to disagree for my lack of eloquence and forethought but here goes:

Well, duh. Fighting well and leading well are two different things. You need both for a commander on the field.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

I remember, not that I've been in the military, leadership at cadets. I'd have to say that yes, there are a great number of qualities to do with leading people that aren't to do with fighting.

And leadership in other organisations, while it certain requires some familiarity with the tasks that the people involved are being asked to do, I think has a limited amount to do with being good at the jobs of the subordinates too. I'd say that there's a package of communication skills, a package of diligence skills, a package of ... being involved in showing people beneath you how to grow their own skills. And yes, to a certain extent a package of planning skills.

Though, that said, I think most organisations have royally screwed the pooch in grouping person management with strategic decision making and making person-management the sole route to get to the strategic decision making aspect of the company. Those are two highly specialised tasks which don't overlap all that well. Ideally there should be a role more akin to team coach and a role more akin to strategist - and teams that move lateral to the hierarchy should feed back on tactical/specific operational concerns to the strategists and the team coaches.

Generally I find, when you're in a situation where you're going 'Ah, if we split these out then these people will have to talk to each other because their roles will include some stuff that the others don't know.' then it's a good sign that the roles shouldn't be put together and you should focus on solving that communication problem - which will tend to be the easier problem than solving how to make someone super-great in all those areas at once.

I guess to bring this back to a military analogy - you'd have team coaches who would be instructors. Probably quite specialists instructors; firearms, urban combat, etc. You'd have tactical decision makers at various levels of organisation, sergeants, that sort of thing - that deal with immediate operational concerns. And then you'd have strategists....

And the interesting thing is that the military roughly mirrors that but has some odd discrepancies. Like if someone wants to be promoted they're probably looking at being pushed into more the logistics/strategy side of things.

If I'm right about how leadership works and the limitations of that sort of model, then I'd imagine the military loses a lot of useful knowledge from that decision. Say someone who's a specialist in an area seeking or being promoted out of that speciality and then all that knowledge going - to all intents and purposes in the organisation - into the wastebasket. So I'd have to suggest that, if I'm right, the military could benefit from providing a better incentive structure for promotion without leaving a speciality.

...

As a very rough metric, from the above, I'd imagine you can reasonably judge the effectiveness of a leader; at least an immediate leader of a group of people, who isn't making large scale strategic decisions; from how well they develop the people under them - what skills they gain, what promotions they gain, that sort of thing. But one of the neat things about thinking about leadership in the more bound sense I've laid out above is that when you start having these smaller roles that go 'well, what sort of leadership?' it becomes a lot easier to judge any specific leader along the concerns that they're there to manage. From that viewpoint leadership as a whole isn't one thing you can go 'good leader, bad leader...'


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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

Should you get someone who never went through the education system to be a teacher?

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

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Originally Posted by Schofield View Post
Should you get someone who never went through the education system to be a teacher?

If education system=fighting, then no. But you do have to take special classes to become a teacher. They are even taken in Greece, and Greece isn't exactly known for its good status.

If you mean it in another context however, then "no" is my only answer.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

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Should you get someone who never went through the education system to be a teacher?
Why not? While not what I think anyone was suggesting as a general rule - yes, if they can provide reasonable performance against the metrics you're interested in, yes.

More generally there's a problem with the national curriculum in that it reduces diversity. It's often been said that we've trained a generation of managers - and while I'd disagree with how well we might have done the training, or exactly what role we're training people for, there's some truth in that grim jest: When everyone knows the same stuff, the added value of a person is measured purely in terms of how effectively they can action things.

That approach is, one would note, capped. There are many industries where the effective value of another person once you reach a certain group-size is negative, because the communication costs outweigh the immediate gains in productivity from adding them to the system.

When people have different information coming to the table, and approach problems in different ways, then the potential gains are greater. There are more ideas to select over rather than having to follow the same pathways - which may very well be dead-ends, or vastly inefficient in light of the possible alternatives that might otherwise be explored. Communication costs may be no lower in that situation, of course, but there's at least a point to that communication that pays long-term dividends rather than simply being the continual cost of doing business.

The better technology makes you at actioning things, the less adding that extra person makes sense and the more important the diversity of a population becomes. The national curriculum is, I suspect, one of the worst mistakes we've ever made.

So, yes - let people who haven't been through the education system be teachers, provided they perform. Get some new ideas in. Try to attract people who went through the education system a long time ago and have some decent life experience to pass on - widen the base of experience.

At the moment we seem to have many people who've just been through the education system.

"Here's what will serve you in later life in the world outside of school! Or at least that's what we were told when we were at school, not like we've ever been there."

I'm almost inclined to say, though I suspect it would swing too far in the other direction, that they shouldn't even let you be a teacher unless you've worked for at least ten years in something non-related.
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Last edited by Nemmerle; 3 Weeks Ago at 02:35 PM.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

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Originally Posted by Nemmerle View Post
Why not?
For the same reason as when I injure myself I'm not going to entrust the services of Google.

Teaching is really more than just getting facts across, a lot, and I mean a lot of students need some sort of personal connection to keep them learning. If you've never been through the education system, chances are you're going to have a harder time connecting with the students who find it more difficult.

There's a reason why many students who struggle in school go on to be teachers.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

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Originally Posted by Nemmerle View Post
If I'm right about how leadership works and the limitations of that sort of model, then I'd imagine the military loses a lot of useful knowledge from that decision. Say someone who's a specialist in an area seeking or being promoted out of that speciality and then all that knowledge going - to all intents and purposes in the organisation - into the wastebasket. So I'd have to suggest that, if I'm right, the military could benefit from providing a better incentive structure for promotion without leaving a speciality.
They're called Warrant Officers ^_^

Roaming East served as an enlisted Airman and is now (AFAIK) a Warrant Officer in the army artillery corps.

Every US military branch except for the navy has them. They're basically the kind of people who are leadership material but don't get slotted into administrative jobs far away from their original workshop. They're essentially the experts in their field who stick around to teach new guys/girls and make sure everything runs smoothly. It's also one of the few high-ranking positions that pays fairly well and doesn't require a college degree; however, I think some fields require that you have some college courses, but those are often covered by your branch's technical school or correspondence courses, so you could theoretically never see a college and still get a nice set of qualifications.

These are the official requirements straight from the U.S. army's website:

Quote:
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR TECHNICAL SPECIALTIES

Complete MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) training
Rank is usually SPC/E-4 or higher This usually requires two and a half years to obtain.
Must be appointed prior to age 46
Most specialties require completion of appropriate Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES) Leadership Courses. Not sure how that works, but I believe it's required in order to pick up Sergeant.
Documented proficiency in specialty area Actually have to show them you're competent.
Meet prerequisite standards for specialty area And obviously have to be minimally qualified in your job field.
It's probably the only rank I'd ever be happy with if ever I were to try joining again. I'm not sure I'd want to be an officer. I'd rather spend time as an enlisted man doing a job and then letting the higher-ups let me know if/when they think I'm ready to take a commission.

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Originally Posted by Schofield View Post
For the same reason as when I injure myself I'm not going to entrust the services of Google.
I dunno, WebMD was correct about my last illness

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schofield View Post
Teaching is really more than just getting facts across, a lot, and I mean a lot of students need some sort of personal connection to keep them learning. If you've never been through the education system, chances are you're going to have a harder time connecting with the students who find it more difficult.
Or more likely, having been shoveled the same shit for the same amount of years, you'd only be continuing the status quo. But that's kind of the problem isn't it? And acknowledging the problem while saying you need to go through the problem without ever actually learning why it doesn't work isn't going to help.

I'm guessing what you mean is you need to go through the same shit so that you'll have some idea of how to sympathize with students and be that sort of guardian angel who says, "Don't worry, I've been here before and it's not that bad, as long as you do the following..."

IMO, if it's gotten to the point where it's so bad you have to suggest a thousand alternatives to getting a proper education, then maybe...just maybe...the system isn't working and we should stop kidding ourselves and do something about it at the low-level programming of said system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Schofield View Post
There's a reason why many students who struggle in school go on to be teachers.
What is that reason? I guess professors maybe, but I'd work as a garbageman before I ever became a K-12 teacher.

Are you saying, "Those who can't do, teach?"

There is some truth to that, but I also believe that being able to teach is a sign of good understanding of a subject. If someone hasn't met the standard of "good enough at the subject to explain it in simple terms to someone who'd never heard of it," then they're better off being passed over for someone better. Like Nem said, the experience is where you actually learn a lot of the important skills necessary to keep the attention and flow of a classroom.

Just as an example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation will not even let you apply for Special Agent without first having 3-years of experience in whatever it was you were doing before you applied.


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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

The best teacher is one who's worked in the field, and still does if possible. All of my computer networking profs in college worked at least part time consulting gigs at the same time, and they were very good both at what they did and how they taught it.

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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #10
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Default Re: Inquiry for all those of you currently/previously involved with various militaries

I dug up the post where RE specifically mentioned Warrant Officers as well as some other things that piss him off. Enjoy ^_^

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roaming East View Post
Its hard for me to even adequately answer this question. For every thing that i love about the military there is something i would like to see dragged into the street and shot.
so lets list a few shall we.

The antiquated leadership command structure HAS TO GO. Listen, 100 years ago, a huge pool of educated and talented people to fill your ranks didnt exist. You did draft call ups of thousands of random joes with no military training and poor general education. It made sense to have a 'ruling class' in the military of officers. Individuals who knew languages, the arts, could read and could lead.

Those times are past. It is beyond ridiculous at this point, to give summary authority to some brat simply because the butter bar spent 4 years in a university learning bull and shiat. It kills me. Our officer corps needs to be redesigned to be one that is either raised from the ranks, or appointed via academy. I have NEVER seen a mustang not know how to do his job, and the jobs of everyone under his command. Similarly, all the academy grads ive worked for and under have impressed me with their ability.

On the other hand, i can count on one hand the ROTC pukes ive dealt with that were for all intents and purposes, useless on an operational level until ive had them with me for 6 months. ROTC officer selection needs to be either scrapped entirely or conducted on a merit based, limited slot opportunity. For every Colin Powell ROTC produces, you get 10 officers whose degree's in art history are not particularly conducive to the business of killing people and breaking things.

On another note, i think the civilian world can learn a thing about military leadership rotation. In the military, you have a limited amount of time to shine. If you fvck up too many times, you dont get promoted, miss too many promotion cycles (2 or 3) and you get put out on your ass. They means new blood is constantly moving into your system and your overall abilities dont stagnate with old air. If any of you civilian stiffs have had a single boss for over 5 years you know what im talking about. Had major businesses in this country followed a similar 'put up or get out' methodology, the big 3 automakers wouldnt have needed bailing out...

While we are on leadership. For the love of God, make more warrant officer slots. The military waste a huge pool of talent because the assholes who are good at their jobs, get promoted, and as you go up the ladder, your hands get further away from what you were good at. Officers move onto command positions, enlisted move onto NCOIC duties that take them away from the mentoring and oversight positions that are crucial. If you make more Warrant slots, you get jerks like me who have done a single job for a decade or more, who are skilled at it, and can thus create a cadre of individuals who can get work done. Im currently shoe horned into a permanent FO/LO position cause i did it back in my AF days and currently have more time in that position than anyone above me in my CoC. But i love the job even though i gotta train a new set of guys ever 6 months because half of them will get promoted out of it.

The last point i want to make is Mickey Mouse. Knock it off. Most of this MM stuff comes from the aforementioned ROTC puke party. They dont know how to do their warfighter duty worth a shiat because it takes intuition, training, and talent, but what they CAN do is fall back on reams of book regulations and codes because thats all they were taught in ROTC and OCS. If im out at the bleeding edge of a FSB or FOP. dont bother me with garrison duty BS like proper wear of the Army PT uniform while not on duty. Dont hassle me about the shade of Olive drab my privately purchased webbing is or whether or not my privately purchased boots are in accordance with dress.
when im NOT in a position of getting shot at or mortared or rocketed or IED'd THAT is the time to worry about such things. Not out in the field. If it doesnt negatively effect operations or disciple, bugger off. These are the same ass clowns who came down on the SF snake eaters and told them to shave off their beards....while in the mountains laisoning with the local militias.


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