Leadership: April 21, 2000

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Young cadets at West Point admit bitterness that after four years in a grim-looking fortress they can look forward to five years in the Army making 1/3 of the salaries paid to other college graduates. It is unclear what motivates young people such as these cadets. Some want the chance to lead; few civilian college graduates will be placed in charge of 30 employees within weeks of graduation. Some want more adventure and fun, or want to avoid wearing a suit in a stuffy office. Many have the attitude that their first five years will be a test not just of their own ability, but of the Army itself. If it limits or suffocates them when they try to grow and lead, they will not sign up for a second term. They expect the Army to hold up its end of the deal. Officers leaving the service rarely mention low pay, but frequently mention as a reason for leaving the hectic pace of operations, excessive micromanagement by leaders afraid to have a disaster in their unit, a lack of say in where they are sent, and disgust with Microsoft PowerPoint and its domination of Army training. Some military people have noted that southerners tend to support the military and those who choose it as a career, while people on the West Coast tend to regard military personnel as brainwashed victims. Army drill sergeants note that the problems with training and retaining today's recruits stem from so many of them being from broken homes. Such people have received little guidance and discipline and do not react well to military training.--Stephen V Cole

 


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