Leadership: Failing The Trial By Fire

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August 13, 2010: The Russian president dismissed several senior navy officers on August 4th, for not protecting a navy logistical base, 100 kilometers southeast of Moscow, from wildfires that are all over western Russia. Weeks of record breaking heat have led to the fires, and the officers at this base simply screwed up. The commander of the navy, and all senior commanders, were ordered to protect their bases from these fires, or else.

The fires that reached the navy base destroyed over fifteen hangars and warehouses. Much valuable equipment was lost, including at least four Al-31 jet engines (worth several million dollars each). Nuclear weapons stored at the base were reported to have been moved in time, but many other valuable items (like military electronics and precision equipment) were destroyed, along with more mundane stuff like uniforms, vehicles and aircraft weapons. The Russian president was particularly angry with the navy because the senior commanders in charge of the base were away (apparently on vacation) when the fires came closer, and the junior officers in charge were not up to dealing with the situation. It is traditional in Russia for military screw-ups to result in a lot of dismissed officers. In the not too distant past, such dismissals were accompanied by a bullet in the back of the heard. This became known as the "9mm dismissal notice" (even though Russian pistols in that period used a 7.62mm round.)

 

 


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