Attrition: Hanging on to the Troublemakers


June 26, 2007: The U.S. Army is reaching out to its maverick officers, and offering to let a lot of them stay in another three years. The U.S. Army has always had a hard time with mavericks. These are guys who get the job done, but often in unconventional ways. Characters like this don't just show up in novels and movies. They are real, and are stranger than most of their fictional counterparts. Many go off to SOCOM, where such oddball behavior is often considered a plus. But many others try to survive in less hip parts of the Green Machine. There, they piss off their superiors, even while they carry out seemingly impossible tasks. These guys, and some gals, do not get good marks in their personnel files. When they come up for promotion, this hurts them. That's because the American military has an "up or out" promotion policy. If you don't get promoted after a certain number of years, you are forced to retire. While this policy forces a lot of less capable people out, it also rids the military of those annoying, if effective, troublemakers.

During wartime, it's usually easy to keep the troublemakers in. But the United States has not had a declared war since World War II. No more of that "in for the duration" stuff. There are now a lot of very useful troublemakers that are tolerable, even useful, at their current rank, but would be less so if promoted. So the army is allowing a bunch of Lieutenant Colonels (a very common rank for mavericks to get stuck at) to stay in another three years, even though they have not been promoted the last two times they were eligible.Maybe the war will be over by then, and the army won't be under such pressure to hang on to these troublemakers. In the meantime, the mavericks are being tempted with generous offers from security contractors. The civilian outfits seem to have less trouble dealing with mavericks.


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