Leadership: July 16, 2001


In case you're wondering why so many young officers are leaving the military, here's one of the reasons why. SOUTHCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, had a 30 minute Saturday run. It wasn't mandatory, it was more of a team building thing. However, one of the female officers complained that other runners would often make disparaging remarks at her because she was one of the slowest in the group. The problem was tossed to a marine general, who uncharacteristically responded by simply canceling the run. This may have been because this is a joint command; all the officers are not marines. If they were, the marine general would have simply told everyone to knock off the snide remarks at the slower runners and that would be that. A more determined marine in this multi-service situation might have still issued the cease and desist order, but sent a marine to stay close to the offended woman runner, and take names when anyone disobeyed the order. However, the thin skinned female officer might have then complained of getting "disdainful glances." Whatever the case, the incident is typical of the poisoned atmosphere in the military, where officers fear bad publicity more than they strive for effective leadership. Then again, the marine general may have simply seen his order as a quick and effective way to eliminate a time consuming PR mess. Those who want to run on Saturday can do so in smaller, informal groups. Which might result in the easily offended female officer complaining about not being asked to join any of the groups. It's not easy being a general these days.


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