On the Corner
by Robert Docter –
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON OFFICERSHIP
Your recommendations on officership begin a process of such importance to the Army that one cannot overstate the case. This Army needs officers. Your courage brings hope to all who love what the Army was, what it is today and what it can become. The introduction you wrote for the report should be mandatory reading for all officers, soldiers, employees and members. It places into context the role and responsibilities of officers in the 21st century. Your conclusion, with its acknowledgments and affirmations, reveals the intensity and focus of your effort.
General Gowans did not seek my thoughts on the issues surrounding your recommendations, but I will provide him with them in this form.
Space will not allow comments on every recommendation, so I will select those that I perceive to be the most important.
#1 — Leadership models and structures.
It will be difficult to embrace both the military metaphor and movement away from authoritarian leadership. It is, however, not impossible and is in fact essential. One important way to accomplish this end would be to abandon all titles designed to imply a “command” structure. In this country, the letters C.O. identify a corps officer–not a commanding officer. Divisional commanders don’t command anything. Changing the titles will result in changes in identity of the office holder and lead to changes in the way that person relates to those with whom he/she works.
#9-14 — Marriage regulations for officers.
The “envoy” model of marriage regulations works well. The spouses of married envoys are not required to accept this responsibility. Married officers have not lost their calling simply because a spouse has determined that officership isn’t for them. The problem of not paying spouses a separate and equal allowance becomes tragically evident on the occasion of dissolution of the marriage or death of the husband. The wife has absolutely no record of employment anywhere. Moreover, it is ethically intolerable to presume that wives should work without compensation. Whatever dollar problems occur as a result of this change should be remedied with dollars.
#18-20 — Open-ended officer service
What makes us believe that a call to officership is always from youth to 65? We cannot insist this view is valid for all officers.
Officers who choose to leave active officership should be allowed to enter reserve status and maintain their prior rank. Presently, the implied or assumed stigmas against officers who resign push them from the Army. I endorse the proposition that some kind of termination grant be provided on the basis of years of service.
I also believe that cadets entering CFOT be asked to sign a loan statement based on the cost of their two year education. That loan would be “forgiven” after serving as an officer for a designated number of years maybe five years.
#21 Officer service — revision of age requirements
Chronological age is almost meaningless when assessing the potential of a human being. Aban-don this criterion as an entrance requirement to full status. Modify training requirements for experienced personnel, and lose completely the confusing rank of auxiliary captain.
#25 — Officer ranks
Every officer should have a permanent rank–either captain or major. Other ranks should be assigned according to the span of responsibility of the officer’s position. Women and men should not automatically be assigned the same rank simply because they are married. The rank should accompany the position. When an individual leaves a particular assignment, he/she should revert to their permanent rank.
I’m out of space, but this is a start –thanks to a great effort by the Commission.