Responses to West Point grads
Guest blogger Tim Kane addresses arguments from readers of the West Point survey.
I've received some good feedback on the Atlantic essay in the last 24 hours, both pro and con. First off, let me say that is very humbling and daunting to be representing the 250 West Point graduates who were willing to anonymously complete the survey. And I should leaven my comments by noting that each of the 250 disagrees with the consensus in some fashion. Still, the comments they made are a bit hard to digest, eye-watering honestly, because these are young men and women who love their country. There is some deep frustration and passion that the bureaucracy is hurting THEIR Army.Skip to next paragraph
Writer, Kauffman’s Growthology.org
Tim works in research and analysis at the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepeneurship. (Growthology)
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I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand all the nuts and bolts of how the Army works, which made me tread very carefully in constructing the survey and the Atlantic article. That said, the evidence I found is compelling. While I want to make the case for reform humbly, I also recognize that the DSQs (Defenders of the Status Quo) have powerful counter-arguments that are ancient, not to mention that time is on their side. This tide will crest and go away.
We can anticipate three types or counter-reform arguments:
- Resentment Bias. The reformers are sour grapes (resentful they didn't get promoted).
- Methodology Bias. The data and methodology of the survey study is flawed.
- Elitism. The reformers are elites (i.e. West Point officers, not ROTC, OTS, enlistees, etc).
A fourth argument would be that the reformers are ignorant -- that is, not Army officers. Well, that doesn't apply here, especially given the survey sample. If I may take a moment to establish my bona fides, my dad retired as a Chief Master Sergeant (E-9) from the Air National Guard. My first assignment as a HUMINT officer was at the Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul, Korea.
The DSQs need to square themselves with the fact that the respondents to my survey were recruited in a blind, unbiased fashion. More importantly, the respondent pool is 1/3 active duty. Repeat, the respondent pool is 1/3 active duty. Throughout the report, I repeatedly show that the active duty officers saw the flaws and wanted the reforms in nearly identical proportions to the veteran group.