CRISIS IN COMMAND: Mismanagement in the Army by Richard A. & Paul L. Savage Gabriel

CRISIS IN COMMAND: Mismanagement in the Army

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The US military defeat in Vietnam can be explained by a variety of blinkered approaches; there is the ""lack of resolve to win"" interpretation, for example, or the ""quagmire"" view. Gabriel and Savage, former officers who now teach political science (St. Anselm's College), take a novel approach. In their view, Vietnam merely highlighted a process of change that had been under way within the military for years, and that rendered it unable to perform competently. The organizational methods, as well as the ethic, of the business corporation have displaced the military's traditional structure and morality. Employing some comparative material, statistical analysis, and survey research, they argue that military officers are encouraged to treat their commands as instruments for career advancement, while the ""electronic battlefield"" has transformed leadership into management. They cite the widespread incidents of ""fragging""--the assassination, wounding, or threatening of officers by their men--as the clearest example of the effect of the new style, claiming that troops resent the relative safety of their officers and their own status as tools. The authors counterpose their own archaic and idealized vision of military ethics centered on valor, and disregard the extent to which career advancement has produced similar results in the past. While their organizational approach provides a good descriptive account of current military practices, it also prevents them from seeing the problem in more general socio-political terms. In that case, the solution would not lie, as Savage and Gabriel believe, in a revitalized military ethic, but in social transformation.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1978
ISBN: 0809001403
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux