Lt. Col. M. L. “Matt” Cavanaugh, Ph.D., just published an article entitled “How the Military Murders Meritocracy”. It was on the Modern War Institute at West Point’s website. Col. Cavanaugh is an active duty US Army strategist and a professor of practice with Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies.
Cavanaugh’s article dealt with military bureaucracy and the hindrance of a real meritocracy within it. He notes that soldier, sailors, marines, and airmen “self-silence” real and legitimate criticism because they fear a swift and painful reprisal by those above them. Doesn’t that sound like another large organization that I know and love?
It’s under cover of that darkness that the rot in the system manifests in subtle ways. In a healthy meritocratic system, there would be a relatively free flow of honest feedback that enables the best idea, or the best person, to succeed—in respectful ways that improve organizational effectiveness. But that’s not the norm, as can be seen on any given day in any American military unit.
It’s the higher-ranking individual that ignores or denies or evades real problems flagged by a junior officer or noncommissioned officer. It’s the indirect, I-agree-with-you-completely-but-we-can’t-do-that-because-it-just-might-upset-someone-higher-up-the-chain conversation. It’s a subordinate’s quietly paralytic fear of confrontation with a senior.
Nobody talks about it, but it knocks military candor down at every turn, making us weaker all the time. Sometimes the emperor you serve isn’t wearing socks, or much of anything else, and as things stand in the US military, saying something about that nudity is so severely stifled it’s a wonder it ever happens. And our adversaries may be far from perfect, but they can certainly find the vulnerable chinks exposed by an emperor’s nudity.
Big, brittle systems with such weaknesses always get exploited. It’s a “when,” not an “if.”
If you were to substitute “NRA” for “military” and “manager” or “director” for “officer in these paragraphs, it could have been written about the National Rifle Association.
Ollie North and Richard Childress (and for a brief period, Carolyn Meadows) sought to get to the bottom of the some of the internal issues facing the NRA. Ollie and Richard are now in the wilderness and North is being sued by the NRA to avoid paying his rightful legal bills.
There are a number of board of directors members who are being quiet so as to avoid the further wrath of Wayne LaPierre and his henchmen (and women) in the Old Guard. Five directors have come out publicly saying they were removed from some or all of their committee assignments. There are more out there who have lost committee assignments yet have decided to not go public with it. The worst part about that is that Wayne is supposed to answer to the directors and not the other way around.
Our enemies who despise the Second Amendment as well as our freedoms know that the NRA is vulnerable. I get emails on a weekly – if not daily – basis from the Brady Campaign and the cult of personality known as Giffords saying the NRA is on its heels and please send us money. Attorneys General Letitia James (D-NY) and Karl Racine (D-DC) would not have issued subpoenas to the NRA if they didn’t sense weakness. The NRA is a “big, brittle system” and is getting those weaknesses exploited.
One thing I hear frequently is why doesn’t the Executive Committee or the entire Board of Directors just meet and vote Wayne out. If you’ve read the Bylaws you know it isn’t that simple. First, while the Executive Committee does have the power to suspend the Executive VP, it requires a 3/4s vote. That works out to 18 votes needed (3 officers plus 20 members elected from the BOD). However, to have a vote would require an Executive Committee meeting which is called at the discretion of the President. Second, the entire Board of Directors will be meeting in September in Alaska. If they decide to remove Wayne, it would take 57 votes. It just isn’t going to happen. I’m afraid the only way Wayne will leave is either in a hearse or if he gets a significantly large buyout to induce him to leave voluntarily. That is reality. Unfortunately.