SURVEY: Can Military Professionalism Be Enhanced by Assigning Unit Conduct to Commanders by Name

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Can Military Professionalism be Enhanced by Assigning Unit Conduct to Commanders by Name?

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TOPIC: Immediately following his re-assignment from Commander, US Forces Vietnam to Chief of Staff US Army in 1968, one of General William C. Westmoreland's first projects at the Pentagon was to determine the reason why military morale in Vietnam decreased instead of increased among troops of all service branches. And why criminal activity, fratricide, drug use, rape, suicide and other negative problems also increased. On 30 June 1970 General Westmoreland obtained answers to his questions in a 55-page report following a two-year investigation. The report is titled: "Study on Military Professionalism". In summary, the Report stated that the primary reason for declines in all of the measured areas of military professionalism was due to a failure on the part of unit commanders to take and be held responsible for the conduct and performance, negative or positive, of their commands and the personnel therein. Since the beginning of the anti-terror wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military has experienced what some view as "epidemic" levels -- worse than during Vietnam -- of certain negative problems that demand immediate fixes.

QUESTION 1/2: Do you think that overall and individual military professionalism, performance and conduct could be improved if units were identified after their immediate commanders, whether enlisted or officer, and those leaders who commanded units from squad level up to brigade level would feel compelled to ensure the highest degree of personal obligation by each and every member under their command since those member's unit and personal activities would reflect on the commander's name?

EXAMPLES: the 4th Squad under Sergeant Bruce Armstrong would be known as Sq. Armstrong or Armstrong Four... The 29th Battalion under Major Gerald Dixon would be known as Bn. Dixon or Dixon Twentynine.


QUESTION 2/2: Do you think unit commanders can avoid taking personal responsibility for the actions of their unit members when no association between the commander and his members can be attributed to the commander by name?


QUESTION 3/3: Do you think units can be spared any historic undesirable identification if negative actions on the part of one or more unit members was attributed to the lack of supervision by the commander at the time of the negative occurrence?


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Contact person for this Survey:
Roger Simpson, Public Information Office
The American War Library
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