Army Colonel States Truth, Loses Job...

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Reasoning, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. Reasoning

    Reasoning Active Member

    Apr 15, 2010
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    Outside View: PowerPoints 'R' Us

    Army Colonel States Truth, Loses Job
    Posted by Karen Kwiatkowski on September 6, 2010 07:00 PM

    Col. Sellin, PhD, wrote an op-ed for UPI describing some of the idiocy of the American way of war. It looks like it took them around three days to fire him. The report indicates that Col Sellin was fired (by NATO actually, a US confection) for criticizing MS Powerpoint, and that he isn’t the first, referring to a recent Armed Forces Journal article on the slide-making application calling it “…the antithesis of thinking…[and] actively hostile to thoughtful decision-making.” If only we had a better software application for presenting our amazing lack of military or political objectives, or an improved graphic design for our hallucinogenic strategies, why surely, surely we would be winning Washington’s wars! Of course, Sellin was removed — as so many are that we never hear about — because he noticed that the Emperor is not only unclothed, but addled too.

    The Article...

    Outside View: PowerPoints 'R' Us
    Aug 24 10:19 AM US/Eastern

    KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Throughout my career I have been known to walk that fine line between good taste and unemployment. I see no reason to change that now.

    Consider the following therapeutic.

    I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters in Afghanistan for about two months. During that time, I have not done anything productive. Fortunately little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well.

    We are part of the operational arm of the International Security Assistance Force commanded by U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus. It is composed of military representatives from all the NATO countries, several of which I cannot pronounce.

    Officially, IJC was founded in late 2009 to coordinate operations among all the regional commands in Afghanistan. More likely it was founded to provide some general a three-star command. Starting with a small group of dedicated and intelligent officers, IJC has successfully grown into a stove-piped and bloated organization, top-heavy in rank. Around here you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a colonel.

    For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general's thought processes as abruptly as a computer system's blue screen of death.

    The ability to brief well is, therefore, a critical skill. It is important to note that skill in briefing resides in how you say it. It doesn't matter so much what you say or even if you are speaking Klingon.

    Random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer. Harried movement together with furrowed brows and appropriate expressions of concern a la Clint Eastwood will please the generals. Progress in the war is optional.

    Each day is guided by the "battle rhythm," which is a series of PowerPoint briefings and meetings with PowerPoint presentations. It doesn't matter how inane or useless the briefing or meeting might be. Once it is part of the battle rhythm, it has the persistence of carbon 14.

    And you can't skip these events because they take roll -- just like gym class.

    The start and culmination of each day is the commander's update assessment. Please ignore the fact that "update assessment" is redundant. Simply saying commander's update doesn't provide the possibility of creating a three-letter acronym. It also doesn't matter that the commander never attends the CUA.

    The CUA consists of a series of PowerPoint slides describing the events of the previous 12 hours. Briefers explain each slide by reading from a written statement in a tone not unlike that of a congressman caught in a tryst with an escort. The CUA slides only change when a new commander arrives or the war ends.

    The commander's immediate subordinates, usually one- and two-star generals, listen to the CUA in a semi-comatose state. Each briefer has approximately 1 or 2 minutes to impart either information or misinformation. Usually they don't do either. Fortunately, none of the information provided makes an indelible impact on any of the generals.

    One important task of the IJC is to share information to the ISAF commander, his staff and to all the regional commands. This information is delivered as PowerPoint slides in e-mail at the flow rate of a fire hose. Standard operating procedure is to send everything that you have. Volume is considered the equivalent of quality.

    Next month IJC will attempt a giant leap for mankind. In a first-of-its-kind effort, IJC will embed a new stovepipe into an already existing stovepipe. The rationale for this bold move resides in the fact that an officer, who is currently without one, needs a staff of 35 people to create a big splash before his promotion board.

    Like most military organizations, structure always trumps function.

    The ultimate consequences of this reorganization won't be determined until after that officer rotates out of theater.

    Nevertheless, the results will be presented by PowerPoint.


    (Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D., is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a veteran of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is currently serving his second deployment to Afghanistan. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army or U.S. government.)
  2. JerkInTheBox

    JerkInTheBox In the pipe, 5x5

    Aug 30, 2010
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    Northern VA
    If this man had kept to the deluded notion that he might actually keep his job after publishing this piece, then good riddance.

    There should be no surprise, no indignation, and no outrage for this man or the consequences he is facing. He is a military officer, a COLONEL for fuck's sake! And he thinks he can just go ahead and do something like this, suffer no consequences, and even have people feel sympathetic? It makes me sick. I guess it figures, though. Whatever experience he may have had in the war, he is (was) a reservist, and as such may have never really grown to understand exactly what responsibilities and sacrifices are involved in the daily life of a serviceman.

    Don't feel sorry for this assclown. Servicemen, and officers especially must understand that they must always remain politically neutral and fully supportive of commanders and national objectives and strategy while in the public eye.

    That article is a bush-league move. What is this, amateur hour?

    EDIT: BTW this is what we get for letting the Army run the show every time :tongue:

    -The Jerk
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010

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