Quality improvement

A quick (true) tale first; sometime in the mid-90's I read an official statement in one of the Bundeswehr's publications that the infantry shall be improved. At that time, this didn't primarily mean to add batteries, cables and electronics to the kit. The author instead stated the new ambition of having infantry squads lead by a non-commissioned officer of Feldwebel rank. Feldwebel were at that time quite reliable NCOs who didn't only complete the basic NCO course, but also completed a more ambitious Feldwebel course. The author wanted Feldwebel to lead infantry squads because this would be an improvement of leadership.

Well, the military bureaucracy did as bureaucracies usually do: It obeyed and met the requirement. The only problem; they had magic wand and couldn't magically create (competent) Feldwebel by the hundreds.
So they made means meet ends and watered down what being a Feldwebel meant. Today's average Feldwebel doesn't command as much respect as the average 1980's Feldwebel did, that's for sure.
I also heard (or read) about a similar phenomenon in the U.S. school system. Sometime in the 60's the government declared a goal of everyone graduating high school. Decades later, this goal was met - but a high school diploma didn't mean that much any more.

These are but examples of a general problem and terrible misunderstanding.
NEVER EVER push for more quality by increasing the quantity of quality *wink*Special Forces */wink*. Such a move only waters down the quality you know and value so much.

Instead, always push for higher quality of what you have in quantity. In the Feldwebel example, one could have improved the training of the Unteroffizier and Stabsunteroffizier ranks who led squads if no Feldwebel was doing so. Greater ambition for what you have in great quantity cannot hurt so much. In worst case you would send your junior NCOs to a poorly resourced six-week course. The quality of the established Feldwebel group could hardly suffer by this (unless you cannibalise training resources).

This was a typical 'now you can remember this and over the next years look if you can spot more examples, maybe prevent some' blog post. Maybe it's good for something.


1 comment:

  1. IMHO very good topic!

    One could add that in wartime the losses and even more the incorporation of larger numbers of reservists lead to a situation, in which a NCO or officer has to command two levels above his paygrade, now your approach makes really sense and the dumbing down hurts even more. :-)