Cheating Nukes

CheatingThe fact that half the officers with the Nuclear Keys at Malmstrom AFB appear to be connected in some way to the emerging exam cheating scandal gives me the heebie-jeebies. SECAF James is admirably stepping up to get things turned around. This article in AF Times says SECDEF Hagel and SECAF James are convening the inevitable commission to admire the problem. Among other things they are going to consider are cultural issues, differences between testing and training, accountability, professional training, core values, incentives, WOW!
But I don’t think these folks decided to cheat or permit those who do to be counted among their rank since they joined the Air Force. Can a dishonest person be trained to be honest? I recall a Seinfield episode in which George was confronted by his boss about an incident of making woopie with the maid in the office. “Was that wrong?” asked George, “because if I had known, I would not have done it.” I shudder to think that one of the nuclear officers may have had a similar reaction. My contention is that these officers just didn’t decide to cheat on the nuclear exam on a whim. They were just going about their day-to-day activities without thinking. In his book “The Screwtape Letters”, C.S. Lewis describes the mentoring of a young devil under training, Wormwood, by his Uncle Screwtape, a member of the Senior Devil Service (SDS). The young trainee is having trouble getting his “patient” (victim) to turn to the dark side. He asks Uncle Screwtape what big event can he orchestrate. Screwtape replies that he’s not interested in big events. “The road to Hell is a gradual one.”
I’m sure the accused at Malmstrom are all decent people, but somewhere, sometime long ago they started a “gradual descent” that hopefully will be arrested and corrected by the efforts of Air Force leadership. But let’s not kid ourselves. Morals, ethics, and accountability need to be nurtured from our first gasp out of the womb, to our last gasp on the battlefield, not in a seminar for adults who hold the keys to the nuclear kingdom.

Leadership: What Works!

There has been a lot about leadership in the news lately (Check out yesterday’s comments).  I read this morning in the Army Times about one retired general’s efforts to improve his post-military image by hiring an image consultant!  I would rather focus on what’s going right and hope, that in doing that, we could actually fix what is going wrong.  One thing is for sure:  You should spend your time fixing those things you already know are wrong before trying to figure out what else is wrong.  Federal agencies and companies spend lots of time and money on conducting employee surveys and subsequently “admiring” the problem, but I believe those that actually take serious actions on what they find are few.  I ran across an Best Places to Work 2014 about the Federal agencies that consistently score high in the best places to work in government and why.  Take some time to scan it and you will find something that  you can do differently to enhance your leadership skills.

Promoting Abusive Leaders

TruthBig blurb in the Post this morning, but I’m not sure it’s “news.”  Some of our most legendary leaders could probably be characterized as “abusive”, but generally (pardon the pun!) they were abusive to knuckleheads and fiercely loyal to those who did their jobs.  We can all name a few folks who seemed to have forgotten that they were promoted to senior ranks not by the sheer force of their personality, but by the deeds and actions of those who worked for them.  When that happens the system almost always gets it right and fixes the problem.  Usually the abusive leaders wind up stewing in their own juices.  Maybe the real headline is not that there are more abusive leaders these days, but more knuckleheads!

On a serious note, there’s no room in our Armed Forces for abusive leaders who belittle their subordinates (for any reason), take advantage of their position for personal gratification or profit, or forget to acknowledge the sacrifice  and hard work of others that enabled their promotion.  I hope the take-away is not that the ranks of our Armed Forces are filled with abusive leaders, but that the system identifies and removes the limited number who exist.  It’s a long article, so here’s the link.  Let me know what you think!

Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders