What are the Advantages of Hiring Someone who has Been in the US Military?

be different - business team

I am launching a new series based on my answer on Quora to “What are the advantages of hiring someone who has been in the US military?” which has also been published on

Over the next few weeks I will line out many of the advantages that military employment will add to your culture. I am going to speak as a Marine and a former hiring manager. I was once a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and have worked in the retail, real estate, the tech industry start-up and education sectors. I’ve hired more than enough people to know that it’s one of the hardest decisions you have to regularly make. I also know that almost all the decisions you make as a hiring manager happen as the sum result of the generalizations and stereotypes you have attached to the bullet points on their résumé. Don’t feel bad. It’s important to not follow that instinct that all individuals fundamentally good and fundamentally the same. That’s how you get robbed and your employees drive your company into the ground.

The facts are, you rely on those generalizations to give you the best guess of who is going to add to your company’s culture and who isn’t going to burn the place to the ground. So what happens when you see military experience show up in your inbox? The problem with many hiring managers is that they have no idea what it means when they see a veteran’s resume. What qualities should you expect? What flaws? What do they add? How are they different from someone else? I wrote this piece to help communicate what to expect. Hopefully after reading the posts you will be able to make an informed decision. You’ll be able to know better if this applicant is not only a good worker for you, but also someone who can grow and drive your company in the future, someone who can grow with you, and maybe even someone who can help you take your operations to the next level.


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“Be wary around your enemy once, and your friend a thousand times.”

Support takes on many forms. If one were to ask if Turkey is providing assistance to the Islamic State in the form of weapons, training, and financing, I’ve seen no evidence to validate that. There is, however, much more to the point that seems to imply that yes, Turkey is supporting ISIL through inaction and as a roadblock, preventing anti-ISIL Kurdish forces in taking part in the fighting of North central Syria. Even more dangerous, there may be a few very good reasons why the Turks would want to see ISIL forces succeed, in as far as it reaches their own borders.

Ian Traynor with The Guardian recently posted an article on the growing dissent brewing in Turkey as government officials remain aloof towards towards the siege “a stones throw from their borders”.

To understand the conflict you’re going to need to understand the strategic importance of Kobane, a significant location to Kurds throughout the region. Kobane is an important point on the map because it represents the northernmost town in central Syria, literally on the border between Syria and Turkey.

Recently, the city has represented a vital choke point for fleeing refugees to Turkey. In late September, a key bridge from the Euphrates was taken which allowed ISIL forces to encircle the region. Within days, at least 50 villages were taken which sent tens of thousands of fleeing villagers on a mass exodus to Turkey. The brunt of these flowed through Kobane.

Second, as the map shows, it is a valuable Kurdish town in that it is the centermost Syrian Kurdish city. It would be, and has been an effective staging point for People’s Protection Units (Kurdish militia) forces to attack from to assault ISIL near a central region. Without it, central Syria is effectively lost to the People’s Protection Units and ISIL forces would have free reign. This also isolates the far Western cities of Efrin and Cindires for the Kurdish militias in the East far more than they were so before. Along with this, losing Kobane means that many of the logistical networks holding up Kurdish fighters in the major Syrian city of Aleppo would be lost. If Kobane falls, Kurds will have no logistical supply location between East and West Syria except when they travel through Turkey. They must go deep through Turkish lands to be able to supply and help protect their other cities, which now are surrounded by ISIL forces.

Lastly, shoring up resistance in Kobane will free up ISIL fighters as their central region will be much more solidified with one less town to fight against. You can see this illustrated clearly in the map below. The purple region in the north central part of Syria just went from, “ISIL is attacking this” to “This is no longer a problem for ISIL”. This means they have a relatively secured path from Aleppo to Mosul all the way to Fallujah in the central part of Iraq. This Sunni Triangle will now be a massive and much more secured region for the insurgency forces, if Kobane is lost. By some reports, there have been as many as 9,000 jihadist forces involved of the siege. Once these forces are no longer involved in the fighting of Kobane, they will be free to augment forces and carry out operations elsewhere.

Now the city is embattled on the edge of Syrian Turkish border. The battle has been declining for Kurdish and FSA against ISIL militants Outnumbered, by most estimates 6:1 the Kurdish defense forces are in a losing battle for the future of Kobane, even with coalition air raids. The tide only seems to be turning a major corner after weeks of desperate and heroic fighting by the defenders and countless American and coalition air strikes. This being the case, many are asking, why the Turks are literally sitting sidelined for this fight, only a mile outside the battlezone of Kobane, where they have the potential to prevent a possible massacre as well as deliver a major defeat against the ISIL insurgency.

Traynor’s Guardian article displays some disturbing truths about the precarious stance of the Turkish government.

What’s important to know is that, while Kurdish forces are gaining great notoriety for their ability to maintain Northern Iraq and Syria, they have not been well liked throughout the region and primarily in Turkey.

If you look at the region many would consider Kurdistan, the region populated mostly by those of Kurdish ancestry, you’ll see that a massive block of Turkey is actually populated predominantly by Kurds. Kurds also comprise between 10% and 25% of the population and have been subjected to official repression for decades. Over the past three decades, Kurdish nationals in Turkey have been fighting for independence and equality with the rest of their fellow Turkish citizens. One group above all others, has been leading the fight toward independence in the form of an actual insurrection against the Turkish government.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, commonly referred to by its Kurdish acronym, PKK, is a Kurdish militant organization which from 1984 to 2013 fought an armed struggle against the Turkish state for cultural and political rights and self-determination for the Kurds in Turkey. The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent, Marxist–Leninist state in the region known as Kurdistan. The name ‘PKK’ is usually used interchangeably for the name of its armed wing, the People’s Defence Force (HPG), which was formerly called the Kurdistan National Liberty Army (ARGK). The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization internationally by several states and organizations, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the United States, and the European Union.

For that reason, Turkish views of many Kurdish fighters are less than admirable. This is personified most by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when he equated the Kurds of Kobani and their defenders with the islamic jihadist insurgents.

“It is wrong to view them differently, we need to deal with them jointly.”

Yet more concerning is that the ISIL Crisis is uncovering what appears to be signs that the fanatical jihadists aren’t being viewed with such vehement scorn as they are viewed from the West.

“A significant part of the Turkish public believes the Sunnis of Syria and the Middle East are fellow victims of injustice and that Isis represents a legitimate Sunni grievance,” the International Crisis Group said this week in a report from Ankara.

Expert on Islam, Sam Harris, recently explained why this may happen by describing some very troubling patterns that modern liberal tolerances haven’t yet come to deal with about the religion. He stated that when we try to truly study and understand muslims, we see the fundamentalist leanings are much larger a percentage of the total population than at first we wanted to believe. His view is that, while most muslims by a wide margin are not fanatical terrorists, the number of those sympathetic to the jihadist’s call may be higher than many believed. It’s important to remember that not all muslims are like those we experience in the West, those who are well educated and well socialized to American and Western values. The values that much of conservative Islam hold are not congruent with life in much of the rest of the world. For that reason, many of us have come to the belief that muslims across the world are like the muslims we know in our cities and that we know as friends. When you change locations however, you see a culture which is much different, and where values we hold are viewed as intolerable. He describes running throughout much of the Middle East a deep inner circle of Islam, one which “wakes up every day wanting to kill apostates and hoping to die if they don’t” as the jihadists. Outside of this group are the islamists. They as convinced of the idea of martyrdom, but aren’t willing to to kill themselves to see others brought down. They are willing to fight and want to see an end to democracy and the instillment of an Islamic theocracy. They’re just not going to blow up a bus to do it. Harris fears that between these two groups, you have a section that represents as much as 20% of the Islamic population. Outside of this population you will see the conservative branch of Islam. These groups completely don’t agree with the acts and atrocities of groups like ISIL, but in much larger numbers than we have led ourselves to believe, still have extremely intolerant views “towards women’s rights, toward homosexuals that are deeply troubling… and they keep women and homosexuals immiserated.”

An International Crisis Group added that private polling within Erdoğan’s religion-based Sunni Muslim AK party revealed sympathy for Isis. With his constituency seeing the Islamic State as anything other than a murderous jihadist horde, “This makes it hard for a Turkish government to directly attack Isis.” reported the International Crisis Group.

The New York Times also recently reported that as many as 1,000 Turks have joined ISIS, according to Turkish news media reports and government officials there. Recruits cite the group’s ideological appeal to disaffected youths as well as the money it pays fighters from its flush coffers. Turkish fighters recruited by ISIS say they identify more with the extreme form of Islamic governance practiced by ISIS than with the rule of the Turkish governing party, which has its roots in a more moderate form of Islam.

In response to numerous factors, Turkey has gone to great lengths to secure their Southern border. This, only after, thousands of Turkish recruits made their way through, along with perhaps thousands more international travelers. Regardless, now military forces are no longer allowing passage into Syria. This has the effect, however, of essentially blockading Kobane from the rest of their Kurdish allies.

Looking back at the map of the Middle East which focuses on levels of high Kurdish population, you’ll see that Kobane indeed rest on a very narrow “peninsula” of Kurdish population stretching from their main population center in Turkey to Syria. Also present in Syria is a very strong region of Syrian Kurds protected by the People’s Protection Units, and further to the East, the Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraqi Kurds who have a long history of support against fanatical islamists. These two groups, along with the PPK in Turkey all wish to take part in aiding the stranded fighters in Kobane. To do this, however, they must either go through the extremely occupied region of central Syria or through Turkey. The Turkish blockade of northern Syria, however, is in effect, a second siege preventing potentially thousands of willing supporters for the Kobane defense effort.

While I can see the Turkish stance as being, perhaps, logical from their point of view, the facts of the matter are that it has outraged many thousands of Kurds living in Turkey presently. Over the past few weeks, thousands have gone into the streets across to protest Kurdish inaction and what they view as preferential treatment for the fanatical islamist regime. In actions across Turkey, at least 30 people were killed and hundreds more injured as protests turned to riots.

The last week has meant much for the future of the Middle East. A small town on the Syrian border has made present yet another ethnic divide ripping the region apart. Instability has spread to showcase a future for Turkey where militant collapse in their Eastern half, the same type of collapse which saw ISIL go from a backwater terrorist faction, to the modern State of Terror. In a report by the AP, the situation has just gone from isolated protesting in the streets to an all out conflict, reminiscent of beginnings of civil wars from Libya, and now most notably, Syria.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — In a sign of further turbulence for the U.S. led-coalition against the Islamic State group, Turkish warplanes have struck suspected Kurdish rebel positions in southeastern Turkey, media reports said Tuesday.

It was the first major airstrikes against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, since peace talks began two years ago to end a 30-year insurgency in Turkey. It added to tensions between the key U.S. coalition partner and PKK, a militant group listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. that is also among the fiercest opponents of the Islamic State group.

The return to violence between the two parties suggests that Turkey’s focus may not be on the Islamic State group, even as it negotiates its role with the U.S. and NATO allies fighting the extremists. Turkey has provoked frustration among allies, by saying it won’t join the fight against the Islamic State militants unless the U.S.-led coalition also targets Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The article mentions Turkey negotiating its role with the U.S. and NATO over how it will be engaged in the war against ISIL. The Turkish government agreed on Monday to let US and coalition forces use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Apparently, there was even a promise by Ankara to train several thousand Syrian moderate rebels in the fight, as well. Many hailed this as good news, seeing another major regional player now joining the battle against ISIL. I have to wonder.

Given the apathy and resentment shown by Turkish officials to the plight of foreign Kurdish fighters, even to the point of allowing jihadi fundamentalists to occupy a key region a stone’s throw away from their own border, along with their complete inability to take direct action against the terrorist organizations, along with signs that a major segment of their population may be sympathetic to the goals of the islamists, I have to wonder what motivations are behind any actions to allow American or any other Western intervention in the conflict.

To pose my own pessimistic view, one which I hope others will consider given the information I have shared, I think it is because Turkey may want an American security blanket against it’s own insurgency which looms around the corner. The rise of Kurdish prestige and victories over the last year has galvanized their spirit and the renewed call for Kurdish nationalism. As I have said before in this post, the nation with the largest single stake in the future of the Kurds is Turkey. Kurdish autonomy has spread throughout the region, giving rise to the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and another like it in North Eastern Syria. This zeal is going to invite more Kurds to carry on the torch of autonomy and independence which has no one to hurt than Turkey. In the political environment that is the Middle East, one of ever growing chaos, reorganization and upheaval, I have to wonder if Turks true focus is ISIL at all. I truly wonder if really, the recent allowance to allow coalition forces to use Turkish military bases and train Syrian defense forces was really only an effort to ensure their assistance in the event of a future Kurdish uprising. Turkey has long been a friend of the United States amidst much less moderate neighbors. Now, however, it seems that conservative Islamic factions within Turkey have grown tired of their Western friendly policies and are now acting in accord with ISIL forces, even if indirectly. This won’t sit well with the Kurds of the region who, until only yesterday, enjoyed a brief two year lull in a 30 year feud with the nation. Now, it seems, they are hedging on the possibility of Kurdish uprising with the presence of US and NATO allies to keep Turkish lands within the sovereign control of Ankara.

The Enemy of My Enemy

There is a Arabic saying that translates “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has unanimously gained no friends across the world. No nations and no allies have come out to show support for the fanatical regime, even among fellow Islamic terrorist organizations. In the case of Turkey, however, there hasn’t really been much done to show that they actually do view them as enemies. Instead, they seem to be looking at others as potential risks within their own borders. They’ve seen a problem which has existed for decades, namely the Kurdish population within Turkey and seen its sudden rise to popularity in the world’s stage, as well as its rise to power in military and political efficacy. This can only mean bad things for the future of Turkey. For all these reasons, one has to wonder if the Turks really see ISIL as their enemy or merely as the enemy of their longstanding enemy, the Kurds. If we view it in that light, we can see how it shouldn’t surprise anyone how much help Turkey has provided, if by nothing else than timely inaction, to the Sunni jihadists. Perhaps it is simpler than this. Perhaps, in light of President Erdoğan’s statement that, “It is wrong to view them differently, we need to deal with them jointly,” exactly that is being done; allow the two enemies of Turkey to fight each other to their mutual oblivion.

To be clear, Turkey has never aided ISIL through troop support, nor is there any evidence that they have provided weapons, financing or aid of any kind, but their policy of preventing the success of Kurdish forces, primarily in the battle for Kobane, as well as their inability to prevent the same sort of assistance being given to Islamic State fighter, they have given more indirect assistance than one could have imagined possible in keeping these terrorist’s alive. For those of us watching this conflict in the future, I am reminded of yet another Arabic saying, oddly fitting this time:

“Be wary around your enemy once, and your friend a thousand times.”


Sources:


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7 Things Businesses Should Learn from the Military about Training

Enduring Freedom/Operation Marjah/Operation Moshtarak

 

I’ve worked in the tech startup scene, retail sales, and real estate, mostly in operational roles, either as an owner or in a manager’s role. I was also a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps with two tours in Iraq. I feel qualified to answer the question of what could businesses learn most from the military. More specifically, what shortfalls are prevalent in the business world, have a solution which the military has overcome?

To me, the answer to that question comes down to training. What I have noticed most outside of the Marines was that the rest of the world doesn’t actually put any investment into training. Sure, they might get convinced to allow their associates to go to a conference a few times a year, mostly to get drunk on the company dime and three days away from their tool of a boss, but they have no clue what the real value of training is. I’m not even sure if most businesses would know how.

Consider this, a new employee is going to be hired. You know that every report you read talks about the importance of the search for new talent, because it is so impossibly expensive. Add to this is that the search could take four or five months to find a right fit for some jobs. That’s opportunity costs of an employee not being productive. I’ve seen companies spend tens of thousands in this process.

Now, a new employee is hired. Woohoo! A lot of companies welcome you aboard for a two-week honeymoon phase, then you better knock down walls in the next month or you just aren’t good enough. You failed, better cut our losses. They will then spend the next six months giving impossible tasks to build a case for the failure’s dismissal and then out the door you go with a modest severance package so that you won’t blab company secrets or bad mouth it to the outside. In the civilian world, most people, at least most people I’ve dealt with, think they did a good job by giving you a chance and then sink or swim. This sounds brilliant and hardcore, so it has to be good strategy. Keep only the strong and we will be strong. Kill the weak! Rawr! Yeah, tell that to the Marines. That isn’t how they work so you should stop that nonsense, too.

So you think your startup that created a social network for dog lovers is really hardcore because you just fired your sixth receptionist in 12 months. Well bravo, you just blew maybe two hundred thousand on a series of failed investments, for a position only paying, maybe, $35,000 annually, have lost a year of productivity and are nowhere closer to the finish than you were when you started. Don’t forget that you have also lost countless hours yourself, replacing said employees and “training” them. How in the world is a receptionist worth what amounts to hundreds of thousands in straight loss and absolutely no progress over the course of a single year? All of a sudden, sink or swim is starting to look pretty stupid, huh?

Would you like a better solution? Now consider this, the United States military has to work, obviously, one of the most difficult jobs in the world. They have world-wide responsibility over trillions of dollars worth of equipment and oversee what amounts to one of the world’s largest logistical support networks. The average age of the Marine Corps is 20 and you know what? Every one of them is a master in their specified field by year two and are responsible for some of the most advanced technological systems on the planet. And management? By the time many are twenty-three years of age they have already been promoted to a leadership role, responsible for a team of trade veterans. I haven’t even mentioned anyone shooting at you. What’s most surprising? Almost none of them are degreed. Virtually all the labor force is made of only fresh high school grads and not even the best and brightest of them. They possess almost no formal educations in their fields that most people work for years just to get on their résumé before even starting their job. Still, they are somehow made ready to do the missions that are world scale and never lose. Wars may be lost, but that is mainly due to political decisions, yet you have never heard in the last 30 years, “The Marines were pushed out of X.” How do you explain that?

Training. Look, in the military, people aren’t expendable. It’s a contradiction of the stereotype we get from movies and such, but a front line troop is a valued and irreplaceable asset. They are viewed, quite literally, as an investment to the United States military. It’s odd to think that the military places a higher value on a low performing high school graduate than you would treat an Ivy League Summa Cum Laude in Computer Science, but business views everyone as temporary, and only worth a certain economic value. The military doesn’t. In the military, you have this person and that is all you get. You can’t hire another. You can’t replace them with someone else. You can’t fire him. You’re stuck, and so is he. If he is lost, for any reason, the job of the rest of the unit suddenly because exponentially harder. He has to make the grade. The training, the discipline, the yelling and the constant rehearsals are all part of making sure that that Marine or soldier succeeds in his mission and returns home. More so than that, it is a known truth that his success will also be bringing back others as well.

In business, the attitudes are much “nicer”. Everyone is polite. No one can be offended or HR has to be involved. It certainly feels like everyone is getting the respect they feel they are entitled to, but motivations are much more selfish. An employee is only as valuable to you as the money he can make for you.

Return on Investment

Didn’t realize how shallow the business world really is, did you? So here is my advice. Throughout this write-up, I am going to break down how the military  focuses on the art of training to progress the arts of warfare and passing that knowledge on to future generations. I will also provide some advice on steps your company can take to be a more evolutionary company by utilizing them. Everything that follows will are parts of the training culture that are all taken very seriously in the military. When you are in your quiet time as a leader, you need to think about how to implement them in your company or area of responsibility if you wish to focus not only on growing, but on growing your people.  Make to sure to follow this blog for updates for more.


 Onboarding

Final Drill

There needs to be a very detailed process to track progress and development and know how well a person is being integrated into the company.

In the military, this is boot camp and the next six months of training that usually follows before you ever even join your real team. In business, we call this is onboarding. In the military there is also unit onboarding. Along with basic training and job training, it’s the first few months after entering a unit. That means that Marines spend more than a full year in training before they ever actually do their job.

I know, you’re thinking that isn’t feasible for you company. “We can’t exactly send everyone to boot camp.” I know, I know, but your onboarding sucks, regardless. What’s your excuse now Stanford dropout CEO? A few of you who know less than you think, are saying that you would just love to waste the military’s limitless funds on infinite training. The military would also love to live by that fantasy. What Marines do, however, can be done at any company with competent management. Marines use a combination of formal and informal classes to train for every problem they may come across. While formal schooling is costly and time-consuming from an owner’s perspective, most of the other training is directed at the manager’s level and relevant to the small group unit. If a manager can’t really set goals that are achievable and teach the path to reach those goals, he isn’t that integrated himself. He’s just winging it, which means that that new employee is swimming in the open ocean without even a lighthouse.

Literally, onboarding is the most important part of the hiring process after vetting. And that thing you have your receptionist or office manager do to get their paperwork in the system, walk them around the office and show them their desk? You think that is onboarding? Of course you don’t, but that is all you do. I was at one company where the onboarding was made up of what basically was just a club of concerned employees, junior employees at that, who wanted to make it easier for new people based on the problems they had coming in. There was no leadership involvement, whatsoever. It obviously wasn’t a concern, and I bet it isn’t a concern for your company either.

You can have great talent show up, but feel completely overwhelmed, lost, confused, without any idea how to navigate your systems (or even your office) and in fear of not knowing who to ask. What ends up happening a month later? You label him a failure and show him the door. You recite that tired trope about how you as a manager failed, but really you just blame him, when really, surprise, surprise… it was your fault. You dropped him in the deep end and you both sank together. Hope you’re happy.

One thing that many people don’t seem to understand is that, in most places, an employee doesn’t truly pull his weight until after his first year at a job. This is even more true if your company is highly integrated, complex and if there are many systems in place. Those who have been in for a long time know exactly where to find what, but the new person must build those mental networks and learn while doing to navigate the backend efficiently. They might surprise you with bits of awesome from time to time if they are allowed to work on their own and use resources intuitively available when arrived or that they brought with them. That doesn’t mean that they are integrated, though. Given time, everyone who doesn’t integrate will show themselves to be the failure you made them. The smart ones are just geniuses of misdirection, but they are all still mostly just helping out while others do the heavy lifting. If you fire a person before that one year anniversary, you honestly never really gave him a chance to begin with. More importantly, depending on your priorities, you just wasted a lot of money, lots of your time and possibly ruined someone’s life.

Have an onboarding plan that extends throughout the year. Make every part of the process a routine, practically a religious routine. Make it applicable to every tier of the company. Make all new company hires go through a part of the process, different divisions another, all the way down to work groups. Make the managers responsible for coming up with integration plans for their teams and measure that effectiveness against other rational expectations. They are interruptions to the work needing to be done, but they are investments in the individual’s ability to do it, which is much more valuable moving forward.

In this line of thought, in the event that you see that one of your managers has fired someone with less than one year on the books, you need to seriously question that manager’s capabilities in guidance. Perhaps they were once marvelous workers, but doing and leading are two very different skill sets. It may not have been an appropriate choice to promote someone to a role requiring a completely different series of abilities on the premise that they showed a great deal of other abilities in their last job. If the problem continues, you may not even realize that you have a detrimental cancer to your company’s ability to grow in the future because your manager, not the people he is hiring, is the problem.


 

CampGeiger

Follow up with Regular Job Specific Training

Periodically, Marines would get pulled from the unit for all sorts of different trainings. You might have a week’s training on crew served weapons with a couple guys from the shop, or a two-week class session where a few dozen Marines from the squadron learn crash course conversational Arabic and Middle Eastern customs, or even a three-day “camping trip” to learn field survival. These trainings are great at improving the knowledge, survivability and mission accomplishment of the Marines in a unit. It also builds lasting relationships with the members within it, sometimes, even with members not even of the same working group.

Seminars, grouped with employees of different work groups so that everyone learns from each other and builds new valuable skills, are invaluable. I don’t mean those “teamwork workshops” by the way, where everyone shares feelings and falls down so that other people can catch them. That’s moronic and tells your employees that you think they are third graders. Did they say they loved the training? Of course they did. People lie to you, partly because you fired Sarah after three months, partly because they may not know what a good seminar is supposed to look like. Send your people to real training so that they feel you value them enough to actually invest in them as a part of the future of your company.

Ask your employees and the supervisors underneath you to suggest training that they would want to go to in the hopes of progressing their own career. Weed out those that you think may be an opportunity for shenanigans and little else, but create a list of the best external training courses within your budgetary and operational scope and send them as often as is possible.

 

Make Use of Obligatory Training Situations

Every Marine is a riflemen. It isn’t just a neat saying. It is a verifiable fact that the Marines invest millions to ensure. To make sure that every Marine is, in fact, a riflemen, it means we have to train for two weeks and qualify to prove it. That is a major investment on the part of the United States Marines, especially considering only about 1% will ever fire a weapon in combat. Think about that. There is also dozens of annual trainings that must be met; gas mask certification, MOS certification, HUMVEE license renewals along with dozens of others.

You do this already with the federally mandated sexual harassment, HIPAA law briefs for you in healthcare, and dozens of other industry specific seminars you must do every year depending on who you are. Well, you’re probably treating these as obligations because they don’t make you money. You shouldn’t. Good events that bring the company together for training allow you to spread your culture and vision while reinforcing company values of excellence and learning. You need to do them as often as you can because, for the few hours of time you give up, you increase individual and group efficiency from that point on throughout your area of responsibility for the life of the company.


 

121127-M-IG884-018Create an Annual Training Schedule

Remember those several dozen training events that we all had to go to each year. It was all maintained by the Platoon Sergeant. A major element of someone’s whole job was making sure that everyone in the platoon (30 people or so) was in the right place to hear the right thing. He even had an assistant, the Training NCO who that was their whole job. It’s a juggle, but it is worth it. For us, we had a massive dry erase board that held the status of every Marine in every training event he needed. This status board didn’t need to be seen by any one of us, but it was information readily readable by anyone in a command to see how competent a unit was at any given moment. In a way, it was a really efficient way to monitor the health of the organization.

Since my time, most of the status boards have moved into Excel spreadsheets, but their purpose doesn’t change. It helps navigate the mess of who needs what. If you don’t think it’s a mess, then you probably either need to have a conversation with HR and Legal, or give both divisions a raise. There should be a lot to do at a standard company of any size.

Create a matrix that should have every employ with all the training they must attend throughout the year. Look at all the gaps on the axis of events. Think about things you would like to see there. Maybe “Culture Meeting” would fit in there somewhere. Perhaps, a lot of those obligatory meetings could be put to good purpose by sending someone to as many at once and creating classes on your own to augment and make better use of the time they are gone.

However you do it, whether you create a position within HR, or within ever major working group, or if you just have a single Excel file that has everybody on big series of checklists, do something as far as getting organized in your training methods.


 

042812MarineEC_0Find and reward teachers

When I was a young Marine I was trained as data network specialist. Basically I took care of the base’s internet capabilities with my shop. At the end of the first tour in Iraq, as you will remember, we all had to go back to the rifle range. Well something interesting was that of all the other computer nerds (yes the Marine Corps has those) I was the only one that could shoot. So they pulled me to be a coach, because shooting is kind of important in that culture. They didn’t just throw me out to make Marine’s shooters. Nope, you guessed it, I went to more training. I spent a month in another school to get deep level understanding of weapons manipulation, ballistics and how to train Marines. Yes, training was part of my training. The Corps made such an investment in my education that they gave me a secondary occupational specialty to be a teacher of Marines. I did so well at that, that they even made me the trainer for officers and senior enlisted in the pistol, too. Think about this, in the first nine months I trained, at a cost of hundreds of thousands to the Marine Corps for my first job. Then, a little over a year later, they gave me another job, just because quality educators are so important for that thing that only 1% of Marines will ever do.

All that to say this, did you know that individual leadership isn’t everything? Sometimes teachers are more valuable. Teachers are those people who are able to spread knowledge to dozens, even hundreds of people at a time. They encourage learning by individuals even when they are not at work. They are also masters of getting individuals over the tough obstacles and increasing their potential as employees and as people. But they don’t have to have a deep attachment to the people they are training or direct responsibility for their work (like Managers). Find these people. Give them special recognition and special responsibilities. Most of the time, whatever you have them doing is not as valuable as being capable of improving the performance of hundreds of others.

Don’t make this mistake: Managers or Leaders aren’t Teachers. It isn’t that they can’t be, but don’t make the mistake of only looking at your most senior leadership as being able to teach because they can do. Doing and teaching are two very different skills, the same as leading. Some are masters of their trade, but couldn’t explain it if their life depended on it. Put them in front of an audience and they look like fools, and now their confidence is shot. Broken goods. I liked one company that did small seminars between members of their engineering staff to all other members. Most of the time, it wasn’t the managers doing this, just the regular button pushers. You’ll find good teachers by sitting in on these classes. Like I said, pull these people and give them responsibility to disseminating information. It will be an important job that improves many aspects of your organization without even hiring a soul.

Furthermore, you need to know that teachers aren’t leaders. They have a technical ability, but really, their skill is communicating. Allow them the chance to perform a good class and you might see them growing greatly toward becoming a good leader. Recognizing teachers in your organization and putting them on the stand should be considered a vital part of your process toward mentoring, growing and developing future managers and leaders of your company.


Brandon+King+Enlistment+Ceremony+Service+Members+YgOjeO6NF6OlIgnore the “Training Them to Leave” Myth

Consider this, the Marines are one of the worst places imaginable to work. Set aside all your stereotypes about getting shot at twenty-four/seven. There are actually a lot of stressful things, day-to-day, that are not very enjoyable about working there. Add to this an incredibly low pay, relative to the social prestige often given and you wonder why anyone would enlist. A better question is, “Why, four years later, do the these people re-enlist?” The point is that people keep coming back to the military because they are fulfilled by their job. They enjoy it (somehow.) They feel valued, important, and that they are growing in their career and as people.

“Training them to leave,” you say? Whatever dude. Make it worth their while to stay. Unless you are a moron, you will know a person’s worth (or cost) is far more than the amount you pay them. They, however, are far more aware of it. If they leave, it is rarely about pay and compensation. It is usually because they are unhappy with the culture, their boss or team, or they don’t feel safe working for you. Train them and you eliminate most of that.

I knew one boss who had a marvelous realization. He said that everyone is only here so long as it suits them. As soon as they get an opportunity for a better life, they are going to take it, and he encouraged them to. Why wouldn’t he? He actually cared about his employees. It is natural to seek the best opportunity you can get. He knew he was going to if handed the chance, so why punish that behavior?

Accept it, but remember, there is such a thing as the psychological trait of loss aversion. People are naturally more afraid of losing something good than they are willing to chance something better. People who love their job don’t want to risk getting a new one because most of us are simply more afraid of losing a good thing than gaining something that might be better. Simply put, you can’t stop your people from getting opportunities  to leave, in fact, if they are good at their job, they are going to be pulled upon my many people. What you can do, is make their desire to stay greater than their lust for a new position at some other company. If you make your people happy, they’ll stay.

Make the right choice, invest in them as a way of investing back into your company. The whole system will work better in the end, so much so, that the increased value in everyone else can afford to lose the few that leave. Whatever the case, you should be happy for those that do leave. If you made their work life a good one, they will leave thankful for having worked for you and maybe even be your business emissaries outside to potential contacts. Imagine what work is being done in your name when your old developer is talking about how much they loved working at your company to a bunch of interns at a different company. You can’t hire recruiters that good.


 

michael-saldanaDiscipline

I’m laughing as I write this. I know you can’t make your employees run around the building for three hours because they were late like we did at Camp Pendleton. I know that filling sandbags isn’t really an option, but discipline is a lost art form that I wish was still existent in the real world. And I know that all you are thinking right now is about some drill instructor yelling at Marine recruits. Some think that is barbaric, others take joy in the idea of it. Well, that is a little bit of what I am talking about, but you need to understand why. It may be the hardest thing for you to accept on this list, but you need to consider this… There is a reason that “Discipline” falls under “Training” and there is a reason that it is the largest section of my list. It is the most important. Second, you followed this question for a reason. Think about that. You knew there was something the military does that you want to learn. Everyone knows that the number one thing in the military is discipline. You need to be strong enough to make it the number one thing in your organization, too. Perhaps, though, you need to understand why.

To begin, I’d like to tell you about a time in the Marines when I once yelled at a PFC for half an hour because he told me, “Hang on a sec.” Exact quote, no exaggeration. I mean screaming at his face, for a solid 30 minutes. That may sound extreme, it is, but there is a reason for it. What most people reading this don’t understand, is that yelling was the nice option compared to some punishments I was entitled to give.

Here is the deal, and it is so important that I am going to break my all caps rule so that you understand it clearly. DISCIPLINING YOUR EMPLOYEES SAVES THEIR JOBS! That is the intention of discipline. To save people from much worse punishments down the road. To make it clear, did you know that for that Marine who told me to hang on, I could have filed a Page 11 entry? A page 11 is a formal reprimand that will stay in his permanent record jacket that will follow him for the rest of his Marine Corps career. He will be labeled from the moment he moves to any command from that day on. Was it worth damaging his career? No, that would be an insane jerk move on my part. Anyone would agree that it wasn’t worth permanent consequences, but for reasons you might not understand, he had committed a serious infraction, disrespect and insubordination of a non-commissioned officer. Instead, I yelled. It left no permanent mark on his record jacket, but left a lasting impression. I didn’t have to have that talk a second time.

Maybe another example that is more applicable to the civilian world would be better. You can see how my mentality stayed the same, even though my actions had to change. I once managed a store right after college. I was young, but I had my experience from the Marines. One of the employees was late. It wasn’t his first time. He was a senior employee, but had a lot of problems lately. I chewed him out and he became belligerent and started yelling back at me in front of the other employees. I sent him to the back office. There I filed our store’s standard write-up form that is part of the firing process. I wasn’t firing him. I was starting down that road. It’s an early step, but the process is beginning. Compare it to a “three strikes rule”. I had him sign it after I asked if he knew what it was. He did. I asked him if he understood why he was signing it.

“Because I was late.” he said.

“No,” I replied in a calm voice, “I yelled at you because you were late. You didn’t accept that form of punishment. Instead you talked back and made a scene in front of the other associates. You didn’t allow me to protect you from this for being late. Instead, you followed one bad choice with a worse one and you forced me to do this so that the discipline and morale of this store doesn’t become damaged by you. This is the first step I have to ensure that you don’t work here and become a poison to the team with your declining attitude. As much as I would like to, for your sake, I don’t intend to yell at you anymore. Do you understand?”

He did. I didn’t want to do that, to put him on that track, but the message made its way through the store. He was never the model employee, but he didn’t give me problems anymore.

How does this apply to you? As I mentioned, discipline saves jobs. You apply painful punishments as a means to avoid official ones. A lot of managers I knew, in fact most, were basically always creating a list in their heads, or literal ones of their employees’ mistakes and, “building cases” for their dismissal, even if they had no intention of firing them. It was just the only method they knew of how to improve their work. “Well, Smith, you know you weren’t doing a good job. So you are one step closer to being fired. I still love you though. Have a great day!” That’s ridiculous. I would rather be yelled at than told that by someone smiling with flowers and candy.

So how do you discipline your employees? You have to discover that one for yourself. I can’t tell you that (legally, nor do I want to). You have to talk with your managers and other leaders to discuss a set of discipline norms of acceptable behaviors for your leaders that fits with your company’s values and culture. I’m not asking you to scream and yell, or to beat someone to death with hammers for every infraction. What I am telling you to do is something that conveys disappointment and reestablishes expectations in a way that doesn’t put them on the track to dismissal. One example might be assigning extra duties or assigning them to the crap assignments no one wants. (It’s also a great insensitive for the good employees to get to skip those crap tasks that someone has to do.) It sends a message, but the employee isn’t in danger of being fired.

Bring in HR and even Legal. Good ideas can have very negative unintended consequences. Another story I will share is of an employee I had who wasn’t shaping up. She was pretty and well liked, but from my point of view, as her direct supervisor, she was spoiled and used to getting her way. She managed to figure out how to not come to work about 30% of the time she was being paid for. She would say things like she had an appointment tomorrow, or whatnot, once, then twice a week. I had no idea what these appointments were. She have a cold? Cancer? Getting her hair done? When she wasn’t there, I had to cover her job. It was obvious she was abusing a friendly employee perk to help employees when they needed it. This was unproductive and made the office run poorly.  It got to be too much. I was still young so I didn’t quite know the best way to handle it. I asked if these appointments were health related and told her that she didn’t need to make all these appointments during business hours and needed to focus on her work. A good HR person will see my mistake. I had the nerve to ask what these appointments were for. That’s a violation of privacy and I got in hot water. Worse she found a way to manipulate the system and knew she had me. That relationship ended toxically and there are many things I would do differently if given a second chance. Safe to say, I had no discipline over her. I still insist I was doing the right thing, but good motives and bad execution will land you on the street as fast as downright abuse will.

So learn from my mistakes. Come up with plans to discipline that saves good employees from losing their jobs. It will echo throughout the company, and remind people of their responsibilities. It will also, if you’re doing it right, remind them that they are not expendable, and that this is your way of providing them training rather than showing them the door. Work with your managers and HR to determine a good system for your team. The order, structure and regularity it provides creates a feedback loop.


 

6a00e551d9d3fd8833011570fa11d7970c-500wiSummary

The Marines have a saying, “The Marine Corps is a perfect organization made of imperfect people.” A lot of companies today want to be a perfect organization of perfect people. That just isn’t possible. It’s also not fair to expect that of your very human employees. No one is built for the hole you have that you need filled. You have to mold them. You have to teach them, grow them, and you have to train them. Furthermore, that hole is never the same hole. Every time you make a decision, your competitors make a decision, the market changes or the winds of fate blow in the wrong direction, the shape of that hole changes. You have to have people capable of growing to fit that too. More importantly, you must have a culture in your organization that encourages them to learn and grow into it. I don’t know a lot of companies that accept that people come into the organization flawed and focus on making them better rather than spending millions in recruitment.

Lastly, I want you to remember that my advice is meant to be implemented in a process. It takes time to build the “perfect” organization. Many fly by night wonders happen every day, but ten years out, you’ll wonder where they disappeared off to. The fact is, they still exist, in the memory of their employees who all now work somewhere else. If anything, remember that creating the perfect training strategy is something that can’t be done overnight. It is a major part of culture and will need time to implement. If it helps, it took the Marines 238 years to become the heroes of the universe that they are today, and I am kind of a history buff, so I am pretty sure most of that was spent basically resembling, for all intents and purposes, pirates. The best we have ever been is over the last century where we have mastered the arts of warfare, expanding upon those arts, and passing them on to new generations. As I said, it took us a while to get to that point, but two and a half centuries is a long time to wait. Hopefully you can get a good culture growing in much less time than it took us to be what we are today. Of course, for all I know, focusing this much on training may not be the best idea for your company. Maybe you guys already have everything you need, but it works for the Marines, and that’s saying something.

 

Semper Fi


 

Blues

Thanks for reading! Everything I write is completely independent and made completely free through the generous support of fans and followers through tips and donations made available through Patreon. If you would like to show your support for independent writers like me you can find out more here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories in Military, Science Fiction and Life. Please like, share and comment and make sure to follow JDT! Thanks again.

-Jon

Hacktivists and ISIL – What they’re doing. What they should do.

Why won’t internet vigilante groups like Anonymous target terrorist organizations like ISIS?

There actually are plans which are being laid out. Jasper Hamill, with Forbes, recently uncovered a plan by Anonymous cells to target what it considers to be nations funding or arming the terrorist organization ISIL.

The hacktivist group Anonymous is planning to launch a series of digital attacks against nations it accuses of funding or arming the radical Islamic terror group ISIS.

Sources within Anonymous told me the campaign will be called Operation NO2ISIS and will target three states suspected of offering support to the [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant].  Government websites will be blasted with DDoS attacks with Anonymous planning to “unleash the entire legion” upon its enemies.

One of the targets will be Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim nation that has long been suspected of supporting ISIS and other hardline terror groups. However, the Saudi government has dismissed Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s claims that it arms and funds ISIS, describing the “false allegations” as a “malicious falsehood”. The Saudis are thought to be terrified of blowback from the wars in Iraq and Syria, so have taken steps to ban private individuals from donating cash to ISIS militants.

The first thing to understand about Anonymous is that they are not really the type of group to “plan” things. They are opportunists who move when a vulnerability is found in a target of interest. They move in cells that are not truly organized where there is any sort of  true “membership” in the group. There are just communities of individuals who sometimes align together when any one of them arrives at a plan and convinces enough to help. There is no group consensus on matters like this, no voting, no true leadership, no responsible parties. They come to quick verdicts based on limited information and then take action based on that. They simply share information on what they could do and individuals will carry out an attack of their own free will. When enough do so, with some coordination involved, it can have the impact of a large scale attack. Once an operation is completed, the group disintegrates, never to be seen from again. In that case, you will have groups which can, at will, determine a party’s guilt or innocence based as much the narrative surrounding an issue and popular opinion, rather than anything we would call due process.

Secondly, if they can’t find a route to the actual perpetrators of a particular crime or social injustice, they are have shown a willingness to conduct actions against others who have a relation to the guilty. In the case of ISIL, the direct perpetrators can’t be targeted more than hacking twitter accounts, nor can the individuals who fund them. In this situation, Anonymous has made threats that it will, instead, carry out attacks against the nation of Saudi Arabia, and others, as a means to attack ISIL indirectly.

Taking that into consideration, if the group planning on coordinating an attack against the nation of Saudi Arabia, and others, are successful, they will be doing so against the wrong group. Those funding ISIL are surely, in part, from Saudi Arabia. There are many wealthy individuals there who channel funds to the terrorists through underground, illegal, and backwater channels. They are individuals, citizens of Saudi Arabia, but not state actors. That said, they are not the state of Saudi Arabia. If it could be proven that the king of Saudi Arabia himself were taking part in these funding operations, then that would be a different matter. So far, though, we have no evidence that that is the case. Furthermore, there is little Saudi Arabia can do to prevent its citizens from funding operations. Like the United States, there is little more that could be done beyond banning, and policing what little actionable evidence arises.

Ergo, when Anonymous, or any other group of individuals targets a nation like Saudi Arabia, they are doing so as non-state actors in a direct attack to a sovereign state. That is, by definition, an act of terrorism, obviously to much more minor degree than what we are seeing in Iraq or on 9/11, but still classified as an act of terrorism by the facts. The fact that there is no due process involved, investigation can be extremely biased, and targets are often not the actual cause of the crime, but simply the nearest person who can be reached, I wish that groups like Anonymous would not involve themselves in acts like this. Trolling the Scientologists or prank calling racist radio talk-show hosts is humorous and serves a good and decent function to the world. A direct attack, even a “harmless” denial of service attack, on a sovereign nation, however, paints a very hypocritical picture and will, in the end, invigorate even more hate and hostility against American and other allied forces’ (including Saudi Arabia Proper) efforts to broker a deal to take down the fanatical terrorist threat.

Instead, I wish they would move themselves toward uncovering more about the clandestine operations of ISIL. Once case in point used Google Maps to determine the location of ISIL training facilities in Mosul.

Operations like this are tailor made for groups like Anonymous. Social intelligence forces could easily be made to take advantage of ISIL’s use of social media. They’ve put a lot of information about themselves out there. If only enough smart people with enough time on their hands were to direct their efforts towards uncovering it, it could help forces out there taking action against them such as the Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi Army, Free Syrian Army, or even coalition military airstrike. Forces like the Kurdish defense forces are in desperate of advanced technological analysis and utilizing social capabilities could augment their offensive capabilities greatly. I’d personally like to see news reports of weapons caches, logistical networks, key individuals and other key information being surfaced by the larger community and being acted upon by State actors rather than by non-state actors. They’ve acted in this way before, namely in taking credit for the “hacktivism” which helped solve the notorious Steubenville rape case. One provides a constructive direction in which Anonymous helps the greater cause of the rest of the world, the other does only minor damage to ISIL while severely damaging international relations everywhere else.


  1. Anonymous Hacktivists Prepare For Strike Against ISIS ‘Supporters’ – Jasper Hamill, Forbes – 6/14/2014
  2. ‘Anonymous’ Hacker Group Goes After ISIS, But the Implications Could Be Costly  – Victoria Taft, Independent Journal Review – 9/14/2014
  3. Page on bellingcat.com – 8/22/2014

Further Reading:


Thanks for reading!

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Thanks for Reading What Businesses Should Learn from the Military

6a00e551d9d3fd8833011570fa11d7970c-500wi

Summary

The Marines have a saying, “The Marine Corps is a perfect organization made of imperfect people.” A lot of companies today want to be a perfect organization of perfect people. That just isn’t possible. It’s also not fair to expect that of your very human employees. No one is built for the hole you have that you need filled. You have to mold them. You have to teach them, grow them, and you have to train them. Furthermore, that hole is never the same hole. Every time you make a decision, your competitors make a decision, the market changes or the winds of fate blow in the the wrong direction, the shape of that hole changes. You have to have people capable of growing to fit that too. More importantly, you have to have a culture in your organization that encourages them to learn and grow into it. I don’t know a lot of companies that accept that people come into the organization flawed and focus on making them better rather than spending millions in recruitment.

Lastly, I want you to remember that my advice is meant to be implemented in a process. It takes time to build the “perfect” organization. Many fly by night wonders happen every day, but ten years out, you’ll wonder where they disappeared off to. The fact is, they still exist, in the memory of their employees who all now work somewhere else. If anything, remember that creating the perfect training strategy is something that can’t be done overnight. It is a major part of culture and will need time to implement. If it helps, it took the Marines 238 years to become the heroes of the universe that they are today, and I am kind of a history buff, so I am pretty sure most of that was spent basically resembling, for all intents and purposes, pirates. The best we have ever been is over the last century where we have mastered the arts of warfare, expanding upon those arts, and passing them on to new generations. As I said, it took us a while to get to that point, but two and a half centuries is a long time to wait. Hopefully you can get a good culture growing in much less time than it took us to be what we are today. Of course, for all I know, focusing this much on training may not be the best idea for your company. Maybe you guys already have everything you need, but it works for the Marines, and that’s saying something.

 

Semper Fi
Blues

 

This has been an independent, publicly funded article brought to you by patrons via the social crowdsourcing platform Patreon.com.

Thanks for reading! Everything I write is completely independent and made completely free through the generous support of fans and followers through tips and donations made available through Patreon. If you would like to show your support for independent writers like me you can find out more here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories in Military, Science Fiction and Life

What Businesses Should Learn from the Military – Part VII, Discipline

michael-saldanaDiscipline

I’m laughing as I write this. I know you can’t make your employees run around the building for three hours because they were late like we did at Camp Pendleton. I know that filling sandbags isn’t really an option, but discipline is a lost artform that I wish was still existent in the real world. And I know that all you are thinking right now is about some drill instructor yelling at Marine recruits. Some think that is barbaric, others take joy in the idea of it. Well, that is a little bit of what I am talking about, but you need to understand why. It may be the hardest thing for you to accept on this list, but you need to consider this… There is a reason that “Discipline” falls under “Training” and there is a reason that it is the largest section of my list. It is the most important. Second, you followed this question for a reason. Think about that. You knew there was something the military does that you want to learn. Everyone knows that the number one thing in the military is discipline. You need to be strong enough to make it the number one thing in your organization, too. Perhaps, though, you need to understand why.

To begin, I’d like to tell you about a time in the Marines when I once yelled at a PFC for half an hour because he told me, “Hang on a sec.” Exact quote, no exaggeration. I mean screaming at his face, for a solid 30 minutes. That may sound extreme, it is, but there is a reason for it. What most people reading this don’t understand, is that yelling was the nice option compared to some punishments I was entitled to give.

Here is the deal, and it is so important that I am going to break my all caps rule so that you understand it clearly. DISCIPLINING YOUR EMPLOYEES SAVES THEIR JOBS! That is the intention of discipline. To save people from much worse punishments down the road. To make it clear, did you know that for that Marine who told me to hang on, I could have filed a Page 11 entry? A page 11 is a formal reprimand that will stay in his permanent record jacket that will follow him for the rest of his Marine Corps career. He will be labeled from the moment he moves to any command from that day on. Was it worth damaging his career? No, that would be an insane jerk move on my part. Anyone would agree that it wasn’t worth perminant concequence, but for reasons you might not understand, he had committed a serious infraction, disrespect and insubordination of a non-commissioned officer. Instead, I yelled. It left no permanent mark on his record jacket, but left a lasting impression. I didn’t have to have that talk a second time.
Maybe another example that is more applicable to the civilian world would be better. You can see how my mentality stayed the same, even though my actions had to change. I once managed a store right after college. I was young, but I had my experience from the Marines. One of the employees was late. It wasn’t his first time. He was a senior employee, but had had a lot of problems lately. I chewed him out and he became belligerent and started yelling back at me in front of the other employees. I sent him to the back office. There I filed our store’s standard write up form that is part of the firing process. I wasn’t firing him. I was starting down that road. It’s an early step, but the process is beginning. Compare it to a “three strikes rule”. I had him sign it after I asked if he knew what it was. He did. I asked him if he understood why he was signing it.

“Because I was late.” he said.

“No,” I replied in a calm voice, “I yelled at you because you were late. You didn’t accept that form of punishment. Instead you talked back and made a scene in front of the other associates. You didn’t allow me to protect you from this for being late. Instead, you followed one bad choice with a worse one and you forced me to do this so that the discipline and morale of this store doesn’t become damaged by you. This is the first step I have to ensure that you don’t work here and become a poison to the team with your declining attitude. As much as I would like to, for your sake, I don’t intend to yell at you anymore. Do you understand?”

He did. I didn’t want to do that, to put him on that track, but the message made its way through the store. He was never the model employee, but he didn’t give me problems anymore.

How does this apply to you? As I mentioned, discipline saves jobs. You apply painful punishments as a means to avoid official ones. A lot of managers I knew, in fact most, were basically always creating a list in their heads, or literal ones of their employees’ mistakes and, “building cases” for their dismissal, even if they had no intention of firing them. It was just the only method they knew of how to improve their work. “Well, Smith, you know you weren’t doing a good job. So you are one step closer to being fired. I still love you though. Have a great day!” That’s ridiculous. I would rather be yelled at than told that by someone smiling with flowers and candy.

So how do you discipline your employees? You have to discover that one for yourself. I can’t tell you that (legally, nor do I want to). You have to talk with your managers and other leaders to discuss a set of discipline norms of acceptable behaviors for your leaders that fits with your company’s values and culture. I’m not asking you to scream and yell, or to beat someone to death with hammers for every infraction. What I am telling you to do is something that conveys disappointment and reestablishes expectations in a way that doesn’t put them on the track to dismissal. One example might be assigning extra duties or assigning them to the crap assignments no one wants. (It’s also a great insensitive for the good employees to get to skip those crap tasks that someone has to do.) It sends a message, but the employee isn’t in danger of being fired.

Bring in HR and even Legal. Good ideas can have very negative unintended consequences. Another story I will share is of an employee I had who wasn’t shaping up. She was pretty and well liked, but from my point of view, as her direct supervisor, she was spoiled and used to getting her way. She managed to figure out how to not come to work about 30% of the time she was being paid for. She would say things like she had an appointment tomorrow, or whatnot, once, then twice a week. I had no idea what these appointments were. She have a cold? Cancer? Getting her hair done? When she wasn’t there, I had to cover her job. It was obvious she was abusing a friendly employee perk to help employees when they needed it. This was unproductive and made the office run poorly.  It got to be too much. I was still young so I didn’t quite know the best way to handle it. I asked if these appointments were health related and told her that she didn’t need to make all these appointments during business hours and needed to focus on her work. A good HR person will see my mistake. I had the nerve to ask what these appointments were for. That’s a violation of privacy and I got in hot water. Worse she found a way to manipulate the system and knew she had me. That relationship ended toxically and there are many things I would do differently if given a second chance. Safe to say, I had no discipline over her. I still insist I was doing the right thing, but good motives and bad execution will land you on the street as fast as downright abuse will.

So learn from my mistakes. Come up with plans to discipline that saves good employees from losing their jobs. It will echo throughout the company, and remind people of their responsibilities. It will also, if you’re doing it right, remind them that they are not expendable, and that this is your way of providing them training rather than showing them the door. Work with your managers and HR to determine a good system for your team. The order, structure and regularity it provides creates a feedback loop.
Blues


This has been an independent, publicly funded article brought to you by patrons via the social crowdsourcing platform Patreon.com.

Thanks for reading! Everything I write is completely independent and made completely free through the generous support of fans and followers through tips and donations made available through Patreon. If you would like to show your support for independent writers like me you can find out more here: Support Jon Davis creating Short Stories in Military, Science Fiction and Life

Should US infantry be sent back to Iraq to fight ISIL?

Bringing in US ground forces to pacify the population and control the insurgent spread is probably not the best choice for Iraq.

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There does need to be ground troops present to fill the political vacuum in the region. Aerial strikes aren’t enough to solve the problem of Islamist saturation. In a recent report by the Guardian, Syrian Kurdish fighters are saying that the air strikes are not currently effective enough. The article states that the strikes being implemented by the US, UK, France, and Arab allies aren’t able to interrupt ISIL operations enough to prevent them from taking over the town of Kobani, a city bordering Syria and Turkey.

“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” said Idris Nassan, a senior spokesman for the Kurdish fighters desperately trying to defend the important strategic redoubt from the advancing militants. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”

What the Kurdish Peshmerga have said, is that the ISIL forces are simply too numerous and spread out too much for the aerial strikes to have a meaningful effect. Nassan continues by describing how ISIL insurgents are evolving their techniques to react to incoming air attacks.

“Each time a jet approaches, they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide.”

Continuing on, Nassan makes the clear point that, in the absence of ground forces, aerial attacks are only a deterrent or a distraction.

“What we really need is ground support. We need heavy weapons and ammunition in order to fend them off and defeat them.”

Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Kobani, seen from near the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc

Militarily speaking, fortified ISIL locations are being destroyed and they are losing men and materiel. More importantly, key strategic points in the ISIL logistics network are being taken down, weakening all other offensive capabilities. The problem is that there is not adequate ground forces covering the advance. If, in all other locations around the city ISIL is able to continue their advance, even creeping at a house an hour, those destroyed defensive locations are not going to mean much, as they would eventually move well behind the effective lines of battle. Without a follow-on force to retake the ground that ISIL temporarily lost, they will be able to return. The situation for the Syrian Kurds in Kobani is now getting desperate. Some reports have shown that a Kurdish fighting woman suicide bombed near a group of ISIL fighters. Use of such tactics shows the extent of the desperation, that Kobani defense fighters have accepted a certain degree numerical casualties, but that they are willing to make the sacrifice if they believe they can guarantee a certain level of Islamist fatalities. While grim, this tactic also doesn’t solve the problem of not enough men to occupy the town. While suicide bombing does provide a high level of killing power, it also robs the defenders of one more person capable of retaking the city later. Saturation of infantry forces is key to retake, occupy, and defend the city currently under siege and ensure a prolonged counter-insurgency victory.

There are, however, troops in the region which can already provide that level of support.  Not that anyone wants to really accept this part, but the Syrians are there, too, namely, Assad’s forces along with the Free Syrian Army. The problem here is that, while there is actually a surplus of fighters in Syria, the intricate web of alliances and enemies makes it advantageous for most involved to let each handle ISIL in their own territory. Quite honestly, they are behooved to see ISIL gains in other territories as it will mean a weakened enemy for them later. For that reason, good fighters, such as the Syrian Peshmerga don’t have adequate support from numerically larger forces, such as the Free Syrian Army, or Assad’s government, nor do troops in the FSA benefit from Kurdish training, experience, and international resources. Together, their combined infantry would not suffer ISIL resistance long, the poltical make up of the groups, however, almost guarantee this to be an impossibility.

Focusing again on Iraq specifically, they are the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga. These troops need to be trained up, armed, and more importantly, in the case of the Iraqi Special Forces, freed up politically to fight. There are pockets of great fighters in Iraq, namely those Iraqi Special Forces, which were originally pulled from the greatest and most experienced troops in the Iraqi military specifically trained for the role of countering insurgency. These forces have been made the private security for Iraqi political elite and kept away from the roles they were designed to do. If you want to understand the failures of the Iraqi military, look at how the ISF has been used for the last three years. Beyond just the ISF, the Iraqi military still outnumbers anything that ISIL might be able to field by at least 20:1 within Iraq. Point in that situation is that there is not a deficit of capable troops. What is lacking is political will and direction to use them.

For that reason, there really isn’t a reason for a massive deployment of American combat troops in Iraq. There is just a need for some sort of direction and capability in leadership for the offensives to take place between the troops of Iraq. Secondly, the American military presence will only do more harm down the road. After ISIL is taken care of, if ever, then it will turn into another occupation where Iraq’s people will go right back to hating us for all the evils we brought down upon them. Next, it will only continue the practice of allowing Iraq to continue on perpetually neutered. The country needs to stand on its own. It needs to feel independent. It will never do that if some foreign force continues to dictate their day to day life as has been the case for centuries. They need to believe in themselves, as a nation, and be the crucial leader in solving this problem… their problem. Lastly, the Americans shouldn’t have a direct ground presence because to do so will only bring back those old whispers of “American Imperialism.” So that I am clear, we didn’t leave Iraq on our own terms. We were asked to leave by the same Iraqi democracy we set out to build. One gets what one asks for, but the point is that when asked to leave, the Americans did leave. We never took Iraq from the Iraqi, but when we could have kept it, we left it alone and in the care of those same Iraqi. In that moment when the last truck rolled over the border into Kuwait it said to the world that we are not the imperialistic dictators that others have made us out to be, especially those living in Iraq. To send troops back in, especially on a permanent basis, would damage that message throughout the world.

That isn’t to say the US should do nothing. Strategic bombing is doing a good job of collapsing vital points in the ISIL military framework. They are being pushed back and recent acts of violence are proving their desperation. More so than that, there is a major land force being deployed to the region. The US Marine Corps has already began deployments in the creation of a new rapid defense force which was invited to be stationed in Kuwait, not Iraq or Syria.

The US Marine Corps is preparing to deploy about 2,100 grunts to be based out of Kuwait in a new unit configuration designed to respond to crises in the region, according to Corps officials.

Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) Central Command will be equipped to perform noncombat evacuation, humanitarian assistance, infrastructure support, tactical aircraft recovery, fixed-site security and theater sustainment missions, said Brig. Gen. John Love, assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations.

The report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of [June 19, 2012] release provided precise numbers on U.S. forces in Kuwait, a presence that Pentagon officials have only acknowledged on condition of anonymity. Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring, giving the United States staging hubs, training ranges and locations to provide logistical support. The report said the number of troops is likely to drop to 13,500.

Along with this, another 1,500 Marines are being sent into Iraq to join others present there already to protect strategic assets owned by the United States, such as American owned industry assets and embassy locations, as well as to train the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces.

Given these initiatives, I feel that the American presence is good thing. It is toned back from the last decade, but lighter and faster to be more prepared to handle future situations far more easily than was the capabilities over the last six months. Situations like what is happening in Iraq right now, can be handled in much earlier stages, without the need for massive deployments, A political breakdown in the nation won’t leave Americans without aid, such as in Benghazi, and new threats can be challenged as they arise throughout the region. Given all that, they won’t be able to fully occupy anything. The task force simply isn’t that large. It will be able to project force and react quickly, but it will take the local nations to take charge of their own futures.

Keeping the American ground forces in the background of the current Iraq conflict is, in my opinion, a good thing. Having them as a final wall against the encroachment of ISIL threats forces the impetus of action on the local national forces. Building a strong and independent Iraq should have been achieved before we were asked to leave. The blame there goes both on our own governmental failings as much as it falls on the Iraqi. Allowing themselves to become so structurally weak and impotent, while being also so arrogant as to dismiss coalition forces in the first place had a very major role in the circumstances that we have arrived at today. Bringing in several regiments of American military infantry support to clean up the mess won’t, however, do anything to solve the long term problems of this new war. For that, the local infantry capable forces are going to need to band together and prepare an offensive and coordinated strategy to end this threat.


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