Gen. David H. Petraeus, the new U.S. commander in Iraq, is assembling a small band of warrior-intellectuals — including a quirky Australian anthropologist, a Princeton economist who is the son of a former U.S. attorney general and a military expert on the Vietnam War sharply critical of its top commanders — in an eleventh-hour effort to reverse the downward trend in the Iraq war.
Army officers tend to refer to the group as “Petraeus guys.” They are smart colonels who have been noticed by Petraeus, and who make up one of the most selective clubs in the world: military officers with doctorates from top-flight universities and combat experience in Iraq.
Since it appears that I pissed off the “new” establishment when I pointed out that much of his new thinking paralleled my own earlier work.
…which reminded me of an old peeve of mine: external eggs-perts. Seniors love to call in consultants to solve problems. They never bother to ask those actually working the job because how in the world could any kind of original thinking reside in-house? Where do those consultants go for their answers? There is always an academic study or two referenced in the final report but usually the list of suggestions is generated from the feedback that Alice and Bob provided when the eggs-perts came slinking through the workplace to do their survey. Usually the recommended changes aren’t put into practice because they negatively impact the role/power/authority of the people who commissioned the study in the first place (or they’re twisted to argue for a bigger rice bowl) but that’s just another argument for staying in-house in the first place: you save money twice.
There are many wells to tap when you’re looking for solutions and they don’t call come with big price tags and require MBAs (or Ph.D.s) to discover. For Petraeus, that his advisors are war-vet Colonels is gravy; he could have gotten equally good results by tapping a couple of smart young Captains (and SSGs) who were familiar with the GG/Zen/5GW/tdaxp universe. The added bonus being that the youngsters have at least another decade of military life in them – prepping them for leadership gigs in the “long” part of the “long war” – while most of the Colonels will have (Ret) after their names before long.
I understand that busy Seniors don’t have time to do their own research, but in this day and age if they’re not tapping expertise in-house – and exhausting all the open sources of ideas they can – then calling in outsiders who are going to charge for something that is free is waste, fraud and abuse.