An Officer?..Or an Idiot?

This is to all the former or current military out there.

Possibly because I’ve just started a new job, and am working with retired officers, I once again realize that most of them are totally worthless IMO. Especially in today’s technical military. Most enlisted personnel work on millions of dollars worth of equipment, and have years of specialized training. I work with former 0-6’s here that can’t figure out how to work the damn copier.

I have worked with a total of 1 officer that I though was truly on the ball…in 6 years of Naval service.

So what about all the other vets out there…what is your opinion of them in our military? Are they needed?..or are they a leftover from a hundred years ago when the common enlisted soldier/sailor really was perhaps illiterate or un-educated?

ChiefScott, I’m especially curiouse about your response…as an e-7 or above, I realize that your interaction with the officer cadre is more detailed than mine. And I have always respected those in the NCO category…

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

I’n not a vet, but my Grandfather, who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War, had a saying:

"Q. What’s the most dangerous thing in the world?

A. An officer with a map."

I can not make general statements; but I can respond based on personal experience.

I was enlisted in the Army as a Medic in a MASH unit. Actually, I was National Guard, but was activated and served in the Persian Gulf War.

Most of the officers I knew were either doctors or RN’s. They appeared to be very competent in their given specialties. Could they drive an tank or negotiate a minefield? Not on your life. But they were good at what they were expected to do.

My dad was a surgeon in the Navy. I’m sure he did a great job (unbiased opinion, of course :)).

I’m sure there is a mix of good and bad in the military, as in all other spheres.

Guess I should have clarified that…the Doctors in the military are a little different…they went to school to do their job…and (if I recall correctly)aren’t allowed to serve as line officers, most other officers just happen to have a degree in something (basketweaving) and somehow the military thinks this qualifies them to be in charge…

I haven’t lost my mind, I have a tape backup around somewhere.

First, a little background: I was an enlisted person in the Navy for almost 6 years. My husband was enlisted for 12 years and was commissioned (via an enlisted-to-commissioned officer program) 10 years ago. He just found out that he picked up LCmdr.

Anyway. When I was active duty I often heard some variation on Atreal’s rant.

SN Smith: Who the hell is Lt. Shmoe to tell ME what to do? SHE can’t even operate the Grubelbuckle!

Well, here’s a newsflash, SN Smith – Lt. Shmoe doesn’t HAVE to operate the Grubelbuckle. That’s YOUR job!

Comparing officers and enlisted people this way is like comparing apples and oranges. Enlisted people are labor. Officers are management. Two different jobs.

As I mentioned before, my husband is a Mustang (Navy-speak for an officer with enlisted experience). His hardest challenge as a junior officer was to remember his new function as a manager. His first impulse was usually to take the Grubelbuckle away from SN Smith and show him how to operate it more efficiently – or, hell, just perform the Grubelbucklesession himself. Eventually, he learned to do his own job and let everyone else in the division do theirs. SN Smith (and Atrael) need to learn to do the same.

Atrael? Have the divisions you’ve worked at run efficiently? Have they met all obligations in a timely fashion? If so, then I guarentee that your officers HAVE been doing their jobs. It’s just a different one than yours.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

I also guarantee that I really know how to spell “guarantee.” Really.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

Is a Grubelbuckle bigger than a toilet seat? Does it cost more?

More than a Home Depot toilet seat, but less than a Pentagon one.

Jess, I’m gonna be very understanding about this. A mustang is a different creature…he/she has worked their way through the ranks, and has learned managment abilities on the job, as well as knowing when to listen to their enlisted personel.
The 1 officer I mentioned that had a clue was a mustang

FYI, I was a DS2…named SOQ several times, received SOY for my command once…and was the most often requested technician for deployment on my last tour. I’m not some SN that came out of boot camp with an attitude.

The comment that Officers are Mangment is simply an out-dated concept. Take a look at the real world for a few minutes…many of the jobs that are being “down-sized” are those very same management positions…Why?..because it’s been found that dedicated workers that are treated with respect, are perfectly capable of managing themselves.

Enlisted people are only for labor huh?..Well, then I must have imagined all those hours spent scheduleing PMS, or writting reviews. Completing sit-rep reports. Creating presentations with suggestions for system utilization and personel managment.

Just to give you one glaring example of the incompetence in some officers, I disticly remember an instance at my last command. We were holding a conferance for surface warfare officers…about Link-11/satelite comms/etc. I was placed in a very poor postition by my OIC as I sat there and listened to him pass on totally incorrect information about the system, it’s capabilities, and limitations. These were the people that were going to be employing us…the ones that requested our services. He had absolutly no idea what he was talking about, and refused to let one of us give the briefing. Did my divison run smoothly?..Sure did…we ignored most everything he suggested and did things the correct way…and that was my LPO’s decision.

I never had a problem with the officers I worked with that came out and said “Hey, I don’t know how you do your job, but these are the things that need to be finished today”…What I did have a problem with was them telling me how to do my job.

If you had read my OP, I stated that this particular form of military structure, is most probably left over from the time when your common soldier/sailor had little or no education. This is simply not true now. I can assure you that the Chiefs/Senior Chiefs/Master Chiefs would be able to handle 75% of the “managment” duties that most officers have.

Are all officers unnecessary?..No, the nuclear power engineers are extreamly important…as are Medical doctors. And at a certain level (o-5 and above) Tactical training and knowlege are important also.
However, I do believe that unless the miltary re-structers itself, it will continue to have a shortage of qualified and trained personnel. I loved my time in the Navy, and would have re-enlisted…except that the above-mentioned officer was literally the “straw that broke the camel’s back”

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls, let the machine get it."

Tried to post last night; kept getting interal server errors…

Whew - where to start. Everyone probably knows I am a Army doc & Major. But… before med school I did 4 years of ROTC & 4 years as a lab officer (Supervising the Chemistry section of a hospital lab).

First, the fact that one officer couldn’t run the Xerox machine is no different from a managerial-level corporate employee, or many other professional persons. I’m sure, however, you can think of many more examples if pushed…

Secondly, the main difference between the college education officers have & that that enlisted service members need to obtain to advance is the leadership training. Pathways to become officers include West Point, ROTC, and regular college + several weeks Officer Candidate School (An Officer & a Gentleman). That’s the party line, anyway. Actually, enlisted service members get plently of leadership training along the way. By design, the emphasis is different - the officer’s focus is on mission accomplishment & motivating subordinate leaders to push all out all the time. The NCOs focus is on taking care of the soldiers so they can/want to drive hard & accomplish the mission & exceed expectations. Officers generally put mission first, people second if it comes to a crunch; NCOs have the responsibility to temper that, while still accomplishing the job. (NOTE: There are a thousand ways to define what is officer business, and what is NCO business - this is one of the fundamental differences, but a gross oversimplification in a futile attempt at brevity :wink: )

Nowhere is this tension more apparent when very junior officers work with junior NCOs. Lieutenants often have no clue how to run a motor pool, or organize the training for a batallion, or decide how to best use a tank in a simulated battle. They don’t know what their own , let alone their platoon/unit’s, capabilities really are, and with stars in their eyes, try to do some really, really funny things. The sergeant (E-5), on the other hand, remembers very clearly what it is like to be a peon, and are often less than fully confident in their ability to motivate/push the soldiers below them for a good cause, let alone for the crazy-ass scheme the wet-behind-the-ears lieutenant just ordered. This too, is by design, and both LT & SGT learn a lot fast if they’re going to succeed in their new roles.

Junior officers are often thrown into situations in which they know nothing about the day-to-day tasks performed by the people under them. If there are good people under them THEY DON’T NEED TO. If they try to learn all the nitty-gritty about repairing a deuce and a half (big truck), that takes away from the soldier whose job it is to know how to do that, and prevents him from planning the training that will keep the soldiers up to speed in all aspects of their job.

When I look at the senior NCOs I work with today, I see a group who have clawed their way through college on a lot tougher schedule than I ever had, even taking 18 hours 1 semester. By & large, I think the difference between them & the officers they work with is that they hed lower expectations of themselves and/or less means at the time they left they left home & high school. They are bright, well-educated, and highly professional. The lines between officers & NCOs really are blurring. The responsibilities of a mid-level NCO is similar to that of a junior officer, as are the responsibilities of senior NCOs & mid-level officers. There is a wide gulf in pay, however, and in the respect accorded them from the civilian sector. It is time for some changes.

Sue from El Paso


You know damn well, or you should if you read her post above, that Jess did not by any means say “enlisted are only for labor.”

What she said is that “enlisted are labor.”

Are you so completely unfamiliar with reality that you don’t recognize that in a large organization there’s two groups of folks: Management and Labor.

Or did you just read the post in a hurry?

If what you say above about your military experience is true, then you also know that the three-tiered rank structure in the United States military is completely based on the Management/Labor concept with the warrant officers being a “bridge” between Management and Labor.

PN1, U.S. Navy

Sue: as a senior petty officer, I thank you for an outstanding description of the situation.