What should organizations -- or, in the case of the military, our government -- do to counteract the tendency for general officers to hang on too long?
The most senior positions in the US military are the four-star generals. Our military promotion system is "Up or Out" for the forty or so officers in that position, and that number is capped by statute. For these most senior officers, appointments are made by the president and confirmed by the majority vote of the Senate.
The prescribed assignments include senior combatant commanders (General Petraeus of US CENTCOM), service chiefs (Army Chief General George Casey) and vice chiefs (for Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines), and Joint Chiefs (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and his vice chairman, Marine Corps General James Cartwright.)
The nominal assignment is three years, with two years as the base with a one-year extension. The four-star generals serve at the pleasure of the president and decisions for appointment or relief are recommend by senior advisors on military affairs--the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Once a four-star general is relieved from the position, the officer must be reappointed to a position at the same grade, revert to a lower grade, or retire within 60 days. As General MacArthur said to a joint session of Congress in 1951 after his dismissal, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away."
Thus, the process for ensuring senior military leaders do not stagnate is provided in structure by law and a review process by senior leaders who have the ultimate responsibility to build the best team possible to protect our national security interests.
Posted by: okme | May 30, 2009 6:22 PM
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