Small Wars Journal

Passed Over For Captain. Why?

Tue, 12/01/2015 - 4:19pm

Passed Over For Captain. Why??

At War on the Rocks: First Steps Towards the Force of the Future. A 1st Lieutenant says he was passed over because after being commissioned, he had spent two years studying at Oxford instead of holding the standard military jobs expected of junior officers during that period of their careers.

There has to be “a rest of the story” element here.


I agree with Dave's comment about the rest of the story. Promotions for officers are too fast in the junior grades as it is. Sending junior officers to additional civilian schooling during their critical formative years where they learn their craft, distracts further from building the needed tactical expertise for an infantry officer to assume responsibility for leading a company into combat. While tactical actions can have a strategic effect, at the end of the day we still need tactical experts at that level. If this LT is getting groomed for alternative career track that is another story.

I don't think a degree from Harvard or Yale will replace the needed tactical experience at that grade. If we desire to get junior officers who demonstrate exceptional academic capability into these schools fine, but then we should slow down the promotions for the junior grades so they can still get the necessary muddy boots experience at the tactical level. Promotions can be accelerated later in the field grade ranks for those that demonstrate exceptional talent. I realize we have a personnel system that doesn't do that now, but it can changed to facilitate that. However, for those we desire to lead our troops in combat as company commanders we still must focus on developing their tactical expertise.


Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:54am

<BLOCKQUOTE>There has to be “a rest of the story” element here.</BLOCKQUOTE>

Does there actually? Dr. Tim Kane has written extensively on this phenomenon, and I suspect we've all seen our fair share of candidates who failed to commission for wholly arbitrary reasons, or failed to promote for the same. A "rest of the story" is entirely possible, but I don't find the alternative - that this officer was deemed non-competitive because his experiences didn't square with the accepted norm - to be particularly difficult to believe.