Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Someone asked me yesterday why I am such an admirer of the


I guess I'd have to say that I really like the flexibility and pragmatism of it.

There is a lot to be said about taking a 19 year old kid and putting him in charge of a multi million dollar piece of equipment or putting a 20 year old in charge of 8 men and sending them out on a patrol that can actually have a direct bearing on foriegn policy.

The neat part about it is that it works.

The military, in spite of a lot of military bull$hit, actually works, and damned well.

It is interesting, because they use their people to their full potential.

I had been in about two years when I was ordered to teach a class on map reading.

Think about it, a guy with 2 years service being in a teaching role.

In the private sector, they wouldn't let someone with ten years experience teach a class, yet there I was, at the head of a class teaching basics of land nav.

It isn't just me, either. I was taught to survey by sergeants with no college time whatsoever.

Military medicine is something else, too. No bedside manner or anything, just good, solid, get-him-back-on-his-feet practical madicine. The AMA would probably go nuts if some civvy doctor started practicing things the way the services do.

Another thing, the day to day practice of medicine there is not done by MDs, but in most cases by guys with a 12 week school taught down at Fort Sam Houston.

It makes sense, when you think about it.

Everyone wants to see some MD for a lousy little cold, but the truth of it is that an awful lot of medicine doesn't really require the services of someone with those credentials. A trained PA or even a basic medic can do just as good a job at a basic grass roots level.

Over the years I have had a number of things taken care of by a couple of former medics I know with good results. I suppose that they would be thrown in jail if anyone ever nailed down that they had been practicing without a license, but they were not. They were just helping me out on an informal level.

A while back I had a foot injury and got lucky. The doctor was a former GI doctor and we spoke the same language. He and I reached an understanding that I wanted a no BS cure for my injury.

His face lit up and the directions were straighforward and simple. Keep the foot in a cast for six weeks and then remove the cast. Buy a pair of jump boots and hobble around a little bit until the boots are broken in and comfortable. When the boots are broken in, you will be good to go.

This I could understand, and was a pretty good plan until someone in the office of my former employer got wind of it and decided he knew more than a GI doctor that had been assigned to the paratrooper factory as a foot specialist.

I had to see a company doctor who was appalled by the situation and that's when the fight started. The company doc started in with abunch of crap, none of which had to do with fixing my foot and all of which had to do with covering asses.

I balked and stuck to my guns for a while, but finally compromised and played both ends out against the middle. I let the company doctor play his little game, but kept the GI doc as my primary and let the company guy replace my cast with a camwalker.

When 6 weeks had passed, I bought the jump boots and about 10 days later, I saw the GI doc, who gave me a fit for duty slip. I returned to work and that was that, except Ihad to go back to the company doctor and play his little game which lasted for about five minutes, four and a half of which were spent listening to his crap and thirty seconds of which were spent telling him to sign me off, which he did after I raise cain with him.

Back to the original subject.

The military puts things straight down to grass roots and places responsibility down at the lowest level possible. The guys that have to do the actual work make a lot of the grass roots decisions.

A number of years ago, Harley-Davidson did the same thing. It was pretty good because they made a wonderful turn around, going from making junk to making a pretty good product. The guys on the floor were directly involved in the process and things got a lot better. Fast.

The military has a lot going for it when they let things work from the bottom up and that's why I admire them. They utilize their people to allow them to reach a lot closer to their full potential than the civvy world generally does.

Someone once said that WW2 produced a boatload of teachers, and I suppose they were right. That's because the services needed teachers and they made them out of ordinary guys. A lot of guys got out of the service and realized that teaching something like radio repair, mechanics, surveying or administrative tasks wasn't a whole lot different than teaching, say, math, science or industrial arts in a classroom, lab or shop.

The interesting part of this is that a number of people that wound up in military teaching roles had not even finished high school, yet there they were as teachers.

Of course, when they got out at the end of the war, it was off to the classroom compliments of the GI Bill.

They were right. A lot of my teachers as a kid were WW2 guys that had done just that and for the most part, they were pretty good.

They were also pretty good at keeping smart assed kids like me in line, too, which is a lot more than I can say for some of the other teachers I had.

Anyway, there's a lot to be said for the way the military operates and they have a lot to teach American business.

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