Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Columns

Why advisers can be important for any leader


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There is no way that a president of the United States can possibly be knowledgeable about everything that he is responsible to supervise or control. He must surround himself with advisers who are experts in various areas.

Being an expert in how to get elected is dramatically different from how to lead a country. For military matters, he has the joint Chiefs of Staff who have risen up through the ranks to the highest level in their respective branches and have spent more than 30 years in their respective service to include combat.

All of the various secretaries in the Cabinet are selected by the president and the Senate has final approval of them. There are countless other individuals who are selected by the president who advise him on every conceivable issue and he alone makes the final selection.

I would expect that a president would select the most qualified individual to be an adviser in a specific field. I also would expect that he would pick someone who he trusts. If I were making the selections, those individuals selected would be of the highest qualifications for the job, and if I did not know them then I would want recommendations from individuals that I did trust. The primary concern would be to have the most qualified individuals possible in the right positions who would provide good advice.

I cannot compare my own experiences with those of the president, but I did command many units that had subordinate elements that I did not have full knowledge about such as motor transport, logistics and communications. I knew enough that I could ask intelligent questions and if things did not sound right, I brought in an expert in that area for advice.

At Parris Island, I asked an expert on physical conditioning to evaluate our conditioning program and offer recommendations on its improvement. It is essential that a leader at any level receive proper advice in order to effectively lead his organization.

There is no substitute for practical experience. Theory and book learning are great, but the real world operates significantly different than what one reads from books or theory. The Normandy invasion looked great on paper, but many of the paratroopers were dropped in the wrong zones. Waves of assault troops missed their landing site on Omaha Beach. In each of those cases, leaders and individuals adjusted because of training and individual initiative, and the results speak for themselves.

Our country keeps data on nearly anything that one can imagine. One example of that data is the percentage of the current administration that has any type of experience outside of government or education. In other words, if they have any experience in the real world. Sadly, there is only about 5 percent who meet that criteria.

The recession start more than five years ago and we continue to suffer from it. The recovery is the longest and slowest since the Great Depression. Could it be that the president is not receiving the right advice on how to improve the economy? It seems that we are doing many of the same things that the government did during the first two terms of the Roosevelt administration and the recession continued.

The administration has been questioned about the IRS, Fast & Furious, NSA and now Syria, with little response. Who is advising the president? Is anyone in charge?

The new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1 and with it the implementation of another portion of Obamacare. The debt ceiling has been reached and only because of innovative bookkeeping has it not been exceeded.

All of these are events that are not supposed to occur. It is time to bring in some true experts who know how the real world works. Any time that I had an adviser who could not do his job, he was replaced. That does not seem to be the case in this administration.

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