In the Arena

The Army’s Brain Drain

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Tom Ricks has the sad news that Lt. Colonel John Nagl, one of our smartest, finest officers, is leaving the Army. This continues a trend–the best and brightest, especially those associated with formulating the Army’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual–are either being passed over for promotion (as Colonel H.R. McMaster was) or simply leaving for a variety of reasons that almost always add up to frustration with a bureacracy still controlled by the unsuccessful and the unimaginative. Add: This, by Andrew Tilghman, is an excellent summary of the problem.

On a personal note, Nagl was one of the people who taught me most about the intricacies of Counterinsurgency doctrine, a stern taskmaster who gave me elaborate reading assignments…and earloads of grief worthy of a Swampland commenter, “Klein, you’re so stupid,” he’d say, “It’s a miracle you can put on your shoes in the morning.”

I’m sure he’ll continue to teach and berate me from his new perch at the Center for a New American Security, but you have to fear for the future of an Army that keeps on losing officers like this one. Thank you for your service to our country, Colonel. The first round in DC is on you.