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OCdts in Leadership Positions Discussion

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=ballz]

A CO may very well brief a Bde Comd that all he's got left to lead the attack on the hill is an OCdt, he can brief that he's mitigated the risk as best he can by pairing him up with the best SM available, the best 3x WOs are leading the platoons, etc.
[/quote]

I find this completely ridiculous about us. That RSM, SM or even WOs will have been on tons and tons of attacks in training over the last 20 or 30 years but because of how our system is geared, that OCdt would be calling the shots. In that situation I'd hope the Bde Comd would tell the most experienced NCM presto chango battlefield commission there you go, get er' done.
 

ballz

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Jarnhamar said:
I find this completely ridiculous about us. That RSM, SM or even WOs will have been on tons and tons of attacks in training over the last 20 or 30 years but because of how our system is geared, that OCdt would be calling the shots. In that situation I'd hope the Bde Comd would tell the most experienced NCM presto chango battlefield commission there you go, get er' done.

There are some RSMs, CSMs, WOs I wouldn't trust to set up lunch (can't wait for the pile on*). Experience is a force multiplier... if you start with zero, anything multiplied by zero is zero.

We're talking wild hypotheticals here... if a Battalion has been wiped of every officer it has and all that is left is the OJT OCdt, there's probably not many WOs or SNCOs left either... they might collapse the Bn, they might completely reconstitute, they might move officers from another Battalion in, they might also commission** that RSM, or CSM, or WO, so that it isn't the OCdt in the lead... or, or, or... so there is plenty of possibilities within our system to be flexible if those in charge have flexible minds. That doesn't even get into actual replacement pools.

*The CAF is quasi-meritocracy, and quasi-seniority based. I'd say it about any rank as a result, because due to the seniority-based part, creatures of all kinds make it to all rank levels. If you're hurt about the comment, I don't care.

**Not sure what the Regs are about this, but in war I suspect a lot of bureaucratic red tape goes away and this kind of stuff becomes a lot easier. Would be curious to hear about it from someone who is in the know.
 

daftandbarmy

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Jarnhamar said:
Right, you probably weren't very experienced but you were trained (sounds like well trained).

I was thinking more along the lines of what SeaKingTacco was talking about, someone being put in charge of people while but not being trained. Not something that would happen in combat (I hope) but the premise is an untrained person being put in charge over someone with decades of experience because they're named an officer. Just interesting.

Had Officer Cadet Leslie Kenderesi not committed career seppeku he could have hypothetically transferred to a local reserve regiment and in a very hypothetical situation, be put in command of half of this forum.

Um... I don't think so.

OCdts in Reserve units are usually not OCdts for very long. There are exceptions, of course, but they usually head off on the course that will qualify them to 2Lt.

I've employed OCdts in supporting tasks before like 'carry my radio', or 'join a rifle section to learn the ropes', always under supervision. I don't think I've ever seen one actually in charge of troops, unless it was for a work party helping out with a social function of some kind like getting set up for the Soldiers' Xmas dinner.

Occasionally you'll find an OCdt with previous service, a former NCM, and then you can feel confident giving them more responsibility of course.

In any case, on the list of 'things that can go terribly wrong' in a Reserve unit, the spectre of a ridiculously unstable OCdt leading soldiers (cowed by the awesome overlordship of said OCdt) to their deaths is very near the bottom.

In my unit, for example, the only people who've killed/ seriously injured anyone was a SNCO who beat another SNCO to death during a mess function and yes, they were both drunk. Then there were the suicides, assisted by mind altering substances in some cases apparently. And the car accidents. And the dangerous pedophile who was, astonishingly, not the most Junior and least trained Officer in the regiment.

Ipso facto, want to make Reserve units safer? Get rid of the alcohol. And the pedophiles.
 

FJAG

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I echo daftandbarmy's views.

Honestly, when is the last time that you saw an officer cadet in any role in Afghanistan? We just don't send untrained officer candidates, especially combat arms ones, into combat-for leadership positions or otherwise. Maybe they had 14 year old midshipmen as gun captains on the HMS Nelson at Trafalgar, but we're just a bit too risk averse for that.

Like daftandbarmy I spent almost a year as an officer cadet learning my role as both a gunner and a leader of gunners before I received my commission. The reason I was commissioned was because an instructor in gunnery captain and three assistant instructors in gunnery Snr NCOs (a WO and two sergeants) deigned me capable of leading gunners in battle. I became a gun position officer of a three gun troop and two months later was leading my troop with loaded rifles in the streets of Montreal on Op Essay.

Oh. One more point. If I was a brigade commander and a CO whose unit had suffered severe leadership casualties "briefed me" that he was putting an officer cadet in charge of an attack mitigated by backing him up with the best SM and 3 best pl WOs available, I'd probably fire him on the spot. Firstly for being a weasel who is "risk managing upwards", secondly for not sorting the situation out properly on his own without bothering me about it, and thirdly for not putting the "best SM available" in charge in the first place. There's a reason why the powers of punishment of a commanding officer under the Code of Service Discipline exceeded that of a Superior Commander - the CO is the leadership kingpin of the war fighting system; he's the interface between the gritty human side of battle violence and the higher more esoteric resource allocating side.

:cheers:
 

Jarnhamar

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Reductio ad absurdum for sure. I'm just saying I find it weird that an untrained officer can be put in charge.

It happened to SeaKingTacco and the world didn't catch on fire.
 

ballz

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FJAG said:
Oh. One more point. If I was a brigade commander and a CO whose unit had suffered severe leadership casualties "briefed me" that he was putting an officer cadet in charge of an attack mitigated by backing him up with the best SM and 3 best pl WOs available I'd probably fire him on the spot. Firstly for being a weasel who is "risk managing upwards", secondly for not sorting the situation out properly on his own without bothering me about it, and thirdly for not putting the "best SM available" in charge in the first place.

Sounds like you'd be a pretty useless Brigade Commander then. CO's brief their constraints and how they're mitigating them (or if they can't) to a Bde Comd all the time. I see the Bde Comd do it with the Div Comd. The Div Comd does it with the Army Comd. That's not "risk managing up," that's realizing what is important info that they might consider relevant, a useful skill. The superior Comd will often re-jig taskings, or nix a task, or provide more resources, etc. If this were not happening, we'd get a lot more shitty outcomes because the Comd's head is too busy being up is *** to you know, do his job. Have you never had a subordinate fail, only to find out there was something they needed that you could have provided, but they didn't think to ask (or in your case, that they could ask), and you wished the would have because you'd have provided them the extra resource?

The point of that hypothetical was to demonstrate "who is responsible when a mistake gets made," and the answer is whoever is the one that accepted the risk. It puts a CO in a spot where he has a legal constraint that an OCdt *must* be in charge due to the legal ramifications of our rank structure. The CO rightfully sees this is a pretty huge risk the Bde Comd may want to know exists and let's him know the constraints he's facing. Then I go on to describe the many different, real options, that would prevent this scenario from ever existing.

FJAG said:
There's a reason why the powers of punishment of a commanding officer under the Code of Service Discipline exceeded that of a Superior Commander - the CO is the leadership kingpin of the war fighting system; he's the interface between the gritty human side of battle violence and the higher more esoteric resource allocating side.

So the Bde Comd tells the CO 1 XXX to take his 800 troops and conquer China. When the whole Battalion dies, the CO is responsible for getting all his troops killed? At some point it's not the CO's fault, the CO was legally ordered to do it. It was the person's who decided to take that risk.
 

FJAG

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ballz said:
Sounds like you'd be a pretty useless Brigade Commander then. CO's brief their constraints and how they're mitigating them (or if they can't) to a Bde Comd all the time. I see the Bde Comd do it all the time with the Div Comd. I've seen the Div Comd do it with the Army Comd. That's not "risk managing up," that's realizing what is important info that they might consider relevant, a useful skill. The superior Comd will often re-jig taskings, or nix a task, or provide more resources, etc. If this were not happening, we'd get a lot more shitty outcomes because the Comd's head is too busy being up is *** to you know, do his job. Have you never had a subordinate fail, only to find out there was something they needed that you could have provided, but they didn't think to ask (or in your case, that they could ask), and you wished the would have because you'd have provided them the extra resource?

You missed the point before and you are still missing it. The trouble was that you used a ridiculous example to start with. Your example wasn't a CO saying "I don't have the resources and need more or I can't do it". The way that you word your example has the CO already making a decision and is now trying to spread the responsibility for it. Your example had the CO tell the brigade commander that "I'm using an officer cadet but giving him support" not merely as information but, as you put it, "If the Bde Comd accepts that risk after being told, the Bde Comd is responsible for the outcome, IMO." That's "risk managing up" or perhaps more accurately "preemptively attempting to cover your ass upwards."

It's the intent that you put into the example that's the problem. It wasn't a mere briefing of constraints but a shift of responsibility. There's a subtle difference between the two which you are missing.

quote author=ballz link=topic=133368/post-1638886#msg1638886 date=1607664400]
The point of that hypothetical was to demonstrate "who is responsible when a mistake gets made," and the answer is whoever is the one that accepted the risk. It puts a CO in a spot where he has a legal constraint that an OCdt *must* be in charge due to the legal ramifications of our rank structure. The CO rightfully sees this is a pretty huge risk the Bde Comd may want to know exists and let's him know the constraints he's facing. Then I go on to describe the many different, real options, that would prevent this scenario from ever existing.[/quote]

Again the problem is that your example is poorly constructed. In no circumstance is a CO under a legal constraint to put the officer cadet in charge because of his rank. If the other, more senior leaders are casualties he can always easily move the officer cadet out of the company (where we'd never put him anyway) and make him a watchkeeper in the CP. You are very right. The CO is taking a very huge risk with that decision and it's a decision that he is the most qualified person to make as all the people involved are his who the CO knows intimately. The brigade commander wouldn't know the quality of the decision without a lengthy explanation. If it's the huge risk that you recognize it to be then it's a risk the CO should have eliminated in the first place. Hence, any brigade commander, not just us pretty useless ones, would lose confidence in this particular CO.

ballz said:
So the Bde Comd tells the CO 1 XXX to take his 800 troops and conquer China. When the whole Battalion dies, the CO is responsible for getting all his troops killed? At some point it's not the CO's fault, the CO was legally ordered to do it. It was the person's who decided to take that risk.

Now that's just plain silly isn't it?

You see, I completely agree with this quote of yours:

Weighing, balancing, eliminating, mitigating, and accepting risk are why we have Commanders.

The trouble is that your initial officer cadet scenario doesn't jive with the thrust of the rest of your comments after that quote about individuals ducking responsibility for the risks they assumed by putting lower ranked people into leadership positions where they failed. In fact, your officer cadet scenario is just another example of a CO preemptively trying to duck his responsibility (in that case of assigning the right person to lead one of his companies) by advising the brigade commander in such a way as to have the Bde Comd accept that risk -- i.e. upwards instead of downwards. That's why that CO should be fired from command just like those individuals you cite later as unfairly dumping responsibility/accountability on their corporals.

:cheers:
 

ballz

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FJAG said:
Your example wasn't a CO saying "I don't have the resources and need more or I can't do it". The way that you word your example has the CO already making a decision and is now trying to spread the responsibility for it. Your example had the CO tell the brigade commander that "I'm using an officer cadet but giving him support" not merely as information

My example was entirely meant to be in the context of back-brief style conversation and the CO ensuring the Bde Comd is aware "I don't have the resources, if I am to do this task these are the constraints I am facing which means I'll have OCdt X leading Y task." I know what it means to try to pass the buck up, that's not what the example was meant to be. If that's how I wrote it or how you read it (communication being a two-way street), then I assume it's a written communication barrier here as that wasn't what was meant to be portrayed. You seem to have honed in on the word "told" where as I used the word "brief" twice as well.

A CO may very well brief a Bde Comd that all he's got left to lead the attack on the hill is an OCdt, he can brief that he's mitigated the risk as best he can by pairing him up with the best SM available, the best 3x WOs are leading the platoons, etc. If the Bde Comd accepts that risk after being told, the Bde Comd is responsible for the outcome, IMO. The Chain of Command doesn't stop at the unit level.

I think you're getting caught up in trying to think details beyond the intent of a hypothetical that, like I said, would never occur. But even so, you might also be supporting my point... by firing the CO and instituting your own plan, you've taken the risk and dealt with it yourself... in any case, whether you told the CO to carry on with his plan as it was (i.e.... accept the plan and associated risks), fired him and the next ranking officer (the OCdt) so that the RSM can take over (mitigate risk), led the attack yourself (mitigate the risk), or changed the plan entirely so that this task no longer exists (eliminate the risk), in some way you've made a decision about risk and you are responsible for your decisions.

It's the intent that you put into the example that's the problem. It wasn't a mere briefing of constraints but a shift of responsibility. There's a subtle difference between the two which you are missing.

My intent was the first example, not the second. I'm not "missing the subtle difference," I know the difference between the two, you're misreading / I'm not being clear enough.

FJAG said:
Again the problem is that your example is poorly constructed. In no circumstance is a CO under a legal constraint to put the officer cadet in charge because of his rank.

In no literal circumstance. In this hypothetical circumstance, he was.

FJAG said:
If the other, more senior leaders are casualties he can always easily move the officer cadet out of the company (where we'd never put him anyway) and make him a watchkeeper in the CP.

You don't need to convince me. I've already stated there is no plausible way it ever comes to this because there are so many other viable options.

FJAG said:
about individuals ducking responsibility

Like I said, that's not what it was about. You seem to be assuming the worst of me, that I'm literally so stupid that I don't know the difference between two clearly different things, to interpret my communication this way.
 

Halifax Tar

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Jarnhamar said:
I find this completely ridiculous about us. That RSM, SM or even WOs will have been on tons and tons of attacks in training over the last 20 or 30 years but because of how our system is geared, that OCdt would be calling the shots. In that situation I'd hope the Bde Comd would tell the most experienced NCM presto chango battlefield commission there you go, get er' done.

I concur.  I liken it too a Fire Dept or Police Dept taking a kid off the street and putting them as Station Chiefs or Precinct Chiefs.  Its ridiculous. 

I agree TI and Exp is not always a predictor or performance or potential but I will side with that over the "educated" and untrained any day.

But you have to look at where our rank system comes from and the British class system it mirrors.

ON TOPIC:

I was informed yesterday the OCdt returned his uniforms and kit yesterday. 
 

Remius

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Has an OCdt ever been placed in that situation when Crap hits the fan though?  Or have they been given small party tasks or put in that position in training or on exercises?  To give him more experience? 

How many Ocdts led patrols in Afghanistan or led a platoon fighting patrol in WW2?  I think we overblow this a bit sometimes. 

I’ve been in a few situations where Ocdts where “in charge” but they were carefully watched and sorted out by their Snr NCOs and never in any real situation.  It was exercises or small tasks.

Are we ok with 2Lts calling the shots?  Because a lot of them were Ocdts maybe a few months or weeks before.  What’s different about their limited experience?

But maybe someone had a different experience. 

At the end of the day we should appreciate every training and learning opportunity an Ocdt gets because at some point he’ll be doing it for real.  I’d rather he get that experience as soon as possible and as many times as feasible.  Even if it means he’s “calling the shots” over more experienced NCMs.
 

kev994

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I’m pretty sure OCdt was not on the list of people who could go to Afghanistan. There was a min rank that CJOC would accept, it’s been a while but I don’t think they were taking 2Lt either.
 

Remius

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kev994 said:
I’m pretty sure OCdt was not on the list of people who could go to Afghanistan. There was a min rank that CJOC would accept, it’s been a while but I don’t think they were taking 2Lt either.

Exactly.  Ocdts aren’t being put in charge of life threatening situations or complex missions. 

We shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape if an Ocdt gets put into the breach on exercises or for small tasks.  If anything, as frustrating as it might be in the moment, it is a learning experience that I believe they need. 
 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=Remius]

We shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape if an Ocdt gets put into the breach on exercises or for small tasks. 
[/quote]

I didn't think anyone was getting bent out of shape. It's an interesting topic.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Remius said:
Exactly.  Ocdts aren’t being put in charge of life threatening situations or complex missions. 

We shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape if an Ocdt gets put into the breach on exercises or for small tasks.  If anything, as frustrating as it might be in the moment, it is a learning experience that I believe they need.

We put Pte's and Cpl's into jnr leadership positions all the time;  I was a young Trooper and made Acting Tent Group Commander on Winter Indoc, with a Master-Jack as my 2 I/C.  Why wouldn't we do the same thing with OCdt's and even 2Lts?

On an Aurora crew, there will be a Crew Commander, a Lead ACSO, a Lead Flt Engr, and a Lead AES Op...each are appointments that are given by the CO.  Each of those come with different qualification requirements (which guarantee a minimum TI level).  Skippers (crew commander), for example, have to go before a Board at the Sqn. 

There are "Actings" in each of those positions, frequently, on training flights and exercises and, situation-dependant, sometimes on operations.  How else would you ever prepare people for the position and responsibilities that comes with it and be effective when they are the Lead of Record?

Would the AC make a green First Officer the Acting AC on his/her 2nd flight off MOAT?  Nope...they'd probably have a more senior pilot closing their upgrade to AC, but the Shiny new FO would be expected to take on knowledge and gain experience.

Walk, jog, run.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Remius said:
Has an OCdt ever been placed in that situation when Crap hits the fan though?  Or have they been given small party tasks or put in that position in training or on exercises?  To give him more experience? 

How many Ocdts led patrols in Afghanistan or led a platoon fighting patrol in WW2?  I think we overblow this a bit sometimes. 

I’ve been in a few situations where Ocdts where “in charge” but they were carefully watched and sorted out by their Snr NCOs and never in any real situation.  It was exercises or small tasks.

Are we ok with 2Lts calling the shots?  Because a lot of them were Ocdts maybe a few months or weeks before.  What’s different about their limited experience?

But maybe someone had a different experience. 

At the end of the day we should appreciate every training and learning opportunity an Ocdt gets because at some point he’ll be doing it for real.  I’d rather he get that experience as soon as possible and as many times as feasible.  Even if it means he’s “calling the shots” over more experienced NCMs.
  Holy frig, I had no idea I would cause a such a crap storm with my 30 year old anecdote of my OCdt self commanding real troops during an exercise. For context, I had already been in the Mob for nearly 4 years; was only 4 months away from being Commissioned; it wasn’t Juno Beach; it wasn’t even a live fire FTX; we all had fun and nobody died, plus I got a valuable learning experience that lasted me a career.

As for 2Lts commanding in Combat- why not? They are qualified, are they not? Another 30 year old anecdote: as a newly promoted Lt (I was 3 months into the rank from 2Lt) I took my Troops to Gulf War 1, independent from my unit (ie, I was not supervised/commanded by CO, rather I was detached). As it turns out, we did not have to shoot anybody for real, but nobody that I recall gave any serious objection to an Lt having an independent command with such autonomy (I had very wide arcs, because nobody had ever done what I was being asked to do).

To circle all this back around to the Ocdt “specimen” in question, he is/was an OCdt in COATs. The way the cadet organization structured, you could spend a good deal of time (years) as an OCdt, all the while mentoring/leading youth. That should give everybody pause to think. An OCdt can have great deal more influence, in that context, than one might think. It really isn’t a “throwaway, training rank” as some have suggested.

This is my real concern- is this dude, stupid enough to unmask himself by speaking at a public rally, the tip of an iceberg? Has COATs been infiltrated by mouth breathers like him who now can influence an entire generation of kids?
 

Good2Golf

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Having been part of a shmozzle of 10-15 OCdts and 2Lts smashing solo around the night sky in jets in near complete darkness at speeds at times upwards of 300-400 mph, each one of us an AC...I mirror the spirit of SeaKingTacco’s earlier
Post...being an OCdt does not automatically relegate one to the ranks of the incompetent.  The subject OCdt clearly has a number of issues going on that characterize him as a wee bit away from the median data point of Officer Cadeterry. :nod:
 

Jarnhamar

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Good2Golf said:
Having been part of a shmozzle of 10-15 OCdts and 2Lts smashing solo around the night sky in jets in near complete darkness at speeds at times upwards of 300-400 mph, each one of us an AC...I mirror the spirit of SeaKingTacco’s earlier
Post...being an OCdt does not automatically relegate one to the ranks of the incompetent.  The subject OCdt clearly has a number of issues going on that characterize him as a wee bit away from the median data point of Officer Cadeterry. :nod:

That completely takes the wind out of my argument. Great points.
 

Remius

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SeaKingTacco said:
  Holy frig, I had no idea I would cause a such a crap storm with my 30 year old anecdote of my OCdt self commanding real troops during an exercise. For context, I had already been in the Mob for nearly 4 years; was only 4 months away from being Commissioned; it wasn’t Juno Beach; it wasn’t even a live fire FTX; we all had fun and nobody died, plus I got a valuable learning experience that lasted me a career.

As for 2Lts commanding in Combat- why not? They are qualified, are they not? Another 30 year old anecdote: as a newly promoted Lt (I was 3 months into the rank from 2Lt) I took my Troops to Gulf War 1, independent from my unit (ie, I was not supervised/commanded by CO, rather I was detached). As it turns out, we did not have to shoot anybody for real, but nobody that I recall gave any serious objection to an Lt having an independent command with such autonomy (I had very wide arcs, because nobody had ever done what I was being asked to do).

You are making my point.  Glad we agree. 
 

LittleBlackDevil

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SeaKingTacco said:
To circle all this back around to the Ocdt “specimen” in question, he is/was an OCdt in COATs. The way the cadet organization structured, you could spend a good deal of time (years) as an OCdt, all the while mentoring/leading youth. That should give everybody pause to think. An OCdt can have great deal more influence, in that context, than one might think. It really isn’t a “throwaway, training rank” as some have suggested.

I agree that especially with COATS its not just a "throwaway, training rank" but even when I was in the infantry, while I was the lowest of the low, I still wasn't quite nothing as an OCdt. At the risk of making more heads explode, I recall being in charge of some troops on one weekend FTX shortly before I was sent off to Gagetown for my phase training. As with other examples, no one died, and I learned.

Back to COATS, just speaking from my own experience with Cadets, it is possible for people to be OCdts for a long time and to have authority/education position with cadets. Heck, as a civilian volunteer I am holding an officer role (Supply Officer) and instruct classes, supervise cadets, and all that good stuff. Also, the TrgO at my unit for the last two years was an OCdt who was unable to take his BOTC due to issues outside his control. So it is no small thing and very concerning that this creature is/was a CIC OCdt and would have not only some but possibly substantial interaction and influence over young Canadians.

That said ...

SeaKingTacco said:
This is my real concern- is this dude, stupid enough to unmask himself by speaking at a public rally, the tip of an iceberg? Has COATs been infiltrated by mouth breathers like him who now can influence an entire generation of kids?

I doubt that COATs has been infiltrated by any large number of these people. The application process, which I have been struggling through for over a year now, has struck me as impressively robust. I think that this guy would more likely be an outlier who somehow slipped through undetected ... not really sure how he managed that but I suppose not all interviewers are created equal and there does seem to be some discrepancy in how the process works at different recruiting centres given the anecdotes/stories I have swapped with other CIC/COATS applicants.

On the other hand, the lengthy and onerous application process may ironically allow some bad apples to get through. Because CIC/COATS is apparently at only 40% of how many officers they actually need (so I've been told) and I am sure they lose a lot of quality applicants who are not willing/able to persevere through two years+ application process. Whereas an idiot who just holds out may make it through. I question how any CO signed-off on this guy, but given how desperate some units are for numbers maybe they are not always as discerning as we'd like. I know my CO signed off on me faster than I expected, but on the other hand she did know I had spent four years as an infantry officer so had some previous screening.

Again, this is merely anecdotal, but all of the CIC officers I have encountered seemed solid. Keep in mind that there are something on the order of 7,500 CIC officers. So in any organization that large I suspect it's nearly impossible to screen out all the idiots ... there will be a few that slip through.
 

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SeaKingTacco said:
Holy frig, I had no idea I would cause a such a crap storm with my 30 year old anecdote of my OCdt self commanding real troops during an exercise. For context, I had already been in the Mob for nearly 4 years; was only 4 months away from being Commissioned; it wasn’t Juno Beach; it wasn’t even a live fire FTX; we all had fun and nobody died, plus I got a valuable learning experience that lasted me a career.

As for 2Lts commanding in Combat- why not? They are qualified, are they not? Another 30 year old anecdote: as a newly promoted Lt (I was 3 months into the rank from 2Lt) I took my Troops to Gulf War 1, independent from my unit (ie, I was not supervised/commanded by CO, rather I was detached). As it turns out, we did not have to shoot anybody for real, but nobody that I recall gave any serious objection to an Lt having an independent command with such autonomy (I had very wide arcs, because nobody had ever done what I was being asked to do).
...

It shouldn't have been a crap storm. We all know and realize that officer cadets are put in charge of "real troops" as part of their training at some point or other. Most often it's in a formal course setting after having acted in leadership roles in a peer environment. Some branches, however, do some of their officer training in an OJT environment and therefore the "command" positions are looser but nonetheless, still part of their training.

As others have mentioned here, the arrangement is even more flexible in some reserve units. When I was an RSSO we had several cadets at various stages of their four year RESO program. They were given roles as gun line officers commensurate with their level of training. The ones with just Phase 1 or 2 were put more in positions as technicians or communicators while the ones close to graduation fulfilled battery recce officer or command post officer functions although still under the watchful eyes of another officer or senior NCO.

2nd Lieutenants are trained commissioned officers and are put into positions of authority where their experience will develop. Sometimes there's a dud but most of them know exactly where they stand and take the advice offered by their experienced NCOs to develop their theoretical training into practical application.

Just to go back to your Gulf War 1 experience and mine on Op Essay, at the time I was actually a lieutenant because back in 1970 we, for whatever reason which I don't understand, didn't do 2nd lieutenant. We were commissioned directly as full lieutenants from officer cadet and then as OCTP officers had to spend around six years as lieutenants before our almost automatic promotion to captain. So for all intents and purposes, like you, I was the equivalent of a 2nd lieutenant commanding a troop on an operation quite distant from my battery commander. In fact, there were five of us (3 OCTP and 2 ROTP) in the regiment who were newly graduated that July and who were commanding platoon-sized troops in the streets of Montreal. Every thing went well.

There are, unfortunately, too many anecdotes about the most dangerous person in the army being a 2nd lieutenant with a map and it's become almost a mantra which overshadows reality. Too many individuals, both higher ranked and lower ranked, forget the important role that the rank of 2nd lieutenant plays in the development of experience in creating a well rounded officer. It's a delicate balance from both sides--the mentoring company commander and the mentoring senior NCO--that creates a good leader. When the system falls down and a 2nd lieutenant turns out poorly it's usually because one or more of the three, the 2nd lieutenant himself or his two mentors who have failed to do their respective part. When it's done right you usually end up with a lieutenant or captain who not only is capable of making quality decisions on their own but who also listens to, weighs and incorporates the valuable advice or feedback coming up from his subordinates.

Despite the bad jokes the system works most of the time. It's the failures, however, that make good mess stories and are the most memorable.

:cheers:
 
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