Monday, January 25, 2010

By Bureaucrats, For Bureaucrats

I've heard bad things about the Fort Hood killings AAR. I just sat down and read the whole thing.

Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood is dreck.

First, as reported, the document doesn't cover the "alleged perpetrator's" (and that whole "alleged" bit pisses me off) religion. Doesn't mention Islam, Islamic extremism, jihadi, takfiri, Muslims, extreme Muslims or the Religion of Peace. Apparently, the authors of this report obviously got the guidance not to write anything that might attenuate diversity. After reading the whole thing, I went back and word-searched all those terms, as I might have missed it when my eyes sorta glazed over reading about the DoD's shortcomings in providing Memorial Service support (really: finding 4.11).

Actually reading the report, I realized that most of the pundits and polemicists that have decried this piece of desktop dung couldn't imagine the scope of its awfulness because they're outsiders looking in. As someone eking out my living in the bowels of the Defense bureaucracy, let me tell you; as bad as you may have heard this report is, it's even worse.

First of all, it's one of those reports that is so chock full of bureaucrat-ese, it is probably four or five times longer than it needs to be. Second, it runs up recommendations with no concern for cost or efficacy. Basically, it proffers that the answer to a failure of the bureaucracy is...more bureaucracy. For example, did you know that for the DoD to stop "internal threats" such as MAJ Hasan,
An effective protection system requires robust information sharing and command and control structures that facilitate active information gathering on potential threats, and disseminating the analysis and assessments of the threat derived from such indicators to the appropriate levels of command. While leaders at Fort Hood responded well under the stress of a rapidly evolving crisis, we are fortunate that we faced only one incident at one location. We cannot assume that this will remain the case in the future.
Our command and control systems must have the right architecture, connectivity, portability, and flexibility to enable commaners to cope with near-simultaneous incidents at multiple locations. Commanders also require the tools to intercept threats before they conduct their attacks, physical barriers, and access controls to prevent unauthorized access, and appropriate response forces to defeat attackers who have gained access to DoD facilities. (p8)

Gosh, that helps clarify the situation.
Apparently, statutory and regulatory guidance prevents the release of the "alleged perpetrator's" performance evaluations, although the report does point to failures in that regard by Hasan's supervisors. According to open source reports, the guy was a shitbag whose chain of command passed him along with adequate reports despite shortcomings in his academic prowess, duty performance, and physical fitness.

Hey, we all lament the officer and NCO evaluation system. Apathy or lassitude on the part of Hasan's chain of command could well have stemmed from a well-founded suspicion that it wouldn't do any good, anyway. The way that our evaluation system works, the uneducated layman could put the report cards of the single best officer and single worst officer in a battalion side-by-side and a) not pick out which one is the best and b) think that they were both pretty good performers. I have been counseled numerous times in the past that writing a negative report on a guy, even when that report was fully justified by a robust package of counseling, "just wouldn't be worth the effort," and that the subject of the report would probably win on appeal. I would be interested to know whether Hasan's raters were truly derelict in their responsibilities, or were just cowed by the prospect of investing an extraordinary amount of work in justifying a negative report and having it all come to naught, anyway. The report charges the DoD to
Reinforce the serious effects of failure to reflect fully, accurately, and completely all aspects of professional, ethical, and personal career development in performance appraisals. We can only deal with internal threats if we can rely on the quality of the information reported in our official records

without ever considering that DoD also needs to facilitate the flip side of the coin. Writing a negative evaluation (and making it stick) should not require effort like unto an Everest expedition. And that's without even considering that the guy was a minority, and that the DoD had gone to great expense to train and educate him. I'm not saying that his chain of command shouldn't be sanctioned for not shithammering him. I am saying that DoD makes it oft times extremely difficult to do the right thing. A fact that the report blithely ignores.

The report states that because of his SECRET security clearance, Hasan had pretty much open access to the installation.
In the Fort Hood incident, the alleged perpetrator held an active and current SECRET security clearance based on a February 2008 National Agency Check with Local Agency and Credit Check of background investigation. Although accomplished in accordance with current guidelines, this background investigation did not include a subject interview or interviews with co-workers, supervisors, or expanded character references. We believe that if a more thorough investigation had been accomplished, his security clearance may have been revoked and his continued service and pending deployment would have been subject to increased scrutiny.
Okay, let's think about this. All Army officers have a SECRET clearance. Qualifying for one is a pre-commissioning requirement. The DoD already has a huge backlog in performing clearance investigations, and that's without performing subject/co-worker interviews for SECRET-level clearances. Is the report suggesting that we increase the burden on an already over-tasked system by an order of magnitude by having all SECRET clearance candidates interviewed? Or, do we diminish the scale of the increase by using common sense to levy more in-depth investigations on those with certain...uh...attributes that might make them more high risk? Hmm, what would such attributes or characteristics be? Let me think on it, I'm sure it'll come to me.

For that portion of the readership composed of my military brethren: Do you enjoy all those annual training requirements you have to attend? You do? Good, get ready to add another one, because DoD is going to
Integrate existing programs such as suicide, sexual assault, and family violence prevention with information on violence and self-radicalization to provide a comprehensive prevention and response program.
Great. I just love all that training. Y'know, the Army is so big on establishing metrics for every mission, has anyone ever established that all those classes actually do any good? I mean, good for the actual Soldier, not good for the command so it can cover its ass by saying "hey, we did our annual training." I have been to relatively few of these sessions that I thought would really do any good, although some are as effective as they are necessary.

The report, to me, seemed a study in jackassery. It levied a lot of recommendations against DoD that would be either peripheral or useless in stopping another attack. It didn't consider the costs in money, time, or effort that its recommendations would place on Commanders--even though all the recommendations are purportedly to help Commanders frustrate future attacks. This rag is definitely "by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats."

Is there anything at all positive about the report? Sure.
Know what the name of the US Postal Service's anti-workplace violence program is called?
The Going Postal Program. Really. (p C-5)

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't it be cheaper and more effective to just let everyone walk around locked and cocked? Extra added bonus: his would deter all those Ft. Dix pizza delivery terrorist wannabes too.