Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Write with your eyes open

Candor Sometimes Goes Unrewarded

In today's military, boldness is rewarded only in battle, and sometimes not even then. It's a fact of human nature that leaders tend to promote subordinates who most emulate them. The argument has been made that controversy among military officers should not be played out in public. Unfortunately, controversy played out in private usually dies a very quiet death. To give an idea life, sometimes the only effective way is to make it public, even when doing so might imperil one's career.

And there's the rub. I believe the real threat to serious and open debate has been a single-minded focus on careerism among some officers. This is destructive. In the final analysis, if you wish to advance the cause, you must be willing to put the good of the service over the good of your career (advice I gave to a young officer in "An Open Letter to Lt. Butler" and advice I tried to follow myself).

I received warnings from superior officers that it would be in my best interest to stop writing. Some of this criticism stemmed from the nature of the subject I had chosen to write about. Some of the blame belongs to editors who changed the meaning of the pieces by assigning them eye-catching but off-the-mark titles. The result was the same: intense pressure from a superior officer to stop writing.

In fact, I've been admonished by a flag officer after every piece I've written, usually by a member of my own warfare community.

** Extracted from Captain William J. Toti's USNI December 2008 PROCEEDINGS Article **

Read the entire USNI PROCEEDINGS Article. Click on the link below

Write With Your Eyes Open, Captain William Toti, United States Navy (retired)

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