The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army

The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army

by Chris Bassford


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Those interested in reforming the Army's personnel and evaluation systems will find The Spit-Shine Syndome's fairly detailed proposals both interesting and thought-provoking. Armed Forces Journal

Bassford's comprehensive proposals put him in an altogether different category from other self-proclaimed 'defense reformers.' . . . Bassford criticizes but he also offers a package of solutions. His frustrations seem to be shared by at least some of the Army's leadership. Gen. John Galvin, our top commander in NATO, has lamented the 'grindstone of bureaucratic business' that undermines combat readiness. In his approving foreword to Bassford's writing, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Elton declared: 'The potential is there to mold a truly great Army. . . . This book screams for someone to listen.' And perhaps more important, to act.

Chicago Tribune

The problem of adjusting American military organization to new social, political, and strategic realities has perplexed military thinkers since the closing days of World War II; proposals for reform have proliferated since the end of the Vietnam War. Practical solutions, however, have proven elusive. In this volume, the author examines the various existing approaches to reform and concludes that most are either unworkable or irrelevant—if not actually counter-productive—to improving the effectiveness of American combat forces. The author rejects suggestions that perennial American military failure can be traced to the inadequacies of military personnel or of American society in general; he argues that neither a return to the draft, imposition of an ethical code for military leaders, nor creation of a General Staff will address fundamental issues. Likewise, he argues that structural reform, while needed, can only strike at symptoms, not causes. It is the author's view that the roots of American military ineptitude lie in the military services' organizational methods, not their organizational structure. These methods are the natural product of the unique evolution of American military institutions. They are incompatible with the structure, role, and doctrine of the armed forces as they exist today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780313262159
Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/07/1988
Series: Contributions in Military Studies Series , #76
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 1350L (what's this?)

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER BASSFORD served from 1981 to 1986 as a field artillery officer with tours in both Korea and Germany.

Table of Contents


Evaluation Systems


The Chain of Command

Selection and Training of Officers

Getting There

Bibliographical Essay

Customer Reviews