69 Comments
Sep 19Liked by CDR Salamander

Tell me your service's bureaucracy is too metric-driven without telling me your service is too metric-driven...

I'm in the Air Force, and we definitely suffer from the same numbers-induced myopia. Why are we so obsessed with the color green in PowerPoint?

Expand full comment

It is, or should be, a little simpler. I know most of the ring knockers are engineers out of the Academy and they do love having a number to quantify things. But "readiness" outside number of people vs billets and completing training rotations isn't so objective a determination. My perception is that it goes down to the lowest unit and rolls back up. The Chief has his section in order and all ratings up to training specs (as NCOs do in platoons, with LTs in tow). The ward room makes sure all sections are ship shape and conducting maintenance and training to maneuver and fight the ship (Captains et al in Marine and Infantry units)...etc. All the way up the line. If you concentrate on individual unit readiness at each level, then the sum will be greater than the parts.

Expand full comment
Sep 19Liked by CDR Salamander

[The artillerist/ORSApod looks around confusedly, bemusedly holds up a finger, shakes his head, and gets back to flipping tables in Excel.]

Expand full comment

But it is data, and we know we must make data driven decisions. We may not know what the data really means, but it is data after all. We can probably even use AI to look at even more data, and therefore, make even better decisions.

Expand full comment

DOD (collectively and at the individual service level) forgets the universal mantra of all data analysis: garbage in, garbage out.

Quantifiable readiness reporting is, has been, and likely will remain a boondoggle dog-and-pony show; a labor intensive exercise in smoke and mirrors designed to make the mil look like it operates one way while the reality is very much the other direction. I’d be shocked if any FOGO w/ OPCON of forces makes any sort of significant operational decisions on the back of these “metrics”.

Expand full comment

USNR has done more in the last three years to fix itself than the AC. Full stop. All the new personnel systems (pay, orders, etc) are being tested on NR first for one, and secondly each community has been realigning to plug-and-play its sailors directly into the AC mob/supported units. I’ve been on ADOS for over a year now and I can say without a doubt that personnel readiness on the AC side is not trending the right way.

Make fun of Engineers all you want, but I rather have a simple linear equation dictate business than superfluous mission statements and corporate buzzwords that PO3 Neversail cares nothing about.

Expand full comment

Good Governance is the key to making the Subjective as Objective as you can. Define your assessment criteria to the best of your ability. This way you can have a common understanding of what does a value such as "2" means. Is that a good score or a bad score?

Expand full comment

When you reduce things down to pure numbers, it provides the staff easier ways to put metrics in front of the boss. But when you factor in the coefficient of PROFICIENCY to these equations, you end up with an asymptotic curve that approaches zero. We always talk about integrating the USNR folks to mobilize our forces, but those discussion are usually devoid of such training terms. It is necessary to have the USNR forces and they are vital. But we need to focus on how we quickly build proficiency to improve integration so we truly have a READY FORCE.

Expand full comment
Sep 19Liked by CDR Salamander

LoL ... every one of these "tools" was the brain child of an Admiral or SES who wanted some "dashboard" ... The problem isn't even the tools. It's the fact the data is collected and submitted by humans.

Expand full comment

I am more inclined to believe that Senior Executive Service bureaucrats are responsible for most of the gobbledygook highlighted in this article.

Expand full comment

Training and qualifications are good but I've always valued what level of dedication is in a sailor's heart to overcome obstacles to perform their personal assignments. My job was to inspire that level of dedication and reward the same. These formulas don't assist with this strategy.

Expand full comment

"Uh, we can't sail coz half the guys have the flu, we can't get any fuel or weapons loaded because they think we're decommissioned, and we're missing an engine".

REPORT REJECTED

Expand full comment

Management by dashboards of fake math. It’s in vogue in corporate America too.

Expand full comment

The biggest problem with gathering numbers is that you usually end up only getting what you measure.

Expand full comment
Sep 19·edited Sep 19

This isn't smart and will create more an excessive admin burden while encouraging gun-decking and false reporting. The best way to judge reserve readiness would be a simple calculation to measure what percentage a unit's RUAD goes on AT every year: # of ATs complete/# of billets in the RUAD. That ratio incorporates fit/fill, medical readiness, CAI utilization, capacity of the supported command to absorb reservists, training readiness, etc. Instead, yeah, they had to create a monstrosity.

Expand full comment

Consider an alternative explanation. Microsoft is the devil.

The problem is with the powerpoint. It is mind-numbing. Perhaps the idea was fine, to allow folks to create mini TV shows on their computer, but the way it is used. Tedious.

Tables in powerpoint come from the Microsoft spreadsheet program, so, of course math nerds get excited and graph and charts are everywhere. Metrics! Powerpoint is crap, so of course, only crap ideas will be communicated through powerpoint. The medium is the message.

Expand full comment