Col. David Hackworth's June 7 Outlook article {"It's Time to Replace the Yes-Men and Military Managers With Warriors"} was half right and half wrong. As a Naval Academy graduate and the son of an admiral, I agree that such action is long overdue. We part ways, however, when he states, "The problem is easy to fix." The problem is not easy to fix. It's impossible, as a matter of fact, for three reasons.

First, does Col. Hackworth think it is an accident that civilian and military leadership positions in the Department of Defense are filled by yes-men and management experts? It is not. Both the people who rise to the top from within and top political appointees are the type of people the system, and those elected officials responsible for running it, want.

Second, where are these new "warriors" going to come from? Many of the type of men who would, in time, become the warriors resign from the military at the first opportunity. They will not put up with 20 years of nonsense -- 20 years of domination by Pentagon micro-managers -- to get to a position from which they might be able to change things.

The potential warriors who do remain in the military have become so dependent upon sophisticated communications networks that tie them to guidance from the Pentagon most will find it difficult to take immediate action in a time of crisis, when such guidance in all probability will not be available. Our military officers are being taught to follow orders, as they should be, but are not being taught to think and act independently, as they must in times of crisis.

Third, who's going to train these future warriors? As a junior officer, I sat in my ship's wardroom while the captain had the officers vote on what the ship should do next. Leaders do not take votes. They should know what is best to do. I knew this, but I wondered what kind of commanders my fellow junior officers would make if they consistently witnessed such examples from their superior officers. I fear that examples of true leadership are few and far between in today's military.

Col. Hackworth's analysis of the problem is correct. However, his contention that the solution is easy is a pipe dream.


Augusta, W. Va.