Bleeding Talent: How the US Military Mismanages Great Leaders and Why It's Time for a Revolution

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This book will shape the debate on how to save the military from itself. The first part recognizes, indeed celebrates, what the military has done well in attracting and developing leadership talent. The book then examines the causes and consequences of the modern military's stifling personnel system, with a close look at strategic failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book also reports a new survey of active duty officers (done by the author) that reports what is driving the best and brightest to leave the ...

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This book will shape the debate on how to save the military from itself. The first part recognizes, indeed celebrates, what the military has done well in attracting and developing leadership talent. The book then examines the causes and consequences of the modern military's stifling personnel system, with a close look at strategic failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book also reports a new survey of active duty officers (done by the author) that reports what is driving the best and brightest to leave the service in frustration. Solutions round out the book, grounded in an economic emphasis on market forces.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Fred Andrews
…Mr. Kane gives us a veteran's proud, though acutely critical, perspective on the American military. He offers an illuminating view of the other "1 percent"—not the privileged upper crust, but the sliver of Americans who have accepted the burden of waging two of the longest wars in our history.
From the Publisher
"Tim Kane's analysis is compelling and his findings are relevant for other organizations, public and private, that risk bleeding talent. For anyone interested in the future of the American military after more than a decade of war, this is a must read book." - David H. McCormick, Former Under Secretary for International Affairs, U.S. Treasury

"At a time when more attention is being paid to the need for creative destruction - and nondestructive creation - by America's entrepreneurs, startup maven Tim Kane shines the spotlight on the creativity of veterans and men and women in the military. Bleeding Talent is a must read for those seeking a more effective and efficient military. Kane asks the big question: What can we do to harness the entrepreneurial talent inside to bring an innovation culture to the military?" - Glenn Hubbard, Dean, Columbia Business School, and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

"Most Washington wonks forget that human capital is the most important weapon in the Pentagon's arsenal. Tim Kane reminds us that our troops win wars. At a minimum, they deserve a personnel system that rewards voluntary service with more autonomy and less coercion." - James Jay Carafano, Director, Foreign Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

"Since the two Gulf Wars, the US military has becoming widely admired - and properly feared - as the preeminent fighting force in the world. It also is an exemplary meritocratic institution - or is it? That is the challenging question that Tim Kane, a former Air Force officer, addresses in this pioneering and thought provoking study. While praising the military for what it does right, Kane also offers a timely and well document constructive critique of how the military could do much better to hold onto its best and brightest. This is a must read for everyone in the military, our political leaders who oversee it, and citizens who care about it." - Robert E. Litan, Vice President, Research and Policy, The Kauffman Foundation and Senior Fellow, Economic Studies, The Brookings Institution

Kirkus Reviews
Hudson Institute chief economist Kane proposes the use of market-based methods to reform the military's personnel and pay policies. The author, a former officer in the U.S. Air Force, argues that the military is losing talent from the officer corps. The institutional structure legislated into effect beginning in the late 1970s has morphed into an unwieldy and counterproductive system that is increasingly abandoned by a number of junior officers. Kane is raising a warning flag about the future quality of the officer corps and the future of the military itself. For him, the problem is located in the promotion system, which is based on seniority, not merit, and "leads to a less competent general-officer corps." Promotion from the junior-officer level is tied to service, and at each level of advance, the percentage of officers who can move up to the next grade is fixed by law. In the author's view, the ensuing problem is compounded by pension qualifications. Kane advocates a merit-based, entrepreneurial alternative driven by market considerations, and he draws from conservative economists such as Friedrich Hayek to support his case. He favors introducing competition over assignments and requirements and putting control in the hands of the unit commanders, who intimately know their needs. Kane discusses what his ideas of "entrepreneurial" officers would look like, referencing George Washington, George Marshall and Gen. Eisenhower as examples. The author also calls for junior officers to be able to leave service and return later without losing pension rights. National-budget stringencies will no doubt amplify this intriguing discussion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230391277
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/11/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 430,045
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Kane is the Chief Economist at Hudson Institute and founder of the social networking firm, StoryPoint. Kane's research on entrepreneurship and job creation has been widely cited, notably in the 2011 Economic Report of the President. He has served in multiple executive and scholarly roles at think tanks and universities. Kane has appeared often on CNN, CNBC, FOX, and PBS' Nightly Business Report. Previously, Kane served as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, serving two tours of duty in Asia. He was the lead editor and author of the 2007 Index of Economic Freedom, co-published by The Wall Street Jourbanal and the Heritage Foundation. In 2007-2008, he served as a senior economic adviser to the John McCain 2008 presidential campaign.He earned a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a doctorate in economics from the University of California San Diego. He lives in Virginia with his wife and their four children.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 A Cautionary Tale 9

Chapter 2 The Paradox of Military Leadership 35

Chapter 3 Entrepreneurs in Uniform 59

Chapter 4 Exodus 85

Chapter 5 It's Not Business, It's Personnel 109

Chapter 6 Winning Battles, Losing Wars 143

Chapter 7 Coercion 163

Chapter 8 War Machines 183

Chapter 9 Measuring Merit 199

Appendix: Survey of West Point Graduates 217

Notes 235

Selected Bibliography 255

Index 263

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    Excellent summary of miltary personnel problems

    Tim Kane does a fantastic job of identifying the problems in the current military personnel system. This book is not an attack on the military, rather it offers constructive criticism on an outdated and inefficient personnel system that drives many talented young officers to leave the service. Current and former junior officers will recognize and relate to the author's observations and critiques of the system, both good and bad. He identifies workable solutions to te problems he identifies. Recommended reading for those interested in leader development and management in complex organizations. Should be required reading for senior miltary officers and those concerned about the future of military leadership.

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