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Salute Shinseki for achievement: Let him fade away

General Shinseki’s greatest contribution was inventing the concept of stryker brigades and pushing hard for a speedier and more mobile 8 wheeled combat vehicle.

Let him fade away.
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

His appointment to run the Veteran’s Administration was well received because he is a soldier’s soldier. The trouble is that the VA is like most government bureaucracies in that Congress makes the rules and the bureaucracy itself operates with behavior that is shaped by professionals who are intended to be aloof from political interference, but not immune from supervision. The rules at the VA seem to have prevented or undermined supervision.

That is not an excuse, however, for Shinseki not getting to the heart of problem definition and not pinpointing sources of trouble in the department. Looking at the General’s resume, he may not have had the qualifications necessary to manage the work of the VA. Maybe a soldier without healthcare management experience is not properly qualified and equipped. Who knows if the next VA administrator will be any better in that regard. Let’s take a look at Sloan Gibson, his replacement.

“The Senate confirmed Gibson as the VA’s No. 2 in February. He previously led the United Services Organizations, which supports troops and their families. He is a 1975 graduate of the United States Military Academy who served as an infantry officer in the Army, in addition to earning airborne and ranger qualifications.”

He is another soldier’s soldier, and has some relevant experience in supporting families. However, specific management experience appears to be lacking.

“The brigade combat team (BCT) is the basic deployable unit of maneuver in the US Army. A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver brigade, and its attached support and fire units. A brigade combat team is generally commanded by a colonel (O-6), but in rare instances it is commanded by a brigadier general. A brigade combat team carries with its support units necessary to sustain its operations away from its parent division. BCTs contain organic artillery support, formerly received from the division artillery (DIVARTY).”

“During his tenure as Army Chief of Staff, Shinseki initiated an innovative but controversial plan to make the Army more strategically deployable and mobile in urban terrain by creating Stryker Interim-Force Brigade Combat Teams.[8]”

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