Falling Stars: Why Senior Military Leaders Fail
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AFB United States
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Since 1925, United States leadership demoted, relieved, or forced into retirement at least 109 senior military leaders due to their actions or lack thereof. Of those leaders, 72 occurred within the last fifteen years. These leaders included an Air Force Chief of Staff,3 United States Africa Command US AFRICOM,4 and Air Force Judge Advocate General.5 Faced with multiple contingency operations and a restrained fiscal environment, the US must develop and retain its best leaders. Trends of leadership failure generated from a newly developed database were evaluated against current theories of executive, corporate, and military operation failure. The results obtained on senior military leaders differed from the current failure theories. Thus, several revised theories and recommendations were developed. This research determined generalflag officers incur so many adverse personnel actions due to military-specific culture and regulations, such as those on extramarital affairs, leadership accountability, and the all-encompassing role of military life upon the leaders personal life. Future senior leaders can avoid pitfalls by acknowledging the challenges and changes that power brings, incorporating regular self- and peer-assessments of their personal and professional lives, staying current with generational differences, and balancing authority and responsibility.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations