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Aligned Incentives: Could the Army's Award System Inadvertently be Hindering Counterinsurgency Operations
NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL MONTEREY CA DEFENSE ANALYSIS DEPT
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The United States Army has struggled to institutionalize counterinsurgency operations in the Global War on Terror. The Armys reward system, which drives individual motivation and reflects corporate values, plays a much overlooked role in this struggle. Within the Army, indeed within most organizations, pay, promotion, and awards form the tripod of extrinsic motivation, and represent tools the organization can use to reward specific behavior. Today and for the foreseeable future, both pay and promotion will have limited effects promoting counterinsurgency behavior. The Armys award system, which proudly traces its history to George Washington, was not developed as a complete system until World War I and, in many respects, ceased development after World War II. The current Pyramid of Honor, which focuses on valorous acts, is deeply engrained in Army culture. At the same time significant work and thought have gone into revising the Armys capstone manuals, FM-1 and FM-3.0. These documents, along with a separate manual on counterinsurgency, all revised or created since 911, attempt to move the Army in a new direction. This thesis explains the paradox that results. The Army has reached a point where it is telling its soldiers to do one type of action work by, with, and through the host nation. Yet, it disproportionally delivers awards to those who conduct a separate type of action engaging and killing the enemy.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE