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The Path to Victory: America's Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs [Hardcover]

Donald Vandergriff
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5 2002
Army gadfly Donald Vandergriff argues that what is needed is a true revolution in military affairs. In this book, Vandergriff warms to the task as he takes on the army's personnel system with a clarion call for a revolution in human affairs.

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About the Author

Donald Vandergriff is an active duty army officer currently serving as deputy director of army ROTC at Georgetown University. He is the author of Spirit, Blood and Treasure.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
This work is a tour de force, perhaps best shown by Secretary of the Army Tom White's enthusiastic adoption of its ideas. Vandergriff ably identifies the Army's longest-lasting and most serious systemic problem -- human resources mismanagement as it affects training, deployment, cohesion, and effectiveness in battle. Based on extremely extensive research (meticulously documented), he ably describes the evolution of the problem and presents the promised "path to victory."
Despite the effectiveness and timeliness of this book, it does have a couple of significant (and related) weaknesses. First, despite the meticulous endnoting, it is difficult to sort out which ideas are Vandergriff's own and which derive from his multitude of sources. The sorting can be done, but, if done thoroughly, would require the reader actually to construct an "idea matrix" from the endnotes as he goes along.
Second, this is a work with 796 (!) endnotes -- but with no bibliography at all. All in all, Presidio Press has made the book quite difficult -- unnecessarily difficult -- to use as a reference. This does detract somewhat from its value as a synthesis of ideas and guide for follow-on work. Fortunately, these weaknesses detract very little from the overall message.
Highly recommended. (But if there's a second edition, could we please have a good solid bibliography?)
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Crusade for Common Sense July 16 2002
Format:Hardcover
Donald Vandergriff is one of those rare men who live their beliefs. Now, he has written a fine, clear-thinking, heartfelt book detailing the deep flaws in the Army's (and our military's) personnel system. But the book is much broader than that. Although he does not use quite these terms, the text constitutes a demand for a sensible post-modern personnel system that rewards the core military virtues, in place of our current, long-outdated, poorly-performing industrial-age system, a legacy of both Henry Ford's assembly line mentality, in which all parts, even the human ones, are interchangeable, and a bizarre, inchoate conviction within the Army that, really, it's still 1944 and the draft will supply the needed talent to replace that which is squandered. Even now, in 2002, there is a bizarre belief among the Army's hierarchy that every officer (and soldier) is easily replaceable, if not perfectly interchangeable. Well, tell that to corporate America, or the scientific community, or to the arts community. America has achieved its paramount position because we recognize and reward the unique talents of the individual--but our military resists excellence whenever it can (what passes for excellence is a polished conformity to superficial forms). Our broken-down, morally-bankrupt personnel system may be well-suited for the ten-million-man military with which we ended WWII, but it is a travesty when it comes to developing the right Army for the 21st century. Critics may respond that the military is not about individual excellence, but about teamwork--but teamwork based upon excellence is far more impressive than group-think and timid acquiescence based upon lowest-common-denominator professional values. Read more ›
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Format:Hardcover
If you care about real military reform and transformation-this is an absolute must-read book!!
Although this book is primarily written to an Army audience it has applicability to all the Services. No other book has hit the target like this book. Many other books have alluded to problems, but Vandergriff digs deep to find the underlying reasons and causes of this dysfunctional system. He also provides solutions.
"The responsibility for military planning, direction and execution falls most heavily on the officer corps. The officer corps is critical to combat operations. It is the officer corps that reflects the values and characteristics of the military. If the corps is corrupt or incompetent, the whole army [military] will be also." As the Duke of Wellington supposedly remarked: "There are no bad troops--only bad officers." "Military excellence has always depended upon an officer corps which could think creatively about war--one that understood and practiced the art of war." Many of the deficiencies in our defense must be traced to problems in the officer corps.
Although, one can argue that many of the egregious problems of the officer corps in the Vietnam War have been corrected, many of the systemic problems have not. Several surveys done by the Army and the USAF since 1970 indicate there are still significant problems in the officer corps. Certainly, civilians in the Defense Department, the Congress (DOPMA) and the Executive Branch share the responsibility for our defense inadequacies, but a significant portion of these problems must be traceable to deficiencies in the organizational structure and within culture which officers are created, developed, and promoted.
That does NOT mean that most officers are individually to blame.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Corporate Management Should Also Take This Path June 6 2002
Format:Hardcover
Don Vandergriff has written the next cult management classic. In the guise of how to transform the Army-... - MAJ Vandergriff displays the results of eighteen years of thinking about, researching, practicing, and writing about how to get groups of ordinary people to perform extraordinary feats in times of crisis and confusion. ...P>"Why did the army leadership," he asked himself as he began to write this book, "preach terms like selfless service', 'decentralization,' and 'trust,' but practice careerism, selfish service, and centralized control?" Who among us has not sat through corporate potentates droning on about "empowerment," " risk-taking,"' and "initiative," while in the real world they promote sycophants, second guess every decision, and personally approve all purchases more expensive than a paper clip?
... ... Readers with an ounce of imagination can easily draw parallels between MAJ Vandergriff's recommendations for strengthening unit cohesion - the prime determinant of how well a group of soldiers does in combat - and how their companies are organized and run. His suggestions for improving the selection, retention, and promotion of officers could also, with just a little wordsmithing, make any corporation more competitive.
People, not technologies and not lines on the org chart, are the first duty of any CEO...
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Vandergriff "Iron Major" = Next Emory Upton
BG Upton Failed, MAJ Vandergriff will not! Great book!11 The pending war, excepting, for Army to take the lead promote Vandergriff-MacGregor (COL-Braeking The Phalanx-at Ndu in... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2003 by CPT Wheeler, U.S. Army-INF
5.0 out of 5 stars More Balls Than I Did!
Vandergriff exemplifies what Sec Def Rumsfeld says he wants-innovation & moral courage! I was in from 59 to87-Right on target-cease fire! Read more
Published on Dec 8 2002 by BG
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
An excellent book for even the unmilitary.The research is outstanding and gives the reader a good view of the present military. Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2002 by hb newell
4.0 out of 5 stars A Modest Proposal
Path to Victory is extensively researched, concisely written, and wonderfully appropriate to the current debate over the future transformation of the Army. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
A very interesting set of ideas for changing the Army's human resources related systems and process. Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by PurpleSlog
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroic Critique of the Army
It takes considerable courage for a serving officer in the U.S. Army to criticize the institution as well as the culture to which he belongs. Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by John G. Wilcox
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Donald Vandergriff
Once Again, Donald Vandergriff has written an insightful and provocative book detailing the problems facing the US military. Read more
Published on May 31 2002 by Robert Ethier
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