Student Pleads 'A Case for Caste' In Law Record's Article on Brass
Hits Leadership, Not System; Sees Social Lines Drawn for Protection of Enlisted Men
Writing in the Harvard Law Record, Charles A. Aldrich 2L, maintains that the recent criticisms of the caste system in the Army is misdirected and exaggerated, particularly in the press. He feels that the problem is not one of changing the system but one of finding and training better leaders.
Under the heading, "The Case for Caste," Aldrich takes up and discusses each of the complaints against the system, as expressed by Lt. Col, Robert Nevillo in an article in Life last February.
"Contrary to the impression given by Col, Neville," says Aldrich, "I believe that the majority of officers in the Army made a conscientious and largely successful effort to insure a fair distribution of PX supplies, to refrain from monopolizing the USO queens, to spare their men from standing in long lines, and to get them out of trouble when it was necessary."
Thinks Officers Rate Privileges
Taking up the question of officer privileges, he says that officers were entitled to privileges because of the added responsibilities which they had, and that most of them did not abuse their privileges.
"If the system functions properly," he writes, "we ought to find the most competent men hold the positions of greatest responsibility, and that their legitimate privileges are correspondingly greater." He adds that we should improve the quality of leadership and not try to remove the privileges incident to it.
The army regulations against social mingling of officers and EM is also perfectly reasonable, he says. "The rule exists for the protection of enlisted men as well as for the convenience of officers." According to Aldrich, the enlisted man must be protected from the biased judgment of officers which would result is social mingling were permitted.
Concluding his comments on the social problems, he feels that "the vast majority of enlisted men do not deplore that lack of social equality which galls Col. Neville most, and it has never been a genuine factor in their discontent with army life in general."
In line with his argument that the problem is one of proper leadership and not a new system, he makes sis specific suggestions preceded by the statement that. "No one can deny that there was an abundance of poor leadership, but a recitation of grievances is fruitless."
Included in his six suggestion are" (1) an increased number of West Point officers by reducing the length of the program there, (2) better and more extensive training of Reserve officers, (3) more promotion from the ranks, (4) re-arrangment of rank to suit the job performed, and increased promptness in granting promotions when a man is carrying heavier responsibilities, (5) readjustment of pay and allotment inequities, and (6) a more efficient system of disciplining officers and changes in the system of "busting" enlisted men all the way to Private.
"In making reforms, the guiding principle," Aldrich concludes, "ought to be the fostering of more competent and responsible leadership."