Schoomaker: Unlucky General and Able Danger
Napoleon was looking to fill a vacant general officer slot. His adjutant reviewed the candidate pool and reported on their knowledge, skills and abilities. Napoleon was not interested in curriculum vitas. He was interested in something immeasurable. He said:
Your Business Blogger wrote recently on character and how character is identified in the hiring process. The decision maker needs to know about future performance based on more than past accomplishments.
Let us examine a case study of the 35th Chief of Staff, United States Army: General Peter J. Schoomaker.
Is this a man we would hire?
Following is a review of some of General Schoomaker’s career highlights.
Desert One, Schoomaker
Schoomaker was a Major in Desert One in Iran under President Carter. He commanded a Squadron in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment in the botched rescue attempt of embassy hostages in Iran, 1980.
Special Forces has a rather unforgiving policy for failure: one strike and you’re out. This was not enforced for Schoomaker.
Next stop, Waco, Texas. Working with General Wesley Clark as his Assistant Division Commander, Schoomaker met with Janet Reno, allowing the FBI use of Fort Hood. The tracked vehicles and military personnel present at the conflagration were Schoomaker’s. Posse Comitatus? Promoted by Bill Clinton.
Women in Combat, Schoomaker
Schoomaker has implemented an unusual interpretation of President Bush’s directive, and Congressional prohibitions, that women will not be placed in combat. Schoomaker circumvents the Commander in Chief and Congress by placing women in combat support positions in Forward Support Companies. Female truck drivers and Military Police are now in harm’s way.
9.11, Able Danger, Schoomaker
And now, the latest chapter. Able Danger, and more burning buildings. Able Danger is the code name for a covert military intelligence operation. It succeeded. The 9/11 hijackers were identified before 9/11. Schoomaker was briefed. He knew. He said nothing. Schoomaker adhered to the the strictest interpretation of Executive directives and may not have informed the FBI of Jihadist threats.
Ed Morrissey, from Captain’s Quarter’s reports:
…the Pentagon has the most to lose if speculation that it deliberately withheld cooperation from the FBI when it could have stopped 9/11 is true, and that it has to answer for the destruction of the materials if the witnesses testify as expected.
Those decisions could involve high-ranking brass, such as Hugh Shelton (ret.) and Pete Schoomaker, and perhaps even Donald Rumsfeld.
Or perhaps they just involve second-tier leadership – which is why the Pentagon decided to reverse itself after seeing the public reaction to the aborted hearing Wednesday.
October 5th should be pretty interesting.
It matters little what Schoomaker’s resume says. It contains much commendable, as his awards and citations prove:
General Schoomaker’s awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two Army Distinguished Service Medals, four Defense Superior Service Medals, three Legions of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge and HALO Wings, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.
He could even be a nice guy.
In the end, it is his track record that matters. Would you follow that man out of a burning building?
Schoomaker, Peter J. is not a lucky general.
The Schoomaker career advance would be a case study on continued promotion in spite of these unusual setbacks. His life’s work is an inspiration on success following continued failure and missteps.
General Schoomaker is a vignette on making a hiring decision — evaluating what cannot be seen, and what can be seen all too clearly.
Every manager wants passion. Every manager looks to hire fire in the belly. Not buildings on fire.
Do not ignore red flags. No matter what the rank.
Managers, in the next interview you conduct, ask yourself this question with the candidate before you:
“Is this man lucky?”
Washington Post has more.
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