May 1, 2007  

Our cover story

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of being part of the team that created the “new AFJ” is seeing the ever-growing and enthusiastic response to the mission we set: to make this a journal for discussion and debate on the great issues of war and military operations shaping our forces.

Nowhere is that response more evident than in the AFJ editor inbox, which now pulses with letters, article abstract submissions and requests to respond to articles from across the military spectrum. Here is the arena for debate in action; alive and kicking.

And nothing better encapsulates why this debate arena is necessary than this issue’s cover story. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling’s article is, of course, controversial. When the deputy commanding officer of a highly respected Army unit questions the moral courage and leadership skills of today’s general officers, there is shock not just because of what is being said, but also because of who is saying it. In essence, Yingling argues that the institutionalized system for selecting and rewarding those who climb to the highest ranks is out of synch with the leadership that is needed in the wars we fight now and face in the future.

Read the article, however, and what is striking is that it’s not shocking at all. It’s a carefully considered, well-composed argument by one who has seen war from the front lines, serving two tours in Iraq. Yingling says he has tried to raise this debate in service branch journals, only to encounter resistance. To those who have told him this is not a new problem, his answer is that may be true, but it’s not a fixed problem. And he wants — and believes others in the Army also want — to have that debate.

AFJ concurs. No matter whether you agree or disagree with Yingling’s viewpoint or the solution he proposes, the debate has never been more critical.

As always, AFJ welcomes your thoughts on this and other articles in this issue.

Karen Walker