28 October 2009

This Isn't 'Nam, There Are Rules


In a word, that's why we follow the rules. I am pretty conservative guy, and I generally believe that discipline is a virtue, and that contentment and success will flow from it. But rules must serve a purpose.

As a school teacher, I know that school and classroom rules are implemented and enforced to define a structure and atmosphere conducive to learning.

Sometimes I wonder if the Army is counting the number of rules, regulations and policies as points in a virtue contest.

In my command, Multi-National Task Force East in Kosovo, there are 64 policy letters that I have counted. The average readership for each one? Three.

A rule of thumb (no pun intended) in devising classroom rules is, the fewer the better. After a while, people just can't keep track of the web of regulation, especially when it seems so unimportant. I need to decide what are the most important things I want my students to do. How do I decide? By figuring what behaviors will help them learn better.

The Army could take a lesson from school teachers. Which behaviors are truly necessary to accomplish the military mission? I've been yelled at for wearing my hat a few too many steps indoors. Seriously?

And can we stop judging the worth of a Soldier on such trivial matters? Most of these rules—the big ones, like drinking, adultery, and other UCMJ crimes aside—are not the measure of moral men or worthy fighters.

Priorities folks.

Rules are good. We just need to remember why they exist.


  1. Thats right. I don't think people actually think about the purpose of having rules. They just know that they must follow them. But going into the core of what it can do for us is something a lot of people tend to ignore. Especially when it comes to moral standards.

  2. But if I don't have 5 pages of rules to talk about for my classroom, how will I fill the first day of class? Are you implying that I would have to actually teach?