Military Wisdom

 There is a four-fold division of military officers along two axes: active or lazy, brilliant or stupid. I found Jerry Pournelle's description striking, so I will quote him:

Understand you are talking about officers, meaning that they are all presumed to be about IQ 120 or above, so "stupid" doesn't mean drooling idiots.

Officers are either active or lazy, and brilliant or stupid. That makes four classes. Intelligent and lazy is the commander. They are smart enough to see when things need doing, but lazy enough not to run the troops to death making changes just because they can see some kind of need. Brilliant and active is the Chief of Staff and various staff officers who will agitate to do things. Stupid and lazy are the line officers, and they run things. Stupid and Active need to be weeded out. Fast. You can't trust them with troops and you can't put them in intelligence, and you can't keep them around for anything else because they get hare brained schemes and rush out to put them in effect.

This bit of military wisdom has been around since the days of Clausewitz. There is an excellent discussion in Joseph Maxwell Cameron, The Anatomy of Military Merit, if you can find a copy. It has long been out of print, which is a crying shame. I have long been tempted to have it scanned in or typed and publish a copy myself, but of course I have no right to do that. I never met Col. Cameron or his heirs.

There is probably some applicability to business here as well, but the analogy is not perfect. The military is not like a business, and it was a mistake when McNamara tried to run it as one. I remember a discussion I had with an acquaintance about whether an MBA could be a good officer. I thought not, at least partially because I have an engineer's disdain for mere business, but also because a good officer focuses on victory, morale, and moral responsibility, while a modern American businessman focuses on profit, efficiency, and market share. There are definitely parallels, but these things are not the same.

Both commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the United States military are generally college-educated, with Masters degrees not uncommon. Psychology, history, and languages are among the most popular degrees. As far as I know, business is not commonly pursued on the government's dime.  The soldiers at least seem to support my supposition.