Capstone Essay Contest
The U.S. military long has been one of the most respected and trusted institutions in the United States. While the armed forces continue to strive for excellence, constraints of the post-Cold War drawdown have forced profound readjustments. Although the goal is to build a "stronger, better force," there is significant evidence that the methods used have fostered a destructive zero-defect mentality within the profession.
Military history is filled with heroes who made mistakes. Ulysses S. Grant had been relieved of command for alcohol problems. As an ensign, Chester Nimitz ran a destroyer aground and was court-martialed. "Under today's officer evaluation atmosphere, neither man would have led this nation to victory in wartime."' Human beings, after all, are imperfect. In most honest efforts to succeed, there inevitably will be mistakes.