In my previous blog, I reviewed The Amazon legion, by Tom Kratman. And I owe him an apology. Once I waded through the silliness at the beginning, it actually turned into a good read. I did eventually finish reading it. I still consider it one of his inferior works (not as good as his others).
My main beef with it is that he works very hard trying to create a coherent system of people, structures and institutions that work seamlessly together. But people aren’t like that. His own characters demonstrate over and over that Kratman himself clearly understands but refuses to bow to. But, whatever. It is his alternate universe and he can make it the way he wants to. If anything, the fault is mine for trying to impose my own internal alternate universe onto his characters.
I do think he is taking too long getting the next books out and the characters are dragging their feet. The objective of the books has been the defeat of the Cosmos and old Earth, but the lead character in the series is forgetting grand strategy and is getting bogged down in Operations. Example: heavy investment in combat equipment, and training, none of which can be used in his endgame.
Kratman brings up several important ideas with regard to the employment of women in combat and coincidentally, the current armed forces are moving in that direction as quickly as possible. The central argument that i hear most people using is on skill qualification. Kratman’s training model focuses on making training differently difficult. Similarly, the Army today already grades on a curve, giving more credit to women for equal effort in physical tests. But the Army today does not increase unit manpower to offset lower physical abilities of women in the force. That would be admitting that women aren’t as good.
My own opinion is that large organizations, like the Army, have plenty of useful jobs where high demands of physical fitness are not required. Even as Kratman’s later book shows when he uses the marginal capabilities of disabled people. Kratman actually does the calculation of how much it costs his fictional country to employ women and how much they benefit from that employment. Our country does not. Our Military is just another government jobs program with set asides, promotions and dismissals carefully monitored at the highest levels to maintain the correct mix of diversity.
The fact is that it is not just a men-women dynamic. It is also a Weak man-strong man dynamic. Everyone is differently abled. Good management used the materials present in the right roles to maximize the total benefit. you don’t need to be a ranger school graduate to learn to shoot a modern combat rifle from a hotel window. You don’t need the mental toughness and endurance of a Navy SEAL to convince 3-5 other people to follow you and accomplish a limited objective. Our Armed forces are bloated cold war relics. They can not only afford to be gutted in personnel strength, they can afford to have some of that strength be composed of less-capable people.
I am intentionally ommitting all the stuff in his books that I agree with.