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 Post subject: Demise of the Roleplaying Clubs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 2:58 am 
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Location: Somewhere between D.C. and the battlefield
What do I mean by "Roleplaying Clubs"? I mean wargaming clubs that
- operate an actual chain of command in which the individual command positions have a function (reporting, communication, rallying the boys) rather than being mere decorative sinecures;
- place a high emphasis of choosing a side in the games and identifying with it, both in the games and beyond;
- make "roleplay"--at minimum the use of ranks, command positions and titles in club communication, both on and off the boards, but frequently also the actual assuming of a typical historical posture and habitus by members an important part of everyday club life.
In short, I mean the ACWGC and its sister clubs, the NWC and CCC. And I believe they are on the way out.

It's something I have been observing for a while now. It's nothing dramatic, just a continuous development, by small steps, in a certain direction. The symptoms are manifold, and they can be noticed throughout the clubs:

<b>1. A declining willingness to assume responsibility for the operation of the club and its armies on command on staff positions, or by way of voluntary contributions.</b> Sure, a majority of the members has always seen the clubs as a place merely for playing games. But the majority seems to have grown overwhelming in recent years. When I came here in 2001, it was actually considered an honor to be offered a division command, and certainly not something one would light-heartedly decline. I seem to recall that frequently fellow officers would be disappointed to be passed over when a vacancy occurred! Nowadays, it has become near impossible to find even a single candidate for a vacant command position; as army commander, I have frequently been just short of disbanding an army corps because I could not find an officer to lead it. Last year, the AoJ remained without a commander for many months, and the ANV, an army full of three- and four-stars, ended up with a Brigadier General at its head. My hat's off to the officer in question, but what a change from three to four years ago, when there would have been a race for such an opportunity. Likewise, when I took over the War College in early 2002, we had several voluntary contributions per month even before the War College Prize was created to attract more interest. And if you look now ... people no longer take the time to do things beyond gaming.

<b>2. The demise of roleplaying.</b> I can still remember the time, even though I was a late-comer to it, when a challenge on the board would involve a story that usually started with "the grizzled old general walks into the tavern ..." and arrive at the actual challenge only after a colorful tale of battlefield exploits and barroom fights. Nowadays a challenge reads "need Reb for ...".
Likewise, the outward signs of military rank and position have increasingly been banned from everyday club life and confined to formal environments like army websites. Today you need explicit rules to make sure that people use their rank and name in board posts rather than a fantasy user name. I can foresee a time in the near future where they will start addressing each other with the board user name just like on any discussion board out there in the net. Even today, asking a junior member to give a senior officer his rank in addressing him can be considered somewhat out of line; when I joined, five years ago, it was not even necessary because doing so went without saying.

<b>3. Declining willingness to identify with a side.</b> I understand--this was way before my time--that the club was formed from two earlier associations of people who preferred to play a certain side in the game--either Reb or Union. Choosing one side over the other upon enlistment was until recently also a choice for a side in the games.
I always used to think that this had many advantages. Being faced with the same problems and capitalizing upon the same things in the games created solidarity. A Union man was invariably someone who knew all about C&C problems, rarely played aggressively when he had a choice, and loved artillery. A typical Reb was an overly aggressive player and a cavalry expert. This identification with one side also meant it made sense to write side-specific approaches to tactical problems or certain battles, from which for instance the War College benefited.
Sadly, this is no longer en vogue. The first demand was for the club rules to be amended so that full points would be earned by switching sides in a game. When I joined this combination was still a maneuver, so you could as well play them against your own side and regard this a training for the actual "battle" against the enemy. Now this distinction has been abolished, and we can fight the opposition and gain full points while leading enemy troops. Fairly odd, if you ask me. I do it, alright, but I have also earlier often played Reb against Federals for maneuver points. From a wargaming perspective it is alright, but it has certainly loosened the ties between people of the same side. You need something to identify with if you want to be a group. What is it now? The next step is likely to be the demand that the maneuver/battle distinction be abolished entirely and games against fellow officers from the same side count full club points. That will come, no doubt. Then if they can even "fight" against each other, with no distinction whatsoever from a fight against the opposition, what does the members of one side bind together?

I don't know what the reasons are for all this, but I believe that it is a change of generation. When these clubs were young, in the late 1990s, internet communities were a novelty. Today, most of us are in very many clubs like these, and additionally attend discussion forums all over the internet. It's only natural that we spend less time on each community, that we identify less, that we come to regard it all the same, and that we feel more anonymous, less involved, more detached. Gaming will remain important; the community won't. I believe the roleplaying clubs are already well on the way towards becoming mere ladders, where the armies and all that comes with them are just a decorative element that provides some contemporary flair and doesn't inspire people much to participate, contribute, identify. Recently, in one of our sister clubs, a junior member criticized one of the most senior members for addressing him with his club rank. He pointed out that he had a christian name and expected to be addressed with that one, because "these ranks are not real". Sure they aren't. All this is just make pretend. But then so are wargames. For me, the implicit recognition that comes with ranks or titles or even a command position in a club is still something valuable. But then I've been here for so long I feel like I was a different man when I joined, and I have long ago become a part of this club, its tradition, its history. Would I join a club like this today, being the man that I am now, in 2005, I would probably not develop the same kind of identification and attachment again. I would likely regard this as just another place to play games. And seems that's what it's rapidly becoming.

Does it make sense to complain about all that? If it's just the natural way of things? I don't know. But it sure makes me feel sad.

Gen. Walter, USA
<i>The Blue Blitz</i>
AoS
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 4:13 am 
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I think there will always be a core of people that will participate, will roleplay and will carry on those with traditions.

I don't see an end to the roleplaying clubs, but the is an evolution that happens, especially as different people get into the running of these clubs.

There is much more a feeling of community in the roleplaying type clubs than in the strictly ladder clubs, where there are no sides, as we have here.

I have been in ladder clubs and am currently in only one ladder club, playing Combat Mission. I visit that club once or twice per week and read only a few messages that are posted and usually reply or post in them, infrequently

In this club and others, I read every topic as I browse the forums several times per day and post almost on a daily basis.

I do not, usually, roleplay in my post, but I do use rank and unit in all my posts. I do participate in roleplaying, when the situation is right for it.

I think there are many insightful and damning issues that were brought up by General Walter. The comments in part 1 of the message are the most damaging to any club or organization.

<b><font color="gold">Ernie Sands
LtGen, Commanding, Army of Ohio
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:27 am 
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Yes, Currently there are too many armies, not because there aren't enough men, but because there aren't enough leaders.

Major General Don Golen
2nd Brig/3rd Div/ I Corps/
Army of the Potomac, USA!
"The Bucktails"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:50 am 
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General Walter makes some very good points and observations. It is a very good post to start thinking about what to do about it.

I would move towards developing the sides uniqueness. I believe there is still a difference between the person who joins the CSA or the Union. Choosing one side or the other does reflect the type of person/player. I still notice the distinction during play or conversation. However it may be diminishing as pointed out.

To move towards more uniqueness of the sides I propose the following. Why can't each side have their Cabinet with a President, Sec of War, State and CoA? The new organization would allow for each sides uniqueness to be developed. Points for rank for example could be different for each side; many rules could be different. The criteria for rank could be different. The stronger side structure would give most of the power to the side. The CoA would not be alone to develop his side. The sides “Cabinetâ€


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:16 am 
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I think the club changed considerably with the demise of Leadeaters. We had a huge influx of gamers then who basically wanted oppponents. With that the club changed and any club, ours included, will be what most of the members want. This is particuliarly true with roleplaying, as being subjective, it can't be defined by rules all that well.

I fail to see how Pierre's idea of two cabinets would improve anything and actually might prove to be very cumbersome. We already have two CoA's, two USA secretaries, two CSA secretaries and one President. Unless I'm reading this wrong ,all I see being added is another President. One thing the club administration doen't need is ANOTHER person to have to ring in and opinions weighed when a discussion occurs.

I completly fail to see how another President is going to make the average member embrace roleplaying more. If we want to go Pierre's route, far better to drop the President altogether and just have the two CoA's run their respective shops with their secretaries.

Gen. Doug Burke
XX/AoC/USA


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:22 am 
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<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Why can't each side have their Cabinet with a President, Sec of War, State and CoA? The new organization would allow for each sides uniqueness to be developed. <hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

That leads to a complete seperation of the sides, with an entirely different structure and a new club.

What makes this club work as well as it does is the sense that members develop at the same rate and have the same goals.

We currently have difficulty in getting member participation and getting new people to run for and hold various posts. How will having double the number of positions to fill help the club.

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">I think that the current Cabinet structure is not in a position to rule on these side issues and the CoA is either too busy or basically alone to try and ‘govern’ his side.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

The CoA's do have others that can assist, already built into the structure. The Army Commander could and should act to assist the CoA's. They should be asked by the CoA's to help out, to be a sounding board for new ideas and a source of new ideas.

The cabinet is in a position to discuss and administer any of the points that have been brought up and has been doing so.



<b><font color="gold">Ernie Sands
LtGen, Commanding, Army of Ohio
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 8:26 am 
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Good post Dierk(General Walter!!!). A few thoughts
Leadership is always an issue with many having opinions but few to do the actual efforts. Since we pay so little([;)]) our real rewards as a club is recognition which I have heavily advocted. While command at the lower levels is certainly lessoning I feel well protected by Pierre and the cabinet.

In the FTW thread role playing is certainly strong!!! I see it in other posts also. I think we may have had members who OVERLY emphasised command and were turning off new comers( and even oldsters). I go both ways on this as I enjoy the ranks,honors etal but I certainly don`t get dogmatic about it.

With HPS on board we have become scattered and this is especially reflected in the War Colleges. Where we once primarily had BGG BGA and BGS we now have all the HPS titles and this is reflected in the club culture. I do not advocate limiting us to certain titles but we must recognize the new dynamics.

As to Army affiliations I must obviously confess to being in the camp opposite Dierk`s. Certainly some officers can be pidgeon holed vis a vis North/South but many others(myself)are gamers first and role players second so we legitimatly do not want to be restricted as to who we play and which side, I don`t think this is a right or wrong issue just different.

I think role playing clubs are strong but evolving. There is a splinter NWGC which is more to my liking but the old club dominates which I think will usually be the case but heck we have the whole world so more rigid splinter clubs abet with smaller membership should thrive. I don`t see them as foes but more as affiliates with cross membership.

Field Lt. Tony Best


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 9:29 am 
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I think many here have good points, but as in all things there are draw backs that have been pointed out. There are plenty of people that are willing to see this club grow, and continue, in the same fashion we started. I think the main problem is that many have had real life problems interupt their gaming and club activity, the main problem is that some fail to inform the rest. If anything the biggest problem we have in the clubs is communications.

GEN. Tony Malone
Commander Army of Mississippi
"Do your duty in all things, You can never do more, You should never wish to do less".


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 9:34 am 
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<font face="Andale Mono"><font color="pink">Gentlemen,

This is a very interesting post from a very senior member both with rank and standing within the Club! Points are well taken! If I may add perspective from my relatively new standing within the Club.

In the past 13 months that I have been here, I have seen an almost disfunctional Club raise out of the ashes to becoming once again a place to join in. My own army (AoA) has had a recent change of Command at the top which has filtered down to changes at all levels. I see this as a very positive step in the right direction. Some of the newer Officers are now getting a chance to step up to Command and take some responsibility that too often has been left to the old hands!

We need the links from the past to make changes for the future. Often, I don't think senior leadership reaches out enough for help or assistance from their junior Officers. Training or participation should be something that is ongoing even before a person is placed into a senior leadership role. Several things can happen if we don't delegate some responsibility, leaders will get overburden with administrative work, get burnt out and fall behind in keeping up with the needs of their command. Junior Officers seeking more responsibility will become discourage and lose interest if left out.

Finally, with respect to role playing. I believe that this is really the single most important part of the ACWGC existance! Without it, we are just another gaming Club. I have always strived to show respect to my superior Officers when addressing them in official correspondence. This is something we should all take a little more seriously if nothing else, to show respect to our senior members. At the same time, when making gaming friends in the Club, I believe that we can and should be informal in private correspondence.

Really, everyone of us is an important link in the stability and health of <b><u>OUR GAMING CLUB!</u></b>

I want to thank some of our CSA leaders who have helped me along the way; <b>General Russ Levy</b>, my trainer and mentor, <b>General Dustin Arnold</b>, my predecessor at VMI and <b>Lt General Jon Cuneo</b>, my Corps and now Army Commander. Also wish to acknowledge some future great leaders in the Club, <b>Colonel Dan Smith</b>, my friend and Deputy Commandant and <b>Brigadier General Kennon Whitehead</b>, Superintendent of the War College.

Regards,
</font id="pink"></font id="Andale Mono">

<font color="pink">Nick Kunz
[img]C:\FrontPage%20Webs\Content\library\vol_1\v1p2_files\CsaGenStaffB.gif[/img]
Major General
Commandant, VMI
Confederate States of America</font id="pink">
[img]C:\FrontPage%20Webs\Content\AoA\Images\Flags\starsnbars_clr.gif[/img]


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:19 am 
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General Sands,

Not a new club but a differently structured one. I cannot see the CoA’s working with their AC’s etc as the Cabinet does, performing the same duties as a 'side' Cabinet would. It does not happen now and there is no incentive to do so. First of all they are in the Chain of command and are duty bound to follow orders this in not the same as a Cabinet whose Chain of command would be very different. We have problems in the Current Cabinet with the idea that the Secretaries serve the side and the CoA. The major issue and reason of the problem in summer 2004. The CoA believed he ran the Cabinet secretary positions and could do as he pleases.

That a CSA members rank has a different growth rate is irrelevant in my opinion. That the sense of growth is irrelevant if the role playing aspect is to be important. I don't care if a Union Officer needs 500 or 1000 points to become a General. It really doesn't matter. It would be natural that both sides would have comparable rank/point schedule. It doesn't even matter that one side gets more points for winning or losing the battle. The difference would be in philosophy of side. The Union and CSA had different armies, different structures as to Army organization and different promotion schedules even different ranks to hold command. Why can't this be role played as well?

Finding 'side' people to fill the positions should not pose a problem. There are always volunteers. It's in the manner that they are asked to serve. If you ask people they usually will step up.

Yes the current Cabinet can discuss points that are brought up, however the Cabinet is not in the loop for most if not all, except for General promotions, side Army issues and discussions. Having a side Cabinet that should be closer to the situation can only be better.


It is a different way of looking at things. I know that it is difficult to make changes.





<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Ernie Sands</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Why can't each side have their Cabinet with a President, Sec of War, State and CoA? The new organization would allow for each sides uniqueness to be developed. <hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

That leads to a complete seperation of the sides, with an entirely different structure and a new club.

What makes this club work as well as it does is the sense that members develop at the same rate and have the same goals.

We currently have difficulty in getting member participation and getting new people to run for and hold various posts. How will having double the number of positions to fill help the club.

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">I think that the current Cabinet structure is not in a position to rule on these side issues and the CoA is either too busy or basically alone to try and ‘govern’ his side.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

The CoA's do have others that can assist, already built into the structure. The Army Commander could and should act to assist the CoA's. They should be asked by the CoA's to help out, to be a sounding board for new ideas and a source of new ideas.

The cabinet is in a position to discuss and administer any of the points that have been brought up and has been doing so.



<b><font color="gold">Ernie Sands
LtGen, Commanding, Army of Ohio
Image
ACWGC Cabinet member
</b></font id="gold">

<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Best Regards,

General Pierre D.
1st Bde,3rd Div,I Corps,
Army of Georgia
CSA

President, ACWGC
Cabinet Member


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:33 am 
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I have to strongly disagree with General D ("we have problems in the current cabinet with the idea that the secretaries serve the side and the COA").

I don't feel even a hint of that. I know this was the case with some personalities in past cabinets up until 2004 but I have to disagree regardiing "the current cabinet". I wish other current cabinet members would ring in here as that's a serious statement. Pierre, could you please be specific??

General Sands makes some great points.

General Burke


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:03 am 
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Last edited by dradams2 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:21 am 
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Genereal Walter, Sir!
- and all other fellow officers who have spoken up regarding this issue: IMO, this is a very critical point to discuss - and the question does not have an easy answer!
Here we have to stay open minded and try to find pieces from all sides to build into a complete puzzle... so to speak.

I joined the Club in 1998 and I can only support Gen Walter in his remarks - the role playing aspect of the club <i><b>is </b></i>diminishing!

The first thing I suggest we find out is: Why doesn't it work as it used to work? Well, we do have some answers in the posts below.. And IMO all are correct!

Then how to find a solution?
I think we have to make an assesment of how many players per side are really interested in taking a more active part in the role playing aspect? Maybe only a few per army - and you now find them primarily at corps and army level (besides Cabinet and COA's etc).
Most of those active players have volunteered to run an army/corps and they have a good knowledge of how to run a web page too.

The "rest" - forgive me the expression! - are "players" who are satisfied with their playing. And they have every right to be players too! They are as important to the club as the rifleman was for the infantry! We cannot have a tribe with only chieftains.. there's a need for indians too![:D]

As I have noticed in my own army - the AOC - the role playing aspect did increase when we got active officers all way down in the chain of command - as we go when we went down to a single corps and discharged the non-active gamers. Now we are once again structured in two corps, but activity seems to have declined a bit...

Maybe one should contemplate to try the same thing on each side?
Have just a single army (AoP vs ANV?) and reduce the other armies to corps?
Maybe one could contemplate a new structure where you start not as a bde commander but as a platoon leader within a brigade and as vacancies come up - you finally <i><b>may</b></i>be assigned to a bde command.. if you have shown that you are up to the responsibility!

Maybe - and if the role playing aspect is supported enough by the side's commanders - you don't automatically get a rank when you pass a certain pont level..

Rank could follow with increased responsibility and shown dedication to the club life, so if you really want to get a higher rank, you may have to "buy" it with earned points - and you only get the rank with the approval of your immediate superior officer. (Up to say Major or LtCol)From Col and up, it could be a matter for the particular side's Cabinet or COA.

Theese thoughts are just some loose ideas and you should regard them as food for thought.. There are enormous amounts of criticism that can be adressed <i><b>against </b></i>them, I am well aware of that! But in order to achieve evolution, one has to look forward and see the <i><b>possibilities </b></i>instead!
And that's why Genereal Walter's thread is so important, in my eyes!

Now let's not criticize every post that comes up - it will only kill all evolution! <b>Instead, try to figure out the positive things that you find in each suggestion!</b> There are many positive things for sure!
Let's stick to them and find solutions instead of problems!

Finally, I suggest that all of us take some time and find ideas that can be posted here, so that we all can use them as a springboard in order to revitalize the ACW GC life! Don't wait and see if someone else does - then no one will do anything! Make a post - reply to a post - give suggestions - come up with ideas that others can develop!
We do this together for our club - and for ourselves in the end!

If not, then we will just have another gaming ladder... and that would indeed be a pity!



Gen Lars W
1/XIV
Army of the Cumberland
USA


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 11:59 am 
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General Burke,

The Secretaries as peons to the CoA was a past experience and I know it is not the current situation. To highlight the point, I did not even think that this was the case when it was. Another argument for separate Cabinets as I was not privy to Union voting procedures. This would not happen with a seperate Cabinet as the US VS. THEM would not be the case. In my opinion the role playing aspect actually interfered with the cabinet functioning as I saw it. I see the Cabinet secretaries as a civilian component, being the person who set up the process I still believe in it and it would need to be solidified in the new structure.

I have heard in the past about a CSA dominant and the perception of some that it stiffles Union voting and sentiment. It is not the case but I can see were it could be pointed out and used. This would not be the case with a seperate Cabinet structure.

My thought about the new structure is to bring forward food for thought. It is not theonly answer, or even one, but an opening as to what might be possible and interesting. Stagnation will lead to the demise of this club. It requires ideas that will stimulate, such as the post by General Walter, which stimulates discussion and leads to new things. I appreciate General Lars W. comments as they are in the spirit of open discussion.

As far as I am concerned nothing is written in stone albeit the perception from some. I have always encouraged participation, the inclusion of different ways of doing things, many times the opposite of my personal opinion or views.

I write this in the spirit that my interest is waning as well as many other 'very senior member both with rank and standing '. I want to stay interested. Do we bury our heads in the sand, let the most supportive and contributive people fade away or de we try and keep the interest going. They may not always succeed but sometimes they do.

I tend to wonder sometimes if an ACWGC role playing club was to start today, would it meet such resistance. Maybe it would. I remember in 1997 someone telling me it would not work or get off the ground after I went on my own. Good thing I did not listen and give up.




<blockquote id="quote"><font size="3" face="book antiqua" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Doug Burke</i>
<br />I have to strongly disagree with General D ("we have problems in the current cabinet with the idea that the secretaries serve the side and the COA").

I don't feel even a hint of that. I know this was the case with some personalities in past cabinets up until 2004 but I have to disagree regardiing "the current cabinet". I wish other current cabinet members would ring in here as that's a serious statement. Pierre, could you please be specific??

General Sands makes some great points.

General Burke


<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Best Regards,

General Pierre D.
1st Bde,3rd Div,I Corps,
Army of Georgia
CSA

President, ACWGC
Cabinet Member


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 26, 2005 12:14 pm 
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Bill is absolutely right. It's all about the leadership providing the ambiance. In regards to Division command I have thought about and proposed the abolition of the Division commanders position. Leaving the division structure in but it being transparent. We are counting too much on division commanders. They do not have the same status in the club as the other commander positions and therefore we should not expect great things. Why not have great Corps Commanders who communicate regularly with the troops. The inclusion of Division commanders is diluting and creating a communication problem. It is better to have few great Corps then many mediocre division commanders.

This is not to diminish the contributions of the outstanding Division commanders past and present.



Best Regards,

General Pierre D.
1st Bde,3rd Div,I Corps,
Army of Georgia
CSA

President, ACWGC
Cabinet Member


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