Fraternization versus unit coherence

Excessive fraternization can be the enemy of unit coherence.
This is not so much the case in the civilian world.
If, for example, a university dean has a sexual relation with a student,
that would certainly set off alarms,
but harming the “coherence” of the university
or the performance of the other students
would not be one of them.

It is quite different in areas where unit or team coherence
is vital to performance of the unit or team.
Perhaps the military is too far removed
from the experience of many of those who have been pushing so avidly
for the military to open its combat ranks to both women and homosexuals,
which inevitably broadens both the potential scope of and desire for
fraternization between members of the unit,
whether they are of equal or unequal rank, or in a command relation.
It may be helpful to note how a case of what amounts to fraternization
has adversely affected something which is well-known to almost all Washingtonians,
namely the Washington Redskins.
To illustrate,
here are excerpts from several 2013 Washington Post articles reporting that
the social relation between the team owner, Daniel Snyder,
and the team’s much-hyped quarterback, Robert Griffin III,
has been noticed by other team members and has, according to the reports,
adversely affected their morale and, it is implied, their performance.
It does not seem a stretch to describe this as
harming the team’s “coherence.”

Daniel Snyder can make fans happy, but firing Mike Shanahan won’t do it
By Mike Wise
Washington Post Opinion, 2013-12-09


We thought Snyder might have learned that
an owner’s leadership
is compromised when
he attempts to befriend his star players,
confusing employees for friends

from Bruce Smith to LaVar Arrington and Clinton Portis.
But then we hear about
Robert Griffin III’s car being parked in the bowels of FedEx Field during the game
for a painless exit afterward
and a longtime employee calling another to say,
“The kid’s got a parking space during the game? No one got that.”


Double standards don’t just cripple team chemistry;
they destroy chains of command, circumvent authority.


Mike Shanahan may leave, but the Redskins’ problems will remain
By Sally Jenkins
Washington Post Opinion, 2013-12-29


The guess here is that Shanahan was finished as Redskins coach long ago —
a dead man walking maybe as early as last spring, when
radioactively over-empowered rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III
began to openly campaign against the coach to the owner,
and the owner didn’t stop it.
The result was that nobody knew who they were playing for.

“You could find guys who played exceptionally hard last year,
and they didn’t [play hard] this year,”
observed former tight end Chris Cooley.
“Something was wrong with their situation.
It’s so strange to me.
You see the same group of guys who won that many last year,
lose that many this year.”

Shanahan was too intolerant,
not cut out for the kind of adroit situational massage
that the Redskins’ annual dysfunction calls for.
the fates of his predecessors over-sensitized Shanahan to issues of control.
Or maybe he just thought he was the guy who could finally handle this owner.
This makes Shanahan no different from the six coaches who came before him.
They all think they’re the guy who can handle Snyder,
who can cure his hapless forays into locker room affairs,
and his tendency to wield his cigar like a billy-club,
and open fissures in his own organization.


[Jenkins explicitly raises the issue that
the Snyder/Griffin III relation circumvented the chain of command,
which would seem to run
from the team owner, Snyder
to the boss of football operations, Shanahan,
and then down to the players, of whom Griffin III was one.
While she, in this article, does not explicitly raise the issue of fraternization,
it seems inevitable that
intra-service sexual attraction will exponentially increase
the desire for, and likelihood of, fraternization,
in particular, these outside-of-chain-of-command relations.
What will happen when virile people, of either sex,
are in the same unit as people they are sexually attracted to?
You can write regulations to your heart's content,
and demand that anyone caught in a non-consensual sexual relation
be punished to suit the desire of the most ardent feminist Senator,
but that will not stop
the spark of desire from lighting in the loins of service members.
Relations of sexual desire will form,
fraternization of various types will occur,
and it will be impossible to regulate all of those,
because the criteria for what is fraternization are so hard to specify.
But the fraternization will be noticed by members of the unit,
just as the members of General David Petraeus' staff noticed
the way he was favoring and fraternizing with
his civilian biographer, Paula Broadwell.
One can imagine analogies to their fraternization
in a strictly military context.
Suppose an O-5 Lieutenant Colonel battalion commander
spends a lot of time going on runs, stictly for conditioning of course,
with an exceptionally attractive person in the O-5's unit.
Will the lower-ranking person's peers believe
that gives that person an inside edge with the C.O.,
one based not on effectiveness of performance but on sexual attraction?
Very likely.
I hope that you can see the analogy with how the Snyder/Griffin relation corroded,
according the media reports, the attitude of the other Redskins players.]

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