Television shows and movies that capture the essence of military life are hard to find, but “Battlestar Galactica” is one of the best. One of the many aspects it gets right is the hierarchy of command.
The relationship between an officer and his senior enlisted adviser can be a difficult one. Typically, the officer is more educated but younger and less experienced than the chief (to use the Battlestar rank) who works for him. If the officer is wise and intelligent and the chief is skilled and proactive, this is an ideal arrangement. But dangerous consequences result when these counterparts disregard one another.
“BSG” provides a poignant example of this in “Fragged”, when Chief Tyrol attempts to convince an unrelenting Crashdown to call off a suicidal attack plan.
The realism of the show comes from the faults of its characters as much as from their successes. It has all the ingredients of a leadership training tool, which I will likely tap in the future. To be effective, the characters must be believable, the situations must be real, and the command organization must mirror our own. “BSG” meets all of these criteria.
Plus, it has Marines.
Byron R. Harder is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. He spent three combat deployments in Iraq as an artillery battery executive officer and a supporting arms liaison team leader. He is currently assigned to Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. The above essay expresses his own opinions, and are not necessarily those of the Dept. of Defense or the Marine Corps.