Glenn Lindman, adjutant general


Wednesday, 10 a.m. — This is a very interesting situation. The voters of South Carolina have a tricky choice before them — a choice they shouldn’t even have to make. They must decide who will lead the state’s military arm, the National Guard.

Here are some of the factsergors involved:

  • The incumbent is 69-year-old Stanhope Sifford Spears, a former Democrat-turned-Republican (how weird is that — an American military leader having to decide a party affiliation in order to hold office?) who has held the position of adjutant general for 12 years. He is the only state Guard leader in the nation elected rather than appointed.
  • The challenger is Glenn Lindman, a 46-year-old Iraq War veteran and Bronze Star recipient. He is a Democrat.
  • By virtue of his elective office, Mr. Spears wears the uniform of a major general (two-star).
  • The next-most-senior officer in the Guard is a general.
  • Challenger Lindman’s highest rank in the Guard was first sergeant.
  • But, Mr. Lindman points out, Mr. Spears is not a federally recognized general officer, either. In fact, he’s too old to hold such a post in the regular military. But he won’t retire, and since he is an independently elected state constitutional officer, no one can make him retire — another thing that makes him unique among American military leaders.
  • Mr. Lindman thinks the adjutant general should be appointed by the governor, using a set of standards to make sure the appointee is qualified. Gen. Spears, not surprisingly, likes the present system. After all, it’s worked for him.
  • The Democrat assumes that any standards adopted under the process he advocates would require that the adjutant general be a federally recognized general officer, or of sufficiently high rank to be promotable to general. That would eliminate first sergeants, to say the least.
  • But since there are no military qualifications to hold the position of S.C. adjutant general, there is nothing barring a sergeant — or indeed, a civilian with no military experience whatsoever — from holding the position. All you have to do is get enough people to vote for you. It’s command by popularity, rather than merit — a most unAmerican concept.
  • The state constitution is unlikely to be changed to allow the AG to be appointed as long as the incumbent opposes the change. That’s the way our Legislature works. They’re a very polite bunch. Not all over, but in spots — and this is one of the spots.
  • So, going by the choices available to us in this election, the only way we might switch to a rational system that would keep NCOs from commanding generals is if the first sergeant is elected over the general. As Mr. Lindman puts it from an NCO’s perspective, this might be another case in which "the NCO fixes the problem and hands if back to the officers — and that’s a familiar theme in the military."
  • Beyond the issue of rank, Mr. Spears has never commanded troops in combat; Mr. Lindman has.
  • But isn’t it more of an administrative job than that of a warrior? Remember, Eisenhower never had a combat command either, before being Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force that whipped Hitler. Fine, says the former first sergeant. He’ll stack his up his managerial experience as former head of a computer company against that of insurance man Spears any day.

Mr. Lindman has a lot of gripes against MGen. Spears. For one thing, when his unit — at the time the largest group, with 680 people, to deploy to Iraq — went off to war, the general did not see them off. Nor did he welcome them home. Instead, they were greeted by a Reserve general from North Carolina.

Worse, a lot of the men were stuck over there without transport home, and Gen. Spears had put out a release saying they were all home. This upset some family members who knew their soldiers weren’t home. Congressman Bob Inglis intervened to get them home. Meanwhile, Gen. Spears and some other senior officers had gone to a conference in Hawaii. Hence the welcome-home-by-proxy.

That’s the past. Mr. Lindman is more concerned about the future. He said he was in a strategy meeting in which senior Guard officers were plotting how to get Washington to choose the state’s 218th Brigade for a dangerous mission in Afghanistan previously handled by the 82nd Airborne. Mr. Lindman looked around and saw that no one else in the room was wearing a combat badge.

One delegation was sent to Washington to try to get that combat assignment, and failed. A second one went, and succeeded. So 1,800 South Carolinians will be going over to hunt the resurgent Taliban (including Lt. James Smith, previously featured on this blog).

Mr. Lindman doesn’t think a bunch of officers sitting behind desks should be volunteering S.C. Guardsmen for this mission, and he’s cynical about the motive: "Why are we pushing the envelope? It’s a money issue."

"It’s about getting the 218th Brigade a mission so that the 218th Brigade won’t leave" the state. "We’re sending troops into harm’s way over an issue of money."

Not that he’s got anything against Americans fighting in Afghanistan. As far as current operational theaters go, "I think the moral high ground is Afghanistan… I have no qualms at all" about the mission there.

However, "I think Iraq was a mistake." If there had been WMD, that would have been different, he says. He believes the nation is more vulnerable to threats from Iran, North Korea and the like. "They all know we’re tied up in Iraq, so it encourages them to be adventurous."

But he went there, and he did his duty, doing convoy protection duty 30 times. As a result, he "saw a lot of the country." His unit supported the assault on Fallujah, and "was with the Brits when they retook Ramadi."

"The level of danger was extremely high," he said. There was hardly a mission without an IED going off, or small arms fire on the convoy. "We lost no one, but we did have wounded." He spoke of one S.C. Guardsman who lost an arm.

The missions involved riding Humvees armed with a .50-cal. machine gun or a Mark 19 automatic grenade launcher — at first. But the grenades, they discovered, had a way of failing to detonate when they hit sand — just thunk, and nothing. They came to prefer a mounted M240 machine gun, which was easier to traverse downward when the enemy got too close to the vehicle.

Interestingly — or perhaps I should say, bizarrely — when his unit was training for this mission at Fort Dix, they had no Humvees to drive. So the men were required to stand in little groups pretending to be in a Humvee — you be the commander, and train your weapon out the window like this; you’re the driver, make like you’re holding the wheel and hold your weapon here; you’re the gunner, you stand this way and scan for threats — and then walk around that way.

"This is literally how we trained," he said. "We would walk endlessly down the road, pretending that we had vehicles." The gunners, because of the nature of their weapons, frequently had to walk backwards in these formations. (Trying to picture what he described, I see something that looks like a Monty Python sketch.)

Speaking of lack of resources, the first sergeant has a major beef with the incumbent over the maintenance of Guard armories. As The State’s Chuck Crumbo reported
earlier this month,

     The South Carolina National Guard faces a $60 million tab to repair and renovate most of its 65 armories.
    The buildings – most built in the 1960s and 1970s – are victims of deferred maintenance caused by a lack of state money, officials say.
    "We don’t fix most things that break," said Lt. Col. Jeff Hamrick, facilities manager.
That means roofs leak, window frames rust, and plumbing woes prompt soldiers to skip showers.
    Guard documents show:

  • 83.3 percent of all facilities are "marginally adequate" to support state and federal mission requirements.
  • 10.6 percent have "moderate" deficiencies that threaten units’ state and federal missions.
  • 6.1 percent have "major" deficiencies, meaning the facilities do not meet minimum standards.

    "Not only do some of the armories fail federal standards for usability," a Guard document reads, "but pose serious safety, recruiting and retention issues as well."

"That’s his asset management strategy," Mr. Lindman says of the incumbent. "Rather than manage it when it’s a small problem" — when a roof first starts to leak, for instance — he waits and has to ask for $60 million, the Democrat said.

"His management style is do nothing."

Mr. Spears has declined to be interviewed by the editorial board. I may or may not have a chance to talk with him and Mr. Lindman both next Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in their ETV debate. Tune in.


7 thoughts on “Glenn Lindman, adjutant general

  1. LexWolf

    “It’s command by popularity, rather than merit — a most unAmerican concept.”
    Hmmmm….isn’t that how the Commander-In-Chief is determined?
    I do agree with you that The AG should be appointed buy the governor but your sentence above doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Brad Warthen

    It’s unAmerican for a military leader, which the commander-in-chief is not. He’s the elected civilian who is established over the meritocracy that is the military.
    It’s a basic principle in this country that the military shuns politics, and submits to civilian authority.
    I’ve also lived in a country where it wasn’t that way. Not good. S.C. doesn’t need to be following the Ecuadorean model.

  3. Jeff Bennett

    Dear Sir,
    I have read your blog and found some errors and or omissions. First and foremost Mr. Lindman is/was a First Sergeant. There is a huge difference between a Staff Sergeant and a First Sergeant when it comes to command responsiblity. Your comment that Mr. Lindman has commanded troops in combat also needs to be expaned upon. This is where Mr. Lindman’s qualifications are magnified. You should also expand upon the qualifications of Stan Spears, personnal history, and his qualifications will be magnified. It is very easy to volunteer someone else to do something if you have not experienced it yourself. Also, Mr. Lindman’s experience with his computer company should be expanded upon. I am familiar with his company and its origins and the years it took for him and his partners to grow it into the company it is today. When you take the qualifications into consideration, Mr. Lindman is at the top of the enlisted ranks, commanded troops in peacetime and in combat and started a very successful company from scratch. You also need to examine the skills/attributes Mr. Lindman had to have and currently has to obtain the above qualifications; such as, leadership, administrative skills, empathy, goal orientation, planning, budgeting, spending control, accountability, delegation, etc… Being Fair and Balanced you should also examine Mr. Spears. I think you will be surprised.

  4. Brad Warthen

    Thanks, but I had already corrected the entry regard Mr. Lindman’s rate. I knew he was a First Sergeant, and I don’t know why I kept typing staff sergeant. Probably because I don’t have time for this blog and was doing it in the middle of the night…

  5. Phil Grubbs

    In time of war we need an Adjutant General that can follow orders. Spears either cannot or will not follow orders. Following the Republican primary in 2002, he retired one Military Intelligence officer because the officer supported his opponent. Spears allowed a second Military Intelligence officer to retire after the officer wrote him a letter protesting the firing of his fellow officer. At the time, all Military Intelligence officers were under two Department of the Army Stop Loss Orders. Spears claimed that the authority granted him under the South Carolina Code of Laws gave him the authoriry to disregard the DA Stop Loss Orders. He is either a liar or doesn’t know what every high school government student knows about the outcome when state and federal laws come in conflict.
    Do we really want as commander of the SCNG an officer that believes he doesn’t have to follow lawful orders from the Department of the Army?

  6. Donna Barber

    I am very disappointed in how my letter to the editor ran in the paper today. First and foremost, factual info was edited out, specifically info concerning Traid Consultants being called in to do a survey concerning racism, sexism, etc. The public has a right to know the facts; the Guard is a public agency. Spears chose to keep this info locked up tight, he, and apparently now the “State” (because you never did a follow up from a previous article you ran concerning prejudice in the Guard), feel it should continue to not be public knowledge. I feel several important sentences were left out; also I’m curious why you did not include my rank, my years of service, and my retirement status under my name. I think doing that would give much more credibility to my letter. I do believe Glenn Lindman, by far, would serve the soldiers of South Carolina, the state, and country much more honorably that Spears has done in his last 12 years. I’m sorry the “State” doesn’t feel the same way and can’t make up its mind about who would better serve in this position. Just another tidbit….current M-Day or traditional generals in the Guard, with 30 years of service (39 days a year, this is less than any schools they attended) actually only serve 1170 days in the military, equating to 3.21 years of active duty service; compare this to Glenn Lindman’s time in service. One last thing, rank doesn’t make a soldier commited, competent, or give him character. If you’re a great manager of people, places, and things you will be a good leader.

  7. Michael Hanna

    I served with C 1/178th FA in Iraq and Kuwait,alot of stuff was covered up by this unit especially when soldiers were injured also when our convoy encountered indirect fire (mortars) north of Tikrit December 22,2004 at an Iraqi police checkpont while escourting Bradleys from C 1/120 inf from Kirkut, I supressed fire during this mission,29 rounds exactly spent ammo report taken by MSG Busbee at the time, risking my life , reports from the convoy commander(Lt.Aufderhar) Minnesota N.G., commended me on this as well even when I was in the med hold company,another incident at FOB Kalsu Jan.22 our convoy encountered indirect fire again also an IED,at Taji Iraq Nov,9.10/11, rockets hit the compound, I sustained a concussion from this and have TMC records from Talill Iraq also from Camp Buering TMC,this is just a few incidents not counting hitting a trench obstacle where insugents would dig out ditches on the ASR and would plant spike bars etc to infict harm on coalition forces,Ive had to have two disc replacements and arthoscopic surgery in the med hold company, I received no recognition from this unit , I did receive a purple heart after being approved by the surgeon generals office through HRC after a thorough invetigation and sworn statements with soldiers who I served with ,this unit used scare tactics, and would not let other soldiers help each other when this would be critical for VA benefits, also TAG would not get egg in his face,my congressman has been lied to by TAG,the best was telling my congressman I was discharged by an eroneos enlistment when in fact I had already been federalized and was training at Ft. Dix, another was a through invetigation was conducted about my complaint when statements were not taken from soldiers who were eyewitness during the Tikrit incident,other soldiers in my chain were told not to assist me or help and were intimidated by these scare tactics, I guess TAG thinks I underminded him when I was awarded the Purple Heart when he informed congressman Inglis I did not entitled to this inspite of my injuries or the combat action badge which is awarded in conjuction with the PH,alot of issues need to be brought forward these are just a few, also The Adjutant General would not even visit the soldiers in the medical hold unit at Ft. Dix , but what is upsetting when no one cared about my well being after being airvac out of theater and spending 19 mounts in a medical hold unit,the good old boy system is still in effect with this unit double standards apply, I may face repercussions for submitting this be the truth needs to be known. SSG.M.Z. Hanna Retired


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