Tag Archives: Scott Ligamfelter

An After-Action Review of the ’23 Election

by Scott Lingamfelter

Years ago, when I was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, we would conduct force-on-force training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. It’s a vast complex in a high desert environment where training was quite realistic. We would conduct maneuvers against what was termed “the world-class OPFOR” or opposition forces, who mimicked Soviet war doctrine while we used the new “AirLand Battle” tactics to defeat them.

In many cases units who fought the OPFOR came up short, not due to our doctrine, but due to our execution of it. That’s the point: you can have the best plan in the world, and if it is poorly executed, you lose.

After each operation, we would gather with the observer controllers (OC) to evaluate our performance. It was brutally honest. Why? Because in combat, people die and that is a brutal reality. So, you train hard to win and bring your team home. That means you take inventory of your mistakes to get better the next time you execute the mission. And when you do, you focus on what occurred on the desert floor during the battle; you don’t critique the personalities of the players.

But even when focused on the raw facts of the performance, the After Action Reviews (AAR) were sometime tough to swallow. Fortunately, we had a legendary OC who made things a bit easier to digest by beginning each AAR by saying of our results, “It ain’t good, it ain’t bad, it’s just what happened.” So, let’s begin taking inventory of a recent battle for the legislature in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Republicans had a very disappointing Election Day 2023, especially at the state level. It was an important battle for the GOP to secure majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly so that our Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin could advance an agenda he felt was best for the Commonwealth. We failed. And just as we did at the NTC, let’s set personalities aside. Playing the “blame game” doesn’t produce future victories. But addressing performance honestly can help produce future victories. Continue reading

Virginia’s Northam Learning Gap

by L. Scott Ligamfelter

It should surprise no one. After the ill-conceived March 2020 closing of Virginia’s public schools by former Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, it should have been evident that children would suffer academically.

We now know the extent of that damage to fourth and eighth grade students. Virginia’s Secretary of Education, Aimee Rogstad Guidera, put it aptly. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results, she said, offer a “clear and heart-wrenching” statement on the “catastrophic decline” and a “predictable outcome of the decade-long systemic dismantling of a foundational commitment to excellence in education.” It didn’t have to be. What followed was a complete failure in virtual education. In the process, children fell victim to the self-absorbed politics of teachers’ unions and a complete disregard of the medical evidence from European countries that school-aged children were not at increased threat to contract COVID-19.

Moreover, the teachers’ unions saw the COVID-19 closing as an opportunity to keep schools shuttered while they lobbied for more pay and fatter school budgets once the pandemic crisis passed. A cynical assessment? Yes. But even when high schoolers in my county of Prince William returned to classrooms in 2021, teachers remained out, preferring to instruct kids virtually even as their students sat in segmented classroom space watching their teacher on a computer screen. It was farcical, and Virginia’s parents knew it.

Enter Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, who correctly characterized parental outrage in Virginia, not only for the elongated closure of public schools, but also for the “woke pandemic” spread by liberal school boards bent on indoctrinating children to be social justice warriors. Of almost no concern to these latter-day commissars was the performance of our kids and grandkids in reading, math, genuine history, and critical thinking skills. Mr. Youngkin listened to parents. In turn, they elected Mr. Youngkin because he pledged to realign educational priorities to those of parents, not woke administrators.

The governor is rightly indignant over the recent NAEP results and has committed to ensuring that Virginia children “have the tools and support structure to get back on track.” Tutors, particularly in math and reading, are needed for our fourth graders. Reading scores for this segment were dismal, tumbling from seventh to 33rd place among all states. In math, fourth grade students barely reached the national average.

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