Micromanaging the Campaign in Afghanistan II

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 8 months ago

In Micromanaging the Campaign in Afghanistan I said:

A strong NCO corps was and is something that the Iraqi Security Forces haven’t been able to implement despite the best efforts of U.S. trainers.  But the trend in U.S. warfare is going in the wrong direction.  While officers might like to claim that they have the utmost respect for and confidence in their Gunnys, First Sergeants, Sergeant Majors, and in the Army, Command Sergeant Majors, the practice of micromanaging conflicts shows this claim is to some extent wishful thinking.

The U.S. officer corps has unwittingly bought into the Western business and industrial model of high level managers micromanaging their employees, metrics, and even day to day actions.  Officers have become more managers than military leaders, and paradoxically this has driven the U.S. military away from the Western strength of the NCO corps and towards a more Middle Eastern model.

From North County Times, take a quick look at the new Major General who will be leading the Marines in Afghanistan.

Mills, the son of a World War II Navy officer, rejects the implication of a frequently heard phrase about Afghanistan that says U.S. and NATO troops have the watches but the Taliban has the time —- meaning the enemy force can wait out the West and take over when foreign troops leave.

“I don’t think they really do have the time,” he said. “If you look at what the II Marine Expeditionary Brigade has been doing in securing the countryside, it shows we can be successful for the long term. We can win over the people.”

The Marines he will command will conduct joint operations with Afghan National Army and security forces, and the troops will stay in the areas they are assigned and not live on fixed bases. That strategy is key in counter-insurgency operations, he said.

“You can’t fight just from forward operating bases,” he said.

The rules of engagement in Afghanistan are continuing to “mature,” Mills said, stressing that avoiding civilian casualties and proving to the population that U.S. forces can chase away and keep the Taliban from reasserting themselves is central to the mission.

As his Blackberry buzzed with incoming e-mails every 30 seconds or so, Mills said he stays in shape by running and working out every couple of days.

Folks, when you’re carrying a Blackberry which receives an e-mail every 30 seconds, you know that you’re micromanaging your reports.  It’s a model taken from American Corporate conglomerates, and it isn’t appropriate for the U.S. military.  It’s why General McChrystal feels that it’s appropriate to issue tactical directives that govern rules of engagement in very localized and unique situations, settings and situations about which he knows absolutely nothing.

It’s the same mentality that dictates that a Battalion of Marines in Fallujah in 2007 must jettison their lighter, more dust and desert friendly Bates Tactical Boots (purchased at TAGs before deployment in lieu of the heavier clodhopper Marine Boots) because they don’t all look quite the same as the issue boots to a camera mounted in Fallujah streaming to the Pentagon.  Or because of a MARADMIN on equipment.  That’s right.  Eight Hundred Marines throw away their boots with logistics having to ship that many more pairs to Fallujah because – they need to look the same as each other.

Regardless of the alleged trust that field grade and flag officers have in what they call our fine young men in combat, the reality of the situation is that they don’t trust the enlisted men or the NCOs to do the right thing.  If they did they wouldn’t need to deny artillery support for Marines in Kunar (killing four), take e-mails every 30 seconds, or in fact worry about tactics at all.  Generals worry over strategy, not tactics.  We have lost our way and become upside down in our focus, and unless we regain it, we – the premier Armed Forces in the world – we will lose our advantage to a bunch of ignorant, sandaled fanatics because we are being run by a group of control freaks who worry over the wrong things.




You are currently reading "Micromanaging the Campaign in Afghanistan II", entry #4354 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Micromanaging the Military,Military Equipment and was published December 29th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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