Friday, April 14, 2006

Resenting Decentralization 
Big Lizards has an excellent and perceptive take on the motivations and mores behind the four generals who have come out against Rumsfeld:

Even before the Iraq War, Secretary Rumsfeld embarked upon a revolutionary reformation, not only of how we fight wars but also the entire organization of our military forces. He is pushing towards smaller units, more unit independence (moving command decisions down the ranks), much greater reliance on Special Forces, and a reorganization of units to be self-sufficient rather than specialized.

It's hardly surprising that some men who have invested so much of their lives in one particular way of running a war would be angry, rebellious, and confused by a completely different way of running a war...

Zog confused! Zog not like new flint-tipped spears. Zog want hit mammoth with rock.

Seriously, I think it's easy to overplay the "Clintonista" card - at least in a doctrinal sense. After all, it was the Clintonistas, under Shalakish-touchy-feely or whatever his name was, that really pushed to develop Operations Other Than War doctrine, and get ahead of the game on the whole "nation-building" meatball, while the troglodytes from the Reagan/Bush I era picked fleas out of each others' silverbacks and brachiated, dreaming about putting an armored corps on line.

Some of these guys like Zinni might have some fond memories of Clinton's glory days. But they were also responsible for much of the groundwork for Rumsfeld's transformation.

The Unity of Command point is far more telling. In the old days, an officer took orders from ONE direction - the chain of command. But in Iraq, everything a commander does has to be carefully coordinated in several directions: He gets his orders from the chain of command. But he must also coordinate carefully with the State Department (via the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and his representatives) the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi police, and a whole host of other sheikhs representing a smorgasbord of tribal interests - not to mention the mullahs.

The successful combat commander is going to be comfortable dealing with and coordinating with and getting cooperation and buy-in from all of them, while simultaneously understanding and engaging with both western and Arab news media.

It's a lot for a drooling Infantry cro-magnon like me to wrap his brain around. And the competing interests and simultaneous efforts do combine to ensure that unity of command -- in the very limited sense that we've always understood it -- goes out the window. But - and this is key - it's the only way to ensure unity of effort.

Captains and colonels and generals all operating within a single, simple, linear chain of command would fail, because that system would do nothing to ensure unity of effort among all pro-Iraqi forces, military and civilian alike. It would do nothing to foster local cooperation between U.S. units and Iraqi police. Indeed, it would only breed suspicion and ignorance, and rapidly ensure that the Iraqi police and militias and Army and sheikhs and mullahs and the U.S. all operate at cross purposes even more than they do.

Engaging all sources of authority, Iraqi and Western, into the command structure is the only way to ensure the execution of a common strategy.

This simultaneous engagement of military and civilian authority, Iraqi and American, at the national level all the way down to the municipal, from Prime Minister down to the local grammar school headmaster, along with the media, is the mark of the consummate modern day warrior, from the general all the way down to the lieutenant and very often below that.

The ability to grasp that dynamic, intuitively, and to master it, is the essential quality that differentiates officers who "get it," in General David Petraeus's words, from officers who don't.

If they're still griping about "unity of command" on today's multi-polar battlefield in which U.S. troops are operating as guests of an Iraqi government sovereign over its own territory, then maybe - just maybe - they still don't "get it."

Splash, out


More from me, here

Apparently this even applies to old grunts, as a guy I work with, who was a non-com in Vietnam, hates Rumsfeld and thinks we should have continued developing the Crusader platform.

I guess if it's not like it was in his army, he doesn't really like it.
See, here's the part that makes no sense to me.

Yes, Rummy canned the Crusader as part of the whole transformation initiative. Big Army objected, tried to go over his head, and got their Secretary's head chopped off instead. That ruffled some feathers.

That doesn't mean we're never going to get a new gun. Rummy basically kicked the 40t+40t trailer design back to the manufacturer and said "try again, and make it fit FCS goals".

So... they did. NLOS-C is one of the most-developed FCS platforms out there, incorporates almost all of Crusader's automation and fire control gear (only has 2 crew), and does it in 20t+20t trailer. The only real compromise in the design is the loss of a few km on max range when they shortened the barrel to save weight.

So... we're getting Crusader, just lightened up a bit. What's the problem with Rummy, again?
Jason, thanks for your take. It's all too easy for us noncombatants to get the slam-bang from the MSM and think "Gee, if all those [it's up to 6 now] generals think Rummy's bad, maybe he is." It's good to know what the boots on the ground think. After all, you're the people keeping us from getting blown up right here in Phoenix and elsewhere in the US. Thanks for all you're doing.
Oh, my boots haven't been "on the ground" in a couple of years.

Well, they have, it's just that they've been in Florida. :-)
Well, over the past couple of years you've needed boots in FL too. Sorry for the misunderstanding, but feel free to take credit anyway.
One says "We needed more troops"

One says " No unity of Command"

One says "We shouldn't have been in Iraq in the first place"

Can't they agree as to what is wrong other than they don't like Rumsfeld?
Reading the Washington Post article I was wondering if the Post was trying to make them look bad instead of Rumsfeld.
Has anybody noticed that not a single retired O-star wearing any shade of blue has piled on?

Interestingly, neither of those services is getting everything it wants, either.
What a great overview. Thank you! As a civilian, it is hard to understand how the military woks and this makes alot of sense and makes it easier to understand why Rummy gets so blasted by the MSM. Thanks again and God bless!
That's an interesting observation. I wonder if that means that there is more politicking in the Army than the other services.
Well, the Army is being affected the most by Transformation, and lots of folks don't like it.

The annoying part is that there are plenty of things to be legitimately concerned about in Transformation, but screaming at the top of your lungs against the whole thing just means that you drown out any public recognition of the important details... not unlike what is happening in the media with the larger war today.
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