By: General David Perkins
“Military failures are a result of three things: failure to learn, failure to adapt, and a failure to anticipate.”
The strength of the United States military – in fact, our asymmetric advantage – is our people. The creative and innovative solutions that result from true diversity of thought are the hallmarks of a learning organization. This creativity and innovation, when nurtured by an organizational culture that encourages prudent risk taking, is both a force multiplier on the battlefield and the only effective response to the inevitable “fog” of war.
It is critically important that leaders at all levels think about, and discuss, “how we fight.” We must continue a diverse dialogue that captures lessons learned from our individual experiences and applies that knowledge to our understanding of the evolving nature of the operational environment we will encounter in the future.
From ARMY Magazine, Vol. 66, No. 4, April 2016. Copyright © 2016 by the Association of the U.S. Army and reprinted by permission of ARMY Magazine.
By Colonel Dave Hodne
Among the many rewards of commanding at the brigade level, the opportunity to mentor, observe and share in the lessons of command is the most profound. In focusing “two levels down,” brigade level commanders are in position to share their experiences with young officers about to assume command for the first time. In coaching subordinate battalion commanders, this relationship among more seasoned commanders allows for reciprocal learning across echelons. My experience in commanding, observing and coaching others on this important responsibility reaffirms my belief that command is best understood in terms of “intent and climate.”
By Daniel Hodne
This past November, my family and I returned to West Point, New York, for my Class’ 25th Reunion. While I stood alongside my classmates on “The Plain,” and watched the Corps of Cadets execute a pass in review, I appreciated the opportunity to reflect. As my retirement date approached, this occasion took place in the twilight of my Army career.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with author Mike Bond and discuss his latest book Assassins as well as the importance of fiction to military professionals. If the interview piques your interest, I encourage you to check out his book here.
Q: Mike, what do you think is the most important aspect of Assassins and could you tell us why you decided to write it?
A: I wrote Assassins to share what I’ve learned in the last thirty years of conflict between the West and Islam. From my teenage years I’ve been acquainted with Middle East wars, and have seen much unnecessary tragedy and many mistakes, ways in which we could have protected ourselves better, both diplomatically and militarily.
The preface to Assassins is from the famous quote of Sun Tzu: “One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes be victorious, sometimes meet with defeat. One who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated.”
From ARMY Magazine, Vol. 67, No. 3, March 2017. Copyright © 2017 by the Association of the U.S. Army and reprinted by permission of ARMY Magazine.
By Joe Byerly
Walk into any organization in our Army and there is one thing I guarantee you will find on a desk or in a cargo pocket: a small, green, government-issued notebook. It doesn’t matter whether a soldier is a sergeant or a general officer, odds are they will have one of these Army mainstays in their possession. Beyond their utility for taking notes, these notebooks also represent a greater ideal. They represent hard-won knowledge from intense training exercises. They represent ideas for improving our organizations and our warfighting capabilities. They represent our successes and our failures. They also represent the first step to leaving a legacy in our profession of arms.
By Alex Licea and Harlan Kefalas
Whether it is flipping through the pages of military journals or reading articles on various military websites, we both notice one trend:
Many if not most of the pieces we read are written by officers, both active and retired.
Now, we appreciate and respect our officers for writing about great topics which foster meaningful discussions. However, the NCO perspective is lacking, especially when compared to our representation across the force.
By Regina Parker
The Army let me study abroad in China this year to deepen my understanding of international relations, but I have also learned quite a bit about the Army itself. Last week, for instance, I was riding a train through Tianjin when my Australian friend asked me to explain Mission Command after glancing at the article on my iPad screen titled “Mission command is not a software!” by Thomas Ricks in Foreign Policy. As I flipped through ADP 6-0 and ADRP 6-0 on my iPad and explained the doctrine, her two questions on the subject notably challenged my preconceptions.
By Alan Hastings
Recent debate among military professionals on the subjects of mission command and detailed command has highlighted a common misunderstanding about each’s role in tactical operations. While we cannot expect to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative without embracing the philosophy of mission command, it is not a panacea to every tactical problem leaders are likely to face. Operations often require detailed command and control in order to achieve the overwhelming effects on the enemy necessary to accomplish the mission. Thus, both mission command and detailed command provide value to the tactical leader during operations.
By Brad Hutchison
The troops were ready: SHARP, OPSEC, SAEDA and CTIP training complete; field sanitation, environmental compliance, and ammunition handling teams trained and identified; all Soldiers who would come within the 385 days of their exit from the Army before their return to home station complete with Soldier for Life; everyone current on dental and vaccinations. Every task highlighted green from their pre-deployment checklist to the commanding general’s “roll-out card”. For his abilities and competence, the company commander was rewarded with a battalion headquarters company command upon redeployment from the National Training Center (NTC). Yet, after 11 days of fighting Blackhorse in the unforgiving California desert, the company tallied only three destroyed enemy vehicles against their own forty eight lost.
As a recent Observer-Controller/Trainer at the NTC I spent months watching units’ defenses crumble like this and seeing their attacks stall against materially inferior forces. What caused the failures? All that readiness. We ask more of today’s units than ever before in the history of the Army, and it is harming
both the mission and our Soldiers.
“You are always practicing something, the question is,- What are you practicing”
-Martial Arts Sensei
By David Weart
The Importance of Deliberate Practice
The above quote, found in Susan Scott’s Fierce Leadership, challenges leaders to reflect on how their actions and behaviors contribute to their leadership narrative. Everything a leader does from the constructive actions of vision setting, decision-making, and resolving conflicts to destructive acts such as lacking empathy and micromanaging, serve as indicators to the quality of their leadership practice. Towards the end of his career, management guru, Peter Drucker said that effective management “demands doing certain-and fairly simple-things. It consists of a small number of practices” . Applying creative liberty by swapping out management, for leadership, Drucker’s adage still applies. If practicing leadership is vital to becoming an effective leader, the questions to answer then become what type of practices and how do I practice?