Thursday, April 02, 2015

Ten Years Later, I Find I Was Too Complacent

We are crippling our military leadership.

I've worried about how our troops can be protected from politically motivated prosecutions when their every action can be scrutinized even years later for mistakes made in the heat of combat. But I expressed confidence--as we were fighting the Iraq War--that this would not bleed over to having "squad leaders on the Potomac:"

How will American soldiers fight when every movement is recorded by surveillance equipment? We are pursuing a transparent battlefield where we see all enemy movement and all friendly movement. We won't get to the former, but we may get pretty good about the latter.

I'm not talking about how we'll fight the battles. I'm not worried about squad leaders on the Potomac. Command and control we will deal with, I think, as long as we are careful. I'm wondering about how we deal with the fact that war is horrible and wretched. No matter what the history books say.

I was wrong not to worry about command and control:

All this got really bad in 2004 when the U.S. Department of Defense decided to provide the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) with a real time combat command capability. This meant that the JCS, led by its chairman, now had a combat command center in the Pentagon where they use satellite communications to directly observe, and sometimes control, combat forces anywhere on the planet. Now all these senior officers learned, early on in their military training, the importance of giving subordinates their mission and leaving their subordinates to figure out a way to do it. But now, with a generation of senior commanders with no experience of being micromanaged platoon leaders in Vietnam, the insidious and crippling micromanagement disease crept back into the White House and Pentagon. Field commanders were being second guessed by nervous superiors half way around the world. These same superiors were now calling in lawyers to help them make the right (for the guy in Washington) decision while the troops were under fire and waiting for permission to proceed. It wasn't always this way.

Do read it all. This is a real corruption of our military leadership even though the coin that buys their behavior is career preservation.

Our air power is at risk, too, from micro-management.

Budget sequestration is a lower tier problem for our military compared to this issue.