Page 2 of 6 FirstFirst 1234 ... LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 104

Thread: The concept of "adaptation"

  1. #21
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default

    TT & Marc,
    Thanks for the very thought provoking answers - you could not have followed each other better if you'd arranged it - the responses complimented each other very well. After reading them I had to go back and re-read LTC Yingling's piece on failures in generalship as well as F. Kaplan's "Challenging the Generals" (both of which can be found with associated threads & blogs on SWJ for those who have not read them). I'll get to why in a moment, but first I'd like to comment on an insight the TT made which I really liked:

    the willingness and capability to adapt in wartime has little real impact on whether a military will remain very innovative in preparing for some uncertain future. There is more than a grain of truth in the old saw that generals prepare for the last war, or the last battle of the last war.
    Its amazing to me how the human mind work. The last event, if dramatic enough, seems to shape the rest of an individual experience and becomes sort of Rosetta Stone or lens through which all lesser experiences are viewed until some other experience of equal weight is encountered. Its a natural bias which must be guarded against in order to look forward (at future problems) with objectivity.

    I just hope we don't become that which we say stagnates our ability to innovate. I believe in investing first in leadership to provide the purpose and direction to the catalysts from which we derive change. I think only by investing in leadership can we be more certain of avoiding learning the wrong lessons and developing the wrong answers. Positive change then (I think) would begin by asking the right set of questions.

    Not only is this a very relevant topic, but it would also seem to be one that fascinates so many of us. Consider how many related threads there are (the Great Generals thread, the FCS thread, the Generalship thread, the adaptation thread, etc.)

    Again, thanks to both of you for some very challenging and thought provoking responses.

    Best regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-01-2007 at 11:59 AM.

  2. #22
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default oh dear

    I see from the missing words in the quoted sentence that my keyboard was drinking again yesterday

  3. #23
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hi Rob,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    TT & Marc,
    Thanks for the very thought provoking answers - you could not have followed each other better if you'd arranged it
    No worries, mate! TT's answers set the stage for mine - hey, he had already used all the great lines, so I got stuck with the model building . Actually, this is an area that has been pretty much "top of mind" for me over the past decade or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I just hope we don't become that which we say stagnates our ability to innovate. I believe in investing first in leadership to provide the purpose and direction to the catalysts from which we derive change. I think only by investing in leadership can we be more certain of avoiding learning the wrong lessons and developing the wrong answers. Positive change then (I think) would begin by asking the right set of questions.
    Over the years, I have had the great good fortune to work with a real range of leaders from the best to the worst. The best of them have a quality that I find absolutely fascinating - they "read" people and help them to become what they could become, even if they don't understand what this is. The worst tell you what to do, how to do it and accept no input.

    Back when the quality movement started to really get rolling, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines hired a new CEO to help them regain heir market share, which had been slipping. Rather than imposing a solution, he decided to get out of his office and talk with the frontline workers. What he heard made him suspicious, so he "hired" himself as a new ticket agent. After two weeks, he "quit" and went back to being CEO with a totally new understanding of why they were loosing market share - way too any corporate regulations (62,000+) that actually destroyed the ability of frontline workers to solve customer problems.

    His "solution" to the overall problem was to introduce two radical "innovations". First, he required all management to spend at least two weeks out of every quarter acting in frontline positions (stewards, customer service reps, ticket agents, baggage handlers, etc.). Second, he instituted a policy (actually more of a cultural schema) that said something like "get rid of any rule or regulation that makes it harder for frontline positions to solve problems". These two shifts ended up boosting KLMs market share significantly.

    I have to wonder what would happen if the military had a similar set of requirements. What if every officer from O4+ had to serve as a corporal or seargent every quarter?

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  4. #24
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Talking Fixed it

    TT,
    Well, at least your keyboard is in good company - there are some great anecdotes of some 18th Century Scottish philosophers who did some of their best thinking over a pint - I think David Hume did a pretty good treatise over the physics of billiard balls and how it was applicable to almost everything while a wee bit intoxicated.
    Best regards, Rob

  5. #25
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Rob,

    What was most annoying about my keyboard is that it did not share

    (I have been trying to get the 'blue quote' thing to work but I give up)


    'The last event, if dramatic enough, seems to shape the rest of an individual experience and becomes sort of Rosetta Stone or lens through which all lesser experiences are viewed until some other experience of equal weight is encountered. Its a natural bias which must be guarded against in order to look forward (at future problems) with objectivity.

    I think your observation is spot on. To take this point onwards....

    A very solid argument can be made, I think, that WWII, the ‘Good War’, provides the foundation for how the modern US military (well, not so much the USAF, ‘cause it did not exist during that conflict) sees itself and what it does. To grossly oversimplify, as each US service sees itself in a different way, WWII is in essence the last war that the ‘generals’ want to fight better (as opposed to the last battle). This form of warfare, state vs state, division vs division, has been, and to a degree remains today, the focus of the US military in spite of the many small wars it has engaged in since 1945, with the US military steadily refining and becoming ever more proficient in the form of warfare they fought in WWII.

    This emphasis is partly reinforced and indeed propagated by the icons of each service. In the ‘Who are the Great Generals’ thread, I was struck by the fact that most – but certainly not all -- of the Generals named were those who commanded ‘conventional’ style wars (from Alexander to the present). I understand that the intent – particularly by the members of the SWB – is to identify Generals who exemplify the many leadership skills and attributes that are required of a good officer whatever the form of warfare. These men – and the few women mentioned – certainly do serve as role models. As such, however, the connection between their iconic status and the form of warfare on which their status is based carries a strong connotation or meaning about what is 'proper war', about what is the form of warfare that should be aspired to. Or to put it another way, such role models, consciously or unconsciously, reinforce ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’, and the 'what we do' in many of the examples put forward is ‘conventional warfare’.

    wm in his post on the ‘Generals’ thread titled ‘The "Greats" & America's Infatuation with Technology’, made what I think is a very astute observation. His observation was, ‘Maybe if we chose a different set of icons for our WWII heroes, we might find a better set of solutions for the current morass in which we find ourselves enmired.’ This is, wm, excellent advice.

    Certainly the great Generals should be iconic symbols, but it seems to me that there is real need develop a new set of ‘iconic’ leaders, to elevate the many US military personnel from through out US history who demonstrated the same leadership skills and attributes as the ‘great generals’ but in small wars. A hard reality is that such potential ‘iconic’ officers would not make a Great Generals list, for many if not most of the officers you would be looking for would not have been Generals at the time and many, if not most, very likely never made it up the ladder to ‘General’ (or Admiral). So one way to try to forestall the ‘stagnation you raise, the US military should (to contribute to changing the ‘narrative’) is pillage through its history (and as small wars are largely on land, this means mostly the history of Army and Marine Corps) to find and rehabilitate those officers, whatever their rank, who engaged in small wars to provide modern day role models of leaderships to sit alongside .

    Just as a brief example Chesty Puller was mentioned several times as a great general Even in the Marine Corps (where Puller is as Jon Hoffman has said, ‘is the mythological hero of the Marine Corps – the very icon of the entire establishment’) he is most well known for his actions and exploits in the Pacific Campaign and Korea – conventional wars. Yet Puller cut his teeth as a junior officer in the small wars of the USMC in the 1920s and 1930s, and from what I have read, he was very effective in these small wars (and yes, most Marines do know this, more or less, but the emphasis is on WWII and Korea).

    Finding other officers such as Puller who were very good or excellant in small wars, who, while not great ‘generals’, were as more junior officers still great leaders in and practitioners of small wars. These men (and women) can serve as role models to exemplify what is required of the officers of today and tomorrow, while that same time indicating that small wars/COIN/irregular warfare is an important part of what the US military does, rather than being, as they sometimes appear to be, terms that are best not used in polite company.

    TT

    PS Marc - sorry for stealing all the good lines. Very inconsiderate of me.

  6. #26
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default

    TT,
    That as an incredible observation - I'm going to use it as a quote on the "general's thread" where it will get seen by those on that thread - and also hyper-link it back to this discussion.

    Marc has led some great discussions on symbology before, but I don't know if it ever clicked with me in regards to how strong the "leadership symbology" is in affecting sub-conscious associations with problem solving.

    To take your observation further:

    wm in his post on the ‘Generals’ thread titled ‘The "Greats" & America's Infatuation with Technology’, made what I think is a very astute observation. His observation was, ‘Maybe if we chose a different set of icons for our WWII heroes, we might find a better set of solutions for the current morass in which we find ourselves en mired.’ This is, wm, excellent advice.

    Certainly the great Generals should be iconic symbols, but it seems to me that there is real need develop a new set of ‘iconic’ leaders, to elevate the many US military personnel from through out US history who demonstrated the same leadership skills and attributes as the ‘great generals’ but in small wars. A hard reality is that such potential ‘iconic’ officers would not make a Great Generals list, for many if not most of the officers you would be looking for would not have been Generals at the time and many, if not most, very likely never made it up the ladder to ‘General’ (or Admiral). So one way to try to forestall the ‘stagnation you raise, the US military should (to contribute to changing the ‘narrative’) is pillage through its history (and as small wars are largely on land, this means mostly the history of Army and Marine Corps) to find and rehabilitate those officers, whatever their rank, who engaged in small wars to provide modern day role models of leaderships to sit alongside .

    Just as a brief example Chesty Puller was mentioned several times as a great general Even in the Marine Corps (where Puller is as Jon Hoffman has said, ‘is the mythological hero of the Marine Corps – the very icon of the entire establishment’) he is most well known for his actions and exploits in the Pacific Campaign and Korea – conventional wars. Yet Puller cut his teeth as a junior officer in the small wars of the USMC in the 1920s and 1930s, and from what I have read, he was very effective in these small wars (and yes, most Marines do know this, more or less, but the emphasis is on WWII and Korea).

    Finding other officers such as Puller who were very good or excellent in small wars, who, while not great ‘generals’, were as more junior officers still great leaders in and practitioners of small wars. These men (and women) can serve as role models to exemplify what is required of the officers of today and tomorrow, while that same time indicating that small wars/COIN/irregular warfare is an important part of what the US military does, rather than being, as they sometimes appear to be, terms that are best not used in polite company.
    we would need to codify leadership examples into our doctrine of high level leadership (05 and above) that are atypical - possibly even outside our own service/national culture into our mainstream doctrine and professional military education system (although 3-24 has done this - by virtue of it being n the COIN manual it might be interpreted as being applicable only to those circumstances). I'd mentioned Orde Wingate and the Chindits on the "generals" thread - he, the guys like Edson and Carlson from the Marine Raider BNs & even example like Donovan might be great candidates.

    I just never thought about how lionizing and and elevation to hero status effects so many other things - something to cogitate on I think

    Best regards, Rob

  7. #27
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default The Blue quote thing

    TT to get the BQ to work - first highlight the area you would like to quote (after you have pasted it into your reply) - then click the last button on the 2nd row of the top bar over your reply box. The button looks like a cartoon bubble and is to the left of the box with the sun and mountains in it (the import picture box).

    After you click the button - the words "quote" should appear immediately before and immediately after what you intended to quote.

    Hope that helps, Best regards,Rob

  8. #28
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default Yes...Yes....Yes

    TT,Rob,and All.
    1- Great points one of the first books I read on Generals was Liddell-Harts "Great Captains" which I thought was strange because it was about Generals??

    2-Ayn Rand wrote a great piece on why we need heroes and if I can find it I will post it, but basically heroes provide "human" examples of what great is. As opposed to what she called Anti-Heroes. that our society is coming to admire such as well know criminals,revolutionaries "Che",etc. and if a society continues to worship Anti-Heroes it will end getting into trouble of the most serious kind.

    3-The services should have a hall of fame for great Captains,Majors,Etc. to give examples of how to do it right. Not only that but in many cases the examples would still be alive and could perhaps be used for mentorship purposes.

    4-And of course you should of hall of fame for great sergeants but their would be so many that you would have to build to many buildings.(this is a joke

    5-Finally let's not forget Lt. Col. William E. Fairbairn and Lt. Col. Rex Applegate two that have never been mentioned here despite their huge impact on training special and/or Guerrilla forces. And what was really unique about them.....they were both Cops
    Last edited by slapout9; 09-01-2007 at 03:04 PM. Reason: fix stuff

  9. #29
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Very good points above by several

    I'd suggest that the critical point in the development of practices in generals is service as a Battalion commander. Puller was and is indeed an icon but his later career based itself upon his service as Cdr 2/4 and 1/7.

    Westmoreland correctly wasn't on any list of greats but his experience as a Battalion Commander at the tail end of WW II pointed him in that direction. I worked for several Generals who had commanded Battalions in Viet Nam. Those who commanded early in the war with full, non-infused and generally well trained first string Army units were pretty laid back and willing to give subordinates a littler slack -- they were also willing to accept and try innovative ideas.

    Those who had commanded later when they had to accept infusion from other units, when it was nominally illegal to move a unit outside artillery coverage, there were too few Captains and senior NCOs but a slew of 2LTs and SGTs who would do anything you asked them (but didn't know much and required considerable watching) were invariably over cautious and micro-management inclined.

    I had earlier noted a similar phenomenon with WWII Army veterans, those who had commanded Battalions in the Pacific were generally far more flexible and less excitable than were their counterparts who had served in Europe. In the Corps, all were Pacific veterans and I don't recall meeting any that were excitable except Puller who was a minor force of nature...

    Thus I think that a combination of the 35 year (± 5) old temperment and first command of a multi-unit echelon where the subordinates have to be granted considerable independence and are more frequently out of sight merge to produce the military and command techniques and methods of the Generals.

    Perhaps we should look at that.

    To amplify on one thing Marc mentioned, Ullman when III Corps commander IIRC had one of the Diviisions at hood on the way back in from the field. he ordered them to halt and bring all the Officers into the Garrison area for an Officers call and to let the NCOs continue the move to billets and insure accountability and get the cleanup started. I have been informed by a reliable source that a couple of LTCs had absolute panic attacks and I know that on hearing this anecdote, one former Battalion Commander in my presence said, very seriously and angrily, that had he been there, he would not have complied with the order and that Ullman was dead wrong to have issued such an order...

    Perhaps we should also look at role changes and playing "Fallout One."

    I routinely did it with NCOs at Platoon through Battalion level for many years and it works. Strangely, I could only convince one Battalion commander to do it with the Officers -- but that worked well also and he went on to get two stars...

    We should be breeding trust, flexibility and innovative thought. My perception is that we're doing that better than we did in the mid-60s until recently period but perhaps not as well as we did it pre-MacNamara. I believe that all three attributes are going to be needed over the next few years and we should be developing rather than inhibiting them.

  10. #30
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Rob,

    Thank you for the explicit instructions! Fingers crossed this time.

    I have read through some of Marc's discussions on symbology and they are excellent (well done to you, Marc!). Though I have to admit that he approaches the subject in a far more rigorous manner than I do (another case of those anthropolgist types showing up us dumb pol sci types )

    we would need to codify leadership examples into our doctrine of high level leadership (05 and above) that are atypical - possibly even outside our own service/national culture into our mainstream doctrine and professional military education system (although 3-24 has done this - by virtue of it being n the COIN manual it might be interpreted as being applicable only to those circumstances).

    Your suggestion of codifying into doctrine is excellent and consistent with my train of thought. I would add that such exemplars also be used where appropriate throughout doctine, say as examples of tactical or operational actions and further infused within the educational system to be used as examples where appropriate. And given the character and nature of small wars, such an effort should not be restricted to officer and training. Your suggestion, along with a range approach, will contribute, ideally, to instilling a new mindset.

    Another aspect of this that occurred to me is whether the leadership skills and attributes of past generals (or officers) are the same as are needed today when our militaries are faced with increasingly complex ways of warfare, as used both by us and our opponents? Certainly many of the skills and attributes of part 'hero-warriors' are applicable today, but I wonder whether some may not be, and whether there are skills and attributes needed today for which there was no requirement for a leader to have. I am not competent to judge whether this an issue worth considering, but you and a great many of the SWB certainly are. If there is difference, this would suggest an emphasis on more modern leaders that better exemplify the traits you are seeking to instil.

    I'd mentioned Orde Wingate and the Chindits on the "generals" thread - he, the guys like Edson and Carlson from the Marine Raider BNs & even example like Donovan might be great candidates
    Edson and Carlson are two that I would have suggested for the Marine Corps to employ as examples from my knowledge of MC history. Each service obviously needs to find and define their own 'new icons'.

    Best,

    TT

    PS. Yeah, it worked. Thanks Rob!
    Last edited by TT; 09-01-2007 at 03:17 PM.

  11. #31
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default CMO or Military Governance type doctrine?

    Another aspect of this that occurred to me is whether the leadership skills and attributes of past generals (or officers) are the same as are needed today when our militaries are faced with increasingly complex ways of warfare, as used both by us and our opponents? Certainly many of the skills and attributes of part 'hero-warriors' are applicable today, but I wonder whether some may not be, and whether there are skills and attributes needed today for which there was no requirement for a leader to have. I am not competent to judge whether this an issue worth considering, but you and a great many of the SWB certainly are. If there is difference, this would suggest an emphasis on more modern leaders that better exemplify the traits you are seeking to instill.
    We've got some doctrine out there on the subject - but the idea of using these type vignettes (in any but the most rudimentary sense) is new to me (if anybody has some examples with doctrinal references please help me out).

    Surely there are probably a myriad of recent (within the last 20 years) U.S. and multi-national examples where innovation by a soldier or civilian serving in one capacity but faced with challenges outside that capacity has innovated a solution. I think at the GO level you can start with a Chiarelli type example, but we could quickly find a set of link examples that ends with a National Guardsman who deployed as an 11B, but whose civilian job might have been running a dairy or poultry farm, or power plant engineer and quickly found themselves in the spot light. Highlighting the importance (through a true vignette) of an individual as a mission critical enabler would be good I think toward fostering both an understanding of how such things are linked, and in flattening things out a bit.

    Also of use might be using some examples:

    - of indigenous partnerships to innovate and solve problems ranging from military to building capacity in other areas

    - Inter-Agency/IO/NGO cooperation where the civilian is highlighted

    - Tactical/Operational/Strategic problem vignettes that highlight the type of innovation required solve other then military problems - (they might also reflect some possible solutions sets)

    I need to go back and look at some doctrinal pubs - I think the FM 3-0 is going to hit the streets in conjunction with the AUSA - I wonder how it will be different?

    Best Regards, Rob

  12. #32
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Rob,

    We've got some doctrine out there on the subject - but the idea of using these type vignettes (in any but the most rudimentary sense) is new to me (if anybody has some examples with doctrinal references please help me out).

    Surely there are probably a myriad of recent (within the last 20 years) U.S. and multi-national examples where innovation by a soldier or civilian serving in one capacity but faced with challenges outside that capacity has innovated a solution. I think at the GO level you can start with a Chiarelli type example, but we could quickly find a set of link examples that ends with a National Guardsman who deployed as an 11B, but whose civilian job might have been running a dairy or poultry farm, or power plant engineer and quickly found themselves in the spot light. Highlighting the importance (through a true vignette) of an individual as a mission critical enabler would be good I think toward fostering both an understanding of how such things are linked, and in flattening things out a bit.

    Also of use might be using some examples:

    - of indigenous partnerships to innovate and solve problems ranging from military to building capacity in other areas

    - Inter-Agency/IO/NGO cooperation where the civilian is highlighted

    - Tactical/Operational/Strategic problem vignettes that highlight the type of innovation required solve other then military problems - (they might also reflect some possible solutions sets)

    Your example of CMO and SSTR type operations are definitely the sort of ‘new’ forms of operations I was thinking of that likely require different leadership skills and attributes than was the case in the past. And you have set forth some very good ideas of the types of officers and sorts of situations that it likely would be useful to highlight. Though I would not confine the approach to CMO and SSTR (though there probably is a more urgent need today with respect to developing these skills and attributes than ones required for other, more traditional operations).


    I confess I do not know to what degree such vignettes are used in todays doctrinal manuals, particularly ‘tactical’ manuals, as my research does not really take me down to the tactical level and so I have no need to read these manuals (for the most part). I suspect that what may have sparked this idea for me is that in FMFM-1 (now MCDP-!) Warfighting a ‘fictitious’ story/example is used to illustrate the application of maneuver warfare. Real world examples, with real officers, seem to me to be a much better way to do this.

    Cheers

    TT

  13. #33
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default

    Consider how such an example as outlined on the Medical Situation in Iraq thread could be used to help leaders and staffs consider problems and solution through a critical thinking and analysis exercise. We tend to think rotationally (but in a linear sense) -say - 12-15 months - because its a physical time frame we are integrated with. We have to think well beyond that - in tune with the overall end state in a local, regional and national sense - so the actions we take may be targeted at establishing the conditions 2-5 or even 10 years down the road.

    Best Regards, Rob

  14. #34
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Hi Rob

    Good points -- but I think that you're foreshortening the timeline...

    The Officer Basic course to a very significant extent and the Advanced course to a lesser extent shape senior leaders.

    I think that 25 years out starts the process and a bad start may never see recovery.

    I also believe 15 or so years embeds it and 10 -- that Battalion command experience (and CGS or equivalent) locks it immutably.

    We do not do that good a job in either of the first two (or did not, I'm sure they've improved) and the Marines do (or did) a far better job with a lengthy Basic School.

    All of which negates nothing you said; I'm just trying to amplify on it and suggest we need to dump the "train for the next job" (only) syndrome and realize at greater than lip service level that a good foundation can go a long way to ameliorating some of our problems.

    That we have good leaders today is a testimony to the fact that good folks can overcome mediocre beginnings. Think how many more good ones could be developed if gave it some thought.

  15. #35
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Fort Leavenworth, KS
    Posts
    1,512

    Default

    Hey Ken,

    and suggest we need to dump the "train for the next job" (only) syndrome and realize at greater than lip service level that a good foundation can go a long way to ameliorating some of our problems.

    That we have good leaders today is a testimony to the fact that good folks can overcome mediocre beginnings. Think how many more good ones could be developed if gave it some thought.
    A great point! I honestly was not thinking in that direction, but more in terms of operations - but in truth, the road map on how to get to the type of problem analysis that looks long term (and solves problems in the operational environment) begins with getting people to think in those terms before they get to the operational environment- and that begins with the foundations you brought up. Without it, we'll never break the cycle

    [QUOTE]"train for the next job"[/QUOTE] may be the thing which typifies us most - and is one of the challenges we must overcome to change our behavior.

    Best Regards, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 09-01-2007 at 07:00 PM.

  16. #36
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Ken,

    The Officer Basic course to a very significant extent and the Advanced course to a lesser extent shape senior leaders.

    I think that 25 years out starts the process and a bad start may never see recovery.

    I also believe 15 or so years embeds it and 10 -- that Battalion command experience (and CGS or equivalent) locks it immutably.

    We do not do that good a job in either of the first two (or did not, I'm sure they've improved) and the Marines do (or did) a far better job with a lengthy Basic School.

    All of which negates nothing you said; I'm just trying to amplify on it and suggest we need to dump the "train for the next job" (only) syndrome and realize at greater than lip service level that a good foundation can go a long way to ameliorating some of our problems.

    That we have good leaders today is a testimony to the fact that good folks can overcome mediocre beginnings. Think how many more good ones could be developed if gave it some thought.

    I agree with Rob - excellent points!

    If I understand you correctly, Ken, what you are speaking about is that the aim should be to achieve a fundamental shift in the mindset of the military ('good foundation') and that this is a long term effort. I wholeheartedly agree with this. In my comments I was not thinkng really about 'short term change, rather I was thinking about what needs to done to create, to use your phase, 'good foundations'. Certainly, as I noted, there may be an immediate short term (out 5 years) need , and this is worthwhile given what the near future is likely to be. But I did not intend to imply that the effort we are discussing should only be aimed short term and I apologize for not being more clear. The aim of influencing and altering the ‘narrative’ and behaviour’ is to alter the culture, or the mind set if you will, of officers (and I would add enlisted to this). To develop such a 'foundation', to me, is what is required over the long haul.

    To accomplish a real wholesale change one does, as you say, need to start right from the initial training of officers, and you need to continue to reinforce this throughout the rest of their careers (via Advanced education, training exercises and so on). A rethinking of the type of iconic officers the different services want to extol, up to and beyond the inclusion of actual vignettes in doctrine and the education system, is only a part, and probably only a small part, of what is required. If we extract the general idea behind the concept of new ‘hero-warriors’ (which very broadly might be said, to take the current mantra, to develop a military that is ‘innovative, agile, adaptive, creative’), this concept, or rather the efforts to inculcate the required mindset, needs to be infused through the entire system. To make the changes throughout the entire system alone will take time, and the time line for actually seeing the desired change emerge would take much longer.

    To achieve a ‘new mindset’ is not an act of ‘creation’, it is an act of ‘recreation’. ‘Recreation’ from something extant is much harder than ‘creating’ something new from scratch. What in effect we are discussing if we are speaking of wide ranging substantive change is, in effect, a Kuhnian ‘paradigm shift’. The anomalies in the ‘worldview’ (culture) of our militaries (which has been pretty much focused on 'conventional warfare', has been 'reactive', has been, well. ‘so and so forth’) have, because of operational experience, become too pervasive and too significant to ignore anymore.( it may be that Yingling’s and others’ critique of the ‘Generals’ are a symptom of these anomalies no longer being ignorable). In effect, we are talking about a paradigm shift in the mindset of the militaries, in, to repeat myself, how the military (and/or individual services) perceive ‘who are they’ and ‘what is it we do’. Paradigm shifts in the sciences these days are generally believedto occur gradually, rather than as a ‘revolution’. This seems to me to be very much the case in seeking to change our militaries, if only because, as I think it was Kuhn himself who observed, the shift from the old paradigm to the new one is only complete when the last believer in the old paradigm has died. ‘Recreating’ (or insert ‘altering’ or ‘changing’ here if you will) the mind set or culture of the US military (or any other) to create the 'good foundation' so that it becomes accomplished at traditional and non-traditional forms of conflict will take a lot of time.

    So, Ken, a very worthwhile set of points. The desired change (and what precisely what this is is open to debate – whoops, that adds more time) absolutely needs to start right at the beginning of an officer's service, and continue throughout their service. We must remember that any such change will face massive obstacles - the commentary on this board about Col. McMaster being twice passed over indicates that everyone here understands any number of the obstacles such change will encounter (Old Guard, anyone?). It may well be, and I personally think may very likely be, that the achievement of the change desired will be a generational effort, that the success of any substantive change lies to a degree in the hands of today’s junior officers and, as you have rightly indicated, the hands of future officers. The crux of your points is that it will not just happen, this change needs to be made to happen.

    Cheers

    TT

  17. #37
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hi TT,

    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    I have read through some of Marc's discussions on symbology and they are excellent (well done to you, Marc!). Though I have to admit that he approaches the subject in a far more rigorous manner than I do (another case of those anthropolgist types showing up us dumb pol sci types )
    LOL - Thanks, TT. We've spent a lot of time and spilled a lot ofinc, on symbolism over the years .

    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    we would need to codify leadership examples into our doctrine of high level leadership (05 and above) that are atypical - possibly even outside our own service/national culture into our mainstream doctrine and professional military education system (although 3-24 has done this - by virtue of it being n the COIN manual it might be interpreted as being applicable only to those circumstances).
    Your suggestion of codifying into doctrine is excellent and consistent with my train of thought. I would add that such exemplars also be used where appropriate throughout doctine, say as examples of tactical or operational actions and further infused within the educational system to be used as examples where appropriate. And given the character and nature of small wars, such an effort should not be restricted to officer and training. Your suggestion, along with a range approach, will contribute, ideally, to instilling a new mindset.
    I think it would be better to "ritualize it" rather than codify it in an educational setting. People have a tendency to remember rituals, and the associated symbologies and processes, much better than "formal" educational systems. Back in the late 50's, Gregory Bateson ran an experiment in his intro classes. In one, he gave a scientific explanation of ozone while in the other he told them a myth about Mother Earth raising her great shield Ozone to protect her children (us) from the harmful rays of Father Sun. This was at the start of the term. On their final exam, he asked them a question about ozone: 90% of tyhe students who heard the "story" remembered it and got it right compared with 10% of the other class.

    If I were setting it up, I would create a series of rituals that centre around the worldview we wish to inculcate in young officers. I would make these a part of every school that graduates officers.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  18. #38
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    129

    Default

    Marc,

    Anthropologists may have spilled a lot of ink on the subject, but it seems that the ink has not been wasted, whereas in poli sci my view is that far too much ink is shed only to end up with the debate residing in that dark place where the sun don't ever shine.

    I think it would be better to "ritualize it" rather than codify it in an educational setting.
    Excellent idea! Wish I had thought of this......

    A few passing thoughts just after midnight while I resist the siren call of my bed:

    I agree that you would want to ritualize the concepts/ideas you want to embed. But being a dumb old poli sci type, it seems to me that the place to ritualize these is not 'in' the education system. All military services have sets of rituals and related symbols that exist aside of (or maybe this should 'outside of') the education system, that are played out and displayed in particular circumstances of special significance to that organization. Rituals and symbols, or so it seems to me, have their own special place within military organizations - rituals and symbols, and please correct me if I am wrong, are most notable in those events characterized by what might be called 'pompt and circumstance' which add power to the rituals and their meanings.

    Yet might the military education system possibly (probably?) be the place where one might start to transform the appropriate aspects of the concepts/ideas/new culture that you are seeking to introduce into rituals? I do not really know how ideas/concepts become 'ritual', and so I have not the faintest idea of how one would go about 'creating' a new ritual to be included with older rituals or even if it is feasible to 'create' a new ritual and graft it into the extant culture. I would guess that introducing a 'new' ritual' (and associated symbols) would likely be (very?) difficult, given that any current rituals and symbols, and their meanings, are heavily sedimented into the culture as these are founded in the military organization's long history (where this history is a mix of the factual, legend and myth).

    Alas, my bed still calls and resistance is futile.......

    Cheers

    TT

  19. #39
    Council Member marct's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    3,682

    Default

    Hi TT,

    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    I agree that you would want to ritualize the concepts/ideas you want to embed. But being a dumb old poli sci type, it seems to me that the place to ritualize these is not 'in' the education system. All military services have sets of rituals and related symbols that exist aside of (or maybe this should 'outside of') the education system, that are played out and displayed in particular circumstances of special significance to that organization. Rituals and symbols, or so it seems to me, have their own special place within military organizations - rituals and symbols, and please correct me if I am wrong, are most notable in those events characterized by what might be called 'pompt and circumstance' which add power to the rituals and their meanings.
    Hmm, yes, I agree that most of the military rituals and symbology (at least the esoteric stuff) are outside of the education system, although their form does seem to mutate depending on the ritual emphasis (branch, service, regiment, etc.). Again, the "pomp and circumstance" version works for public displays and bonding, but I'm thinking of the more esoteric type of initiation rituals. Sorry, but this would be helped with a couple of pints - let me think about it some more and I'll post tomorrow.

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  20. #40
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default The Marines could -- can, do -- use the tradition

    aspect to good effect; the Army less so. Our theoretical traditions are abstract and while units pay them lip service, few have anywhere near the depth of meaning that they do in other armies, particularly those who adapted from the British Army.

    Thus, I'm a little dubious that would work for us sans a major culture change in the US Army. Add to that todays attention spans and the fact that history in US Schools seems to be an almost proscribed subject...

    Let's see what Marc comes up with. As he he says there are more esoteric rituals that might have merit. There are also some very practical efforts that could be pursued.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •