Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Brian Linn weighs in on Gentile vs. Nagl

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    38

    Default Brian Linn weighs in on Gentile vs. Nagl


  2. #2
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Thanks for posting that. The take away:

    "A final word. The Army is unlikely to win a particular war, much less all wars, unless it starts thinking a lot more seriously about war and a little less about process and procedure."
    Yes...

  3. #3
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,177

    Default Excellent contribution

    Brian Linn does a great job of taking the "personal" out of this debate and keeping it "professional."

    Regardless of the endstate, I don't like reading personal attacks on either Nagl or Gentile.

    Both are veterans who have showed moral and physical courage in two ways:

    1. Leading soldiers in battle.
    2. Voicing their concerns to make sure the Army gets it right.

    v/r

    Mike

  4. #4
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    806

    Default

    * Guardians: “war is best understood as an engineering project in which the outcome is determined by the correct application of immutable scientific principles.” Exemplar? Colin Powell.
    * Heroes: “war is simply battle–an extension of combat between individuals on both the physical and the moral plane.” Exemplar? George S. Patton.
    * Managers: “war is fundamentally an organizational (as opposed to an engineering) problem–the rational coordination of resources, both human and materiel.” Exemplar? George C. Marshall.
    I'm not familiar with him or is work (but I think that will change). It occurs to me that it takes (has taken) all three of these types to prevail.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  5. #5
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default There's a fourth category that Linn either missed or was to polite to cite.

    Survivors. Those who got there frequently having contributed little and who are determined to take no risks but put their name on something. Exemplar: I can think of several who are still alive that I will not name but Charles A. Willoughby (1892-1972) comes to mind...

  6. #6
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    181

    Default No doubt they are there but

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Survivors. Those who got there frequently having contributed little and who are determined to take no risks but put their name on something.
    are they worth mentioning as they contribute little or nothing to discussion and debate?
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

  7. #7
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    806

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by CR6 View Post
    are they worth mentioning as they contribute little or nothing to discussion and debate?
    You're not familiar with the six phases of a project:

    1. Enthusiasm
    2. Dissillusionment
    3. Panic
    4. Search for the guilty
    5. Punishment of the innocent
    6. Praise and honours for the non-participants

    I think Ken is referring to phase 6.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

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

    Default Phase 6 AND the ability to

    stifle innovation (which might be harmful to their world vision) by simply sitting tight. They detest initiative in subordinates as potentially disruptive behavior.

    They may contribute nothing to discussion or debate but they have fearsome negative power to stifle those things and they use it -- not least by coming down on underlings who have the temerity to try. Recall the discussion here on Officers writing for publication and the potential adverse impacts on careers by annoying the anointed...

    They're dangerous and they exist in broadly equal numbers to the other three types combined. The system encourages their proliferation...

    Want changes in the Army? You can't have it and they are a large part of the reason why...

  9. #9
    Council Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    4,021

    Default Probably a dumb question, but ...

    does the Marine Corps have the same problem as outlined by Ken:

    They're dangerous and they exist in broadly equal numbers to the other three types combined. The system encourages their proliferation...

    Want changes in the Army? You can't have it and they are a large part of the reason why...
    or is there a different culture there ?

  10. #10
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default It's been my observation that such people exist

    in all forms of human endeavor and in all ranks or steps in those endeavors. I include growing up around the Navy and serving in the Marines, working for Hilton Hotels and for Hughes aircraft as well as my checkered academic career and my probably undeserved retirement in my observation...

    I'd further posit that we all have days where we sluff and are just surviving -- the key is to identify those that are confirmed day in and day out capital 'S' Survivors (so one can avoid them). It also pays to recall that some of them fit into Linn's other three categories as Guardians (a fair amount), Heroes (few) or Managers (too many) and may occasionally serve as a partisan for one view or the other -- or, more frequently, apply passive aggressive resistance to or pressure to oppose the views they don't like.

  11. #11
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    I would actually posit that survivors exist most commonly in Linn's Manager framework (although I do have issues with some of his modeling...it's over-simplistic in some cases although it does serve to get the point across), although Guardians could be considered survivors by definition as they tend to be most resistant to change. They do exist in every area of human endeavor as Ken points out, although they do tend to congregate in certain careers and occupations. They are also dangerous because they tend to linger on (and on, and on) in most organizations because they are careful to position themselves so that they accrue little to no blame for anything and can leap in to snag credit (or try to) and every opportunity.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  12. #12
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,457

    Default

    Quote:
    "A final word. The Army is unlikely to win a particular war, much less all wars, unless it starts thinking a lot more seriously about war and a little less about process and procedure."
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Yes...
    Not just the Army, sadly...

  13. #13
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    8,060

    Default Penalty of suffering and travail visited upon those in a democracatic

    society that is essentially not war like -- most do not want to think about war (including a surprising number in uniform...) until they have to and thus they'll put it off as long as possible.

    Apparently the DSB Summer 2008 Report report LINK discusses how well we do 'own goals.'
    "One of the most revealing parts of the study is a top ten list of why the U.S. gets surprised at the strategic level.

    * Thought we could respond without doing anything new

    * Knew it was likely, understood the magnitude of the implications, but didn’t pursue it appropriately

    * Did it to ourselves

    * Believed they were not up to it

    * Believed they wouldn’t dare

    * Knew it might happen, but were trapped in own paradigms

    * Didn’t imagine or anticipate the strategic impact

    * Lost in the ’signal to noise’ of other possibilities

    * Imagined it, but thought it was years away

    * Were willing to take the risk that it wouldn’t happen. "
    I particularly like the 6th and 3rd in that order...

  14. #14
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    806

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    society that is essentially not war like -- most do not want to think about war (including a surprising number in uniform...) until they have to and thus they'll put it off as long as possible.

    Apparently the DSB Summer 2008 Report report LINK discusses how well we do 'own goals.'I particularly like the 6th and 3rd in that order...
    Which gets to the glaring omission from Linn's list: the Leader. The guy (or gal) who accepts the responsibilities of achieving a goal, formulating a plan, building a team, inspiring their efforts, and so on. All the Guardians, Heroes, and Managers in the world are going to exert a lot of effort with little return until the leader steps up and provides focus, a plan, and most of all, inspiration (or aspiration) to achieve the goal. (I'm omitting the Survivors since they don't contribute anything.)

    Rumsfeld, since the 70s, has been an advocate for "Easy Button" warfare. He's the classic systems analyst who views humans as a messy, unpredictable part of the any system to be designed out at any opportunity. I don't know whether he distrusts leadership because he can't reduce it to numbers, or whether he simply doesn't believe it exists. But he seemed to play whack a mole any time leadership began to emerge (as it will in any group of people organized to complete a task or achieve a goal).


    I'm reading Rick's book, "The Gamble." It wasn't until Keane took on the responsibility of leadership that the necessary step one of removing Rumsfeld took off. It wasn't until Petreus took command that the leadership was in place to uniformly apply the principles that had already been proven (McMasters, et.al.).
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  15. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Clarification

    I really appreciate the comments, but please keep in mind that the terms used in ECHO OF BATTLE (Guardians, Heroes, and Managers) refer to intellectual traditions within the US Army. They apply to how officers THINK about war in peacetime, not how they practice war. This typology is NOT a personality profile or a way to predict performance in combat. Someone who believes that martial virtues are the key determinant in warfare (a Hero) might behave like a Manager when in command (George C. Marshall might be an example). Thanks.

  16. #16
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    West Point New York
    Posts
    268

    Default brief thoughts on "Echo of Battle"

    I strongly commend Professor Linn's book, "Echo of Battle" to readers of this blog. It is tightly written, superbly argued, and a brilliant intellectual history of the US Army. This weekend I re-read Weigley's classic "The American Way of War," and will follow it up this week with a re-read of Brian's new classic, "Echo of Battle."

    At a time when the American Army is thinking through contemporary operational and strategic problems, and is thinking hard about the future, Professor Linn's book should be at the top of any reading list on small wars or war and conflict in general.

    I should also mention congratulations to Professor Linn for being sworn in as the new President of the Society for Military History.

  17. #17
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Already read it.

    And actually, Ken, Linn doesn't really miss survivors. And as he pointed out, the book's more about philosophical structures and not so much individuals. That's another reason the "leader" profile doesn't exist as such.

    And welcome aboard, Professor Linn.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  18. #18
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Cirenaica
    Posts
    374

    Default Professor Linn's Other Works

    Professor Linn, welcome and congratulations on your assumption of the presidency of the Society for Military History.

    While I haven’t gotten to The Echo of Battle as of yet I have thoroughly enjoyed the professor’s other works:

    The Philippine War, 1899-1902

    The U.S. Army and Counterinsurgency in the Philippine War, 1899-1902

    Guardians of Empire: The U.S. Army and the Pacific, 1902-1940, which is my favorite of the three and should be read, together with Coffman’s The Regulars: The American Army, 1898-1941, for an appreciation of life in the Oooold Army.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  19. #19
    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Olympia WA
    Posts
    531

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M. Linn View Post
    I really appreciate the comments, but please keep in mind that the terms used in ECHO OF BATTLE (Guardians, Heroes, and Managers) refer to intellectual traditions within the US Army. They apply to how officers THINK about war in peacetime, not how they practice war. This typology is NOT a personality profile or a way to predict performance in combat. Someone who believes that martial virtues are the key determinant in warfare (a Hero) might behave like a Manager when in command (George C. Marshall might be an example). Thanks.
    The bright flash of light as I suddenly "got it" after reading the above caused my co-workers to ask if I was taking pictures. Thanx for assist Prof. Linn.
    Reed
    Last edited by reed11b; 05-19-2009 at 09:41 PM. Reason: I'm a bad spiller...I mean spealler.no wait..never mind.
    Quote Originally Posted by sapperfitz82 View Post
    This truly is the bike helmet generation.

  20. #20
    Council Member CR6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    181

    Default I second Reed.

    Quote Originally Posted by reed11b View Post
    The bright flash of light as I suddenly "got it" after reading the above caused my co-workers to ask if I was tasking pictures. Thanx for assist Prof. Linn.
    Reed
    When I read Echo of Battle I had difficulty envisioning officers who fought heroically as "managers" (such as GEN DePuy). This post clarifies the distinction for me. Very valuable Professor. Thank you.
    "Law cannot limit what physics makes possible." Humanitarian Apsects of Airpower (papers of Frederick L. Anderson, Hoover Institution, Stanford University)

Similar Threads

  1. JFQ - Point - Counterpoint - SWJ Early Exclusive
    By SWJED in forum Military - Other
    Replies: 48
    Last Post: 11-18-2008, 01:20 AM

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
  •