Small Wars Journal

NTM-A Command Philosophy

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 8:31am
A Call to Action: Command Philosophy

A few years ago, during a different surge, I visited a small Reconnaissance Squadron in the Diyala Province of Iraq. In their operations center was a sign that said, "What would you do differently today if you could not leave until the war was won?" Recently, the Secretary of the Army signed the approval for a Presidential Unit Citation for the combat action and valor of this unit. It is this mindset, this culture, that compelled them to decisive action. They were committed to not just leave their area of operations better than they found it, but to leave the area in the capable hands of a host nation force. It is this spirit, this commitment, and this urgency that will make us successful in our current endeavor. And so I ask you, "What would you do differently today if you had to stay until your responsibilities were transitioned to a capable Afghan counterpart that you trained?"

This is not to say that a professional Afghanistan National Security Force (ANSF) can be built overnight. However, dedication to the mission and a desire to achieve tangible results each day -- to produce a product, an outcome, should drive each and every one of us every day. We cannot be satisfied with merely getting "first downs" and moving the ball down the field. We are here to win! Winning in this context means getting an Afghan partner to stand on their own -- underpinned by the sustainable systems for an enduring security institution.

With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a memorandum I recently sent to all NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan / Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan staff, trainers, and instructors entitled A Call to Action: Command Philosophy.

William B. Caldwell, IV

Lieutenant General, US Army

"Shohna Ba Shohna"


Anonymous (not verified)

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 2:56pm

Tends to overlook the excellent work done in setting the conditions in 2005/2006 in Diyala by the 3/3HBCT only to have the entire conditions negated by the 3/4BCT before the Cav arrived again to reset.

That was if one wants to look at things one of the major issues that needs to be looked at---how the constant one year rotations by multiple different BCTs and Cmdr viewpoints did or did not impact the Iraqi ground developments.

Most BCTs really only had nine to ten months on the ground if one excludes RIPTOA phases.

Mike Few (not verified)

Fri, 06/18/2010 - 9:26am

Thanks Kate. If you're looking for more insight into the command philosophy of 5-73 Recon, then I will suggest an essay that I wrote last year for SWJ. I called it "Love and Hate." It explains how we defined the careful balance of kinetic and non-kinetic actions in small wars down to the lowest level.

Love and Hate

Kate (not verified)

Thu, 06/17/2010 - 6:09pm

Fantastic work in Diyala Province! I shared the link to show Joint partnering which included the Iraq Army and the population and to show a visual of the province (2009) that LTG Caldwell mentioned in his Command Philosophy. The Iraq MoI and MoD have partnered their efforts during 2010 for that province as well.

Your unit and the mindset that LTG Caldwell frames in the command philosophy is spot on.

I will gather lessons and provide a summary of best logistics practice in order to help answer Paul's question.

You can also view other lessons and best practice at our site at

Mike Few (not verified)

Thu, 06/17/2010 - 1:57pm


That video link is not the unit that LTG Caldwell was referring to. Instead, it was my unit- 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry (Airborne).

During the time period that the video was produced, my troop experienced twelve attacks a day ranging from suicide bombers to deep buried IEDs.

Our fighting was primarily Northeast of Baqubah in the Diyala River Valley and further Southeast in Turki Village.

Commando Spirit

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 5:08pm


I found your paper fascinating and think that if this mindset were to prevail throughout then we would, without doubt, be looking at success (whatever that looks like) in Afghanistan much sooner than I suspect we currently are. Whilst the infanteers are already, I believe, engaged in this with strong links to the embedded Kandaks and a comprehensive plan, supported by the various PRTs, clearly laid out.

The question of training "a capable Afghan counterpart" however implies that the various support mechanisms and systems are already in place. This is not the case. As an example, if we look at the CSS for the ANA it is almost non-existent and so where do we [the coalition] establish the embedded partnering (EbP) in order to achieve this? I know that this is the type of question that your paper is aimed at provoking but I would be very interested in your view of CSS EbP and where it should commence? We have extended logistic chains back to NSCs and beyond which clearly keeps our logisticians incredibly busy so should we lift the number of logisticians in order to develop this organic capability within the ANA?

Kind regards,