The U.S. military has much to teach those of us who seek to improve our marketable skills without recourse to Benjamin Franklin, Peter Drucker, and other people who’ve been self-help pets and talismans for so long that their once-luxurious advice is balder than the Velveteen Rabbit, and selling for less at “friends of the library” book sales.
American forces are lethal for many reasons. Per the saying that amateurs talk strategy while professionals talk logistics, we the taxpayers have given our neighbors in the armed forces reach enough to go anywhere. More importantly, and in contrast to organizations where mistakes are seldom fatal, the American military learns quickly from its mistakes.
It is no disrespectful thing to assert that reports from the second battle of Fallujah can be analyzed with conviction that force of arms has turned the banks of the Euphrates River into a satellite campus of the Harvard Business School.
What the American military reminds me of is summarized in the following list of what might be called “dual use” advisories. In war, they help ensure survival on the battlefield. In peace, they increase the potential for success in business, even among people who’ve never had occasion to learn that that “IED” is an abbreviation for “improvised explosive device.”
1. Plan well.
After learning last April that Fallujah was a tougher than expected nut, policy makers and commanders increased the surveillance on that city, and brought significantly more assets to bear on the reactionaries holed up there the second time around. As Canadian columnist David Warren wrote recently about coalition forces:
“I thought they were going in a month ago, but it turned out they were only starting the dress rehearsal, making feints, and using air and occasionally ‘smart’ artillery fire to ‘shape the battlefield’ for what is happening now. More than shaping it, they were creatively studying it, and testing the enemy’s reactions.”
2. Change tactics as needed.
Blogs like The Belmont Club were quick to recognize transformation in the U.S. military even apart from Donald Rumsfeld’s successful use of Special Forces operators to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan. From an overview posted to Belmont Club in October:
“The Marine methods of April would have been instantly familiar to any military historian: hammer and anvil, seizure of key terrain; feint and attack. Today, many of the military objectives in the developing siege of the terrorist stronghold are abstract. They consist of developing a network of informers in the city; of setting up a functioning wireless network; of getting close enough for smaller US units to deploy their line-of-sight controlled UAV and UGV units to create a seamless operational and tactical environment to wage ‘swarm’ warfare; of getting artillery and mortar units close enough to play hopscotch over everything the network decides to engage. To the traditional methods of warfare the Americans [are] adding a whole new plane which only they [can] inhabit.”
3. Move quickly.
The second assault on Fallujah was a telegraphed punch, and politically necessary preparation for that punch allowed both innocent civilians and smarter jihadis to leave the immediate vicinity. After receiving the green light from Prime Minister Allawi, however, coalition forces advanced speedily, in a textbook example of what respected strategists call “getting inside the adversary’s decision cycle.”
U.S. troops now communicate with each other in ways that their fathers and grandfathers never imagined. Advances in wireless networking technology and the willingness of suppliers to increase the durability of their components have taken the concepts of “Network-Centric Warfare” out from the carpeted realm of think-tankery and into the dust of actual battle.
5. Divide big tasks into smaller pieces.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?