Our Civil War Army in Iraq (cont.)

Political flexibility is ever optimized by the absence of timetables, milestones, success criteria ... in other words strategy. Lincoln lived it; Davis too.

This value system has filtered down into the modern general officer corps within which non-plans can be formulated to support non-strategy. Have a look at this.

Given that the author of the summary could not himself recognize a military plan or its elements if he saw them, the material worries nonetheless: "bring stability and security," "set conditions ... to negotiate a power-sharing agreement," "convince them [the enemy] to stop fighting on a more-or-less permanent basis." You wonder if the pointy-haired manager from Dilbert is writing "campaign plans" for our Civil War Army in Iraq.

The hopeful part of this is that the very Boydian critique that places our military culture the Civil War era is becoming widespread enough to gain a hearing in mainstream trade organs like the Government Executive website: the author of "Adapt or Die" understands "The Army remains focused on making brigades stronger and empowering generals. The Army must change. Its focus must shift to platoons and empowering junior officers..." That simply will not happen without such massive purges as Teddy Roosevelt and FDR (via George Marshall) instituted. Some are beginning to notice such shake-ups were a given in the early stages of wars before Vietnam.

The present culture of hyper-professionalism distributes the greatest number of decisions upward, to the highest-ranking/best-trained/most-experienced officer who also has the largest career stake in the outcome. If "Adapt or Die" strikes you as sensible, that's your "native genius" at work (a Civil War idea) - working, in fact, against the legacy of Grant-Sherman-Schofield professionalism (and their Civil War ideas).

(Image, top right: FOB means "Forward Operating Base." CAT5 wire is a grade of voice-data cabling used to support telephone and computer communications. Click to enlarge.)