Just came across the GEN Dempsey article from last week's Army Times. This article really hasn't sat well with me over the last couple days. Some thoughts...
Many leaders have significant issues spanning multiple spectrum's of conflict, sometimes on multiple blocks, or in short amounts of time. The reality is that many formations and their leaders simply are not capable of spanning the full spectrum of conflict. This is my biggest issue with this article; the notion that we as leaders must narrow our focus to master only a few key constructs; the “military pentathlete” (or as I call it, Renaissance Ranger) is on his way out the door. In the early days of Iraq, we had formations trained for linear combat against uniformed enemy formations. Major Combat Ops were what they (we) did. As the situation worsened and gained complexity by the day, it quickly became apparent that our SOPs were not working. But many (most) units continued to hammer away. If we only work on and master a couple concepts, people will have a tendency to see through the prism of knowledge and experience; in essence, everything becomes a nail if all we’re carrying is a hammer. We learned the hard way that not everything is a nail, and that we needed to carry more than a hammer. I have already seen this regression to only carrying a hammer again firsthand over my most recent Reset phase of the training cycle.
2. Combined arms warfare is not lost, as many advocate. I would argue at the Battalion-and-below level it is (and has been) alive and well. At the tactical level, most Platoon Leaders and NCOs can effectively maneuver ground elements, provide task/purpose/EEI to FW and RW CAS as well as ISR platforms, while also coordinating with higher and adjacent units. These situations have been (and are) happening on a daily basis. Things get fuzzy at the Brigade level, and downright messy at echelons above Brigade. There’s nothing like being in the heat of a situation and receiving a flurry of mIRC messages or phone calls from someone at Division because the old man is watching and wants to know exactly what we’re up to 200+ miles from his current location. Apparently the myriad storyboards produced after an event just don’t provide quite the same level of satisfaction as watching a Squad Leader maneuver his fire teams near-real time (while also often providing near-real time feedback). So, perhaps the capacity to conduct combined arms warfare at the Division or Corps –level is a more accurate statement.
If we’re going to refocus our future doctrine and training plans to only a couple tasks, it seems imperative that we find a way to broaden leader’s skill sets so we don’t pigeon hole ourselves as an organization. Further, if a jack-of-all-trades doesn’t make a leader, why do we as Officers switch jobs as often as we do? I was always told it was because as a future Commander it would help me understand everything I would need to in order to effectively command. Parallels?