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Gen. Barry McCaffrey: Learn to see down two levels but command down just one

Gen. Barry McCaffrey was one of our most articulate generals. Here is a comment from his Army War College oral history: … battalion command taught me … to see down two levels but command down one. When I was a battalion commander I always knew where my platoons were. I knew everything about what platoons ...

RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images
RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images

Gen. Barry McCaffrey was one of our most articulate generals. Here is a comment from his Army War College oral history:

… battalion command taught me … to see down two levels but command down one. When I was a battalion commander I always knew where my platoons were. I knew everything about what platoons were doing — but I was only about giving orders to company commanders — period. At every level [of] the chain of command, if you command down one level and see down two levels, it is not very hard to be effective.

(P. 43)

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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