- By Thomas E. RicksThomas 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a kind of commentary on the last item I ran by retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik on mission command.
In the July issue of Army magazine, he writes, “The Army calls this form Mission Command. Formerly, it was called ‘initiative within intent’ or ‘decentralized command.’ Before that, it was just called ‘good leadership.’”
I take his point. Still, I think that the other terms are better, because they are more specific. I’ve had one boss who thought “good leadership” meant to allocate blame.
Elsewhere in the same issue, another smart retired general, Daniel Bolger, makes an impassioned pitch for the bayonet. It is not that it has an effect on the enemy, he says, it is that it accustoms the owner of the bayonet to the idea of close combat. “When push came to shave in that trench line on Hill 167 [in the Korean War], the spirit of the bayonet prevailed. That’s what really mattered.”
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