Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

More from Dubik on mission command

This is a kind of commentary on the last item I ran by retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik on mission command.

Praha-Smíchov,_amplion_na_nástupišti
Praha-Smíchov,_amplion_na_nástupišti

 

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.’”

 

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.”

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons 

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. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.