Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

OK, Metz concludes that Army leaders are failing small units by overburdening them. Do generals do the same with strategy?

Remember the item I ran recently about an article by Capt. J. Scott Metz in which he stated that our allies now are better at small unit tactics than we are?

South Carolina National Guard Air and Ground Expo 2017
South Carolina National Guard Air and Ground Expo 2017

 

Remember the item I ran recently about an article by Capt. J. Scott Metz in which he stated that our allies now are better at small unit tactics than we are?

Of course you do, lil' grasshopper.

 

Remember the item I ran recently about an article by Capt. J. Scott Metz in which he stated that our allies now are better at small unit tactics than we are?

Of course you do, lil’ grasshopper.

Metz concluded that the relatively poor training of American units is caused by Army leaders overburdening small units with tasks. In other words, the Army’s top people are failing to make basic choices, and instead forcing small unit leaders to try to do too much.

I think that has a strategic parallel. I think our leaders, both military and civilian, failed to understand either Afghanistan or Iraq. They then came up with unrealistic goals — like, “make Afghanistan a stable democracy that liberates women” — and told small units to achieve them.

A more realistic goal would be to make Kabul a stable, somewhat democratic city that has good relations with tribal leaders and maintains pretty good security on the Ring Road. After 16 years, any takers?

Photo credit: Department of Defense

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

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