Organizational Culture and Creating Phase IV Competence

The below paper is a historical reflection on one of the factors I believe contributed to the success of post-conflict operations during and after World War II.  Obviously there is not a direct link to Phase IV operations in either Iraq or Afghanistan.  However, I think recognizing that a) the U.S. Army did a very good job with the post WWII occupation and military government missions, and 2) that it was no accident, but rather was largely a function of very smart army officers recognizing the requirement, understanding the scope and demensions of the task, and then putting resources, talent, and time toward mission accomplishment.  The paper doesn’t suggest how to conduct current Phase IV operations or how to ensure we address them adequently in the future.  However, by highlighting that WWII success was a function of operational expereince, professional military education, and mentoring, it suggests what preconditions might need to exist for the U.S. Army to better understand and execute Phase IV operations in the future.

Occupation Army:  Institutional Culture and Successful U.S. Occupation Operations in WWII

The successful post-World War II economic revitalization and political transformation of both Germany and Japan are virtually without precedent in the history of warfare.  However, almost no agreement exists regarding the credit for these successes.  The historiography assigns credit to a variety of factors ranging from the unique character of the German and Japanese people, to the brilliance of General MacArthur, to the magnanimous of the Marshall Plan.  This paper will argue that one of the major reasons for the success of post-conflict operations after World War II was an institutional culture within the U.S. Army that recognized and accepted the absolute criticality of effective post-combat operations to strategic success.  U.S. Army leaders understood that the measure of long-term battlefield success was the ability of the U.S. to shape a favorable post-conflict political environment, and that the army had a vital if not central role in that effort.  This understanding was the result of eighty years of institutional experience in which post-conflict operations and related tasks were an accepted mission.  The army’s history helped foster a culture wherein leaders like Marshall, MacArthur, and Eisenhower placed priority, devoted robust resources, and conducted detailed planning for the occupation of Germany and Japan.  .

The U.S. Army that entered World War II had a distinct culture, which the regular army officer corps most dramatically represented.  The army’s organizational culture evolved from several factors.  The army’s history was a strong influence on the culture.  Also, the interpersonal relationships between army officers and their mentors, friends, and family which ensured that the history was passed from generation to generation was a critical factor. Another factor that effected the culture was the professional education and operational experiences of army officers, particularly in the interwar years.  Examining the careers of three key figures in World War II military occupation operations, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower,  and Douglas MacArthur, demonstrates how the components of institutional culture combined to contribute to the success of Army occupation operations in Germany and Japan during and after World War II.

Read the Rest of the Paper Here.

Book review of two pretty good general works on the important general officers of the occupation era: “Not the President’s Men.”

The U.S. Army General Staff:Where Is It in the Twenty-first Century?

A couple of years ago LTC Paul Yingling wrote an article entitled “A Failure in Generalship,” very critical of the U.S. Army general officer corps and also blaming the generals for what at the time was looking like a debacle in Iraq. 

Thinking about it, I wrote an article that, while not discounting the failures of many general officers in Iraq, took a different view:

A Myriad of problems plagued the U.S. army in the first few years of operations in Iraq.  At the eleventh hour General Petraeus is leading a new counterinsurgency doctrine inspired “surge” campaign that may save the entire war effort.  However, the question must be asked –why has the war effort of the most sophisticated army in the world come down to a final moment “Hail Mary” pass that is reliant on the genius of an individual commander for victory?  The answer is that the U.S. army has experienced a crisis of command.   Pundits have gradually come to the conclusion that the performance of U.S. generalship and senior leadership has been mediocre at best and at worst largely responsible for the problems associated with prosecuting the war in its initial years.  Recently army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling wrote: “These debacles are not attributable to individual failures, but rather to a crisis in an entire institution: America’s general officer corps.” Yingling’s analysis is echoed by military affairs analysts such as Ralph Peters and Douglas McGregor.  Even Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey allowed that “we don’t do as good a job as we need to training our senior leaders to operate at the national level.”  However, mediocre generalship alone does not account for the initial uninspired reactive prosecution of the war.  Also contributing to the inconsistent, and ineffectual prosecution of the war is the absence of a professional corps of general staff officers operating in support of the senior leadership.

Thanks to the Small Wars Journal for publishing this article!
See comments by best selling author and journalist Tom Ricks on the article here.

Cavalry Domination of the U.S. Army :)

Recently, while working on a project on the Philippines I came across this comment by historian Stuart C. Miller: 

“The president was enormously biased in favor of the cavalry and even took time from his busy schedule to rehash tactics and training for horse-borne soldiers with his new chief of staff.”

The president was Theodore Roosevelt and the chief of staff of General Samuel Baldwin Marks Young.  Young began his army career during the Civil War where he served in the infantry.  After the war he was commissioned in the 8th Cavalry and ultimately as a colonel commanded the 3rd Cavalry.  He became the chief of staff of the Army in 1903.  There followed a string of cavalry chiefs of staff.  Roosevelt appointed five chiefs and four were cavalrymen.  In total, by the time Marshall became Chief of Staff, 7 of 15 army leaders could be considered cavalrymen.  The list follows:

Samuel Baldwin Marks Young, Cavalry, 1903

Adna Romanza Chaffee, Cavalry, 1904

John Coalter Bates, Infantry, 1906

James Franklin Bell, Cavalry, 1906

Leonard Wood, 1910, Medical Corps (Cavalry), 1910 *

William Wallace Wotherspoon, Infantry, 1914

Hugh Lenox Scott, Cavalry, 1914

Tasker Howard Bliss, Artillery, 1917

Peyton Conway March, Infantry, 1918

John Joseph Pershing, Cavalry, 1921

John Leonard Hines, Infantry, 1924

Charles Pelot  Summerall, Artillery, 1926

Douglas MacArthur, Engineer, 1930

Malin Craig, Cavalry, 1935

George Catlett Marshall, Infantry, 1939

During most of this period the cavalry never made up more than about 1/3 of the army’s regiments; and in WWI a considerably smaller portion of the the total force.  Such a huge number of cavalry officers commanding the army could not but help having a strongly influence on the way the army organized and fought for many years –including World War II.

 *Note:  I count Leonard Wood as a cavalryman even though he was offically carried on the regular army rolls as a medical officer: He won his Congressional Medal of Honor while serving as a line troop officer with the 4th Cavalry, and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers based on service as the commander of the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, and as a cavalry brigade at Santiago.