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.”

Ender’s Game: Insights into Training Tactics, Strategy, and Critical and Creative Thinking

Just finished reading Orson Scott Card’s science fiction novel, Ender’s Game.   It is a recognized sci-fi  classic and my intent here is not to review it.  There are over 2,000 positive reviews of it on Amazon (as well as over 60 negative reviews) and I encourage that all who are interested in the book graze over what the Amazon readers have opined.  Despite the few very critical reviews, I found the book a quick, easy, and interesting read.  I recommend it strongly to those interested in sci-fi in general, military sci-fi in particular, and training military leaders.

My interest in Ender’s Game is that it is a sci-fi novel that is mostly about training for battle.  The actual war is wrapped up in the last 30 pages of the book.    I think the important points that the book makes are about training; and the most important points about training that it makes are the importance of immersion in the training environment and the focus on creative solutions.  It also makes the point that it is absolutely critical to focus on the development of individual leading and thinking skills.  Acquiring knowledge, technical skills, and collective training are important but secondary educational requirements.  The leader is the single point of failure in military endeavors.  Knowledge, skill, and collective training mean little unless uniquely trained and exceptionally competent leaders employ soldiers and units correctly and most effectively.  Ender’s Game makes the point that leaders make two vital contributions to military success:  first, effective decision-making and second, maximizing the abilities and potential of subordinates.    

The most intriguing aspect of the book is the use of simulation and technology to train critical and creative thinking and decision-making.  Written in 1985, this book advocates many of the training characteristics I did in my article “Training Tactics in Virtual Reality” ten years later. 

What I think is still frustrating to me is that, though I believe the technology is there to support it, the military in general still has not made the leap to using technology to train individual thinking and decision making skills.  Much like my earlier comments regarding Star Trek, Ender’s Game demonstrates that military sci-fi can be a creative inspiration for how we should be thinking about and using technology to make our military more effective.

Click here to go to Orson Scott Card’s Website.

Thinking through Technology: Tactics Training in Virtual Reality

 

I’m not a trained education specialist, nor do I have any particular knowledge about creating virtual worlds or simulations or gaming.  I am a retired professional soldier who has been wrestling with how to train and educate soldiers to think better than their adversary for thirty years.  With that perspective, I think there is a huge role to be played in  professional military education (PME) by technology that remains untapped.

I wrote the below article more than 15 years ago for Armor magazine. I have never been asked about it or ever heard anyone comment on it.  I think that means that it was completely ignored.  Either that or I totally failed at explaining the idea.  To my knowledge nothing approaching an individual focused virtual trainer designed to both train and educate officers has  been considered by the U.S. military.What amazes me is that after all this time, and all the technology that has evolved since, I still think the concept stands up and should be pursued.  The below trailer for the Call of Duty 4 game system is indication of where virtual technology has gone.

What inspired this article, all so many years ago, was two things.  One, mentioned in the article, is the army’s UCOFT (Unit  Condcut of Fire Trainer) training system for tank gunnery.  It is essentially a training matrix that a tank crew works through on a simulator that begins with simple and moves to more complex tasks.  Each level requires mastery of the tasks at the previous level.  The other is the Kobayashi Maru test mentioned in the Star Trek TV series.  The test was a tactical thinking test which was only ever passed by Cadet James T. Kirk –an accomplishment which identified him as a gifted officer early in his career.  It seemed to me that a combination of the UCOFT concept and the Kobayashi Maru test would be an incredable training device.

I just don’t think our leadership has the imagination to understand how to truly leverage the technology that is out there and available.   I believe that the right use of technology, such that it becomes imbedded in the lives of people, much like the relationship some people have with their blackberry, can change the way a person thinks, reacts, and responds to situations at an instinctual level.  I don’t think the  military recognizes or has bought into that.  Once they do, the possibilities of using technology, not just to train skills, but to train and teach thinking, can truly be realized. 

Tactics Training in Virtual Reality (The Future of the Officer Advanced Course)

The company commander looked ahead and saw the Bravo section of his 1st platoon break the wood line as they began bounding forward. Turning to the right, he could see the small group of houses where the Alpha section was waiting. A glance at his commander’s display told him that 2d and 3d platoons were moving along their designated axis. At that moment, there was a sudden roar, and then the concussion of incoming artillery. He looked up in time to see the streak of antitank missiles; he watched both of the bounding Bravo vehicles take hits and explode. Missiles were also coming at him, but his vehicle defense system was faster than the enemy gunners: it launched smoke, chaff, and electronic countermeasures. As his helmet-mounted thermal goggles automatically came on, his driver was already moving back into the deep cover of the forest and out of the line of fire.

Read the rest of the article here.