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Last month we examined the characteristics of leadership and found that as an organizing principle its unique strength was derived from convincing others to willingly act in a desired way to achieve larger objectives. With this in mind, what then is the best way to implement and harness the benefits of sound leadership within a complex organization? Said differently, what operating methodology is commensurate with leveraging the free will of individuals?
One approach gaining renewed interest is known as mission command. Mission command is a command and control philosophy based on “command by influence”, a phrase that reflects the essence of leadership. Mission command is a leadership-based governance concept built on trust and mutual understanding. Mission command depends on an organizational hierarchy that is comfortable delegating tasks and decision making.
The operative function within this decentralized administrative process is leadership. In this organizing mode the commander gives subordinates broad, clear goals, but grants them wide latitude of how to accomplish those goals. In return for accepting the risk of subordinate actions, the commander is rewarded with superior results. The empowerment of subordinate leaders exercising initiative in accord with the commander’s intent has a compounding rate of return in that it enables faster proactive and reactive action; which in turn expands new opportunities for the group and forecloses opportunities for opponents. In short, mission command surpasses other organizing principles because it exploits the power of “leadership-gone-viral.”
For military professionals leading is not a collateral activity; it is a full-time, continuous responsibility. To be effective in any field of endeavor one must first know how to use the tools of the trade. While knowing the subject of one’s profession can be gained through study and experience, unless that knowledge rests in the forefront of one’s consciousness, where it serves as a backdrop for influencing daily activities, it will be as useless as an unread book.
Leadership is about convincing others to act in a desired way. Hence, the art of the profession lies in persuading others that it is in their best interest to pursuit a particular objective. Convincing then, is what distinguishes leadership from others methods that rely on compellence or coercion, such as dictatorships or subjugation to achieve objectives.
Yet getting others to willingly work to achieve a desired end takes more than eloquent talk or irrefutable evidence. The willingness to follow is a pivotal emotional commitment taken by an individual. It is an emotional investment by one individual in another based on the belief that the leader is a credible individual with worthy ideals. The currency exchanged in a follower – leader contract is trust. Thus, to reap the benefits of effective leadership, mutual trust must be continuously nurtured and reinforced.
With information abundantly available, the primary challenge for most leaders is not a lack of knowledge but the ability to pierce the fog of daily distractions and actively apply engrained leadership tenets.
Effective leaders are guided by prevailing winds of enduring principles, but informed by present realities. They do this by continuously learning and refreshing their thoughts about leadership. Professional leaders must study the subject of leadership regularly in much the same way a medical professional continuously studies and tools of his trade.
If you’re in the neighborhood, join us for drinks and conversation 21 February, 1800 at Factor’s Row in Annapolis.
The groups listed share many characteristics, and have hosted their own local events before. Seeing the significant overlap between the organizations, it made sense to do an event which included them all.
I2 – “Innovators Initiative” is a group of USNA Midshipmen who began meeting to share their mutual interest in emerging technology and ideas. They are the ones behind the upcoming DEF(x) conference in Annapolis.
CRIC(x) – the wider community of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell.
CIMSEC – Center for International Maritime Security. If you’re like me, and find it difficult to make it to the CIMSEC DC meet-ups on a week night – this Friday Annapolis based meet-up is for you.
By Chap Godbey
This photo sort of looks like a ship, right? It is, but then again it’s also something else.
For this example, the vessel–an Iraqi patrol craft made by an American company and part of a U.S. foreign military sales contract–is not just one of the assets Iraq’s military needs to protect a very crowded and consequential waterspace. It’s also a multi-decade relationship, where both countries get to know each other on an operator-to-operator level as well as on other levels. That relationship can have strategic effects as the lieutenants become admirals, and the relationship builds trust, access, and communications paths outside the formal diplomatic process and regionally as well as bilaterally.
One of the patrol spaces this ship protects drives the entire country’s economy–the oil platforms and pipeline infrastructure–and its shipping. This is recognizable to a military planner, though the economic part takes a bit of wider thinking to understand how U.S. security cooperation fits into it with training and equipment. But let’s add something important on here: U.S. policy is to support Iraq’s reintegration into the region, and it’s a top foreign policy priority for the U.S. with regard to Iraq. The military sphere tends to be a bit easier in reconnection than some other spheres; navies, since they’re mobile sovereign territory in international waters, can be the fastest of those–especially when the U.S. is acting as an honest broker. To pull off that kind of multinational reintegration is not solely a military function, but can utterly depend on the military aspect. If the U.S. really wants a whole-of-Executive-Branch (much less whole-of-government) approach to a policy problem, DoD’s mass has to be subordinated to the overall effort, even when it might not necessarily make short term military sense.
The example above isn’t perfect. Security assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan has been far from the standard situation seen by a security cooperation office, and special authorities in the law made security cooperation in these countries much different than in other countries. A more forceful example would be where the host nation is paying for every penny of the asset, since feelings about “what ‘we’ are giving ‘them’” emotionally colors the discussion, and it’s worthwhile to emphasize that foreign military sales is not necessarily coming from the U.S. taxpayer. On the other hand, the nonmilitary effects of this ship and crew, and the regional effects of what this ship does and the separate bilateral relationships that navy has with regional navies and the U.S., are pretty clear and useful to bring out the challenge of thinking about security cooperation as more than arms sales or exercises.
Many folks seem to miss the nonmilitary and regional effects of the military-to-military relationship built out of security cooperation, or even that the process is heavily structured in U.S. law. This post about security cooperation misses important considerations about what security cooperation is and what it’s supposed to do (this one by the same author is better, though of different focus). A comment of mine on that War On the Rocks post identifies structural problems in the argument, and there are other opportunities for quibbling, but that post proves that it’s worthwhile to outline some basics of SC with a view towards those regional and extramilitary effects.
Security cooperation (SC) is not very familiar to most operators in the Department of Defense. SC’s a difficult skill set. SC can pay off not only as a force multiplier, but also to provide diplomatic effects which can be game-changing. DoD personnel may only experience SC once, as an exercise or engagement event, or by doing a tour that includes a collateral duty associated with foreign military sales (FMS). More experience is in the foreign area officer (FAO) commmunity, whose officers can wind up doing SC from several angles over multiple tours, but there aren’t many FAOs around. Because the skills needed are relatively obscure inside DoD, understanding of what SC is becomes fragmentary and often misses the point. American SC can suffer from that bad understanding. (The way U.S. government agencies in the Executive Branch staff and train for SC missions doesn’t help the problem, either.)
DoD isn’t the agency where SC initially gets defined—because SC is not solely a DoD mission; it’s a State mission for which Defense is the executive agent.
Let’s define some terms here. SC includes
- security assistance (SA), which itself includes
- foreign military sales (FMS) weapons sales,
- International Military Education and Training (IMET),
- a multi-page list of other programs that somehow fit or get shoehorned into the process, and
- security cooperation (Sc), a confusingly named subset of the bigger SC which mainly deals with exercise events with host nation or meetings between military personnel.
The first one, SA, is covered under federal law. (Note: IANAL and doing this off the top of my head.) U.S. Code Title 22 is the main law that covers diplomatic and consular functions and is for the Department of State what Title 10 is for DoD. The second part of security cooperation, the non-FMS part also called security cooperation, has rules under Title 22 but is more under a section of Title 10. That part of title 10 used is different from what you might expect, and it’s administered by personnel working under a different rule set than those under the full operational command of a COCOM. DoD personnel in country doing SC serve under the direction and supervision of the Chief of the United States Diplomatic Mission to that country (usually the U.S. ambassador to that country). Security cooperation, including security assistance, is a diplomatic function, under the Ambassador’s control in country. FMS cases and IMET and exercises have significant State Department approval and coordination–and additional coordination and approval by other agencies, and in some cases White House/Congressional approval–even though DoD has the mass and the executive agent role. The effect can sometimes be that the poor bureaucrat in the other agency is either like Horatius at the bridge or Niedermeyer in the riot, trying to get the massive influx of DoD people to go a different direction. It also can become counterintuitive, since American businesses might be fighting for the contract, or if one player–even a host nation–decides it’s worth lobbying for their interests more effectively to Congress than another player.
Note here that the Security Assistance Management Manual, the reference used in the War On The Rocks post, isn’t the controlling document. The law both trumps one agency’s manual and also highlights the diplomatic and interagency nature of SC. It also implies that the SC function is something we do as an ongoing and sustaining function of a country team, rather than something switched on once a COCOM has commenced large scale operations.
Since SC is a diplomatic function, one has to consider SC less like a military operation and more like a diplomatic operation. Results will be diffuse. They will have “one step forward two steps back” aspects. Results will be hard to measure in many respects. The effort will be like a coalition effort, with occasionally immense frustration on the ground and in the staff paying off strategically, but in different spheres than expected, or with effects long after the staffer is gone. For a planner looking for consistent positive results with a focused engineering-style goal oriented mindset this is anathema. A DoD planner or operator wants to get from point A to point B in a direct and uncluttered manner. Diplomacy, especially the work performed by Department of State colleagues on the country team on ground in country, is more chaotic and messy. If done right, SC advances the national interest of the United States; builds networks, access and relationships beneficial to the U.S.; eases stresses among and between partners; provides a common operating framework in the field; and provides a useful diplomatic tool as part of an embassy country team.
(Oh, by the way: There’s no Title 10 “command” in security cooperation organizations. There is no sheriff’s badge, no salad fork, no “forces”, even though the responsibility can weigh heavily, and DoD personnel could be in remote and dangerous locations. You’re a part of the embassy country team. There’s not even an organic Article 15 or medal-awarding authority, unless you’re a general for whom a COCOM has specifically delegated it in writing.)
For representatives of either agency to best advance U.S. national interest in the long term, both Defense and State have to be able to restrain some of their agency-level cultural impulses to achieve SC most effectively. Training, both in State’s A100 class for their newly commissioned officers, and at the Defense Institute for Security Assistance Management or similar venues for DoD personnel interacting with a country team, helps introduce the cultural difference to each agency. Other agencies with a hand in SC, such as the Departments of Commerce or Treasury, have a much smaller presence and make do with corporate knowledge and help from the larger groups interacting around them. (Homeland Security mainly interacts through Coast Guard personnel, who are more acquainted with DoD’s foibles and when in theater interact often with country teams with and outside the security cooperation office in the embassy.) Some aspects can cause real friction without planners realizing its source, such as when a J5 officer assumes there’s a J5 in State, or that a Post’s plan is written with the same process as DoD’s, or that the plan is followed as closely as a DoD plan would be. On the ground, people on the country team have to make it work through force of effort and personality.
The benefits of SC have national influence, not just military, from public affairs/public diplomacy to changing policies in a country. SC also has a regional influence: in the ability to use the U.S. effort as a go-between between two partners unhappy with each other, in the ability to build regional ties with the U.S. invited to play, and in the ability to influence regional decisions based on a calculation from a nation that has to deal with what the U.S. has done in the neighborhood. It could well be that host nation has no culture of maintenance and the equipment they paid for is failing. It could be that the country’s using the military to dispense largesse domestically, and the U.S. interest in improving capacity isn’t perfectly aligned with that national desire. It could be that there’s a Red Queen effect, where the security cooperation guys are running as hard as they can to stay in place capacity-wise. It could also be that those frustrating efforts pay off in unusual ways. The military planner will do well to reach out to those other American agencies, to actually listen and adjust planning based on that reaching out, to see the role of SC as more than military capacity building, and to plan for a long and difficult but rewarding SC effort.
In less than a month we will be firmly in the middle of the 2nd decade of the 21st Century. What path were we put on at the start 21st Century that got us here? How do we evaluate the right decisions, the neutral decisions, and the less than optimal calls of the last decade and a half? What lessons can we take away now in order to make decisions to best position the Navy on the approaches to 2030?
Our guest for the full hour this Sunday to discuss this an much more will be Admiral John C. Harvey, Jr, USN (Ret).
Almost a year since he joined the retired ranks, when in uniform Admiral Harvey was one of the of the more engaged, visible, and accessible Flag Officers of his generation – and in retirement he continues to be an influential voice.
Admiral Harvey was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a 1973 graduate of the U S Naval Academy.
In his thirty-nine year Navy career, he specialized in naval nuclear propulsion, surface ship and carrier strike-group operations and Navy-wide manpower management/personnel policy development.
He commanded the USS DAVID R RAY (DD 971), the USS CAPE ST GEORGE (CG 71), the THEODORE ROOSEVELT Strike Group/CCDG-8 and also served as the Navy’s 54th Chief of Naval Personnel and as the Director, Navy Staff.
Prior to his retirement from the Navy in November, 2012, Admiral Harvey served as Commander, US Fleet Forces Command. He now makes his home in Vienna, Virginia where he resides with his wife, Mary Ellen.
Join us live or, if you can’t make it live, pick up the show later by clicking here.
By Mark Tempest
Are there lessons one can learn from the most exceptional edges of the military experience that can be useful to the civilian world?
Was there something from the experience of American prisoners of war imprisoned at the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War that had to do with their success in their subsequent careers?
Our guests to discuss for the full hour will be Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland, authors of Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton: Six Characteristics of High-Performance Teams.
You might find the review of their book by one of the former POWs, CAPT Dick Stratton, relevant:
It is almost as if the authors were there beside Jim Stockdale while he was in the Maison Centrale (Hanoi Hilton).
Join us live or pick the show up later by clicking here.
Please join us at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) on Sunday 22 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 194: “DD214, Unpacked Boxes and the road ahead”:
When a few years turns in to many. When all of a sudden you seem to be the oldest guy in the room. When you have but days of memories of your kids and in the blink of an eye they are a year older – eventually everyone on active duty reaches the point where it is time to pack the sea bag one more time and put it in the attic.
It is time to retire or leave active duty. Better or worse – it is time to go.
What are the paths someone follows to reach that point? What decisions and inputs lead to that point where you say, “It’s someone else’s turn.”
What are the important things you learn in the process of leaving going out that you wish you knew earlier? What are the myths about transitioning to the civilian world – and what are the no-kidding hard truths?
How do you interact differently with the civilian world? What must someone leave behind, and what are those things that if you want them or not, they will always be with you?
To discuss this and more on the subject of “what’s next” when you leave active duty will be out panel with returning guest Commander James H. Ware, USN (Ret.)., and former active duty Sergeant Marcus Penn, USMC.
Join us at 5pm on Sunday 22 Sep 13 or pick the show up later by clicking here.
Join us at 5pm Eastern on Sunday 8 Sep 13 for Midrats Episode 192: “No, I Won’t Shut-up and Cover”:
Is there such a thing as Military Intellectual Entrepreneurialism?
Large, sated, and complacent organization do not have a good track record of survival. Organizations of any size that nurture the mentality of small, hungry, and driven by creative destruction and friction based on competing ideas – that is the path to success. Always has been, always will be.
How do we get that attitude to permeate the military? How do we harness the power of an entrepreneurial mindset to build a better national security and defense structure?
As we just start to enter another period of resource limitation in the face of an ever changing international security landscape – do we take advantage of the need for change, or do we buckle under our own moss-covered and hide-bound habits?
To discuss this concept for the full hour, as well as the upcoming Defense Entrepreneurs Forum 12-14 OCT will be our panel:
- LT Ben Kohlmann, USN – Founder of Disruptive Thinkers, F/A-18 pilot and member of the CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.
- Capt Anthony Hatala, USMC – AV-8B Harrier Pilot, C-130 Harvest HAWK Operator, Founder Military Traveler, Co-Founder Defense Entrepreneurs Forum.
- MAJ Nathan Finney, USA – Armor Officer, US Army Harvard Strategy Fellow, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Strategy Development
- Capt Jeff Gilmore, USAF – C-17 Pilot, AMC eFlight Bag Program, co-founder MilitaryLounge
Join us live at 5pm Eastern U.S. or listen later by clicking here.
Considering the current fiscal climate and pressure to reduce defense spending, policy makers and military leaders are looking for innovative ways to reduce operating costs. The Pentagon is not alone in this endeavor and the entire federal government is undergoing similar belt-tightening efforts.
One approach directed by the President’s Office of Management and Budget in its Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Guidance is the increased use of evidence based decision making as a way to reduce costs and improve program effectiveness. This aligns well to the old management axiom “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and should be applied to the ongoing effort to Reduce Administrative Distractions.
When one compares defense acquisitions to product development in the private sector, the amount of oversight and administration in defense programs are significant factors in the cost-per-unit disparity. Every private American automobile, aircraft and ship manufacturer would certainly be bankrupt if they had to contend with the excessive oversight each defense program must endure.
Join us this Sunday, 21 July at 5pm (Eastern U.S.) for Midrats Episode 185: Getting “Next” Right with John Nagl:
So, which is it? Do we forget our history and are therefore doomed to repeat it, or are we always preparing to fight the next war?
As we finish up the final chapter of our participation in Afghanistan after well over a decade, and reflect on the changes in the arch of the Muslim world from the Atlas mountains to Mindanao – what do we need, intellectually, to retain for what is coming “next?”
With one eye on historical patterns and another on developing economic, demographic, and political trends – what do we need to do to man, train, and equip the armed forces to be best positioned to address what we think we will face, but flexible enough to meet what we don’t know?
Our guest for the full hour will be John Nagl, Lt Col USA (Ret.), PhD, presently the Minerva Research Professor at the US Naval Academy, previously the President of CNAS.
Dr. Nagl was a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Military Academy Class of 1988 who served as an armor officer in the U.S. Army for 20 years. His last military assignment was as commander of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor. He led a tank platoon in Operation Desert Storm and served as the operations officer of a tank battalion task force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nagl taught national security studies at West Point and Georgetown University and served as a Military Assistant to two Deputy Secretaries of Defense.
He earned his Master of the Military Arts and Sciences Degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and was on the writing team that produced the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. His writings have also been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, among others.
Join us live on the 21st or, if you can’t make it, pick the show up later by clicking here.
- Special Time for Midrats Episode 238: “The Horn of Africa – still the front lines, with RDML Krongard, USN” – 27 July at 2pm (EDT)
- Taking the Long View on Hispanic Immigration
- Invite: CIMSEC’s July DC Meet-Up
- Sea Control 43: RADM Rowden – Sea Control, LCS, and DDG 1000
- On Midrats 20 July 14 – Episode 237: Military Sealift Command – Past, Present and Future