Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 47

CULTURE OF INNOVATION football team.1 Patton made a similar splash with a letter in Cavalry Journal advocating the creation of an independent Tanks Corps.2 Historians would later cite these articles as “nothing less than a proposed tank doctrine for the next war … what these two upstart tank officers were suggesting would alter the whole doctrine of land warfare.”3 Their invited guest that afternoon was a rising star in the Army at the time named Brig. Gen. Fox Connor. Connor had known Patton for years but had just met the young Capt. Eisenhower. After dinner the three officers and their wives went to the motor pool to give Brig. Gen. Connor a ride on a British Whippet tank. Connor was so impressed with Eisenhower and his thoughts on the future of armored warfare that he invited him, at Patton’s urging, to become his brigade executive officer. Decades later, President Eisenhower would cite Connor as his most important mentor during his long climb from lieutenant to commander in chief. MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 Patton and Eisenhower were, to use a modern phrase, disruptive innovators. They were applying innovative solutions and creative approaches to a novel problem faced by their military service (how to use tanks effectively).4 Their ideas, however, challenged and even threatened the established organizations and traditions of their respective branches. The history of military innovation reveals that this is not a new phenomenon. In fact, most revolutionary ideas emerge from junior-level practitioners—who are unlikely to be able to refine or implement their innovations within the straightjacket of the military bureaucracy. What these innovators need is— a means to connect with one another for the purpose of refining and incubating their ideas; a forum to discuss their ideas; and an understanding mentor