Military Review English Edition July-August 2014 - Page 77

U.S. Government YOU ARE FIRED Maj. Gen. Lloyd Fredendall was relieved of command of the U.S. Army II Corps by Dwight D. Eisenhower due to a lack of confidence in his leadership. Fredenhall was replaced by George S. Patton. own name. Loyalty is not easy to give here. Whenever some back channel feeds our boss information that we couldn’t possibly know about our troops, he loves to blindside and embarrass us with snarky gloats that he knows more about our commands than we do. It’s his way of chest beating and keeping us on the back foot. Even though you were loyal to your higher chain of command and the Army, we cannot remain loyal to you. You took command with appointed authority, but you did not grow it into acquired authority. Early American militiamen elected the best-known local fighters to be their officers. If the soldiers lost confidence in any officer later, they shunned him until he went home. The insurgent leaders’ authority over their followers is acquired, and some Afghan government officials have recommended that the Afghan Army soldiers elect their MILITARY REVIEW  July-August 2014 own officers, too. In your case, your bullying manner has alienated your officers, and they were united only by their despair and frustration. It is like the tragedy of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (act V, scene II)— Those he commands move only in command, Nothing in love: Now does he feel his title Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe Upon a dwarfish thief. We commanders lean heavily on our staff to provide analysis and recommended courses of action. We need them to protect us from ourselves by speaking truth to power—you did not let your staff do that for you. They have to be a team of star performers with a deep bench within their areas of expertise. The commander should explain his intent well enough for everyone to understand it. But you have forced your staff only to silently cower in mutual fear of your capricious outbursts and hope for your removal. If your soldiers were militiamen, would they elect you to be their commander? Your leadership is weak, and that screwball video makes it clear that they have no respect for you. I already told you that we are held responsible for so much that is actually beyond our control—and that my boss plays the “gotcha!” game. We are driven to micromanage to avoid being caught by surprise. We can’t really trust our subordinates’ judgment if our own necks are always on the block. Anyway, military culture always admires commanders who are in total control. When the television reporter came, you politely declined a one-on-one interview and directed her to talk to your public affairs officer. That was the smart way to handle the press. I can’t think of anyone who has been fired for not talking to a journalist, but I can remember several who were fired for what they said to a reporter, like the Navy commander who said that his job did not include chasing pirates. We shouldn’t leave a trail of unguarded statements. You remember the foolish officer whose naughty emails to his deployment “cruise romance” were forwarded to the world, last summer. Your replacement will be able to get the organization back on track because the dysfunction is mostly confined to the two echelons of people below you. Two levels of command down is the normal “effective range” of senior leadership traits. Command policy letters will affect everyone, but optimism or paranoia is transmitted primarily through direct contact. We senior leaders are too far removed from the junior enlisted soldiers to 75