Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 95

SECRET TO SUCCESS widely disseminated commander’s intent and within the realm of officer influence. A recent example of poor NCO development highlights the advantages effective development provides to officers and the U.S. Army overall. The recent defeat of the Iraqi army by the ISIS insurgents is a case of what can happen when all the decision making is concentrated solely in the hands of senior leaders. Recent combat history shows much of the same style of hierarchical structure in the defeated armies from Operation Just Cause to Operation Iraqi Freedom. In each of these operations, the losing forces were configured with command structures that were centralized, unwieldy, and inflexible. While technological advantages cannot be discounted as contributing to the U.S. Army’s success, the inability of the enemies’ professional enlisted corps (and junior officers) to take autonomous initiative was a debilitating factor that negatively affected enemy combat performance. Institutional decentralization of authority, if it had been fostered over time, could have made huge differences in the manner the various battles and operations played out in these conflicts. Given the rapid nature of modern-day combat, an army that is encumbered with poor tactical and operational agility, stemming from a lack of an empowered NCO corps, will have a clumsy and slow force that can quickly become outflanked, encircled, and overwhelmed at all levels of command from platoon to division. This was recently demonstrated in northern Iraq by Iraqi government forces with a weak and ill-trained NCO corps. From the present doctrinal perspective of the U.S. Army, the more operations are decentralized, the more flexible and ingenious the methodologies that junior officers and their NCOs will develop to overcome the obstacles they encounter to reach their objectives and complete their assigned missions. Recommendations—Making Changes to Business as Usual Nation-states and their armies that desire to develop a professional NCO corps similar to that of the U.S. Army should consider the following recommendations as they make that transition. Add leadership training. Leadership training must be incorporated into all NCO training and education. While many armies, including those within our own hemisphere, have for their officers robust military academies that emphasize leadership and technical training through four or more rigorous years as a cadet, many of their professional enlisted educational academies train strictly on technical (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald) Afghan soldiers attending the Afghan National Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy await further training 11 May 2010 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, Gardez District, Paktia Province, Afghanistan. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 89