The Best Defense

The DePuy files (I): 'There is nothing complicated about combat leadership'

So said Army Gen. William DePuy, whom I find endlessly interesting. He was a junior officer in a division that was chewed up badly in Normandy in the summer of '44, rose to become a 25-year-old battalion commander, was perhaps the chief theorist of how we fought the first half of the Vietnam War, first as Westmoreland's operations chief and then in1966-67 as commander of the 1st Infantry Division, and finally played a central role in rebuilding the Army after that war. The Army we saw in Kuwait in 1991 was in many ways the one he and his posse put together.

Here is his comment on leading soldiers in combat, a subject he knew a few things about:

There is nothing complicated about the command of men in combat and, no matter how sophisticated leadership courses may become, there are only three steps to perform, easy to state and not difficult to accomplish.

First, a leader of troops in war must decide in each tactical situation, or, for that matter, each administrative situation, exactly what he wants to do with his unit...

Second, he must tell his men precisely what it is he wants them to doand in most cases it is best to tell them in the language of the street, not the language of the field manual. If the officer knows with certainty and confidence what he wants to do, he will have no trouble telling his soldiers what he has in mind.

And then, lastly, he must insist that they do exactly what he told them to do."

(From The Army Reserve Magazine, January 1969, reprinted p. 57, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy)

The Best Defense

What is going on in southern Iraq?

Two soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment were killed Friday in Numaniyah after being hit by an IED. 

Anyone got an idea of what is going on down there? The smart money says this is the beginning of pre-withdrawal jockeying for power, with factions and splinters putting in bids by hitting American troops. "Sadrists and splinter groups (PDB and AAH and JAM) trying to show they are driving us out," reports a friend at the State Department. "They are back from training sabbatical in Iran and his speech in early April unleashed them." War as politics by other means. But when is it not?

In Baghdad, meanwhile, an Iraqi general was blown up, three other government officials were assassinated, and churches were attacked.