Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mission creeps

Missions do not creep. People allow missions to be vague, and with the vagueness comes the opportunity to rationalize military power and the choices as to how to use it.

I believe that military doctrine manuals need a common mission statement, one that is paramount, not necessarily strategic, but definitely a guidepost. That mission is “bring everyone home alive”. I believe this is vital because no foreign land, no foreign people are worth the blood of an American. I do not believe we are superior. I believe that our service members need not die for lack of planning, rehearsal, training, and more rehearsal.

I fully realize the implications of risk while appreciating the seeming necessities of foreign policy and politics.

I don’t believe soldiers write blank checks to their country offering their lives. I sincerely believe in the value of what the services call “mission analysis”; the process of deconstructing a mission statement into its parts…constraints (things we must do), restraints (things we cannot do), subtasks that appear essential and tasks implied. But this begins with the mission and if the mission is “to come back home” and if planners spend a bit of time planning for failure, it changes things, reshapes our perspective. And if soldiers die, leaders have failed. The victory is the homecoming.

“To come home” reminds me of the mission of our American sport, baseball. War is not a sport, however.

We have been gone too long. We’ve attempted to occupy foreign lands. We’re not a Colonial Power and yet many subscribe to the glories of England…a place some “Downton Abbey” watchers believe is Mother England when it doesn’t fit who we are. We were born as colonies who collectively rebelled against the Monarch. Yet today, the United States is dealing with the aftermath of colonialism, artificial borders, European influence, ancestral loyalties.

I wonder if we can change, given our recent experiences and painful losses, our confusion, our search for a sense of honor, our injured daughters and sons, fathers, mothers, friends. I do believe we can change our ways of war. It begins with the mission, “to come back home”. Start there and don’t allow the creeps to adjust the mission statement.

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