Leadership: May 7, 2003

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The rapid advance of the ground troops in Iraq left division and corps headquarters out of the loop most of the time. Operations were moving too fast and brigade and battalion commanders had been trained to think independently in a fast changing situation. This was essential for the steady advance. And there was a lot of pressure to keep moving. The original plan had the 4th Mechanized and 101st Airmobile division (plus a brigade of the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces units) advancing from the north towards Baghdad, while the 3rd Mechanized division, the 1st Marine division and the British division advanced from the south. The northern advance had less ground to cover, although there were more hills. When the Turks refused to let the American troops in, the entire operation fell to the southern force (reinforced by the troops of the 101st and 82nd divisions.) Intelligence analysis indicated the Iraqi troops and officers were demoralized enough for this to work, although it might take longer and get more American troops killed. The southern attack had to now move even faster to succeed, and it turned out to be a brigade and battalion commanders war. As a result, there is some enthusiasm about giving battalion, and company, commanders a larger share of the battlefield Internet goodies (like text messaging and real time map displays showing who's where.) There has been a growing call for pushing command and control lower, letting the brigade and battalion commanders to call the shots. The success of the Iraq operations appears to confirm that this approach does work.

 


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