Bullet Wisdom

I am an Active Duty Officer in the US Army. I am a Husband, father, writer, hunter, gamer, and SOLDIER. This blog is a forum for my many hobbies as well as my random musings.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lt Gen Caldwell, CGSC Commandant, appears on the Daily Show

Yesterday, the Commandant of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Lieutenant General William Caldwell appeared on the Daily Show with John Stewart to promote the new Army capstone doctrine, FM 3-0. The bottom line is (and I'm assuming this is the same as the Army Public Affairs theme), is that FM 3-0 places stability operations (nation building for you civilian types) on the same level/priority as our traditional major combat operations.

Now, why would a three star general go on the Daily Show to display yet another boring Army Field Manual? It's certainly not Salinger sequel to "Catcher in the Rye," and it is a Field Manual. Well, FM 3-0 is different. For the last half century, the mission of the Army was basically to fight and win the nations wars, with a very heavy emphasis on WAR. Full Spectrum Operations was the name of the game, big guns, big bombs, big tanks; everything else fell by the wayside. Let's face it, after Vietnam, the Army wanted nothing to do with nation building, police actions, winning hearts and minds, etc...

The Full Spectrum Operations doctrine was justified with the defeat of the Iraqi military in Operation Desert Storm. Their defeat was so sound that we decided that we had too much military and could afford to cut back. Well, consider FM 3-0, Operations, a shot over Congress' bow. The Army needs to get bigger, and one of the best ways to do that is to adopt a doctrine which the current force cannot support. Let's face it, there are not enough training days in the year for us to train to support a stability operation such as Operation Iraqi or Enduring Freedom while at the same time maintaining our proficiency for the steely eyed Full Spectrum Operations stuff.

Since many hip beltway types frequently watch the Daily Show, the Army is letting the world know that change is happening, in a cool if somewhat stiff sort of way. The bottom line is that with FM 3-0, we are taking the first step in applying dollars and resources to the operational requirement of the next twenty years.

My opinion, it's a change for the better. We always tried to fight and keep the peace, but we really only applied the big dollars to the fighting part. This way our politicians have to make a conscious effort to $upport the Army in both.

Sir, if you read this, and you might, I think you should have responded to John Stewart's 'boring book' comments with something like:

"John, it's a Field Manual, if you wanted exciting, go read a Marine Corps press release."

2 comments:

MAJ Kyle Marolf said...

Ken,
Thanks for posting this! As an avid watcher of the Daily Show, I missed Lieutenant General William Caldwell’s appearance. Since I am currently attending Command and General Staff College (CGSC), here at the satellite campus on Fort Belvoir, VA, and live in Northern Virginia, I am “one of the many hip beltway types who frequently watch the Daily Show”… I’ll make sure to share it with my class. In your Blog you make some very good points but I want to try and answer your question, “Now, why would a three star general go on the Daily Show to display yet another boring Army Field Manual?”
As a student of CGSC yourself, you are well aware that LTG Caldwell has put a new and interesting twist to requirements for graduation, Command Policy #19-08, dated 9 April 2008, making it mandatory for all officers attending CGSC to “Share the Story” by Blogging. And if that wasn’t enough, CGSS Policy Memorandum #8, “Sharing Our Story with the Nation, Policy For media Engagement and Community Outreach Program”, dated 28 April 2008, goes even further for the officers who are resident at Fort Leavenworth. They are “to share his or her story as an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces by participating in an interview with a recognized media outlet (television, print, or radio) and by addressing a community group.” The Kansas City/Leavenworth media market has to be shaking their head. I’m not sure how they’re going to be able to sustain this requirement. It would be interesting to get your view on the policies, since you were there when they came out.
Anyway, even though LTG Caldwell’s appearance on the Daily Show was a month prior to the command policy, I would argue that not only, as you say, “is the Army letting the world know that change is happening, in a cool if somewhat stiff sort of way”, but at the true roots of it all, this was his way of getting out his own “Share the Story” to show all of his students that he will not only talk the talk, but walk the walk.

So, if you don’t mind, I will use your blog as a target of opportunity to “Share the Story.” Even though my 15 years in the Army has been an amazing ride, it’s not quite the “incredible sacrifice” they want me to share. Ask any of my fellow officers and they’ll tell you I’ve lived a charmed Army life. I’ve had the good luck to have served four tours in the Army, two in Germany and two in Virginia…not bad! To make things even better, during that time I’ve been incredibly blessed serving with wonderful soldiers, NCOs and especially officers. Whether it was my year in Bosnia, back 1996, or my two years in command back at the turn of the century (man does that sound old!) it has been the folks I’ve surrounded myself with that have made my time in the Army worth it. Other than command, my time as a truck platoon leader in Bosnia, conducting convoy operations, delivering fuel, the stuff we were trained to do, might have been the best days of my time in the Army. In retrospect, a couple reasons we were able to do our mission in Bosnia, and do it well, was because no one was trying to blow us up, shoot at us or drop shells on our head. The difference between a peace time operation and a war time operation is night and day and that is why the soldiers today have my utmost respect and admiration. To be able to do your job, and do it well, even though in the back of your mind you know that today might be your last, that’s unbelievable to me. It takes a special type of person to be able to work in that kind of environment. I’m not sure how I would’ve done during today’s deployments but give me the American soldier and I’m sure I’d do just fine.

Keep putting out the good news stories…we shouldn’t need a General to tell us to do so!

MAJ Kyle Marolf
Student
Command and General Staff College
Fort Belvoir, VA

“The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

Shawn Kahler said...

This is an outstanding venue for MG Caldwell to appear in, as it appeals to the "younger" generation. He did a wonderful job of talking about how well things are going in theater as well as how flexible and adaptive our soldiers are. I am in agreement with Maj Marolf that this is a great example of preaching what you practice in "sharing the story".
Maj Shawn Kahler