Preparation—Position and Planning—Execution—(adjust and repeat): Every great military leader from the Great Chinese Dynasties, the Romans, and Spartans, The Patriarchs of The Old Testament—in the story of David and Goliath— David followed these rules meticulously, up through modern times with MacArthur, Patton, Eisenhower, and Rommel, when these rules are followed there will also follow success on the battlefield. Farmers and ranchers who compete in commodity markets, businessmen and women who sell goods and services in competitive world markets, mothers and fathers who struggle to make ends meet for their families , who also plan for their families hopes and dreams in the future also benefit when following this prescribed discipline. Those who apply this type of thinking to their short term and long term goals—when they think not only tactically but strategically, automatically and in many cases unknowingly place themselves a long way down the road to success.
Sun Tzu also opines that “If you know your enemy and you know yourself you can win one hundred battles”. “If you know neither yourself nor your enemy you will lose every battle”. One final thought from his ART OF WAR that is extremely pertinent today is “that the enemy isn’t defeated until he stops fighting on the battlefield”. Over the past 20 years in Afghanistan and maybe over the past 70 years since the Korean “police action” our politicians and especially our military leaders have forgotten these rules. Maybe it was because of our overwhelming advantage on the battlefield—how long has it been since an American General or Admiral has not known that he is in a battle where the overwhelming superiority of his force—including control of the air and the sea, is at his advantage? Or maybe it is arrogance or laziness?
We all watched, and I hope with at least a little shame as our country executed a disorganized retreat from the Kabul airport. Preparation—positioning and planning—execution? Failing to evacuate and protect American citizens, Afghanistan allies and their families, and in the end the deaths of a Marine Corps platoon were the results of poor leadership. The American people should hold our politicians accountable—Republicans and Democrats who have all participated in the “mission creep” and “nation building” that went far beyond our original mission. Generals and Admirals who are more concerned about their own career advancement and securing lucrative retirement positions on military contractor boards of directors—Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boing to name a few, through either their own arrogance or laziness have not lived up to the responsibilities untrusted to them to lead. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Junior Officers in the field have never lost their integrity or honor or their sense of moral certitude, continue to be a source of pride and reverence for all Americans. They deserve better than what we have seen from the Pentagon and from our Congress and Executive Branches of government. Their virtue has never been questioned. The last man on the last plan out of Kabul should have been a General. Where are the resignations? Has our country lost its’ virtue and honor?
At the end of the Han Dynasty (206-220 BC CE) the great General Cao Cao warned that “waging war is like igniting a fire, if the flame burns too long and too fast it will burn itself out” Twenty years is a long time to fight a war and keep the flame burning. In the meantime, as we have been training ourselves for combat, we have also been training our enemies. And then we hand over $80 billion of munitions, equipment, and a belief that they have defeated the “great satin”. That belief is something we should never let an enemy possess. Who else thinks we can be defeated? “Winning begets winning….loosing?”
The single biggest advantage a fighting force has—even maybe bigger than the quality of its leadership, is its belief and in the individual preparation that one brings to the battlefield. Think of the greatest generation who survived the great depression and the dust bowel. Think of their mental and physical toughness. A warrior spirit was cultivated during those prewar years that included an ingrained sense of service, sacrifice, and the virtues of courage and “never giving in”. Our Generals and Admirals in World War II grew up on farms and as first-generation immigrants whose families worked in manufacturing plants and as domestics. They had a work ethic that was ingrained in them prior to boot camp or “The Academy”. Today our leaders more likely than not have gone to St. Albans or George Town Prep. Their fathers didn’t work in a factory—probably corporate lawyers, and their mothers didn’t work as domestics. Our senior enlisted and Jr. Officer Corps today look demographically more like our WWII Generals and Admirals than they look like the pentagon politician puppets of today.
My final thought is this. Have we already fought and lost the great next military engagement? What do the Chinese think of our military leadership? What do they think of our President and those in Congress? I am sure they have read Sun Tzu. Where are we and where are they in our preparation and planning? Our greatest hope is the courage and virtue of our mothers and fathers of today who I pray will give us great people to serve in the military and who will continue to make teaching their children the Christian virtues, a strong work ethic, and the discipline of preparation.
Our enemies are watching. MAGA “Fight Like Hell”