RANGER AGAINST WAR: Revisiting Wanat <

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Revisiting Wanat

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The WaPo reports today on the Army's revision of the battle of Wanat (Army edits its history of the deadly battle of Wanat). Top officers were absolved of responsibility, foisting the failure off onto the Platoon level.

Gen. Campbell "concluded that the deaths were not the direct result of the officer's mistakes," but if not that, what did cause the deaths? Mistakes = death in combat.


The Army doctrinal formula is, "officers are responsible for everything that is done of fails to be done."

"The Army's final history of the Wanat battle largely echoes Campbell's conclusions, citing the role of 'uncertainty [as] a factor inseparable from any military operation.'

"In its conclusions, the study maintains that U.S. commanders had a weak grasp of the area's complicated politics, causing them to underestimate the hostility to a U.S. presence in Wanat."


Understanding the political situation is not relevant; an Army plans for worst-case scenarios, and soldiers are not politicians. Uncertainty is not the same as poor mission planning. Uncertainties should be addressed in the assumptions section before the Operations Order is finalized.

Poor planning caused these deaths and the failure rests at Battalion and Brigade which were derelict in this action, not at Company or Platoon level. The Commanders may have misunderstood the hostility of the locals, implying Battalion and Brigade leaders were doing best-case estimates rather than worst-case, the more appropriate combat stance.


Did the Chain of Command lack Predator feeds and satellite photos of the position for use by higher headquarters? If the assets needed to fulfill this mission were not allocated, this cannot be the result of a Platoon leader's failure. Asset allocation is a Battalion Commander function.


The responsibility for placement of the Observation Post (OP) should not be placed upon a Lieutenant. This is why the Army has Company Commanders and higher. The fight is fixed in time and space and the facts are constant. What changes are institutional efforts to justify derelict Battalion, Brigade and Company command actions.

Wanat is important because it is a microcosm of the corrupt macrocosm, which is a corrupt phony war.


[cross-posted @ milpub]

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blame it on a guy who can't respond for obvious reseasons - he was KIA.

That's a real class act.

This one was an intelligence failure; plain and simple. Once you get past the ill-conceived choice of location for the outpost (low ground, etc).

avedis

Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 9:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Avedis,
Yep, it's pretty crummy.I wonder if the LT got a terminal award? If so the Army is now saying that he is at fault, but a medal is still called for.
Strange how the Army mind works.
If you read my original essay , i wonder why no one from higher was on the ground, even if for only an eyeball visit.
This LT was beyond his expertise, and the Army stuck him out there in a piecemeal morsel to be chewed up at whim.
I have a very hard time calling this a BATTLE.
jim

Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 10:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Avedis,
I must add- look at the fight at Lang Vei. LTC Shungel came down to Co level to insure fire coord etc..
There was a Cpt on the ground, but Shungel added his silver leaves for
increased depth to the fight.
It turned out badly, but the leadership can't be faulted.
This is not true for Wanant.
jim

Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 10:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Blakeator said...

All the services have a long track record of pushing blame as far down the chain of command as possible. This should come as no surprise to anyone who pays attention. That is part of the survival instinct that keeps the ambitious bastards promotable. Sadly, for those of us who are/were classified as "troops," that area of competence seems to be the most highly prized by the upper ranks.

Friday, December 31, 2010 at 2:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jay said...

They are purposely building a firewall here so that when there is a final admission that the war is lost, it will not be the responsibility of the commanding generals, the Secretary of Defense or the President. It will be because the soldiers in the field could not carry out the plans of the leaders.

Friday, December 31, 2010 at 6:15:00 PM GMT-5  

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