Over the past year, there have been countless failed leaders at the highest levels of the army with regard to the ambush of a special forces unit in October 2017 in Tongo Tongo, Niger. The latter is the recovery of a reprimand for the team leader, Capt. Michael Perozeni.
Since the ambush, four-star officers have done everything possible to prevent them from taking any responsibility for the failure of their command. Instead, they shift the debt to the lowest possible levels, desperately seeking scapegoats to ward off the debt of their careers and systemic failures within the services. The solution is not to blame soldiers who are on fire, but to solve the universal problems in higher commands.
Army Command Policy declares: "Commanders are responsible for everything their command does or does not do, but commanders subdivide the responsibility and authority and allocate parts of both to different subordinate commanders and staff members, thus inheriting a fair amount of responsibility. to each command echelon Commanders delegate sufficient authority to soldiers in the command structure to accomplish their assigned duties, and commanders may hold these soldiers responsible for their actions Commanders who entrust responsibilities and authority to their subordinates still retain overall responsibility for the actions. actions of their orders. "
The Pentagon seems to believe that responsibility rests only on the shoulders of commanders at the lowest level. In Niger it was Perozeni who told his superiors that his unit was not well equipped or supported to take on the mission. He then followed his orders and ordered four of his soldiers to be killed. He was also shot. He performed admirably in a terrible situation and was handed in for the Silver Star.
It is no surprise that former defense secretary James Mattis was the only man in the command structure who asked why senior leaders were not held responsible. In December, The New York Times reported that he was raging with generals and citizenship leaders because he only blamed the team leader.
The reflexive result was to revoke the reprimand of Perozeni and for the army to reprimand the commander of the next higher level, Lieutenant Colonel David Painter, who eventually ordered to advance on the ground despite the relapse of the unit. . The painter is now removed from his next order, an Advise and Assist Battalion that is planned to deploy to Afghanistan, thereby promoting the problem.
The painter deserves his share of the blame, but what if he had not called for this mission and this was their only chance for their goal, Doundou Chefou, code-named Naylor Road? What if he slipped away to perform other attacks?
Now that Mattis is gone, the generals are free to demand their revenge. The reprimand for Perozeni has been restored because he apparently did not prepare his unit for deployment and did not prepare for the mission in question. However, he only arrived two months before the team was deployed and had very little to do with the train-up. He was not at the base a few weeks before because of medical problems.
The commanding officer between Perozeni and Painter, Major Allen Van Saun, already received a permanent reprimand letter, a career ender. Yet he was not even on the continent during the mission because his child was born. He had been in charge of the deployment for only two months and had little to do with the training schedule, which was interrupted by the exercise given by USSOCOM Jade Helm.
Strangely enough, the general Special Forces Group Commander did not receive any rebuke at the time because he was unable to train, equip and steer his troops. Colonel Brad Moses, the commander of all special operations in West Africa, has escaped all guilt. He is a rising star in the special operations sector and is expected to be promoted to brigadier general. He is also the chief of staff of the Army Special Operations Command. The Sergeant Major's assignment of the Third Group was not considered to be of the same caliber and was redeemed.
The only high-level accusation was directed to the commander of the Special Command Africa, Major General Marcus Hicks, who retired and was an easy scapegoat. An air force officer by profession, he was commander in a theater with less air force than any other command of a warrior.
Even the former commander, ret. General Don Bolduc has his name dragged through the sand. He was known for his outspoken criticism of the failure of his superiors to properly exploit his operating room while maintaining operational requirements. His career suffered. Nevertheless, he admits his shortcomings, pointing out the failures of Joint Staff and Combatant Commands to properly manage the countless missions on the African continent.
Surprisingly, the organization responsible for all operations in Africa, AFRICOM, under the command of General Thomas Waldhauser, was allowed to send its own chief of staff to carry out the ambush investigation, so that nothing would come to light about the lack of strategy from AFRICOM. , knowledge of the situation on site or lack of support.
The Pentagon reportedly has "made improvements at all levels," but officers involved in ongoing operations have not seen any changes to address these issues. American men and women are still being sent to distant lands, under-educated, under-staffed and under-manned, to fight in conflicts that have little oversight from the US Congress and little profit for our global strategy.
In fact, the same people are still in charge. Lieutenant Gen Francis Beaudette of USASOC, who has the responsibility to train and equip all the special forces prior to deployment, and General Tony Thomas of USSOCOM has quickly taken on the blame.
These were not the first teams of special operators that were deployed. Teams are now working on dangerous missions all over the world. This could easily have happened in several other countries.
Numerous awards, including the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross, have been submitted for the soldiers involved in the ambush, but they remain locked up in administrative processes. In February, Mattis commissioned the services to streamline their valorawards processing, which required a ten-day time limit per approval level.
We have also seen malfunctions in other services. Thanks to the phenomenal reporting by ProPublica, we have seen how decisions by naval secretary Ray Mabus have led to understaffed, insufficiently trained and overloaded naval officers. The navy fired the commander of the Seventh Fleet, but this was also seen as a scapegoat. Sailors from USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald said that incompetence was the standard and it was only a matter of time until an accident occurred. Reports show that the crew was completely overworked and under-trained.
When mothers and fathers send their children to serve, they want to know that they have the best possible leaders who watch over them.
Retention levels in the army are terrible. Special Operations Officers, who are among the best and smartest and specially selected and trained, have a retention rate of about 40 percent. They do not stay in a profession where they are hung up to dry by senior officers who care more about their careers than about their soldiers and missions.
It is also expected that the enemy has a say. No matter how good your plans are, the enemy can still surprise you. Whenever political and military leaders send our armed services to missions abroad and over the high seas, there is a chance that they can be killed, regardless of the risk mitigation that officials put on a PowerPoint presentation. We may also have to rest part of the enemy's guilt.
America has had a voluntary force for more than four decades. When mothers and fathers send their children to serve, they want to know that they have the best possible leaders who watch over them. The military has had an exceptionally high level of trust and confidence in public for years.
Unfortunately, the army at the highest levels is contaminated with the same level of incompetence as other organizations. It is time for the American people to realize this and forcing our elected leaders to get more attention and control in military affairs. Leadership failures of this magnitude do not detract from our sons and daughters who serve, denigrate to the armed forces and may not continue.
Ellis Domenech is a former officer of psychological operations in the US Army with multiple combat implementations in Afghanistan and Africa.