Why, for example, do we serially rotate our top war commanders? Earlier this month, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. was selected to replace Gen. John R. Allen as the American commander in Afghanistan. He will be the 11th officer to lead our war there in 11 years.
Rotating troops is appropriate, especially when entire units are moved in and out. But rotating top commanders on an annual basis makes no management sense. Imagine trying to run a corporation by swapping the senior executives every year. Or imagine if, at the beginning of 1944, six months before D-Day, Gen. George C. Marshall, the Army chief of staff, told Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, that it was time to give someone else a chance to lead.
My former colleague Andrew Exum, an ex-Army captain who studies insurgency, sees such rapid turnover as evidence of “the casual arrogance with which the U.S. military has approached the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.” And yet our political leaders have not publicly questioned the rotation policy.
Why, also, do our military chiefs pay so much attention to getting our troops to the battleground and seemingly so little to what they’ll need once the initial battles are over?