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The Military Thread

The Human Q-Tip

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Rather than cluttering up the political threads with military stuff, I thought we could use a separate thread to discuss the present and future U.S. military. Then figure, why limit it just to the U.S. military, since military developments in other nations impact the U.S. anyway. So, this thread.

I'm pinging everyone who posted in the History nerd thread started by @King Stannis as a starting point.

@BimboColesHair
@Tornicade
@Amherstcavsfan
@jking948
@gourimoko
@macbdog
@col63onel
@GreasySpread36

So to lead things off, I just came across an article that discusses the relief of a regimental commander during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was a big deal at the time, and made headlines. The article quotes extensively from the officer relieved, Colonel Dowdy. What is astonishing to me is how his "defense" so completely justifies the decision to relieve him. I only caught this was because it was about Mattis, but it's Dowdy that is so fascinating. Essentially, he was relieved because his superiors did not believe he was sufficiently aggressive. I think it's important because it illustrates the importance of the culture/mindset of a military organization:

Col. Dowdy, in his oral history interview with a Marine Corps historian, blamed the situation largely on Mattis’s assistant division commander, Brig. Gen. John Kelly, who he said had nagged him about not moving fast enough, especially after Dowdy’s regiment had stopped for twenty-four hours outside the city of Nasiriyah, about 190 miles southeast of Baghdad, where both the Army and the Marines had run into stiffer resistance than they had expected. “Are you attacking?” Kelly said to him in a radio exchange during the invasion, according to Dowdy. Yes, Dowdy said, but “we’re still shaping” — meaning that he was in the initial stage of an attack, using artillery fire and maneuvering of units before directly engaging the enemy....

....Dowdy went in to see Gen. Mattis, a quiet but intense officer with a reputation for favoring fiercely aggressive tactics. They were so near the front that artillery shells were passing overhead and tanks were rolling by the tent, creating what Dowdy heard as a whirlwind of noise. Mattis began asking questions that indicated to Dowdy that he would be removed on the grounds of fatigue. Dowdy had not slept for two days and felt that Kelly had just crushed his spirit. “I didn’t give a very good account of myself,” he told the Marine historian when he recounted his relief.

“What’s wrong?” Mattis gently and repeatedly asked him. “Why aren’t you pressing in the cities more?”

Dowdy, fatigued and confused, said that he was attacking but that “I love my Marines, and I don’t want to waste their lives.”
By his own account, he then babbled a bit about his “lack of self-esteem” when he was younger. [EDITORIAL COMMENT __ WTF??] Even he recognized that such talk was a fatal misstep. At that point, he said, “I knew I was screwed.”

So he then tells the rest of it, and explains what he thinks should be learned from his experience:

His conclusion about the affair was that relief should never be taken lightly. “It has such an adverse impact on someone, it’s very difficult to describe. But the whole world that you’ve built comes crumbling down. … And then to end it, to be subject to international humiliation. … To be the only commander in the whole war to be relieved, it’s very difficult to deal with that.” He left the Marines the following year and eventually went to work for NASA.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/22/a-secdef-nominee-at-war-what-i-wrote-about-general-mattis-in-the-generals/

It's embarrassing to think a guy like that made it to commanding a regiment in combat. He actually thinks the effect of a relief on the commander's personal life and self-esteem should be weighted more heavily. Da fuq? What about the lives of the people he was leading -- the ability to carry out orders and accomplish the mission? How are those considerations not infinitely more important than the feelings of the commander being relieved?
 

Tornicade

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Rather than cluttering up the political threads with military stuff, I thought we could use a separate thread to discuss the present and future U.S. military. Then figure, why limit it just to the U.S. military, since military developments in other nations impact the U.S. anyway. So, this thread.

I'm pinging everyone who posted in the History nerd thread started by @King Stannis as a starting point.

@BimboColesHair
@Tornicade
@Amherstcavsfan
@jking948
@gourimoko
@macbdog
@col63onel
@GreasySpread36

So to lead things off, I just came across an article that discusses the relief of a regimental commander during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was a big deal at the time, and made headlines. The article quotes extensively from the officer relieved, Colonel Dowdy. What is astonishing to me is how his "defense" so completely justifies the decision to relieve him. I only caught this was because it was about Mattis, but it's Dowdy that is so fascinating. Essentially, he was relieved because his superiors did not believe he was sufficiently aggressive. I think it's important because it illustrates the importance of the culture/mindset of a military organization:

Col. Dowdy, in his oral history interview with a Marine Corps historian, blamed the situation largely on Mattis’s assistant division commander, Brig. Gen. John Kelly, who he said had nagged him about not moving fast enough, especially after Dowdy’s regiment had stopped for twenty-four hours outside the city of Nasiriyah, about 190 miles southeast of Baghdad, where both the Army and the Marines had run into stiffer resistance than they had expected. “Are you attacking?” Kelly said to him in a radio exchange during the invasion, according to Dowdy. Yes, Dowdy said, but “we’re still shaping” — meaning that he was in the initial stage of an attack, using artillery fire and maneuvering of units before directly engaging the enemy....

....Dowdy went in to see Gen. Mattis, a quiet but intense officer with a reputation for favoring fiercely aggressive tactics. They were so near the front that artillery shells were passing overhead and tanks were rolling by the tent, creating what Dowdy heard as a whirlwind of noise. Mattis began asking questions that indicated to Dowdy that he would be removed on the grounds of fatigue. Dowdy had not slept for two days and felt that Kelly had just crushed his spirit. “I didn’t give a very good account of myself,” he told the Marine historian when he recounted his relief.

“What’s wrong?” Mattis gently and repeatedly asked him. “Why aren’t you pressing in the cities more?”

Dowdy, fatigued and confused, said that he was attacking but that “I love my Marines, and I don’t want to waste their lives.”
By his own account, he then babbled a bit about his “lack of self-esteem” when he was younger. [EDITORIAL COMMENT __ WTF??] Even he recognized that such talk was a fatal misstep. At that point, he said, “I knew I was screwed.”

So he then tells the rest of it, and explains what he thinks should be learned from his experience:

His conclusion about the affair was that relief should never be taken lightly. “It has such an adverse impact on someone, it’s very difficult to describe. But the whole world that you’ve built comes crumbling down. … And then to end it, to be subject to international humiliation. … To be the only commander in the whole war to be relieved, it’s very difficult to deal with that.” He left the Marines the following year and eventually went to work for NASA.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/22/a-secdef-nominee-at-war-what-i-wrote-about-general-mattis-in-the-generals/

It's embarrassing to think a guy like that made it to commanding a regiment in combat. He actually thinks the effect of a relief on the commander's personal life and self-esteem should be weighted more heavily. Da fuq? What about the lives of the people he was leading -- the ability to carry out orders and accomplish the mission? How are those considerations not infinitely more important than the feelings of the commander being relieved?
He wasn't removed for jeapordizing his people or getting them killed .

He was removed for not falling he timetable of the pentagon that was wrong.

They were wrong about the need put speed over everything else to get to Baghdad.
They were wrong that Nasiryah would have no resistance and Dowdy could walk right through it and they were wrong that the two lane highway route they had as opposed to the 4 lane highways all the other companies took had no resistance.

Still Dowdy managed to take an airport and was recevig commendations on a daily basis.

Also the battle tactics employed by the army were essentialy a experiment that relied on the Company commander to make strategical decisions on the fly which Dowdy did.

Meanwhile. the 1st company job was to be a decoy.

they drew fire and maneuvered through nassiryah where the other company lost 19 men.
They highway they traveled was met with resistance meaning the opposing army focus was on them and then when he took the airpot the opposing army launched a counter attack.


sounds like the decoy role of the company was drawing attention from the enemy as deisgned. through this of 6ooo men he lost one soldier.


the other military regiments speed through uncontested.

Dowdys mission was successful.

at that point General Kelly ordered Dowdy goto Kut .Dowdy was then to decide to move the regiment through Kut and save a few hours of time.

Dowdy Chose to go around kut instead of aggressive plowing through Kut because his men had observed fortifications and more resistance than what had kill 19 men in nasirya.

Kelly called and asked why they hadn't attacked. Dowdy replied they were checking for reported mines on the road and waiting for additional ammunition.

Once they began taking Kut for no other military purpose than to save time.

more from gunner parks
Moments later, Gunner Parks glanced back and saw Col. Dowdy sprinting toward a family of Iraqi civilians. The colonel swept up two children and shoved the family into a bomb crater for cover, Gunner Parks says. An Iraqi fighter moving up an alley aimed a machine gun at Col. Dowdy. Gunner Parks shot him in the head. "It took me three tries," he says.



At this point Dowdy decided to not go through Kut. it was still his decision at this point.


Kelly didn't think they were meeting much resistace at all... Dowdy meanwhile had over 30 prisoners at this point.

and yet still the regiment got to its meeting point in half the time of the 36 hours expected and was there in time to join the attack on Bagdad.

Col. Dowdy says he took no joy in his next assignment, as head of personnel at the Marine Air Station in Miramar, Calif. In June, the First Division gave him a performance evaluation. It faulted him for "being fatigued beyond normal" and "not employing the regiment to its full combat potential," he says, quoting from the document. It also said he was "overly concerned about the welfare" of his Marines, according to Col. Dowdy. By policy, the Marines don't comment on performance evaluations.


Dowdy didn't get anyone killed. He did not disobey any orders. He did not miss any timetables outside of waiting to long to implement a plan to move through nasirya. which he admits to.

He was removed for not unnecessarily jeopardizing his men and not taking unnecessary chances.

He ran a successful mission. and met his timetables.

This could have some negative impact on Mattis legacy
 

The Human Q-Tip

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[QUOTE="Tornicade, post: 2547706, member: 9523"He was removed for not falling he timetable of the pentagon that was wrong.[/quote]

It wasn't "the Pentagon's" timetable - it was his commanding general's.

They were wrong that Nasiryah would have no resistance....
His superiors knew that there was resistance. They wanted him to push through it more rapidly anyway. Continuing to advance on multiple axis rather than channelling into one just because it happens to be clear is a legitimate strategy for a CG to take.

Also the battle tactics employed by the army were essentialy a experiment that relied on the Company commander to make strategical decisions on the fly which Dowdy did. Meanwhile. the 1st company job was to be a decoy.
Uh....

First, this wasn't an army unit. It was a Marine unit. Second, Colonel Gowdy commanded a regiment, and you keep referring to a company. That's...odd.

Kelly didn't think they were meeting much resistace at all. Dowdy meanwhile had over 30 prisoners at this point.
An entire regiment losing only one Marine means Kelly was right. And 30 prisoners is nothing to write home about.

Dowdy didn't get anyone killed. He did not disobey any orders.
He was repeatedly told to move faster, and did not. And here's a key point to remember about this advance. We expected to be attacked by WMD's, and so it was essential to keep moving. Iraqi command and control was poor, and the only opportunity they were going to have to employ chemical weapons is if our units stayed in the same place for too long so that they could be located and properly targeted. Moving rapidly and staying closely engaged with the enemy would prevent them from employing chemical weapons effectively. Dowdy's failure to move rapidly and stay engaged put his unit in inacceptable jeopardy, even if no chemical attack actually ever came.

e did not miss any timetables....
Pre-attack timetables are immaterial if the tactical situation changes, which it did in the eyes of the CG.

....outside of waiting to long to implement a plan to move through nasirya. which he admits to.
But that's the whole shebang. Admitting that you took too long doesn't mitigate the fact that you took too long.

He was removed for not unnecessarily jeopardizing his men and not taking unnecessary chances.
I suspect you're just trolling, but in any case, that's not why he was relieved. He wasn't relieved immediately, but only after talking to the CG. And then, it was apparent from his own words that either through lack of sleep or whatever, he had cracked. When asked why his entire regiment didn't move for 36 hours, he started babbling about having low self-esteem as a kid. This is a full bird colonel responsible for the lives of nearly 4000 Marines. Regardless of whether he was right tactically, that is simply not a response a senior officer in full possession of his faculties and self control would ever give to his CG. I think that's exactly what Kelly sensed on the phone, and what Mattis confirmed in person.

This could have some negative impact on Mattis legacy
Okay, now I know you're trolling.
 
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King Stannis

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Assessing officers is a complicated affair. From personal experience I know how one officer can be seen as indispensable by one commander, and after a change of command, seen as worthless. Military leadership is a fucking dance of death between the industrious stupid and the lazy smart.

Want an historical case study on how personal bias, or rather national bias, effects analysis? See Karl XIV Johan of Sweden, AKA Marshal Jean Bernadotte of the First French Empire. Depending on the nation, he is either a great leader, scoundrel, brilliant or cowardly, cunning or stupid, venal or diplomatic. The truth lies in reading between the lines.

I can't speak to Marine doctrine as the Army handles things slightly different. I like the Mattis pick because he speaks his well educated mind. No one is perfect and there is no more imperfect endeavor than war. War is, by definition, usually a failure of policy.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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Assessing officers is a complicated affair. From personal experience I know how one officer can be seen as indispensable by one commander, and after a change of command, seen as worthless. Military leadership is a fucking dance of death between the industrious stupid and the lazy smart.

Want an historical case study on how personal bias, or rather national bias, effects analysis? See Karl XIV Johan of Sweden, AKA Marshal Jean Bernadotte of the First French Empire. Depending on the nation, he is either a great leader, scoundrel, brilliant or cowardly, cunning or stupid, venal or diplomatic. The truth lies in reading between the lines.

I can't speak to Marine doctrine as the Army handles things slightly different. I like the Mattis pick because he speaks his well educated mind. No one is perfect and there is no more imperfect endeavor than war. War is, by definition, usually a failure of policy.
My issue was much less with the decision to relieve him -- which is something about which minds may differ -- but about Dowdy's reaction to being relived. The idea that commanders should be reluctant to relive subordinates in combat because of the effect it may have on their personal psyche, is so self-centered/careerist that it was mind-boggling.

Had Dowdy made the argument that it was wrong because Mattis was playing Patton driving on Messina, and was just going for personal glory, fine. Or that relieving commanders during active operations is disruptive and may cost lives...okay, fine. But to oppose it "because it was so embarrassing and had such a bad effect on my life...." That's just kind of stunning.

Peacetime service is much different than wartime -- a guy who excels at one may suck ass at the other, but that's something you can't know until things start happening. Plus, peacetime rank achievement is very much a matter of seniority, so plenty of relative dimwits can acquire decent rank just by not screwing up. Letting them hang on to command too long when a war starts can costs lives.

And the flip side of that is that true genius/talent on the part of younger officers is structurally going underappreciated. Alexander was commanding a decisive cavalry force at 18. Napoleon became commander of the Army of Italy at 26, and Davout was Napoleon's best and youngest Marshal. But modern militaries make no room for that.

Honestly, I think we should probably be more willing to relieve subordinates with underwhelming performance so that the actual talent has a means to rise. The hook should be especially quick in a face-paced campaign where so much is happening so quickly.
 

King Stannis

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My issue was much less with the decision to relieve him -- which is something about which minds may differ -- but about Dowdy's reaction to being relived. The idea that commanders should be reluctant to relive subordinates in combat because of the effect it may have on their personal psyche, is so self-centered/careerist that it was mind-boggling.

Had Dowdy made the argument that it was wrong because Mattis was playing Patton driving on Messina, and was just going for personal glory, fine. Or that relieving commanders during active operations is disruptive and may cost lives...okay, fine. But to oppose it "because it was so embarrassing and had such a bad effect on my life...." That's just kind of stunning.

Peacetime service is much different than wartime -- a guy who excels at one may suck ass at the other, but that's something you can't know until things start happening. Plus, peacetime rank achievement is very much a matter of seniority, so plenty of relative dimwits can acquire decent rank just by not screwing up. Letting them hang on to command too long when a war starts can costs lives.

And the flip side of that is that true genius/talent on the part of younger officers is structurally going underappreciated. Alexander was commanding a decisive cavalry force at 18. Napoleon became commander of the Army of Italy at 26, and Davout was Napoleon's best and youngest Marshal. But modern militaries make no room for that.

Honestly, I think we should probably be more willing to relieve subordinates with underwhelming performance so that the actual talent has a means to rise. The hook should be especially quick in a face-paced campaign where so much is happening so quickly.
1) I think even in wartime that is still very much subject to the personality of commanding officers. As you say, peacetime rewards risk-adverse officers simply because there is little incentive toward risk. But, I wasn't really chiming in on the Dowdy situation so much as making general observations based off my own humble service during our never-ending war(s).

2) I think Davout was his best tactical Marshal. Davout fought brilliant battles but did not exhibit an ability to command, in my opinion anyway, multi-corps units successfully outside Napoleon's immediate control. Bernadotte was by far his, or anyone else's for that matter, master of strategic and operational/political levels of command. His contributions to the Russian victory in the 1812 Campaign, in the advice given to Alexander, and the Leipzig Campaign of 1813, is a masterpiece of how to maximize the contributions and rewards for a smaller power whilst balancing the jealous rivalries of five major powers all of whom had very separate agendas while still giving the Allies the keys to victory. It may have made him a villain to some, a hero to others, or merely perfidious to the outside observer, but to the people who had sworn an oath to serve as future king he delivered big time. Then again, had Davout commanded Ney's troops during the Waterloo Campaign...

3) There is a reason why revolutionary armies tend to showcase historically great talent. They dispense with the ossified group-think that long established institutionalism engenders in professional bodies. In our own history one can look at the likes of Lee, Grant, Stonewall etc., realizing that all but Lee, would not have ever had GO ranks in the normal peacetime Army, or that the rapid expansion of the US Army in WWII necessitated promoting on merit rather than peace-time OER bullshit.
 

Coyote850

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Sounds to me like his commanders wanted to grab headlines by blowing through Iraq at a record pace. He slowed down because he didn't want to get any of his men needlessly killed. Did he say some things that he should not have? Sure. But it doesn't sound to me like his actions deservef being relieved.
 

Tornicade

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My issue was much less with the decision to relieve him -- which is something about which minds may differ -- but about Dowdy's reaction to being relived. The idea that commanders should be reluctant to relive subordinates in combat because of the effect it may have on their personal psyche, is so self-centered/careerist that it was mind-boggling.

Had Dowdy made the argument that it was wrong because Mattis was playing Patton driving on Messina, and was just going for personal glory, fine. Or that relieving commanders during active operations is disruptive and may cost lives...okay, fine. But to oppose it "because it was so embarrassing and had such a bad effect on my life...." That's just kind of stunning.

Peacetime service is much different than wartime -- a guy who excels at one may suck ass at the other, but that's something you can't know until things start happening. Plus, peacetime rank achievement is very much a matter of seniority, so plenty of relative dimwits can acquire decent rank just by not screwing up. Letting them hang on to command too long when a war starts can costs lives.

And the flip side of that is that true genius/talent on the part of younger officers is structurally going underappreciated. Alexander was commanding a decisive cavalry force at 18. Napoleon became commander of the Army of Italy at 26, and Davout was Napoleon's best and youngest Marshal. But modern militaries make no room for that.

Honestly, I think we should probably be more willing to relieve subordinates with underwhelming performance so that the actual talent has a means to rise. The hook should be especially quick in a face-paced campaign where so much is happening so quickly.
Why shouldn't Dowdy take it personally? the whole decision was personal.

Dowdy was given orders , Deadlines, and situational directives that he followed.

Yet he was removed on a hunch.

You want him to feel and express that he had failed his men or the Us Marines but he didn't do either of those things.

He was removed in command because he had a different leadership style than Mattis.

This is why commanders are typically removed from command
failing to complete a mission, disobeying a direct order, breaking the rules of war.
none of these applied to Dowdy's removal. yet you want him to respond as if it were.

You want to label him self centered but the facts don't speak to that
"As a colonel, he was entitled to certain privileges, but he was the type of man, if his Marines didn't have it, he didn't have it," says Sgt. Kane, who served under Col. Dowdy in Iraq and in East Timor in 1999.

lets look at dowdys philosophy

In war, you have competing demands between men and mission," Col. Dowdy says. "Which one wins out? There's no easy answer."

then lets look at Gen Kelly who advocated Dowdy's removal

Gen. Kelly says he doesn't recall that specific conversation. He says he appreciated the potential risk to life that driving through Kut would pose. In a recent e-mail from Iraq, where he is serving a second tour, he wrote, "The choice between mission and men ... is never an either-or, but always a balance."

Here are excerpts from his post operation eval .

being fatigued beyond normal" and "not employing the regiment to its full combat potential, It also said he was "overly concerned about the welfare" of his Marines


Now your saying that dowdy shouldn't care about how an arbitrary decision Impacted his career.


Ill disagree.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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Why shouldn't Dowdy take it personally? the whole decision was personal.
So you're saying that Mattis had some kind of personal grudge against Dowdy, unrelated to his command of one of Mattis' regiments? Do you have any evidence of that?

Dowdy was given orders , Deadlines, and situational directives that he followed.
No, he didn't. He was twice ordered to move faster, and delayed both times. That's not following orders. Even his defenders usually admit that. The question is whether or not those orders were wise.

You want him to feel and express that he had failed his men or the Us Marines but he didn't do either of those things.[/quote

No, I don't want him to express anything of the sort. But an argument that he should not have been relieved should have been premised on what it would do to the performance of his regiment, or the cost in lives, not what effect it would have on him personally. And that's what Dowdy himself said should be learned from his relief -- the effect it has on the person relieved. The only right argument is the tactical one -- that he balanced the lives of his men and the mission correctly, and that Mattis did not. But talking about how embarrassed he was, and that is what future commanders should take into account....That's putting one man's career ahead of the mission, and that is never right.

He was removed in command because he had a different leadership style than Mattis.
No, it was because his priorities were different from his commanding general's. And considering that the Regiment didn't lose a single one of its nearly 6000 Marines in either An-Nasiriyah or Al Kut, it's kind of tough to argue that he was being ordered to advance recklessly in the face of extreme resistance

then lets look at Gen Kelly who advocated Dowdy's removal

Gen. Kelly says he doesn't recall that specific conversation. He says he appreciated the potential risk to life that driving through Kut would pose. In a recent e-mail from Iraq, where he is serving a second tour, he wrote, "The choice between mission and men ... is never an either-or, but always a balance."
Well, duh. Everyone knows that, but that isn't arbitrary. Different commanders will see it differently in different situations. But at all times, it is the HMFIC who makes those calls, and the subordinate's job to carry out those orders. You cannot have part of a unit moving at the whim of one commander, and the other components moving at the whim of another. By the time 1st Marines got to al Kut, they were a full day behind the other two regiments of the Division what were advancing parallel to the West and supposed to meet north of Al Kut. 1st Marines were inarguably behind.

I'm curious -- what exactly are your sources of information for your opinion? Did you read the division history for the battle? Did you read The Road Up, or anything other than the WSJ article?
Because sometimes, you have to dig a bit. As even the WSJ article acknowledged, neither Mattis or Kelly would discuss this. I'd suggest reading The Road Up, or at least the first few chapters, because the authors there go into some detail regarding the command philosophy and strategic concept that was communicated at the outset.

In any case, if you dig a bit, you'll find a bit more. And I'll add that sometimes it is not the decision you eventually make, but how quickly you make it. The Marine Corps is/was big into Boyd cycle doctrine, and the death for that is someone who can't make up their mind. So in light of that, here are some additional facts:

The WSJ article actually mentions this one. After being stuck south of Nasiriyah for more than 24 hours without making a decision, giving any advance orders, etc., Dowdy finally gave an order that could/should have been given 12 hours before, even if just as preparation of an option:

Late that night, Col. Dowdy decided to move. He gave battalion commander Lt. Col. Lew Craparotta one hour to figure out how to form a cordon of soldiers that would shield the regiment as it passed through the city. Col. Craparotta wasn't pleased. "I don't think next time I want to plan something like that on the hood of my Humvee in the pitch black," he says.

So that's one battalion commander pissed of at the delay and lack of pro-active thinking. Then, in "The Road Up", there's this when the column halts during a sandstorm on the route between an Nasiriyah and al Kut:

Two battalion commanders, the regimental executive officer, and the regimental operations officer stood in a semi-circle around Dowdy, who was sitting on the passenger seat of the Humvee...His senior commanders had to lean forward, almost touching his face, and shout to make sure Dowdy understood the message. It was unwise to stay put with the town on their flank. Intelligence reports suggested up to five hundred Fedayeen were mixed in among the twenty thousand inhabitants of the town. An attack could be forming up as they spoke...the commanders threw out different ideas, shouting to be heard...

Dowdy wasn't listening. his head had dropped lower, and he wasn't spitting any more tobacco juice. He had momentarily dozed off...darkness was coming, the wind was increasing, the troops were firing at shadows, and the Fedayeen might be gathering for an attack.

"I don't believe this. Lieutenant Colonel Ray said as he threw up his hands. "This is not happening."


[The pissed-off battalion commanders then made their own plan, without input from their sleeping commander, and went off to execute it. A couple of minutes later is when General Kelly showed up to find Colonel Dowdy still asleep.]

That's all before the delays at al Kut, when Dowdy again delayed because of his inability to make a decision. So, if you assume that General Kelly got input from the battalion commanders during the time he spent with RCT-1 heading north (good assumption), then the picture that was being painted was not a good one. The drive up to Baghdad was supposed to be the easy part -- it was Baghdad that they were worried about turning into a bloodbath, which was why they wanted to move so quickly on the road up - to prevent consolidation and a protracted battle in the city. A hesitant, indecisive regimental commander was not what the CG wanted moving forward.



 

Tornicade

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So you're saying that Mattis had some kind of personal grudge against Dowdy, unrelated to his command of one of Mattis' regiments? Do you have any evidence of that?



No, he didn't. He was twice ordered to move faster, and delayed both times. That's not following orders. Even his defenders usually admit that. The question is whether or not those orders were wise.
He made his time deadline. Telling guys t move faster was probably something Kelly did the whoele war.



Dowdy wasn't removed because he didn't do anything wrong, Kelly by proxy Mattis lost confidence in him.
Why did they lose confidence in him?
1. Dowdy waited to long to advance through Nassira. This was a mistake that Dowdy Owned up too.
2. Kelly saw Dowdy taking a nap and although this wasn't out of the ordinary for Commanders in war time it left an impression because of the timing.
3. Dowdy was conservative. Mattis was the opposite. The secondary objective were clear for the operation tactics. The company commander made all tactic decision such as engaging in combat to save time or choosing to avoid the conflict
4. Upper Command believed the resistance stated was exaggerated as it went against their analysis

You want to determine whats not following orders when the military and military experts as well as Mattis own chief of staff indicated That Dowdy had followed
orders and that was the reason he was removed?

dowdy was given an objective, a destination and a timeline for a rendezvous point for staging the Baghdad attack. I don't think you understand the difference between a request/demand and an Order.

Mattis decided to remove Dowdy and ruin his career so that he could ahave a guy in there who he was more confident would be as aggressive and proactive as he would be.

makes you wonder why Dowdy was put in comman in the first place

Dwdy;s remove sent a clear message to the Marines. The only real tactical decision to make was to attack.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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He made his time deadline. Telling guys t move faster was probably something Kelly did the whoele war.
So what if it was?

And you didn't answer my question -- what research have you done on this? Do you remember the unscheduled "pause" that lasted for between 4-5 days in the middle of the advance? Did you read what the orders were coming out of it from Franks? Have you read what orders Mattis was getting from General Conway -- his boss? Did you read any of the general orders/operational guidance issued to all Marines prior to the attack?

A regimental commander generally determine how he will accomplish a particular task. But what is to be accomplished, and when it is to be accomplished by, is always dictated by higher command. You just don't do stuff whenever you're comfortable, because your orders may very likely depend on what other units within the command are doing.

1. Dowdy waited to long to advance through Nassira. This was a mistake that Dowdy Owned up too.
Owning up to it doesn't make it go away, and that was only a part of the problem. Giving a battalion one hour to prepare for a complicated night maneuver to screen the movement of an entire reinforced regiment through a city, when you could have given an advance order 12 hours before, is nuts. And if you read the account of that dash through Nasiriyah, it was a clusterfuck because nobody was prepared. As I said, you should be pretty confident that Lt. Col. Craparrota relayed that to General Kelly when asked.

2. Kelly saw Dowdy taking a nap and although this wasn't out of the ordinary for Commanders in war time it left an impression because of the timing.
Again, you're very clearly basing your entire opinion off one article you read. Did you read the quotes from "The March Up" I included? Yes, it is normal for Commanders to fall asleep. It is not normal for regimental commanders to fall asleep when in the middle of a briefing with the battalion commanders on an urgent matter, while in a hostile situation, which is a detail that was not included in the one WSJ article you read.

3. Dowdy was conservative. Mattis was the opposite. The secondary objective were clear for the operation tactics. The company commander made all tactic decision such as engaging in combat to save time or choosing to avoid the conflict . Upper command believed the resistance was exaggerated as it went against their analysis.
Dude, this is...gibberish. What the hell are "operation tactics"? Why do you keep referring to a "company commander"?? I don't mind debating some of this stuff with people who are not former military, but you at least have to be conversant in the underlying doctrine and principles. That's military word salad.

In any case, it is the subordinate who is responsible to match the operational tempo demanded by the superior, not the other way around.

Mattis decided to remove Dowdy and ruin his career so that he could have a guy in there who he was more confident would be as aggressive and proactive as he would be.
Exactly! Dowdy had demonstrated on three separate occasions that he lacked the aggressiveness the operational plan demanded, and he had information from some of Dowdy's subordinates that he was not functioning well. Perhaps "decisiveness" was equally as important as "aggressiveness". That's a perfectly proper basis to relieve a commander, regardless of whether it makes that commander sad. Ruining Dowdy's career should have been on the very bottom of factors to be considered when actual lives are at stake.

Dowdy's remove sent a clear message to the Marines. The only real tactical decision to make was to attack.
I suppose it could have sent that message had it been needed, but that wasn't necessary since the other two regimental commanders were carrying out the battle plan and moving aggressively.
 

Tornicade

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So what if it was?

And you didn't answer my question -- what research have you done on this? Do you remember the unscheduled "pause" that lasted for between 4-5 days in the middle of the advance? Did you read what the orders were coming out of it from Franks? Have you read what orders Mattis was getting from General Conway -- his boss? Did you read any of the general orders/operational guidance issued to all Marines prior to the attack?

A regimental commander generally determine how he will accomplish a particular task. But what is to be accomplished, and when it is to be accomplished by, is always dictated by higher command. You just don't do stuff whenever you're comfortable, because your orders may very likely depend on what other units within the command are doing.



Owning up to it doesn't make it go away, and that was only a part of the problem. Giving a battalion one hour to prepare for a complicated night maneuver to screen the movement of an entire reinforced regiment through a city, when you could have given an advance order 12 hours before, is nuts. And if you read the account of that dash through Nasiriyah, it was a clusterfuck because nobody was prepared. As I said, you should be pretty confident that Lt. Col. Craparrota relayed that to General Kelly when asked.



Again, you're very clearly basing your entire opinion off one article you read. Did you read the quotes from "The March Up" I included? Yes, it is normal for Commanders to fall asleep. It is not normal for regimental commanders to fall asleep when in the middle of a briefing with the battalion commanders on an urgent matter, while in a hostile situation, which is a detail that was not included in the one WSJ article you read.



Dude, this is...gibberish. What the hell are "operation tactics"? Why do you keep referring to a "company commander"?? I don't mind debating some of this stuff with people who are not former military, but you at least have to be conversant in the underlying doctrine and principles. That's military word salad.

In any case, it is the subordinate who is responsible to match the operational tempo demanded by the superior, not the other way around.



Exactly! Dowdy had demonstrated on three separate occasions that he lacked the aggressiveness the operational plan demanded, and he had information from some of Dowdy's subordinates that he was not functioning well. Perhaps "decisiveness" was equally as important as "aggressiveness". That's a perfectly proper basis to relieve a commander, regardless of whether it makes that commander sad. Ruining Dowdy's career should have been on the very bottom of factors to be considered when actual lives are at stake.



I suppose it could have sent that message had it been needed, but that wasn't necessary since the other two regimental commanders were carrying out the battle plan and moving aggressively.
you haven't presented any facts other than a quote

do you know what "chaos" is?
 

King Stannis

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There seems to be a disagreement on the why. However, in this case, Mattis was well within his proper scope of authority to relieve a commander that wasn't following orders in the manner he wanted. That is his discretion. I've seen commanders relieved for less and others not canned for doing a lot more to piss off their 6's. Ultimately, the subordinate molds his actions in accordance to the orders he receives given they are legal. Mattis wanted movement for various reasons and Dowdy didn't give him what he wanted.

Correct decision? Unless you are in a commander's position it is difficult to say. Without a clear picture of what Mattis' Concept of the Operation was, the actual maneuver section of the Order is harder to debate.

Anyway, if you really want to get into the weeds, the Operations Order (OPORDER) is what you want to look at to gain the tactical details, @Tornicade. Just look up examples online for company level on up. It is the basic tool we use to conduct tactical operations all the way down to the platoon level. Tells you most everything you need to know in debating military decisions. Marines follow the same format as Army. It is the first thing we teach 2LTs.
 

Tornicade

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There seems to be a disagreement on the why. However, in this case, Mattis was well within his proper scope of authority to relieve a commander that wasn't following orders in the manner he wanted. That is his discretion. I've seen commanders relieved for less and others not canned for doing a lot more to piss off their 6's. Ultimately, the subordinate molds his actions in accordance to the orders he receives given they are legal. Mattis wanted movement for various reasons and Dowdy didn't give him what he wanted.

Correct decision? Unless you are in a commander's position it is difficult to say. Without a clear picture of what Mattis' Concept of the Operation was, the actual maneuver section of the Order is harder to debate.

Anyway, if you really want to get into the weeds, the Operations Order (OPORDER) is what you want to look at to gain the tactical details, @Tornicade. Just look up examples online for company level on up. It is the basic tool we use to conduct tactical operations all the way down to the platoon level. Tells you most everything you need to know in debating military decisions. Marines follow the same format as Army. It is the first thing we teach 2LTs.
That wasn't the debate.

The debate is that Dowdy did not commit any of the typical violation to be relieved of command. He did not endanger his men and he exercised his command as dictated by the standing orders for that war.


Dowdy had no reason to feel he let his men down or endangered the war effort. so commenting on how the decision impacted his career and family were appropriate.

Mattis decision was an arbitrary one based on confidence and feedback from Kelly.

Dowdy completed his mission objectives. His secondary objective was at his discretion and he made the it to his destination in half the time he was allotted.

The review board did not cite him for any violation they specifically cited "excessive Fatigue"

I'm not arguing Mattis Right to make the decision or anything else although that specific instance did cause a lot of debate amongst marine officers

I don't think Dowdy conducted himself poorly citing the end of his career and family for what was essentially a more conservative tactics that Mattis and Kelly were expecting.

Meanwhile Q Tip wants to define this behavior as typical reasons that the leader, commander, top dog ( whatever Human Q Tip would like Dowdy to be referred to) of 6 thousand men .

It is not
 

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