Today more than ever, small-unit leaders at the battalion-level and below are achieving mission success against elusive insurgents through the disciplined application of force, tactical patience, and intellectual agility. The operating environment’s dispersed and unforgiving nature has reinforced the leader’s obligation to prepare his people physically, psychologically, and morally for the rigors of combat. Unfortunately, institutional memories are short. So as the United States focuses on its next conventional conflict with a near-peer competitor, today’s military professionals should capture the past decade’s leadership lessons.
Ground forces have broad combat experience now, but the next major conventional conflict will likely be shouldered by U.S. air and naval forces. Military leaders should ensure that their units and services are ready to do whatever it takes to protect U.S. interests in the face of significant losses in combat. Are your men and women prepared to persevere and, if necessary, to die for the mission? Are you?