I always find it amusing that the further away from action and consequences I got, the more I was forced to give counsel to the fears of others and provide them with a variety of alternatives to any given decision they might feel compelled to make. As admirals and generals become more and more remote from the actual consequences of any action or inaction, their staffs were belabored to present them with a variety of alternative 'Courses of Action' as the final slide in any decision brief. We did not do this thing in ships in war zones, mobile units in war zones, Middle East Force staff, Naval Forces Central Command staff, Fifth Fleet staff but was it mandatory at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and Naval Surface Forces Pacific and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command? Oh my yes!
Why strain at gnats I would ask. The admiral
or general is perfectly capable of directing us to take action based on
his understanding of the facts and the situation and really doesn't need
to have 3 different wadis to wander down in the fullness of briefing
time. He can create his own Rift Valley in a microsecond. I used to
watch this in real-time and never saw a general or admiral at a loss for
words when standing a briefer on his head and telling him just how much
he didn't like the facts or the conclusions of the brief. Why give the
guy 2 more things to get upset about?
I regret to say
that I did give in when the Chief of Staff or some other great potentate
called me and insisted that when I prepare briefs I prepare them by the
Rules. So be it, I said, and could be relied upon to always present 3
COAs. Is it my fault if one of them was always:
- Invade Patagonia