Today, we’re going to cover the tenth lesson I learned from the book Starship Troopers. This is the tenth lesson in the mini-series. If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.
Lesson # 10: There’s a big difference between strategic and tactical level thinking.
Quote: “To direct a war, or even to plan a single battle and mount the operation, you have to have a theory of games, operational analysis, symbolic logic, pessimistic synthesis, and a dozen other skull subjects.”
My Take: As I see it, there is a huge difference in the skill-set required to fight a war and plan a war. Most people in the Army spend most of their career at the tactical level. These are the deployable units that fight our wars. These units range from the company to the corps level. To succeed at this level in the Army you must have strong leadership skills, discipline, the warrior ethos, basic Soldier skills and tactical skills. You must understand tactics, how to lead troops and how to fight and win wars.
On the other hand, the Army also has a strategic and operational level. These include running a theatre of operations, setting national policy and other “big picture Army” type of stuff. I’d bet that 98% or more of the people in the Army never get any experience at these two levels. Normally, it is reserved for senior E-9s and Officers in the rank of Colonel and higher. To succeed at this level, you really need to have a strong grasp or reasoning, planning, theory, military history, politics, operational analysis and much more.
I think it takes a really unique and talented Soldier (NCO or Officer) to succeed at the strategic and operational levels. Not everyone has the right mind-set, skill-set, education, or experience to do this. By no means are these folks any better or more important than the Soldiers at the tactical level. They’re just different.
The bottom line is that there is a huge difference between fighting a battle and planning a battle. Just because you can do one does not mean you can do the other.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and let me know.