Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Mission: Survive and Thrive

 

When I first went into the Army, the mission statement of any order you received or issued had five elements. The 5Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why. The most important element was the Why.

The format changed, years later, and became Task & Purpose. The most important element was the purpose.

The reason for the why/purpose is two-fold. First, if the task cannot be achieved, but the troop knows Why he’s doing it, then he can adapt, overcome and improvise in such a way as to generate an outcome that fulfills the Why. 

The other reason is that American Soldiery needs to be told Why. The troops may not even agree with the purpose of the mission. But if it’s valid, those rambunctious, pugnacious and inventive little miscreants will get it done. 

In my experience, having worked with Partner troops from dozens of disparate nations over the years, this is unique to the American troop.

Now, I can’t help but expand that assessment to the American citizenry writ large. Citizens that are told why they have certain restrictions placed upon them will pitch in, help out, and perform magnificently. Citizens that must suffer restrictions for which there is no discernible, common sense explicable reason, and whose state governors are not even trying to articulate a Why, become frustrated and will rebel.

There could be a valid reason that marijuana shops are open, but barbershops are closed. 

There may be a valid reason that you can visit the beach, but cannot go in the water.

There may be a reason that throngs of people can go to Costco, but cannot go to Church.

Note, though, that on those topics, the Why, if it is even offered, is usually ill-defined and reliant on an appeal to authority. The Science is settled! Okay, then break that science down for me, Hot-rod. Show me your facts and figures and calcs. Make it make sense enough that it adds up to a Why.

Or go pound sand.

 

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  1. Tree Rat Member

    Boss Mongo: American Soldiery needs to be told Why

    First reported by Von Steuben (or one of his contemporaries) as a unique characteristic, I seem to recall. (Not that I was there with him, mind you, but recall from a HS History class, back when they still taught history in HS.)

    When I was undergoing OCS (1967), the 5 paragraph ops order was SMEAC: Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Command & Control. Much the same purpose, but it is important to update the jargon every so often or people won’t think we’re special.

    • #1
    • May 24, 2020, at 4:52 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo:

    The other reason is that American Soldiery needs to be told Why. The troops may not even agree with the purpose of the mission. But if it’s valid, those rambunctious, pugnacious and inventive little miscreants will get it done. 

    In my experience, having worked with Partner troops from dozens of disparate nations over the years, this is unique to the American troop.

    A quote from Maj. Gen. Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Steuben US Army during the Revolutionary War:

    [In a letter to a friend back in Prussia] You say to your soldier, ‘Do this’ and he does it. But I am obliged to say to the American, ‘This is why you ought to do this’ and then he does it.

    So I guess it has been with us for a while now.

    • #2
    • May 24, 2020, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 26 likes
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    More BvS (I got sidetracked):

    With regard to military discipline, I may safely say that no such thing existed in the Continental Army.

     

    • #3
    • May 24, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo: those rambunctious, pugnacious and inventive little miscreants will get it done.

    Amen!

    • #4
    • May 24, 2020, at 5:03 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo: whose state governors are not even trying to articulate a Why, become frustrated and will rebel.

    “Because I said so, that’s why!” Gretchen Whitmer

    • #5
    • May 24, 2020, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 23 likes
  6. JoelB Member

    More and more, I’m buying it less and less. I’m not alone.

     

    • #6
    • May 24, 2020, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Django Member

    Is there any military other than the American military where a soldier would be expected to disobey an “unconstitutional order”?

    • #7
    • May 24, 2020, at 6:38 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  8. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tree Rat (View Comment):
    When I was undergoing OCS (1967), the 5 paragraph ops order was SMEAC: Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration, Command & Control.

    Still is. The Paragraph 2 is the mission statement, whatever format. 

    Endstate and purpose – the two most important things.

     

    • #8
    • May 24, 2020, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Django (View Comment):
    American military where a soldier would be expected to disobey and “unconstitutional order”?

    Well we have a written constitution. Brits don’t – but in my experience they would be an example where you would find soldiers who wouldn’t follow a grossly immoral order. For Example something against the laws of war.

    • #9
    • May 24, 2020, at 6:58 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Django (View Comment):

    Is there any military other than the American military where a soldier would be expected to disobey and “unconstitutional order”?

    I think the question is better phrased as: Is there any other military where a soldier would be expected to disobey an illegal order.

    And the answer is yes, all of them–at least all the signatories to the Hague Convention (that was, what? 1938? Too lazy to look it up).

    So an officer, NCO, or soldier who obeys an illegal order is legally culpable for the results of carrying out that order. Thus the reason why, in the Nuremburg trials, “I was just following orders” was considered an invalid defense.

    • #10
    • May 24, 2020, at 8:15 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  11. kelsurprise, drama queen Member
    kelsurprise, drama queen Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo: Okay, then break that science down for me, Hot-rod. Show me your facts and figures and calcs. Make it make sense enough that it adds up to a Why.

    I dutifully don a mask when entering any place of business but rip it off the second I get back outside — and I have seen a few panicked eyebrows go up in response to that now and then, even from a more-than-recommended distance away. 

    I’ve thought about what I might say if anyone decides to go full “Karen” and accuse my unmasked self of actually putting the half dozen people I might pass within 10 feet of for a fleeting second on my way back home in mortal danger — but with your permission, Boss, I’ll just trash the little speech I’ve been working on and borrow yours. 

     

    • #11
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:08 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Hang On Member
    Hang On Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    What it comes down to is that Americans are a free people who will cooperate with one another to achieve a common purpose if they are convinced that purpose is worth achieving. There is a constant reevaluation. We were initially told the purpose of the lock down was to avoid the swamping of hospitals which we could see on YouTube in Italy and Spain. We didn’t want that here. So the lockdown made sense. That phase is now gone.

    Now the talk is of a second wave. But we don’t see evidence of that but do see the very real damage to the economy. We are being told to fight a phantom in the face of a very real enemy. So it makes no sense to anyone with a shred of common sense.

    • #12
    • May 25, 2020, at 4:23 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    I’ve been thinking about the “why” a lot lately, at work – when I was running a project, the team I had working for me was mostly consultants, so they didn’t need a lot of motivation or the “why”. The “what” and the “how” can always be figured out, shown, and trained.

    The “why” is the harder part. That involves context and conversations, maybe some show and tell, etc, until the person you’re engaging with owns that why. Until they own it, it won’t be theirs, and they’ll go through steps or procedures to do work, but as soon as something doesn’t make sense or work correctly, people can be like a balky machine – they’ll just stop. Some will stop entirely. Some will stop and then go seek out help to get whatever it is fixed.

    But if they know the “why”, then many times individuals can fix things themselves – and they’ll do so, knowing the reasons for why they’re going through the steps.

    The hard part is getting them to understand the “why”. But once that is done, I use the guided missile analogy – fire and forget. Meaning I’ve set the person up for success, all they need to do is go do it now, and I can kick back and sip Diet Dr Pepper and read Ricochet.

     

    See the source image

    • #13
    • May 25, 2020, at 5:04 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  14. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    kelsurprise, drama queen (View Comment):
    I dutifully don a mask when entering any place of business but rip it off the second I get back outside — and I have seen a few panicked eyebrows go up in response to that now and then, even from a more-than-recommended distance away. 

    Kel, I carry a mask and wear it inside business establishments for the same reason I carry a leash when I walk my German Shepherd. I don’t need the device in either case, but I’ll go out of my way to not put another person ill at ease. Up to a point.

    kelsurprise, drama queen (View Comment):
    I’ve thought about what I might say if anyone decides to go full “Karen” and accuse my unmasked self of actually putting the half dozen people I might pass within 10 feet of for a fleeting second on my way back home in mortal danger — but with your permission, Boss, I’ll just trash the little speech I’ve been working on and borrow yours. 

    Heh. Your more than welcome to it. I thought about it after I saw a guy at Key Largo Park go full up, hysterical Karen on four or five twenty-somethings that were working out over by the pull-up and dip bars. The Karen guy went nuts, literally screaming, “You’re killing people!” and the oh, so precious, “Listen to the government!”

    I figured right then, my Karen rejoinder would be,”Hey, bro, if I kill you, it won’t be with a germ.”

    • #14
    • May 25, 2020, at 5:55 AM PDT
    • 17 likes
  15. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    kelsurprise, drama queen (View Comment):
    I dutifully don a mask when entering any place of business but rip it off the second I get back outside — and I have seen a few panicked eyebrows go up in response to that now and then, even from a more-than-recommended distance away.

    Kel, I carry a mask and wear it inside business establishments for the same reason I carry a leash when I walk my German Shepherd. I don’t need the device in either case, but I’ll go out of my way to not put another person ill at ease. Up to a point.

    kelsurprise, drama queen (View Comment):
    I’ve thought about what I might say if anyone decides to go full “Karen” and accuse my unmasked self of actually putting the half dozen people I might pass within 10 feet of for a fleeting second on my way back home in mortal danger — but with your permission, Boss, I’ll just trash the little speech I’ve been working on and borrow yours.

    Heh. Your more than welcome to it. I thought about it after I saw a guy at Key Largo Park go full up, hysterical Karen on four or five twenty-somethings that were working out over by the pull-up and dip bars. The Karen guy went nuts, literally screaming, “You’re killing people!” and the oh, so precious, “Listen to the government!”

    I figured right then, my Karen rejoinder would be,”Hey, bro, if I kill you, it won’t be with a germ.”

    I think we can stop referring to him as a guy, at this point.

    • #15
    • May 25, 2020, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  16. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Gazpacho Grande' (View Comment):
    I think we can stop referring to him as a guy, at this point.

    Point.

    • #16
    • May 25, 2020, at 6:11 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Vance Richards Inactive
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A snarky “So, you want people to die” is probably the only Why that you’ll get from most governors. Watching press conferences of the governors near me, it does seem that they do not like having people question their actions. If we really are “all in this together,” then you would think they would be less defensive.

    • #17
    • May 25, 2020, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Roderic Coolidge

    Why?

    The core of the strategy to suppress the spread of the virus is social distancing. That means that people come into contact with other people less. The less contact the less the disease will spread.

     

    • #18
    • May 25, 2020, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • Like
  19. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Why?

    The core of the strategy to suppress the spread of the virus is social distancing. That means that people come into contact with other people less. The less contact the less the disease will spread.

     

    No.

    It was the strategy so as to not overwhelm the hospitals, which has largely happened. The “why” would be “Why are we still keeping the world shut down when the hospitals are not overwhelmed, in fact, they’ve been sending nurses home in many states because of a lack of patients and work to do?”

    That’s the question that needs answering. Not the one already asked and answered.

    • #19
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:02 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Why?

    The core of the strategy to suppress the spread of the virus is social distancing. That means that people come into contact with other people less. The less contact the less the disease will spread.

     

    And that means, if I’m a Michigander, I can go into WalMart and buy food, but can’t buy paint or tiles because why?

    • #20
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:13 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Why?

    The core of the strategy to suppress the spread of the virus is social distancing. That means that people come into contact with other people less. The less contact the less the disease will spread.

     

    And that means, if I’m a Michigander, I can go into WalMart and buy food, but can’t buy paint or tiles because why?

    Gretchen eased up at that when she noticed that everybody in the country was laughing at her.

    • #21
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Hang On (View Comment):
    We were initially told the purpose of the lock down was to avoid the swamping of hospitals which we could see on YouTube in Italy and Spain. We didn’t want that here. So the lockdown made sense. That phase is now gone.

    This is key. I didn’t like the lockdown at first but understood the “why” so went along with it. Now, it’s just [redacted], and people are done. 

    Except Karen, of course.

     

    • #22
    • May 25, 2020, at 7:41 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Roderic (View Comment):

    Why?

    The core of the strategy to suppress the spread of the virus is social distancing. That means that people come into contact with other people less. The less contact the less the disease will spread.

     

    And that means, if I’m a Michigander, I can go into WalMart and buy food, but can’t buy paint or tiles because why?

    If you’re the Michigander who’s married to The Michigoose you presume you can.

    • #23
    • May 25, 2020, at 8:35 AM PDT
    • 13 likes
  24. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    I figured right then, my Karen rejoinder would be,”Hey, bro, if I kill you, it won’t be with a germ.”

    😁

    • #24
    • May 25, 2020, at 10:28 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Vance Richards Inactive
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Boss Mongo: There could be a valid reason that marijuana shops are open, but barbershops are closed. 

    Barbershops are still closed by me. Evidently 400 people roaming through the aisles of Walmart is safer than two or three people in a barbershop. It has been close to three months, desperate, I handed the clippers over to my wife. She had never done this before. Not expecting anything fancy, just a straight buzz cut. Looks good in the front but I did hear a few “oops” and giggles while she was working on the back of my head. The governor can take away my barber and threaten some of my freedoms, but he won’t be able to take my hats . . . so I’ll be OK.

    • #25
    • May 25, 2020, at 10:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Django Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo: There could be a valid reason that marijuana shops are open, but barbershops are closed.

    Barbershops are still closed by me. Evidently 400 people roaming through the aisles of Walmart is safer than two or three people in a barbershop. It has been close to three months, desperate, I handed the clippers over to my wife. She had never done this before. Not expecting anything fancy, just a straight buzz cut. Looks good in the front but I did hear a few “oops” and giggles while she was working on the back of my head. The governor can take away my barber and threaten some of my freedoms, but he won’t be able to take my hats . . . so I’ll be OK.

    To borrow a phrase, “I look like a cross between a British history professor and a shipwreck survivor.” At least I can keep the beard trimmed myself. The local Supercuts might open next week. 

    • #26
    • May 25, 2020, at 10:52 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  27. Barry Jones Thatcher

    Along the lines of “why”…when I was in the Service at the Advanced Course (learning how to be a Captain, basically) the legal instructor told us that an American Soldier being punished (Article 15, Court Martial, etc.) MUST believe that WHAT he is being charged with deserves punishment…even if he is not guilty he must think that the charge is for doing something that wrong. It seems as if the general run of the American people are leaning the same way…if they don’t think walking in the park is wrong, then they are going to walk in the park regardless of an “executive order” saying differently…and so on.

    • #27
    • May 25, 2020, at 11:28 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  28. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Barry Jones (View Comment):

    Along the lines of “why”…when I was in the Service at the Advanced Course (learning how to be a Captain, basically) the legal instructor told us that an American Soldier being punished (Article 15, Court Martial, etc.) MUST understand that WHAT he is being charged with deserves punishment…even if he is not guilty he must think that the charge is worthy of punishment. It seems as if the general run of the American people are leaning the same way…if they don’t think walking in the park is wrong, then they are going to walk in the park regardless of an “executive order” saying differently…and so on.

    Yes, and: troops always have the option of turning down an Article 15 to instead receive a Court Martial. One of the things I always tried to impart to my troops (early, hopefully before any of them were even charged, so that they wouldn’t think I had an agenda or was trying to put one over on them) is that it is always, always a bad idea to opt for the Court Martial.

    BTW, @barryjones, the Advanced Course is now called the Captains’ Career Course. I don’t know why they changed the name. Someone probably needed an OER bullet.

    • #28
    • May 25, 2020, at 11:36 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  29. Barry Jones Thatcher

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Barry Jones (View Comment):

    Along the lines of “why”…when I was in the Service at the Advanced Course (learning how to be a Captain, basically) the legal instructor told us that an American Soldier being punished (Article 15, Court Martial, etc.) MUST understand that WHAT he is being charged with deserves punishment…even if he is not guilty he must think that the charge is worthy of punishment. It seems as if the general run of the American people are leaning the same way…if they don’t think walking in the park is wrong, then they are going to walk in the park regardless of an “executive order” saying differently…and so on.

    Yes, and: troops always have the option of turning down an Article 15 to instead receive a Court Martial. One of the things I always tried to impart to my troops (early, hopefully before any of them were even charged, so that they wouldn’t think I had an agenda or was trying to put one over on them) is that it is always, always a bad idea to opt for the Court Martial.

    BTW, @barryjones, the Advanced Course is now called the Captains’ Career Course. I don’t know why they changed the name. Someone probably needed an OER bullet.

    Hard to change old habits even though I knew that as my Nephew completed the “Captain’s Career Course” at Benning a few years ago. He is just finishing up a company command at Bragg (after returning from the ‘Stan a couple of months ago). He is USMA Class of ’12 and the lovely and talented Mrs Captain is class of ’15 – they were married in the Chapel and it was pretty cool.

    • #29
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo

    Barry Jones (View Comment):
    Hard to change old habits even though I knew that as my Nephew completed the “Captain’s Career Course” at Benning a few years ago. He is just finishing up a company command at Bragg (after returning from the ‘Stan a couple of months ago). He is USMA Class of ’12 and the lovely and talented Mrs Captain is class of ’15 – they were married in the Chapel and it was pretty cool.

    Outstanding! When does he go SF?

    • #30
    • May 25, 2020, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 2 likes