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July 17, 2013


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I am racking my brains, buddy, but I wouldn't worry too hard.

Don't forget that soft squishy sciences like Organizational Development continually reinvent their postulates into new tropes that can be sold in new books to new managers. Not that this is bad; I mean, there aren't that many new stories out there but corporations are still publishing newly written novels every month.

So the trope of a "strategic corporal" exists primarily to allow Organizational Development experts to collect fat figures for updating training materials to include it.

Really, all the insights you need into strategic decisions in wartime are in Thucydides (or Sun Tzu, probably, although I prefer Thucydides because there are fewer popularizations of his observations out there).

Corporal, no. I can't think of actions before 1975 which an NCO made that much of a difference, at least publicly acknowledged.

However, on a higher command level what about My Lai? That's a company commander, to be sure, rather than an NCO though.

My Lai proves the argument! First, it happened in a war well before 1975; heck, it happened before anybody had thought of the term "strategic corporal." Second, the fault was at the officer level. We've had "strategic captains" for centuries. Finally, it isn't clear that My Lai had any strategic consequence. It had zero effect on the loss of domestic support, and it certainly didn't energize the NVA ... and the NVA is what beat our asses, not the Viet Cong.

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