Through a nuanced understanding of historical ties between jihadist groups and business people, policymakers and academics can more rationally assess incentives, supply chains, and other ways in in which the economic mingles with the political in fragile and civil war environments. Ahmad’s book can provide them with a useful point of departure for such endeavors.
The ultimate question begged by these musings is to consider what effect more than fifty years of trying to implement business management models into the American military has had? Are we more efficient and monetarily lean than ever before? It doesn’t seem so. We have the world’s most expensive military, with the costliest equipment and highest operating margins. It is difficult to draw a direct causal argument, despite the apparent correlation in time, and beyond the scope of this article to do so. The argument is simply that military effectiveness is a matter that ought not to be judged by monetary value (profit or cost-savings efficiency) of the services performed, and it is thus not appropriate for business management models. More bluntly, whenever a public organization (as opposed to a private one) is so conceived the result will be unavoidably perverse.
Though the Army has taken positive initial steps by addressing toxic leadership, its methods for assessing and culling its people, as well as the management of superfluous amounts of data, negatively impact trust inside the profession. The very nature and size of the Army as a government service will always require complex management systems. Though it is appropriate to look at similar large enterprises for the best practices to efficiently apply limited resources, the Army’s role as the profession of arms is about effectiveness. Like the historic professions, patients want to get healed; the accused want to be exonerated, and the Army must win the “contest of wills.” Stewards of the profession of arms must constantly assess the efficiency of the institution’ systems and practices and their impact on effectiveness--- all while preserving the trust of not only the American people, but also the Army’s own soldiers, civilians and families.