Major General Cantwell’s words articulate the frustration of having to justify actions at the tactical level to those far removed from the area of operations. There are certainly important reasons for having to do this, such as the need to update higher levels of command with the progress of operations, and to explain why certain incidents have occurred. Indeed, accountability for decisions made and actions taken is an enduring feature of civil-military relations in democratic nations.
Leadership must be built upon a bedrock of trust. This need is obvious in combat, when soldiers must trust their officers to make sound judgment and not to risk the lives and safety of their men needlessly or carelessly. In turn, officers must trust their soldiers to do their duty, and to strive to fulfill not only the specific order given, but the spirit of what the mission is trying to accomplish.
There are two calls to action in the Human Dimension White Paper. The first is to senior leaders to provide resources for developing our junior leaders. The second is to junior leaders to begin developing their peers and subordinates. These two must happen in conjunction with each other. And that can only occur through clear and open dialogue between all ranks.