Leadership: The Commanders' Intent For Major Hasan


January 17, 2010: The U.S. Army is preparing to punish as many eight officers for not doing anything about a terrorist in their midst. Major Nidal Malik Hasan's murder of 13 people at Fort Hood on November 5th was the act of an Islamic terrorist. But the U.S. government initially tried to explain it as just the act of a lone madman. Now it's realized that this is what terrorist attacks often are. Meanwhile, the investigation of Hasan soon revealed that he had not made a secret of his beliefs, and that many of his peers, subordinates and superiors had complained about Hasan's Islamic radical beliefs. But nothing was done.

Now the army plans to hold accountable the officers who were in a position to do something about Hasan, before he killed 13 people. None of the eight officers are generals, and those punished are expected to receive a letter of reprimand. This will hurt their chances of promotion.

It is unknown if the army will deal with the atmosphere of political correctness that underpinned most of the bad decisions that enabled Hasan to stay in uniform, and even get promoted. In the army, as in any large organization, all the rules are not written down. In the army, many of the unwritten rules come in the form of  "the commanders' intent." Sometimes this "intent" iss spelled out, but in many cases, subordinate commanders have to figure it out. In the Hasan case, the commanders' intent was that Moslem officers, especially doctors, are to be kept happy and in uniform. When in doubt, look the other way, and hope for the best. In the case of Hasan, no one expected the guy to turn into a mass murderer. But, then, Hasan's superiors were encouraged to be optimistic about their Moslem problem child. So Hasan's radical rants and abusive behavior towards non-Moslems was, if not ignored, then played down.

The army is trying to present this as a situation unique to the way the military handles its doctors (gently, lest they leave). This has been a long term problem, but it doesn't explain all that was going on with the Hasan situation.

So the commanders who followed the commanders' intent will get letters of reprimand for going along with the program, and being unlucky. While raises the question. What about the other Hasans? Is Major Nidal Malik Hasan the only Moslem who got a pass because of commanders' intent? Do you think chastising eight officers is going to solve the problem? To a certain extent. Because of Hasan, the commanders' intent regarding Moslem officers has been modified. If there's a chance a Moslem officer might be a mass murderer, there should at least be discussions about possibly taking action. Progress.


Article Archive

Leadership: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close