Leadership: Anticipating Avoidable Problems

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May 10, 2016: During most of April 5,500 British and French troops held a series of joint training exercises to identify where different procedures would cause problems in future combat operations. A number of technical and procedural problems were uncovered which will now be addressed. For example the French were perplexed by the British custom of frequently issuing verbal orders and allowing subordinates to carry them out as best they could under changing circumstances. The French custom was to nearly always issue written orders. More troublesome were technical communications problems. These involved different user procedures as well as different hardware and hardware configurations. There were, as expected administrative problems with French and British forces providing logistic or fire support for each other. A lot of this was just bureaucracy and once you know the details you can sort it out.

British and French forces have been working together more frequently since 2001 and the April exercises (called Griffin Strike) were meant to identify as many of these problems as possible and get fixes underway. In the past problems were handled as encountered but that was often difficult to do when it happened during a combat operation.

This sort of thing is quite common, even within the same country. The U.S. Air Force and Navy discovered in 1990 that in the nearly two decades since they had last operated together in a big way each service had developed some new methods the other service was unfamiliar with. This had to be sorted out in the midst of a war. Since then the United States has tried to regularly smoke out these potential problem areas and fix them before they are encountered while the fighting is going on.

 


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