More On, Gung Ho! Out of Seeming Defeat May Have Sprung Great Potential

"Lt. Col. Evans Carlson soon suffered all the torment of any reformer to the bureaucratic status quo. His attempts to infuse a Western military with a little Eastern culture had made him minimally eccentric in the eyes of most. Surviving members of the sequel battalions still describe both him and Edson as "crazy." After the war, Carlson's ideas then had to contend with the anti-Communist paranoia of the pre-McCarthy era. Before dying penniless(and possibly of a broken heart) in 1947, he was considered by his mono-cultural detractors to be more than just a little "pink."

Because of the good Colonel's famous aversion to rank, most modern day infantrymen assume he made no other contribution to their heritage (or small unit tactics). Yet most of his ideas were more counter-cultural than impractical. Junior enlisted personnel should be able to come up with the most surprise-oriented squad, fire-team, and individual maneuvers. It is they, after all, who must pay the ultimate price for premature detection. So, within the extent of his experiments may lie the seed to combat's Holy Grail-more flexibility and momentum through sub-element cooperation than through direct supervision."


Too many leaders in law enforcement see in-unit democracy and autonomy, as described above from the book Gung Ho, as a threat so it does not sit well with traditional leaders. Yet we preach decentralized control and have been so for over 30 years in our profession but alienate or punish those who think in innovative ways. We preach individual initiative yet when a street cops uses tactical innovation based on his training and experience to quell a bad situation leaders immediately revert back to the checklist or procedure to illustrate how wrong the technique chosen was. Leaders lose sight of how powerful the people and ideas component can be, when blended with guidelines that makes any procedure or checklist more flexible and workable in dynamic encounters. This is how initiative and momentum are established in real time, fast moving situations. To help shape and reshape the tempo of a situation, individual street cops must be able to make real time decisions based on the situation that is unfolding in front of them. Keeping in mind "gung ho" (working together) that includes the collective opinion of all ranks. Training and developing full spectrum police officers who have the physical skills and understand the mental and moral implications is the key, to success. Then setting them free to innovate and solve tactical problems within the overall realm of the mission and intent of legitimate police organizations. Leading is not an event driven thing. Leading is an everyday thing that highlights successes and failures in an effort to learn and execute better.

"Why the disdain for something so logical? It has mostly to do with cultural heritage. While the Asian officer studies his troops capabilities and then looks for conducive battlefield circumstances, his Western counterpart trains his troops and then marches to the sounds of the guns." ~H. John Poole

Stay Oriented!