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What every American should know… May 4, 2007

Posted by Janine in Cases, civil society, Class announcements, Government, Military, Public Interest.

Here is a link for a documentary on the 9/11 incident. 


Now it is about an hour and a half, so watch it when you have some time.  This does not really apply to organizational theory or practice, but I think that this is a video that we as Americans should watch and know.

 Now, after having watched it, you are entitled to make your own judgments and form your own beliefs and opinions, but please if you have time, watch it and let us all know what you think.  I know I am very curious to hear what you all have to say!

Divide and rule – America’s plan for Baghdad and the role of integration April 11, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Military, Organizational Design.

An editorial piece in the left-leaning Independent in the UK documents a new plan for security in Baghdad that will have at least 9 of the 30 districts walled off, gated, with US-Iraqi joint forces controlling security within and between them.  ID cards will be issued for each resident, and will be necessary to enter or leave.  One of the possibilities within these gated communities is organizational integration of military and civiilan activities.  The argument is based on a a reading of the new army Field Manual on counter-insurgency which:

  While not specifically advocating the “gated communities” campaign, one of its principles is the unification of civilian and military activities, citing “civil operations and revolutionary development support teams” in South Vietnam, assistance to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq in 1991 and the “provincial reconstruction teams” in Afghanistan –

This is a cross-fuctional integration.  Why would it be a good design?  If the task needs of these units or teams require the sharing of tacit infomration, if they have to jointly solve problems with uncertain or unknown solutions, if innovation is a priority.  What are other reasons to pursue cross-functional structure?

Why would it be a poor design?  Will the effectiveness of both be compromised by being joined? The author suggests that it is not as similar organizational designs failed for the French in Algeria and the Americans in Vietnam.  I don’t know the specific history of these, but it is easy to see how the desire to be open and engage with people for civilian projects would be a t odds with the security and fighting concerns of the military.

There is a larger question, hard to divorce from our own domestic politics, of whether the larger gated community idea would work.  But, it represents a kind of differentiation of civilian authority and space.   Would this also decentralize decision-making for military adn police forces?  For various insurgent groups?

The Military and Design Changes February 13, 2007

Posted by Charley S in Military, Organizational Design.

While reading through chapter 6, I came to realize that the Army is a great example of a very large organization completely changing from a functional design to more of a matrix structure. I will elaborate. Back in the day, meaning more than a decade ago, the Army was organized primarily in a functional system. There are about 16 different functions that the military is broken up into, including everything from Infantry, Armor, Aviation, Finance, and the Judge Advocate General. For simplicities sake, lets say that on each military base there was 1 regiment of each function. Everyday when you went to work you would go and report to your regiment and work around people that all do the same things as you. So if you were Infantry you would go report to an Infantry boss, if you were in Finance you would go and report to the Finance boss.

Today what is happening is quite different. The Army is organized around Brigade Combat Teams. What these teams do is to integrate all of the different regiments (or functions) into 1 unified chain of command. So now when you go to work as an Engineer for example, instead of working alongside all of your Engineer buds, you go and work with Infantry guys and every other type of person in the Army. The reasoning behind this kind of arrangement is that since when you are deployed to combat you have to work together anyway, you might as well get used to working together now. Now there are positive and negative aspects of this. Some positive aspects that result are that yes, people are more familiar with each other and inter-branch rivalries are more subdued. The negative aspects however are that some technical expertise goes down the drain. While in the previous system you were around similar people who did your job and you could learn from them and figure out the best ways to do stuff together, now each individual is more or less isolated from those people and learning is stifled.

The entire military, not just the Army, is also moving towards a more integrated system as a whole. Current Army doctrine is what is called Joint Doctrine. It emphasizes that all the different branches (including Air Force, Marines, Army) must work together to solve problems. What this is starting is a reintegration of all the different branches of the military back under 1 office. I havn’t heard anything official, but people I talk to in the military all have the feeling that within 1 or 2 decades the entire military will be reintegrated.