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HISTORICAL EXAMPLES OF DOD ORGANIZATIONAL
This appendix presents six brief historical examples of organizational problems that have plagued U.S. military operations. The appendix includes two examples-the Spanish-American War and Pearl Harbor—from the period before the application of the concept of unified command. The other four examples are from the post-unified command period of U.S. military history: the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the capture of the Pueblo, the Iran hostage rescue mission, and the Grenada operation.
Most of these historical examples have been described and analyzed in much more detail elsewhere; nonetheless, the short papers in this appendix succintly explain the organizational shortcomings that hampered U.S. forces. A final consideration in the preparation of these papers was the necessity to use only unclassified information. This constraint was, of course, most important in preparing the examples on the Iran hostage rescue mission and the Grenada operation.
A. THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR The Spanish-American War of 1898 provides a classic example of the consequences of lack of unity of command and inadequate inter-Service cooperation on American conduct of a military operation. At the time of the outbreak of hostilities, the U.S. military establishment consisted of the Department of War and the Department of the Navy—both of which operated with little Presidential guidance. The Spanish-American War witnessed not only the failure of the Army and the Navy to cooperate on military planning, but also the lack of coordination within the Military Departments themselves. The following examples will serve to illustrate the extent of the problems faced by the operational commanders.
Command of American naval forces in the Caribbean was divided between Admiral Sampson and Commodore Schley. A sharp personality conflict between Sampson and Schley exacerbated the problems that the lack of unity of command permitted. Since the commanders could not agree on where the Spanish fleet would strike, Sampson blockaded Havana while Schley remained at Key West. Even after the Spanish fleet headed for Cuba, the two commanders further disagreed on where in the Caribbean the Spanish would go for reinforcements-resulting in Sampson heading for Santiago, Cuba while Schley moved his fleet to guard another Cuban port, Cienfuegos. The net result of this internal naval disagreement was that each part of the American fleet was out of reach of the other and, therefore, in danger of being destroyed piecemeal by the Spanish fleet.
The failure of the Army and the Navy to cooperate was vividly illustrated by the one substantial joint campaign of the war, that of Santiago. Admiral Sampson had taken control of the fleet once Commodore Schley had reached Santiago. Sampson's Army counterpart was General Shafter. Sampson and Shafter repeatedly disagreed on the best tactic to defeat the Spanish. Shafter insisted that the Navy force the entrance to the harbor of Santiago and aid the Army in the capture of the city. Sampson refused to enter the mine-infested harbor, insisting instead that the Army attack the formidable forts guarding the entrance to the harbor so that his forces could safely remove the mines before entering the harbor.
In the end, Shafter's troops captured Santiago with only minimal naval assistance in the form of a blockade by Sampson's forces from outside the harbor. Army-Navy relations were so strained by the end of the Santiago campaign that General Shafter refused to allow Admiral Sampson's representative to sign the surrender document.
The final conflict between the Army and the Navy occurred after the Spanish capitulation. The Army, believing that it had contributed the most to the victory, took charge of the surrender and claimed all captured weapons—including the remaining Spanish naval forces. The Navy opposed the latter move and the conflict was settled in Washington, allowing the Navy to take charge of the Spanish vessels.
Despite the U.S. victory on the battlefield, the Spanish-American War was a failure for the U.S. military establishment. Public criticism resulting from the realization that there had been no plan, either of mobilization or operations, for the conduct of the war led to the creation of the General Staff of the Army, the General Board of the Navy, and the Joint Board of the Army and Navy.
B. PEARL HARBOR The Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was an overwhelming success, taking both policymakers in Washington as well as commanders in Hawaii totally by surprise. Although many factors contributed to this disaster, the structure of the chain of command was a major problem.
There were two chains of command originating from Pearl Harbor-one for the Army, the other for the Navy. The Army chain of command ran from Lt. Gen. Short, Commanding General, Hawaiian Department, to General Marshalí, Chief of Staff, to Secretary of War Stimson and finally to President Roosevelt. The Navy chain of command went from Admiral Kimmel, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet and Pacific Fleet, to Admiral Stark, Chief of Naval Operations, to Navy Secretary Knox and ultimately to the President. Therefore, below the Presidential level, no one exercised authority over both commanders at Pearl Harbor.
The problems inherent in this command structure become evident when one analyzes the reasons for the total surprise achieved by the Japanese forces. The absence of adequate intelligence in the weeks leading up to the attack can be at least partially blamed on
the lack of unity of command below the level of the President. No one below that level had access to all of the incoming intelligence. It was only at the Presidential level that a comprehensive analysis of all of the available intelligence information could have been made. But no one at that level had the time or the responsibility to do such an analysis. As Peter P. Wallace concludes in “Military Command Authority”:
There was nowhere, short of the President, that intelligence could be joined with the command authority to take action on
a joint basis, based on that intelligence. (page 44) The fragmented command situation in Hawaii also contributed to the lack of warning. With no unified commander, General Short and Admiral Kimmel commanded by cooperation-but neither questioned the plans or operations of the other. General Short assumed that the Navy was conducting long-range air reconnaissance, while Admiral Kimmel assumed that the Army's radar was fully operational. Both assumptions were incorrect. A Senate investigating committee made the following conclusion regarding the lack of adequate coordination between the Army and Navy commands:
There was a complete failure in Hawaii of effective ArmyNavy liaison during the critical period November 27-December 7. There was but little coordination and no integration of Army and Navy facilities and efforts for defense. Neither of the responsible commanders knew what the other was doing with respect to essential military activities. (Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack,
1946, page 153) The agreement of General Short and Admiral Kimmel to defend Hawaii through cooperation clearly failed to compensate for the absence of a unified command below the Presidential level.
C. THE BATTLE OF LEYTE GULF The Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines was the greatest naval battle in history and the last major fleet action of World War II. Although this October 1944 battle resulted in an overwhelming victory for the United States, it was, by a very narrow margin, almost the largest American naval defeat since Pearl Harbor. The major problem which the U.S. Navy encountered at Leyte Gulf was a lack of unity of command which very nearly proved decisive.
The catalyst for the Battle of Leyte Gulf was General MacArthur's return to the Philippines on October 20, 1944, during the American landing on the island of Leyte. For the Japanese, the fight for the Philippines was vital. Three Japanese naval forces, which included almost every remaining Japanese ship, were committed to the battle.
The American naval forces were divided into two fleets—the Third Fleet under the command of Admiral Halsey, and the Seventh Fleet commanded by Admiral Kinkaid. While Admiral Halsey was, in turn, commanded by Admiral Nimitz in Hawaii, the Seventh Fleet was "MacArthur's Navy" and Admiral Kinkaid was directly under MacArthur's command. Thus the two fleets that were cooperating in support of the American landing at Leyte had no common superior below the level of the JCS in Washington. This lack of a unified commander in the field led to a series of misunderstandings which resulted in near-disaster.
One of the central misunderstandings of the battle on the American side centered around the existence and mission of Task Force 34. A series of confusing and intercepted transmissions, beginning with Admiral Halsey's plans to form a new unit-Task Force 34to take on heavy surface forces, led Admiral Kinkaid to assume that Halsey's Task Force 34 would be used to guard San Bernardino Strait, thus leaving his Seventh Fleet free to concentrate on the other major entrance to Leyte Gulf, Surigao Strait. However, Halsey's orders stated that while he was supposed to cover the Leyte beachhead, in the event that he found a major portion of the Japanese fleet, his primary mission would then be to destroy that force. Thus, when Halsey proceeded north out of the Leyte Gulf region to attack the Japanese carrier forces—which actually were a decoy to draw his fleet away from the battle—the vessels that would have formed Task Force 34 went with him. He compounded his error by not informing Kinkaid that Task Force 34 had never been formed. This lack of adequate, direct communication and coordination between Admirals Halsey and Kinkaid left San Bernardino Strait and Kinkaid's northern flank unguarded and open to the Japanese.
Historian Adrian Stewart, in The Battle of Leyte Gulf, raises a question of critical importance regarding this misunderstanding:
Would so immense an oversight have been possible, had there been present a supreme commander who could have viewed the battle as a whole? The lack of such a commander
would seem to have been the crucial American error. (page 84) As a result of the confusion, the remainder of the Japanese fleet sailed unopposed through San Bernardino Strait into Leyte Gulf and were met only by an escort carrier unit which was totally unprepared for such a battle.
By the time Kinkaid discovered the error, the Japanese were coming through the strait and Halsey was 350 miles away. Worse still, Halsey ignored Kinkaid's desperate messages asking him to return: “Situation very serious. Escort-carriers again threatened by enemy surface forces. Your assistance badly needed. Escort-carriers retiring to Leyte Gulf”. Only when Nimitz intervened, sending Halsey the famous message—“Where is Task Force 34? Whole world wants to know."-did Halsey turn back. But by the time he arrived, the battle had been won.
Fortunately for the United States, heroic fighting on the part of the escort carrier unit and confusion and bad judgment on the part of the Japanese were enough to overcome the problems created by the lack of unity of command.
D. THE CAPTURE OF THE USS PUEBLO The USS Pueblo, an intelligence-gathering ship, was seized by North Korean naval vessels in the Sea of Japan, approximately 15 miles off the North Korean coast, on January 23, 1968. This incident represented the first capture of a sovereign ship on the high seas in peacetime in over 160 years. Because U.S. military forces failed to assist the Pueblo from the beginning of the crisis until its arrival in Wonsan harbor (about 4 hours), sensitive information and equipment were lost and the vessel's crew was imprisoned for 11 months by the North Koreans. This lack of action, in turn, can be traced to problems with the U.S. military command structure in the region-specifically, the lack of unification at levels subordinate to the unified commander.
At the time the Pueblo was seized, its intelligence-gathering mission off the coast of North Korea was characterized as a “minimalrisk” operation—that is, no forces were specifically dedicated to support the ship. Therefore, when the crisis developed, no single commander in the vicinity had adequate forces under his authority to deal with the seizure. The efforts of commanders below the level of the unified commander to coordinate their forces to handle the crisis resulted in no action being taken.
At the time she was seized, the Pueblo was under the operational control of the Commander, Naval Forces Japan (COMNAVFORJAPAN). However, COMNAVFORJAPAN did not command any forces which could be used to assist the Pueblo. He had to request forces from other commands in the vicinity. Air support forces were requested from the Commander, 5th Air Force, in Japan. However, since the 5th Air Force had not been previously ordered to provide specific forces for the Pueblo's mission, none were readily available. Another possible avenue of assistance was the aircraft carrier Enterprise, which was on maneuvers approximately 500 miles from the Pueblo. The Enterprise was under the command of the Commander, 7th Fleet, not COMNAVFORJAPAN. COMNAVFORJAPAN assumed the 7th Fleet would receive notification from Washington to assist the Pueblo; therefore, he did not directly request the Enterprise's assistance. As a result of this breakdown in communications, it took almost three hours from the beginning of the crisis for the Commander, 7th Fleet, to change the course of the Enterprise.
Peter P. Wallace, in "Military Command Authority: Constitutional, Statutory, and Regulatory Bases," summarizes the chain of command problems encountered during the Pueblo crisis:
If any one of the nearby commanders had sufficient forces to deal with the Pueblo seizure, the crisis would have been entirely different. But the precise point is that no one commander had such forces and thus commanders were forced to rely on coordination, requests and assumptions about what others were doing. Two major reasons inherent in the command structure chiefly explain this result. There was no effective unity of command below CINCPAC, and those links in the chain of command, CINCPAC and above, who possessed sufficient authority were too far away to influence the situation. (pages 55–
56) Although the capture of the Pueblo painfully demonstrated the dangers of inadequate unification at levels below the unified com