Our conversations with Ed took place in the context of the political war going on between Secretary Rumsfeld and the Army just prior to the second shooting war wit Iraq. Ed gave us a deep insight as to the blind spot in the Army. They were hanging onto the structure required for the cold War - the Armored division and the "Big 5 Weapon Set" developed for the European theatre and for the Soviets. As Rumsfeld and the Army fought, Ed was providing us with the meaning.
Rumsfeld is deeply influenced by the thoughts of the military genius of the late 20th century the late Col John Boyd USAF Rtd. Boyd is a huge topic himself. One of Boyd's main ideas is that speed itself is the competitive issue. His great thinking tool is called OODA. In layman's terms is is about how fast you can "see" what is really going, understand it, decide what to do and then act. Applying OODA well in today's complex world where we don't see or understand a lot is the difference in whether you win or lose in any competitive situation whether in war, business or in government.
Rumsfeld's problem was that the Army doctrine was wedded to an organization that was by design too slow and too ponderous for the political issues confronting the US. He needed a quick and successful war. But the way that the Army was organized was in the way.
In the US Army operational culture, real generals drive armoured divisions with a huge tail. While the Army had made great progress in changing the command and control internal culture, they still saw gigantism and the Armored Division as how they did things. So the 1st Armored Division could not deploy in Kosovo, the roads and bridges could not fit them. Nor could they deploy the Blackhawk either as it was too expensive to lose and too vulnerable to a sophisticated enemy. Rumsfeld's frustration with the Army in Iraq is that they wanted to take another 6 months in bringing up the stuff. So he forced the issue and got his way. While the political aftermath is a mess and the Army's lack of suitability of peacekeeping is self evident. Their tactical achievement is outstanding. They surprised themselves!
Shock and Awe a Boyd concept where you defeat your enemy in his mind by your speed and flexibility was proved out in the field. Rumsfeld's latest attack on the Armor Generals is the appointment of a new new Chief of the Army who is a retired Special Forces General.
So our study of the US Army had shown us that it was not enough to find a way to change the internal culture. If a large traditional organization was going to make the shift, it would have to change its core operational doctrine as well. The history of technical change and its proper deployment in the military has become a field of study itself. Each new development is introduced in the operational context of a previous era. Long Bows had been in action for a century before they were deployed properly at Crecy. It took 3 years for leaders in the US Civil war to acknowledge that you cannot deploy men in line as you did with muskets in front of rifles. It took until late 1917 to acknowledge that courage was not enough when confronted with a machine gun. The history of arms is only an illustration of the point that when a disruptive new technology emerges, our only context for its deployment is how we used to do things. Hence the Dot com bubble.
Ed lead us to another large organization that had tackled both its internal culture and its operational discipline. BP.