Allen West: The Dark Uncertainty of Transitions

As Donald Trump works his Transition Team through all the hurdles they face, LCOL Allen West (ret) uses his vast military experience to point out keys to success. LCOL West looks at the historical figures who had to work through their own transitions and what skills and personal traits were needed to get through the obstacles. This is a great piece to reflect on and for Donald Trump to consider. Good advise: I don’t care who you are!

As Written By Allen B. West for Townhall:

My time in the military and studying military history and operations has taught me that transitions are always a vulnerable period. It is vital to have a solid team that is looking not just at the time before them, but is strategically focused on the future. One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from the Book of Joshua, my favorite biblical leader. As God told him, early on in Chapter One, “Moses my servant is dead.” In other words, Joshua was it. And the Lord commanded him three times to “be strong and courageous,” and God laid out His guidance as to how Joshua would be successful and find prosperity wherever he went.

I remember taking command, first as a young captain in the First Infantry Division of an artillery battery with 131 soldiers and then later as a lieutenant colonel in the 4th Infantry Division of an artillery battalion with nearly 500 soldiers. It is in those early days of the transition where a leader is most challenged. The most important aspect in that transition is to lead by example, not to issue out directives and edicts for which you do not hold yourself accountable. The Army used to have a simple leadership philosophy of “Be, Know, Do,” which I found to be both insightful and useful.

You MUST evidence that you are the leader, but do so with humility. It is important that you seek the counsel of those around you, but recognize when to stop soliciting ideas and act. And then you must make the decision, but be willing to incorporate the thoughts, perspectives, and ideas of others if valid, and consistent with your vision. That is why a good leader issues their vision, intent, and guidance early and with ample specificity, but not to the degree of micromanagement. And trust me, you do not want people who must constantly come back seeking your approval for every little step or decision. What a good leader seeks out is what we called “fire and forget” individuals, kind of like was detailed in the short study called “message to Garcia.”

It is easy to follow a leader who is not confused that they are the leader…not a dictator, who drones about having a “pen and a phone.”

Secondly, what can aid in the dark uncertainty of transitions is a leader with a clear direction. In the Army we had what was called “Commander’s Intent” and it had three components – purpose, method (key tasks), and endstate. Anything a good military commander did in conveying his vision was expressed in those terms, and therefore easily understood. It is said that the great Napoleon had a corporal to whom he would give all of his orders first. His belief was that if the corporal understood him, then the generals would have no excuse. Directives must be simple to comprehend. When you are president, you must be clear so the American people can grasp your directives. That was the power of Ronald Reagan – simple, effective communications. Reagan basically had two objectives in his tenure; restore the American economic engine and defeat the Soviet Union. And he explained his policy goals in such a way that this nation clearly understood and felt the results of each.

I always say, no one follows a dummy in a firefight. People gain confidence in a leader who is competent and knows how ….

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The Dark Uncertainty of Transitions – Allen West

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